Where To Have Your Birthday Dinner In NYC guide image


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.


Wu's Wonton King

A birthday classic, Wu’s Wonton King is always filled with groups sitting at big round tables covered in suckling pig, roasted duck, and whole fried crab. Situated at the southern tip of the Lower East Side, this place serves standout Cantonese food, and it also happens to be BYOB. Bring a few bottles of wine, start with a vat of the wonton soup, and be sure to place the order for your whole suckling pig in advance.

If you don’t yet own a brownstone with a 300-square-foot dining room, host your next celebratory meal at Dinner Party, where you can book for up to eight people at a communal table. With its stained glass light fixtures and crowded wall of art in mismatched frames, this Fort Greene restaurant feels quaint and homey, and it serves a four-course prix fixe that changes weekly. Expect unpretentious, seasonal dishes like crab ravioli and chilled corn bisque.

Anixi is a vegan spot in Chelsea that looks like a glamorous Art Deco-inspired mansion from the 1980s. It’s the perfect restaurant for when you want to get some use out of an impractical outfit that you spent too much money on, and the plant-based food is just as deluxe as the space. Bring the person who pays the other half of your ConEd bill, and eat some “chicken” kebabs and faux tuna tartare with seaweed caviar under a crystal chandelier.

At Chong Qing Lao Zao, you can eat in what is essentially an indoor theme park. This Flushing restaurant is decorated like a rural village, with grass huts, water wheels, and even some trees and fake chickens. Choose a few broths for the hot pot in the middle of your table, then pick from a huge variety of meat, seafood, and vegetables—and be sure to take advantage of the extensive sauce station. Just keep in mind that this place doesn’t take reservations, and there’s usually a wait.

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.

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.

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 10 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.

Wenwen will immediately put you in the mood to celebrate another year on earth. The bathrooms at this Greenpoint restaurant could double as private karaoke rooms, and their cartoonishly large Shyboy 4XL is big enough to share with a full table of friends. Come for a fun, casual birthday, and split a bunch of comforting, homestyle Taiwanese dishes, like the whole fried chicken and tender braised pork belly with big chunks of cuttlefish.

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. For this, 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.

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. The menu has everything from grilled shrimp and minimalist two-sheet lasagna to a cheeseburger and housemade charcuterie, in addition to some ice cream you can enjoy while your friends sing you "Happy Birthday."

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 space has high ceilings, crushed velvet booths, and an open kitchen featuring rotating logs of rotisserie lamb, and the menu is full of inventive dishes like pastrami-style short rib and cavatelli with Jamaican beef ragu. For an upscale birthday, this is currently one the most exciting options.

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, where you can keep the party going in your own private room.

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 eight 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. (Astoria Seafood is BYOB.)

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.

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 to thumping bachata 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. 

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photo credit: Kate Previte

Where To Have Your Birthday Dinner In NYC guide image