There's something that happens a lot at The Infatuation: people ask us not to write certain restaurant reviews.
The restaurants in question are never new hot spots, or places with a chef that anyone's heard of. Instead, they're usually reliable, affordable neighborhood spots - the kinds of places you can stop into for an impromptu Tuesday night or Sunday night dinner.
Places like Lovely Day.
In fact, probably a dozen people have asked us not to write about Lovely Day, begging that we not "blow up their spot," which might make us seem like assholes right about now. But after eating here about 100 times over the past five or so years, it seemed time. So here goes.
Lovely Day is a little cafe on Elizabeth Street in Nolita, serving Thai food, or at least Thai-ish food. It's a funky spot, with wallpaper that belongs in a dollhouse and tiny red leather booths and an old-timey cash register behind the bar.
The food is definitely not highly authentic or highly complex, but it is highly satisfying, almost in the way a great bodega egg and cheese is. The pad thai and the fried chicken and the green curry are always reliable: never too greasy or too sweet. Think of it as Thai comfort food. But the biggest draw is that it's highly inexpensive: hardly anything is over $10. That goes for the drinks too: there's even a full bar, and the cocktails are pretty cheap as well.
Lovely Day draws a "cool" crowd. On any given night, most tables are filled with people who look like they work at an indie film production company and own an impressive collection of distressed vintage jean jackets. If this means anything to you, the owners of Dimes apparently met while working here.
There's often a wait at peak times, but since we've already committed to blowing up Lovely Day's spot, here's another secret: there's a second dining room downstairs. They won't tell you about it upstairs, but if you go back outside and down the stairs on the left, you can try your luck down there. The waiting lists are separate, but everything else is exactly the same.
Simply put, Lovely Day is one of the cheapest downtown Manhattan restaurants where you can still feel like you've had a fun night out. Where you can have a plate of good food and a cocktail, in a cool environment, and get out for a little over $20. Forgive us for thinking everyone deserves to know about that.
Not too sweet or gloppy, the pad thai here is always a reliable order. We like to get it with shrimp or chicken.
Another noodle option, the Hobo Noodles are wide like pad see yew, and mixed up with some spicy chili sauce. We like to get these with beef.
The coconut-y green curry is another good standby. Do it with chicken.
Let's be clear about one thing: these are simply chicken nuggets. Definitely not authentic, but definitely one of the most popular things here. They come with a spicy mayo for dipping.
Vegetables are available too, and we always like to get a plate of these spicy green beans for the table.