You have some cash, and you want to spend it. We aren’t going to ask how you got this cash. Maybe you saved up because it’s your birthday. Or maybe you bet some horses, despite the fact that you promised your mother that you’d never bet on horses. Either way, you seem like a smart person, and you want to spend it to maximum effect, at an excellent restaurant.
Many pricey NYC restaurants aren’t 100% worth it, but a handful certainly are, and if we had one night to do it up kind of big, we’d do it at one of these spots. Pick a place, and go confidently convert your cash into edible things.
Deep down, you want your life to be like Goodfellas. Although not the violent parts - the fun ones in the Copacabana. And that’s what Carbone is like. It feels like a movie set, and the servers wear maroon tuxedos. Think of it as interactive theater with very good food. So get a good group together, and try to get a reservation at a decent hour. Do a few pastas, some meatballs, and maybe the big veal parm. The food is red-sauce all the way, and you will not regret trading work-hours of your life for it.
If you want, you can come here at two am and drop a few hundred dollars on raw seafood. And you can chase that with steak and a lobster. Such is the magic of Blue Ribbon Brasserie. They’re open until 4 every night, and they have the sort of food you want to shove down your throat after a very long week. It also isn’t too tough to get a table here. So if you spontaneously decide that you want to drop some cash on bone marrow and fried chicken, this is the place.
The first thing you have to do is commit to being unhealthy here. 4 Charles is a dark, cozy restaurant in the basement of a West Village townhouse, and you come here to eat large amounts of red meat. Reservations are tough to come by, but just make a late one then show up early and see if they can seat you sooner. If not, get a drink somewhere. Then head back to 4 Charles and order their burger. That’s your appetizer. Prime rib comes next, and so do some negronis.
Babbo is a classic. It was one of the first NYC fine-dining spots that didn’t feel like you were in a museum. And, a few decades in, it’s still where you want to be eating. Come spend a chunk of your childrens’ college fund on a bottle of Barolo. And if you can’t decide between pastas, do the pasta tasting menu. As far as tasting menus go, it isn’t insanely pricey, but it still counts as a splurge any night of the week.
Quality Eats isn’t as pricey as a few other spots on this list, but it still isn’t cheap. Consider it a mid-range throw-down spot, and come here when you throw down on dinner and still have cash left for drinks afterwards. Start off with some nice, thick bacon and make sure there’s at least one steak on your table. Because that’s what they do here. Quality Eats is a steakhouse, but it isn’t a stuffy one. It’s on a lively block of the West Village, and it won’t be all old dudes in suits eating red meat just to prove to their doctors that they can.
Like Carbone and 4 Charles, you can’t see into Minetta Tavern from the street (because the blinds are always shut). But if you could see in, you’d see some cash being spent. Minetta is an old-school spot where you go to eat bone marrow in a room where writers used to hang out in the 30s, and it’s a good spot to try to snag a bar seat when want to spend some on a good dinner. Or, you’re the planning type, book a table in advance. It’s a great place to celebrate something, and it’s perfect for when you want to eat a burger that’s $33 and somehow worth it.
Walk by Charlie Bird, and it really just looks like a nice neighborhood spot. It’s casual and there’s a good energy to the place, and you might not expect them to have such a serious food/wine situation. But this is actually one of the best places to eat downtown, and you can drink out of a wine glass that cost more than your shoes (maybe). So if quality grape juice is a must, Charlie Bird is an excellent option. Order some wine, then get some oysters and chicken on your table, and you should be good to go.
Cosme is a little pricier than other Mexican restaurants around town, but other Mexican restaurants around town don’t have an uni tostada. And while it seems like everything comes with uni these days (and it’s only a matter of time before uni toothpaste comes on the market), this tostada is still worth your time. As are Cosme’s duck carnitas. It’s a half a duck with tortillas on the side, and it’s your duty to come with enough people to consume it. This is one of our favorite Mexican spots in the city, and it’s perfect for when you want to put on something kind of nice and are willing to spend money on a quality dinner.
Peter Luger has been open for over a century, and it’s where you go to throw down if you want to feel like you’re an old-timey political boss who just bought a few hundred votes then watched a bare-knuckle boxing match on a barge. You eat steak here, and also maybe bacon. But mostly steak. Split a giant porterhouse with a few other people, and don’t look at the handwritten price on the menu. Oh, and bring cash. They take debit (but not credit), although cash is more fun.
The thing about Uncle Boons is, you don’t have to go crazy here. You can come on a weeknight, share a few things with someone, and leave without feeling like you need to start selling mixtapes on the street (just to make some extra cash). Alternately, you can stop by this Thai restaurant with a few people, go to town on the plates both large and small, and make your way through a few punch bowls. Finish with the coconut sundae, and you’ve just had one of the best meals you can get in this city.
The Beatrice Inn is newly better (new chef and owner), and it’s now officially a good place to throw down. It’s where you go when you want the options of lobster, duck, oxtail, or a big side of beef, but you don’t necessarily want to hit up a Midtown steakhouse. Beatrice is in a West Village townhouse, it’s a beautiful space, and their menu has the phrase “trio of caviars.” Which means that you’ll opportunity to say it. So come here for a guys or ladies night when you want to go all out on exotic things like creme brulee in a hollowed out bone.
Upland is that person you wanted to be in high school. The one who always looked so put-together but could still hang at a party and never explicitly said “I’m better than you” (although this was always understood). This place is nice without being uptight, and it’s perfect for just about anyone who’s willing to pay for good food. And you really can’t go wrong when ordering. Get a pizza or pasta or some pork jowl covered in vegetables. Or get all of those things. Money well spent.