Llama San

If eating sophisticated small plates in a space that looks like a one-bedroom West Village apartment that costs $4 million is your idea of a good time, you’ll love Llama San. Their inventive take on Nikkei cuisine is consistently very good, and it’s one of our favorite spots for weeknight dinners that feel a little special without moving into over-the-top territory. 

This West Village restaurant draws a chic after-work crowd of people who’ve graduated beyond fast fashion and flash-in-the-pan hotspots. The space feels soft, soothing, and expensive, like a Pinterest board titled “blonde wood interiors.” The bathroom is filled with $80 scented candles and chic little knickknacks. It’s the kind of place to come on a date where you and your beloved can talk in inside voices about whether you prefer East or West coast uni and not feel pretentious. 

You can order a la carte, or choose from a $95 three-course or $108 four-course prix-fixe. The plates are small but sharable, and a few of them will impress even the most jaded New York City diner. The menu changes from time to time, but a few things seem to stick around, like the Wagyu nigiri that sounds like a gimmick, but it isn’t. There’s also a chicken thigh maki, blanketed in a rich aji amarillo sauce, that’s one of the most satisfying bites we’ve had in a while. We’d come here just to sit at the bar, eat this dish, and have a cocktail.  

Nothing here is bad, so don’t shy away from things that sound like they shouldn't work, either: the tofu bavarois with soy, grapes, and white chocolate quinoa is delightful. 

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