Where To Have Your Birthday Dinner In NYC
When you want to have a big, fun dinner that involves good food and people saying nice things about you, try one of these spots.
One of the questions we get asked most is: “Where should I have my birthday dinner?” Let us guess—you’re looking for something “fun” and informal, where you can get a table for a group of your friends. Believe it or not, such restaurants do exist in New York City. Whether your idea of fun involves dancing on tables, a relaxed come-and-go-whenever type of gathering, or something in between, we have ideas. You only celebrate getting older once a year. Better make it good.
If you want to mark the day you were born by eating somewhere that’ll remind you of a time when most of America was jamming to Sinatra, head to Gallaghers. Despite being smack in the middle of Times Square, this old-timey steakhouse is both fun and charming. Stick with classics like the clams casino and wedge salad, then move on to a porterhouse with some creamed spinach. The servers are like affable grandparents, cracking jokes as they do their best to make sure you enjoy yourself as much as possible.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
Is your idea of an awesome birthday dinner eating high-quality raw fish in a place that you get to by going through a steel cage door like one you’d see in Fight Club? If so, head to Studio 151 in the East Village. You can get à la carte things like temaki and pressed sushi, but what you really want to do is snag one of the four seats at the chef’s counter so you can eat the 12-piece $80 omakase. After you’re done eating, stick around. This place is open until at least 2am every night.
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Here’s a great way to spend your birthday: Eat the best BBQ in the city. Visit this massive Red Hook spot for brisket, pulled pork, and a lamb bánh mì. You order and pay at a counter, so you won't have to awkwardly split a check, and there are plenty of picnic tables that are perfect for groups. Lines can get long on weekends, but just use the wait time to reconnect with any third-tier friends who actually showed up to your party.
If your birthday wish involves consuming a lot of carbs, you’ll want to plan a dinner at this Italian restaurant at the Hudson Yards-adjacent development known as Manhattan West. When you walk inside this big, glitzy Italian spot, you'll feel like you're checking into a nice hotel in Milan. The menu centers around live-fire cooking, but your focus should be on the breads and pastas. Don’t miss the caramelized onion torta or the agnolotti in a creamy butter and lemon sauce.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
At Vatan, you and a group of six to eight can grab a big booth with its own thatched roof and have a fun AYCE vegetarian meal for $45 per person. You can ask your server to bring a refill of anything you finish, so you won't have everyone scooting over every ten minutes to grab more mini samosas, sev puri, and chana masala from a buffet station. There’s also a wishing well, so you can make a birthday wish for a bigger apartment on your way out.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
The bathrooms that could double as private karaoke rooms and the cartoonishly large and shareable Shyboy 4XL cocktails at Wenwen will immediately put you in the mood to celebrate another year on earth. This Greenpoint spot serves comforting Taiwanese food like tender braised pork belly with big chunks of cuttlefish. Book a table at 5pm for the best chance to get their whole fried chicken. It feeds three to four, and they only make a few every night.
photo credit: Adam Friedlander
You know what’s more fun than an “adult” night out? Recreating all the birthday pizza parties you had at Chuck E. Cheese when you were too short to ride roller coasters. So try Leo in Williamsburg. Their sourdough crust has a noticeable tang, and it’s always easy to get in here, even if you need a last-minute table for a group. No, there aren’t any dancing mechanical animals, but someone at the table can always loop this on their phone.
photo credit: Adam Friedlander
Rolo’s is perfect for a birthday dinner that feels like a scene out of Bushwick fan fiction. You might see a DJ fueling up before a 2am set or a group of artist friends who once did an impromptu cabaret show on the dance floor at Mood Ring. Group-ordering here is more fun than hectic, with a menu that has everything from Szechuan cabbage, grilled arctic char, and plates of charcuterie cured in-house. Let your friends order all of the homemade ice creams and sing you "Happy Birthday" at your table.
Torrisi Bar & Restaurant
While it’s not a cakewalk to get into this Nolita restaurant from Major Food Group, you can get a table with a little planning. (Reservations are released 30 days in advance at 10am.) The big Nolita space has high ceilings, crushed velvet booths, and an open kitchen featuring rotating logs of rotisserie porchetta, and the menu is full of inventive dishes like pastrami-style short ribs and cavatelli with Jamaican beef ragu. For an upscale birthday, this is currently one the most exciting options.
The competition for Thai food supremacy in Elmhurst is stiff, but Zaab Zaab manages to stand out as one of the best restaurants in that neighborhood. For a more casual birthday dinner, come here for Isan Thai food packed with chilies, lemongrass, and various fresh herbs. Make a reservation, bring a group, and be sure to get the salt-encrusted fish that's stuffed with pandan and roasted over charcoal.
Bk Seafood Market
If you’re into Wu’s Wonton King, you’ll love BK Seafood Market. This place has tables that can casually seat 15-20 people, and the decor is a mishmash of Pinterest-y DIY light fixtures and traditional Chinese accents that somehow work together. The homestyle stir-fried clams get an intense umami flavor from pork and black bean, and the crispy half chicken has such shatteringly crisp skin that we sometimes consider ditching all responsibilities in the middle of the day to go eat it.
Let’s Meat is loud, so if towers of beer and unlimited marinated hanger steak turn your birthday dinner into a Major League Eating competition, feel free to cheer each other on. Your group will have 100 minutes to order as much as you want from the $43 classic or $49 signature meal set. Invite a bunch of friends to pregame from a beer fountain before heading to Karaoke City around the corner afterwards, where you can keep the party going in your own private room.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
You’re getting a big group together, and you know everyone will be interested in “really having a chance to catch up.” Plan your dinner at Shuka, a moderately-priced Israeli spot in Soho. This place has big tables, plenty of room, and it never gets too rowdy. Plus, the menu has (highly shareable) options for everyone. Get some dips and kebabs, and settle in for a group heart-to-heart.
This birthday might be the one when you suddenly feel a bit too old for a club (or clubstaurant), but you also don’t want to eat at a place that’ll put you to sleep. Citrico Cafe is the ideal middle ground. It’s not a party restaurant exactly, but there’s a bar in the center that sets the tone, and everyone’s always having a good time. Focus on the tacos, and slowly sample the nine varieties throughout a long night here. You’ll see groups ordering margaritas until 1am in their outdoor area, so go ahead and join them if the weather’s nice.
This place is part fish market and part restaurant, and there’s a big display in the back where you get to pick your own seafood and bag it up before you hand it over to the kitchen. There’s always a big selection of things like snapper, porgy, shrimp, and octopus, and when your server delivers everything fresh from the grill, you’ll congratulate yourself for being such a good pick-your-own-seafood person. The waits can be long, so bring some friends and crack open some bottles you brought while you wait for your table. (This place is BYOB.)
Few restaurants in this city feel as alive as Red Rooster—the atmosphere is incredible. The bar area stays mobbed, the DJ spins funk and soul tunes, and people always appear to be having a blast. Basically, a built-in birthday party is already waiting for you. Make a reservation for the main room or a group dinner downstairs. They’ve even got a 20-piece chicken tower that comes with cornbread and three sides.
Rebel Restaurant and Bar
You probably don’t like to celebrate your birthday the same way every year. Sometimes, you want a night out that’s the equivalent of lying on an inflatable mattress in a pool. Other times, you’re in more of a rave mood (even though you’ve never been to a rave). For the latter, plan a meal at Rebel on the LES where you'll find rainbow globe lights, plenty of rum cocktails, great Haitian food, and usually a live band or a DJ.
The Upper West Side has places to celebrate a birthday with someone who has multiple mink coats, and it also has places to chest bump after beating 21-year-olds in beer pong. But when you’d rather drink margaritas, eat California-style tacos, and talk at a comfortable volume, head to Playa Betty’s. Pack your table with snacks (like warm chips with queso and tater tot nachos) to proactively balance out whatever’s happening after dinner.
Rum and backyards make for a good birthday combination. That’s partly why the back patio at Sally Roots is one of our favorite places in Bushwick. It’s loud and always full of people holding colorful rum drinks and eating shareable Caribbean dishes. We especially love the braised oxtails and the intense garlic sauce that comes with the tostones. You’ll need to order seconds of that garlic sauce, mostly so you can pour it on every other dish on the table.
With its colorful lights and loud music, Republica is sort of like a club, except you can sit at a table and eat a whole fried snapper. Try this three-story Dominican rooftop restaurant in Inwood if you want to have a lively birthday with people dancing under purple strobe lights. While dishes like the tres golpes plate with slabs of fried cheese and saffron-lime salmon are decent, the food’s main purpose is to give you enough sustenance to keep pouring drinks. When you come, there will probably be thumping bachata playing from the speakers.