The Infatuation is built on the idea of “Perfect For” categories, catering to assorted restaurant needs. Dinner With The Parents? Date Night? Impressing Out Of Towners? We got it.
But occasionally, we field requests that don’t quite fit into any of The Infatuation’s pre-determined categories. And there is one such genre of restaurant that comes up over and over again – at parties, on our Text Rex service, in the cramped changing rooms of spin classes we don’t actually attend. It’s what we have come to call the “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends.”
After considerable research (i.e. hearing this request repeatedly), we’ve broken down the core attributes of the Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends (SCRPRTCUWFF). In general, SCRPRTCUWFFs are:
- Kind of quiet.
- But not super boring.
- Relatively small in size, or at least not huge.
- With entrées mostly under $20 (or equivalent).
- “Any neighborhood is fine, but… probably the West Village or Nolita or Williamsburg?”
Turns out you guys really like SCRPRTCUWFFs, so we've updated the list with 10 new spots. Now go ahead and plan that Tuesday night dinner.
Dante has quickly become one of our most recommended restaurants, for a few reasons: the small plates are interesting and ideal for sharing, there's nothing else quite like it in the area, the service is extremely friendly, and you can usually walk in and get a table on a given night. Drink a few of the on-tap negronis and things will progress onwards from "cute" very quickly.
The first thing you'll notice when you walk into Excuse My French is the decor - the gold and green wallpaper, the fake bookshelves lining the bathroom, the still life paintings in big gold frames, and so on. Unlike so many Lower East Side restaurants, Excuse My French isn't too cool for school, and that's exactly why we like it. It's a little quirky, definitely charming, and the food happens to be excellent. Whether you want to eat some bread and cheese or something more closely resembling a real meal, you'll do well here.
Lovely Day definitely has the cute thing down - just look at those red booths and antique-y wallpaper. But this Thai-ish spot in Nolita really has the reasonably priced thing on lock as well. With plenty of dishes under $10, this is one of the few restaurants where you can really feel like you've had a night out, while spending under 25 bucks a head.
Cafe Colette is best known for brunch, and rightfully so. But it's also a useful, reasonable spot for dinner, particularly if you enjoy a good burger. If you don't, kale salads and the like are available as well.
Jointly owned by the people behind Buvette and I Sodi, certified "cute" West Village restaurants, Via Carota is a classy, low-key Italian spot that doesn't take reservations, making it an ideal move for a night when you forgot to book anything. There are usually a dozen-plus vegetable dishes on the menu, plus several pastas, and fish and meat entrees.
Classic Italian food, lots of greenery, a prime Williamsburg location: Aurora is an excellent go-to when you're looking for an easy dinner in a highly charming environment.
Tartine, a very small French restaurant in the West Village, is the kind of place where you'll probably end up talking to the people at the table next to you, just in case you get tired of "catching up" with your friends. It's an extremely warm and friendly environment, and it's also BYOB, so you'll probably end up sharing your bottle of wine with the people next to you as well.
We'll spare you the repeated "ugh, Murray Hill is all sports bars" spiel, and remind you that Penelope is a nice place to have a casual dinner. Brunch does tend to be a complete sh*tshow, so reserve this for evenings during the week.
You could easily sit at Sisters all day, starting with coffee and a newspaper (do people still read newspapers?), all the way through to late night drinks. We also recommend it somewhere in the middle, for a nice dinner in what is a truly beautiful space. Nearly everything on the menu is under $20, and all of it is good.
The capital of the Empire of Avocado Toast actually does a pretty good dinner menu, and there’s hardly ever a wait in the evenings. We like the Moroccan couscous or the chicken satay. The Little Cupcake Bakeshop is down the street, should you want to continue the whole cute thing into the evening.
Until recently, we had never heard of Malatesta, a little Italian restaurant in the far west side of the West Village. Now, every time we mention it, someone says, “Oh! I love that place! It’s so cute” STOP WITHHOLDING INFORMATION FROM US. Anyway, this place is “cute.” And tasty.
When SCRPRTCUWFF-hunting, your partners in dining may request that you secure the social contract known as a “reservation.” Unlike most of its peer “cute little restaurants in the West Village” Frankies 570 actually accepts them (on weekdays). Now you know.
Epistrophy is a small cafe that works for a surprising number of situations – big groups, drinks, a quick bite, a long dinner with your friend from high school who’s going through a weird time but you actually are really on the same page despite not having spoken for a few years. You know, that kind of thing.
You’ve probably been on at least three dates at Aria in the West Village – it’s dark, the bartenders like to ply you with big drinks, and the people next to you are probably making out. Great, for a Saturday night or a second date. For the issue at hand, hit Terra – it’s essentially the same restaurant, but bigger, quieter, and a couple dozen or so blocks south in Tribeca.
If you have been to the Jack's Wife Freda on Lafayette, you have likely experienced the following: being cramped, and overhearing the complete details of the yoga retreat to Tulum the people next to you just took. That's fine and all, but you can get the same reliable food at the newer, bigger West Village location. It's the way to go.
The Oscar winner in the Cute Casual Girls’ Night Out Restaurant. You will probably age noticeably during the time you wait for the privilege of eating a piece of grilled fish over greens in a bowl, but it’s worth it. It will bond you closer together.
If you want to eat fish in a bowl (and let us guess, you probably do) but without a wait, may we suggest you do it at this small and charming Japanese restaurant.
Should you want to break the kale salad-heavy routine of many of the places listed here, consider Balade, an excellent Lebanese restaurant in the East Village. The menu is ideal for sharing, but we also won’t judge you if you get a personal order of hummus.