Where To Have A Fun Birthday Dinner Without Asking Your Friends To Spend Hundreds Of Dollars

Eight spots where you can celebrate someone without taking out a small loan.
Where To Have A Fun Birthday Dinner Without Asking Your Friends To Spend Hundreds Of Dollars image

Congratulations. You’re one year closer to cashing out that 401K, and you’ve made it this far with 10-15 people in your life who want to celebrate that with you. Preferably without having to sell an organ to pay for it. Believe it or not, these places actually do exist in New York. Whether you want something active like karaoke, a unique dining experience that involves a tableside shawarma spit, or just a tower of fried chicken, these places are perfect for celebrating a birthday—without having to spend more than $100 per person.



East Village

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdaysHalalUnique Dining Experience
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You may have seen Au Za’atar on TikTok thanks to their tableside shawarma towers. Even if you generally shy away from anything with a Foodie hashtag attached to it, don’t let that deter you from coming here. It’s pretty damn satisfying to slice that meat off over and over again. The chicken and lamb come already cooked, and you’ll need to call and order them in advance. Get at least a couple for a big group. Each spit comes with plenty of fries, grilled tomatoes and onions, herb salad, and pita for the group.

Michelada House II in Jackson Heights has perpetual birthday party energy. They serve about a dozen varieties of cartoonishly large micheladas, as well as trays full of Corona bottles and shrimp or chapulines. Their family-style Mexican dishes run from $30-$40 and could very well feed the majority of a subway car, and the dining room is decorated as if a rainbow firework exploded inside of it. Of the near-infinite things to order on the menu, we particularly like the 40-centimeter-long beef taquitos and tacos de chapulines.

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysBig Groups

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 deluxe 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 for $8 a person.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

You won’t be the first or last New Yorker to host a birthday dinner at Wu’s Wonton King, a legendary BYOB Cantonese restaurant on East Broadway where king crabs spin on lazy Susans. That’s fine—there’s a reason lots of people have birthdays here. Call two weeks in advance and book the biggest round table they have (which fits 14 people). You can’t go wrong with the jumbo bowls of wonton soup and salt and pepper prawns, but if you want to go big for your birthday, request the whole suckling pig when you call and make the initial reservation.

photo credit: Ms. Kim's



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Dinner and karaoke make for a good birthday combo, but things can get pricey fast. So if you want to sing the alto part in ABBA’s “Chiquitita,” reserve a private karaoke room at Ms. Kim’s in Flatiron. Each space costs $120 per hour and fits up to 10 people. The difference between this karaoke spot and others is that the food here is much better than it needs to be. Eat some karaage and tender garlic soy chicken wings between sips of the tangy “Pear Planet” cocktail with rosemary syrup and lemon.

At Red Rooster, a built-in birthday party is already waiting for you. You can get a 20-piece fried chicken tower that comes with cornbread and three sides for $130, both upstairs and downstairs in their speakeasy Ginny’s Supper Club. Chicken aside, you go to Red Rooster because few restaurants in this city feel as alive as this one. The bar area stays mobbed, the DJ spins funk and soul tunes, and people always appear to be having a blast.

Chongqing Wharf in Borough Park is a fever dream of a hot pot experience. There’s blue neon lighting everywhere, it’s someone’s birthday every fifteen minutes, and you’re expected to know what you want to order the moment you sit down. For $49 per person, you get unlimited food for two hours, and that includes things like snow crab legs and whole lobster. While you can’t make reservations, you can join a virtual wait list. Join the list at least two hours before you want to actually sit down and eat, and plan to pregame somewhere nearby.

We’d guess that every day in New York City at least a handful of people who have only voted in one presidential election send text dispatches referring to the Kiki’s as “literally so fun.” It’s an uber-sceney spot where you can get sub-$30 liters of wine and huge portions of solid Greek food, like juicy lamb chops and feta-covered fries. They generally don’t take reservations except for big groups, so you should be able to secure one of the larger tables and skip the hour-long wait.

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