Hopefully you’re leaving for a good reason. Maybe you’re moving back home, or maybe Mark Zuckerberg called to say he’s starting a second Facebook, and he wants you to run his Facelibrary. Whatever the reason, here’s where you should have your goodbye dinner with friends. These aren’t the most famous places in NYC, but they are the ones that you might miss the most. They’re the restaurants that you won’t really find outside the five boroughs, and they’re perfect for celebrations that are also just a little bit sad .
Minetta Tavern has been around for about 80 years, and it still feels like the sort place where you’d meet Sammy Davis Jr. for a martini. These days, it’s run by the same people behind Balthazaar and Cherche Midi, and that should give you a pretty good idea of what they serve here (meat). Stop by, grab a table beneath some black-and-white photos, and eat a piece of beef or a $33 Black Label Burger. The city you’re moving to probably doesn’t have stupid-expensive burgers that also happen to be worth it.
You could make the argument that your goodbye dinner should be a place you’re familiar with. Maybe even a spot that everyone knows about, a classic NYC institution. If that’s how you’re feeling, you could always try an old steakhouse like Peter Luger or an Italian spot like Bamonte’s - but we’d rather keep it casual. Do Roberta’s instead. It’s laid-back enough that one of your friends can get wine-drunk and start crying, and you can reminisce about every other time you’ve eaten this pizza.
If you’re having a quieter going away party, go Al Di La. It’s an extremely charming little place in Park Slope, and it’s the type of neighborhood Italian that you probably aren’t going to find in any other city (outside of Italy). The dining room looks like it was decorated by your Italian grandmother, and you’ll probably want to spend all night here. Just get some wine and some pasta, and you’re set. You should know, however, that this place only takes reservations for groups of 6-10, and if you don’t book ahead, you should anticipate at least a bit of a wait.
You’ll find restaurants like Pasquale Jones in other cities, but none of them will be as good. The pizza won’t be as thin, the wine list won’t be as extensive, and they won’t have the same upscale-yet-casual setup that makes you feel equally comfortable in a t-shirt or a suit. So if it’s your last night in NYC, you will not go wrong with Pasquale Jones. After dinner, you can take a long walk through Little Italy just to cement those memories of being upset with tourists.
It’s your last night in NYC, so you might as well pretend you’re hiding from a zombie apocalypse in a basement full of attractive people. La Esquina Brasserie is a Mexican restaurant underneath a casual taco spot in Nolita, and it’s where you go to eat grilled corn, drink tequila, and be around other people who are knowing participants in a scene. Sure, you’ll have to make a reservation, speak with a host, then enter through a secret passage that leads to a kitchen and down a set of stairs - but that’s just a great example of why you both love and hate NYC.
One of the first things you’ll do when you move to a new city is search for a place like Marlow & Sons. You’ll wander around, looking kind of dumb, until you ask someone where you can find a casual spot with really good food. A place that serves coffee in the daytime, and, at night, turns into a dark, vibey restaurant where you might get seated next to a mildly famous musician. That’s what Marlow & Sons is, and the cozy back dining room is the perfect spot for a farewell dinner that feels more like your band’s afterparty.
Despite all the Dutch tourists trying to find Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment, you still have a soft spot for the West Village. A part of you always wanted to live here. But if that never happened, just head over and spend your last night at Fedora. It isn’t impossible to get into, and it feels kind of like a secret since it’s below ground-level on a somewhat quiet street. The narrow basement space has a classic vibe, and a final NYC meal of excellent roast chicken and steak tartare is pretty appropriate, seeing as how you’ve eaten these things 1,000 times.
Freemans checks off all the most important criteria for a goodbye dinner. First off, there’s a lot of space (and some private rooms you can rent). It’s also hidden at the back of an alley, and the dark, hunting-lodge look makes you want to drink a lot of whiskey and tell stories. The food might not be quite as good as it once was (or maybe the mystique has just worn off a bit), but you’ll probably always have a place in your heart for this restaurant that used to be one of those places where you aspired to eat.
Mission Chinese opened in 2012, it got an annoying amount of attention. But it’s still open (in a different space, further south), and it has officially outlasted the annoying phase of its existence. The space feels like a party, the food is great, and it’s perfect for a night out with friends. If you get a booth or a big round table, you can can all hang out and drink cocktails in an old-school dining room that feels like the sort of place where 70’s adult-film stars would have eaten chow mein. And if you want to get the prime rib with steamed crab legs on top of it, that’s a goodbye dinner power move.
Blue Ribbon is like Cinderella. It doesn’t become its true self until around midnight. But instead of becoming a worse version of itself without a fancy pumpkin carriage, it gets even better. And that’s probably because this is one of the few spots where you can eat bone marrow, fried chicken, fondue, and raw seafood until 4am every night. Sure, the tablecloths are white, but you aren’t going to have to put on a suit and treat a server like your butler. So stop by anytime after 10pm. It’s perfect for a going-away party with a crowd that stays up late.