When does a group of women going out to dinner officially become a “girls’ night out”? We don’t have a clear answer to that, but it probably has something to do with Sex and the City.
What we do know is that “Girls’ Night Out” is one of the most popular “Perfect For” categories on The Infatuation - and for good reason: planning a dinner for your girl crew can indeed be a stressful situation. To that end, we’re here to help, with a list of places that are generally fun, mostly not impossible to get into, and with menus that should keep your whole group happy (and to any non-females reading this: we’re pretty sure you’ll like these places too).
You and your friends probably have quite a bit in common - you likely either share a workplace, a profession, an alma mater, a hometown, or a neighborhood. Or maybe you’re someone who’s actually good at making friends with strangers, which is impressive. But for all the things you share, we’re willing to bet there are going to be some differences when it comes to dining preferences: someone only eats plants, someone else only eats protein, someone else doesn’t eat gluten, and you’ll eat pretty much everything. The solution? Loring Place, the new Greenwich Village spot with an insanely long menu that doesn’t just cover - but excels at - pretty much everything.
If you need to convince anyone about going to Thursday Kitchen, just tell them about the drinks, which come in clear plastic Capri Sun-esque bags and have little glowing lights in them. Go ahead, Snapchat it. That’s what they were made for. But we really enjoy the food at this East Village Korean-influenced spot as well. The small plates, which actually aren’t that small, are all $12 or less, and everything from the soft shell crab with wasabi dipping sauce to the Korean seafood pancake to the avocado with pickled onion is highly enjoyable. They don’t take reservations here, so plan to come come early with a small group and grab drinks at one of the many bars in the area while you wait.
If you’re planning a weeknight group dinner when it’s warm outside, chances are you’re going to need three things above all: a patio, not-crazy-expensive prices, and lots of wine and cocktail options. LaRina has all of that, and maybe more importantly, very good pasta. If the $38 three-course pasta tasting menu isn’t going to work for someone in your group, something else on the protein/vegetable side of the menu most certainly will.
You all really thought you could make that Bali yoga retreat happen this year, but then you realized you’d have to rent out a corner of your apartment for several months to pay for it. Which would kind of defeat the point of being zen. Your next-best-option is a casual dinner at Selamat Pagi, which looks like a place you’d find somewhere deep into the Instagram Explore page - lots of pink and green, lots of wood, and lots of paper-lantern-lights. More importantly, they serve vegetable-heavy healthy Balinese food that tastes really good. This place is also very reasonably priced - you’re going to make the Bali thing work someday, we can feel it.
We don’t want to stereotype, but we’ll just say there’s an incredibly high likelihood that several members of your Girls Night Out group have done brunch at Mogador. Probably multiple times over. And we don’t knock it (although nothing is really worth a two-hour-plus wait on a Saturday at 1pm). But the better move is to use Mogador for dinner: it’s casual, but the part greenhouse, part loft vibe is pretty ideal for a low-key evening. Also ideal - you can eat reasonably here without trying too hard to be healthy.
It’s not your average Thursday night spot, but if you’re celebrating something, or you’re simply down to throw down a bit, ABC Cocina is always a good place for it. The space feels like a cross between Vegas and New York City (in a fun, not horrifying way), and the giant Latin menu is fantastic across the board.
Lalito is a new restaurant in Chinatown making food that’s a little bit Latin and a little bit California-inspired, and if you don’t know what that means, just know this is a cool, but not fancy new restaurant with good food and great cocktails. You’ll find things like vegan chicarrones, DIY pork tacos, and squid stuffed with hibiscus and chorizo, and there’s good music playing as well. The menu works well for everyone from vegans to adventurous eaters, and the comfortable yellow booths are a pleasant place to sit.
Does one of your friends wear fur jackets regularly, but not in a weird old lady way? Does she go to art fairs, and possibly hold the title of “creative director”? Take this person to Le Turtle, a Lower East Side restaurant where the tables are made of plywood and the servers wear what look like prison jumpsuits from the future. You might feel like you’re in some of gallery, but you’ll also enjoy yourself, and overall, this is actually just an excellent restaurant with good food and very nice service.
You’ve been tasked with organizing a group dinner before heading to a birthday party no one really wants to attend, and you’re scrolling OpenTable at 4pm in a daze. The criteria? Something somewhat central, moderately priced, and suitable for sharing, with strong cocktails, big tables and a pleasant environment. Galli has all of the above, and usually isn’t too hard to get into.
A sceney hotel restaurant probably either sounds really good or really horrible to you. But Narcissa defies all stereotypes of a fancy restaurant in a hotel, and it’s basically impossible not to like (read: your friend who finds a way to complain about everything might just be silenced here). It’s a beautiful space, the service is friendly, and it’s also easy to eat relatively healthy here - not because there happen to be a few gluten-free things available, but because the entire menu is oriented around seasonal produce. All the more reason for you to definitely get dessert - which is also excellent here.
Summer trip to the Amalfi Coast didn’t work out? That’s what Santina is for. This big, bright, colorful Italian restaurant looks more like it belongs on an Italian coastline than right under The Highline. The food is tasty overall, good for sharing, and while you can definitely order pasta, it’s also highly accommodating to people who only eat seafood or vegetables. Another thing: if members of the group are still drawn by the lure of Meatpacking (bless ’em, really) - this is your best bet for something that’s legitimately fun without being at all cheesy.
We’re not sure if it was an accident or if the guy’s a genius, but the owner of Red Farm basically created the ideal girls’ night out food. Modern takes on traditional dim sum, like dumplings with faces on them? SO CUTE. Emoji food aside, Red Farm is ideal for a communal meal in the West Village. The people watching’s top notch too.
“Something kind of healthy” is likely a phrase someone has requested in planning this dinner, and Cafe Clover is an excellent place to fulfill that need. It just so happens that the other details of this place work well for a girls’ night out: a prime West Village location, and an environment that feels like you could be in Santa Monica.
Barbuto’s kale salad is good enough to convert even the most stubborn kale-hater. (And yes, we have tested this theory.) But that’s not the only reason it’s girls’ night out appropriate: it has a warm but modern vibe, an outstanding indoor/outdoor situation when they open up the garage walls in the spring, and an excellent wine and cocktail list. Barbuto might not be “trendy” anymore, but it has aged extremely well.
“Maybe something cute in the West Village,” someone just wrote in the group chat, after shutting down your first twelve suggestions. Fine. Make a plan to go to Malaparte, which is really the platonic ideal of a charming West Village Italian restaurant. You’ll find a good wine list, great but simple food, and Italian servers who you’ll want to sit down with you at the end of the meal. For groups of six, you can book a table, but do know it’s cash only.
Empellon is one of those few West Village restaurants that’s actually good, and which you can actually get into. Fancy tacos and tequila for all.
It’s 6:30pm and the first predictable email comes through on your chain: “You guys. I’m really tired. I’m sorry to be sooooo lame but I think I need a Netflix night at home.” What you’d like to tell Sarah is that she’s not being lame - she is lame. But instead, you convince her (and everyone else now thinking of bailing) by telling her she can just come to Dante for one excellent negroni and then be on her way. Plus, there are very friendly and attractive waiters. And pizza and pasta if she happens to get hungry. Which she will. Because Sarah won’t end up leaving - Dante is the kind of place you just end up wanting to stay a while.
A girls’ night out loves Jack’s Wife Freda, and we’ve recently come to enjoy the newer Carmine Street location more than the original. The food is pretty much the exact same, but the room is more spacious, meaning you’ll be slightly more than six inches from a fashion blogger talking about Instagram. It’ll still only be about 12 inches, but it’s a big difference nonetheless.
If your group has expressed some interest in “dancing” or “partying” after dinner, Miss Lily’s 7A is a great option to consider. The Caribbean food is good, but Miss Lily’s is really about the environment, one which happens to turn into a dance party pretty frequently on Saturday nights.
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