A Guide To The “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends”

There’s a type of place we get asked about all the time: the Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends. Let’s discuss.

A Guide To The “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends” guide image

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

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 our pre-determined categories. And there is one such genre of restaurant that comes up over and over again—it’s what we have come to call the “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends," or SSCRPRTCUWFF for short.

We’ve broken down the core attributes of the SCRPRTCUWFF, and they are:

  • Kind of quiet.

  • But not super boring.

  • Relatively small in size, or at least not cavernous.

  • With plates around $20 and under.

  • “Any neighborhood is fine, but… maybe the West Village or Nolita or Williamsburg?”

Turns out SCRPRTCUWFFs are really popular, so here are our picks.

The Spots

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The moment you walk into Gertie, you feel a little better. Maybe it’s because of the floor-to-ceiling windows or the pastel color scheme that transports you inside of a Sunday morning cartoon. Either way, it’s a pleasant place, and it’s great for when you want to eat an assortment of vegetable sides because you've had Taco Bell four out of the last five nights. This place is also counter-service, so it’s pretty casual, and it doesn’t get too busy due to being mostly known as a breakfast/brunch spot.

The fun thing about this restaurant is that you can pretend you were invited to an intimate Fort Greene dinner party, even though you’ve never been invited to an intimate Fort Greene dinner party. Guests sit at communal wooden tables, and there are enough pillows, vintage chairs, and candles to trick a millennial into thinking they’re living in a targeted ad. Dinners here cost $40-$48 depending on what night you come, and you get a four-course menu that might include french onion soup or coq au vin. And it's BYOB.

Themed menus based around specific ingredients often read like Iron Chef challenges. But at Chocobar Cortés—a new Mott Haven outpost from a fourth-generation Puerto Rican chocolate company—the chocolate-centric menu feels fun. There’s a club sandwich on chocolate mallorca bread, a grilled cheese with chocolate butter, and even something called a Chocoburger. Be sure to order something from the extensive hot chocolate menu—the Puerto Rican dark hot chocolate (served with cheese) is worth a visit all on its own.

This Palestinian spot has a large mural of a tree, lush greenery and flowers, and terra cotta dishes. You'll feel like you're in an adorable courtyard rather than a restaurant in Brooklyn Heights. We suggest ordering the ouzi lamb on a potpourri-like pile of rice, almonds, and peas as well as the bamia with pleasantly bitter okra. Yes, a lot of dishes here cost over $20, but the portions are absolutely massive and one order of most items is more than enough for two people. Also, it's BYOB.

Whether you're looking for drinks, dinner, or a bottle of wine and some snacks, Gem Wine has you covered. Most of the seating is at small, communal tables arranged in a way that makes you feel like you’re in a library reading room. Natural wines are the focus here but the food isn't just an afterthought. Expect small plates like hot coppa and pomelo with bottarga. You should know, however, that the menu changes often. This place is only open Monday through Friday, and it's an ideal spot to unwind with some friends after a long day of doing that thing you all do for paychecks.

If you're going to catch up with some friends, you might as well feel like you're on vacation at a beach. The Rooftop at the Rockaway Hotel has views of the Atlantic from an outdoor terrace and while you’d think a rooftop by the water would turn into Spring Break pretty quickly, the friendly service, bright white walls, and plants hanging from the ceiling make this place feel like a calm, beachside daytime spot. You can munch on pulled pork tacos and prosciutto/fig flatbread with a mezcaloma cocktail while you're here.

Tiny's and the Bar Upstairs



open table

Tiny’s is really cute. And if you claim that isn’t the main reason why you come here, you’re lying to yourself. This Tribeca restaurant is located in its very own three-story, pastel pink townhouse, and the inside is filled with candles, exposed brick, and black-and-white photos. It’s never too hard to snag a table, and this place has a lot of raw bar items and starters under $20 like a perfectly nice kale salad with plenty of crunch from apples, celery, and pecans.

The plant-filled back patio at this Middle Eastern spot in Fort Greene is surrounded by brick walls and murals of people drinking wine, and it’s a charming place to break down the latest episode of whatever Bravo reality show you and your friends are watching. If there are no reservations available in the back, though, know that everything from the sweet whipped ricotta to the creamy hummus with lamb shawarma tastes just as good on their shaded patio out front.

This spot on Cornelia Street has a long booth with throw pillows that makes you feel like you're trying out a roomy dining setup at West Elm. Small plates like deviled tea eggs and sausage/garlic fried rice are great, but the mini flaky scallion puffs with scallion butter is the best thing on the menu. There's also a charming patio in the back where you and your friends can order a bottle of sparkling gamay and talk about how you'll never have your own outdoor space like this in NYC.

Montesacro in Williamsburg has an outdoor dining space that probably wouldn't feel out of place on Martha Stewart's Hamptons estate. Even better, you can use it all year long as the big, plant-filled backyard is enclosed like a greenhouse during worse-than-LA weather. So no matter when you go, you can have an outdoor pizza party a few steps from the Lorimer L stop. Although it'll actually be a pinsa party—Roman-style flatbreads with focaccia-like crust are the speciality here. These flatbreads all cost around $20, and they come packed with toppings like lamb sausage, guanciale, and butternut squash.

A few minutes after finishing your afternoon coffee, you get a jolt of energy and text a couple friends asking if they want to get dinner tonight. Finally, at 4:30pm, one of them says yes and asks where you’re meeting. Tell them Pheasant. This small spot in Williamsburg is ideal for casual weeknight dinners when you want some good food in the kind of atmosphere that makes you feel like part of the neighborhood. Start with the baby gem caesar salad and then share the chicken over spiced yellow rice and the burger topped with an onion ring.

Cafe design must be something Australians learn in high school these days. And Banter, an all-day spot in Greenwich Village, is another spot you can add to the list of “super cute” Australian spots in NYC. It’s a good place to meet someone for breakfast or lunch, and it gets more lively at dinner, when you’ll be eating healthy-sounding things like beet cashew dip and grilled chicken with kale.

You’re meeting up with a few friends in Williamsburg. One person in your group (who may or may not be you) gets pretty grumpy without snacks, but two others claim they only want to drink. Head to Bar Beau, where you can get a table or some bar seats and drink excellent cocktails while eating things like chicken liver mousse or scallop corn fritters that taste like briny hushpuppies.

Old Rose is in the bottom of the Jane Hotel in the West Village, and it looks like it’s going to be more expensive than it actually is. It has super-high ceilings and big paintings on the walls, but it’s actually pretty casual, and many things on the menu cost around $20 or less. So if you need to impress a few old acquaintances, but you recently spent too much money on some shoes or a karaoke machine you saw in SkyMall, try this place. The pastas are solid, the pizzas are great (especially the vodka with stracciatella), and there are some really good meatballs that should be on your table.

There are certain restaurants that are perfect for pretty much everyone, and Shuka is one of them. The Mediterranean food (like spiced beet dip and chicken shawarma) is solid, the prices aren’t too high, and the space feels like the home of a person who makes a very decent living and probably does pilates. It's surprisingly spacious, and charming in a West Elm sort of way.

Aita is in Clinton Hill, and it looks like the country home that you don’t own—complete with old art on the walls, a bunch of wooden furniture, and a little chandelier. It’s a nice break from the trash-and-pigeon-filled streets of NYC, and it also happens to serve some pretty good Italian food. Bring friends you’d invite to said country home if you did in fact own it, and have some oxtail ravioli and whatever fried vegetable is currently available.

Fumo is on a corner just across the street from City College, and it’s an attractive, white-walled space with marble countertops, lots of plants, and big bright photographs covering the walls. More importantly, they make solid versions of pretty much all your Italian classics. There’s also a pretty reasonable wine list, so it’s a great spot if you want to drink a little and vent about your job or some of the so-called friends who couldn’t make it.

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. It’s a little quirky, definitely charming, and the food happens to be really good. Whether you want to eat some bread and cheese or something more closely resembling a real meal, you’ll do well here.

Dante is one of those spots that’s easy to recommend for lots of different situations. 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 (although you may have to wait). Drink a few of the on-tap negronis and things will progress onwards from “cute” very quickly.

Between the red booths and antique-y wallpaper, Lovely Day definitely has the cute thing down. But this Thai spot in Nolita really has the reasonably-priced requirement covered as well. With plenty of small plates 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.

photo credit: Teddy Wolfe

Via Carota review image

Via Carota


Jointly owned by the people behind Buvette and I Sodi, 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. Just come early or be prepared for a long wait.

This 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.

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.

Cafe Gitane is most popular for brunch, but they actually do a pretty good dinner menu as well, and there’s hardly ever a wait in the evenings. Get the Moroccan couscous with merguez sausage. Little Cupcake Bakeshop is down the street, should you want to continue the whole cute thing into the evening.

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.

If you’ve been to the Jack’s Wife Freda on Lafayette, you’ve likely experienced the following: feeling 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 bigger West Village location. It’s the way to go.

Tia Pol is a little tapas bar in Chelsea that’s pretty ideal for early-in-the-game dates. Sit at the bar and share a few small plates—nothing on the menu is more than $16—like ham and chorizo or octopus salad with romesco. Come during Happy Hour (weekdays until 6:30pm), and drink some $6 glasses of wine or share a half-off pitcher of sangria.

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