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Ruffian

125 E 7th St

New York, NY 10009

Christmas dinner this year will be anything but traditional, which means you have every reason to try wine and small plates instead of glazed ham for dinner. Thankfully, this East Village natural wine bar has transformed into a holiday shop offering wine packs and pre-made dishes for pick-up and delivery. From cauliflower empanadas to thick basmati cabbage rolls, Ruffian’s $75 vegetarian dinner for two has a bunch of things you probably wouldn’t make yourself. Plus they’ve hand-picked 25 bottles of wines that you can get in-store, which will pair perfectly with your meal.

Even if the only thing you know about wine is that it makes you far more tolerant of being asked “so what do you do” at parties, you’ll enjoy hanging out at Ruffian, a 20-seat bar in the East Village that blasts old-school hip-hop and serves excellent Mediterranean food. It also happens to be one of the best places to learn about wine in the city. They have more than 250 natural wines, mostly from small producers in Southern and Eastern Europe, and the menu is broken into categories like Beach Sipping and Stoop Sipping. It’s the kind of place where the super knowledgeable staff describes wines as “funky as f*ck” while pouring tastes for anyone who’s interested.

No matter how much you know about wine, you’ll have a good time at Ruffian. This 19-seat East Village wine bar has over 250 natural wines, mostly from small producers in Southern and Eastern Europe, and the knowledgeable staff is always happy to go into detail while pouring tastes of obscure orange wines from Greece or oxidized options from the Jura. You could also have a great time just sitting on their patio with a date, eating some excellent Mediterranean food, and drinking rosé from the “Beach Sipping” section of the menu.

“This is the place to check out if you are interested in skin-contact wines from lesser-known places and rare grapes,” Goler says. “The team is super fun and friendly without any pretentiousness and will let you try anything. Plus, all the food is made in-house and right in front of you.”

Goler recommends Ruffian for date night and to share a selection of small plates. For more of a full-service restaurant feel with a wine list hailing from northern Italy and eastern Europe, Goler also recommends Ruffian’s sister restaurant Kindred right around the corner.

Ruffian is a wine bar, but you don’t need to care about wine to love this place. This constantly packed East Village spot blasts old-school hip hop, and the small room is filled with smells of toasting bread and frying bacon. Bartenders encourage you to taste various wines, and rather than lecturing you about mouthfeel and quaffability, they’ll use descriptors like “funky as f*ck” while pointing to the “Beach Sipping” or “Stoop Sipping” sections of the wine list. Of course, you’ll also have a great time at Ruffian if you do care about wine, and you can chat with the extremely knowledgeable staff about the 250 natural wines served here. Just don’t mention mouthfeel or quaffability.

Ruffian is a 19-seat wine bar, but it has as much going on as places 10 times its size. All of the food on the rotating Mediterranean menu is cooked behind the bar in full view of everyone, and the small room quickly fills up with smells of toasting bread and frying bacon. They also blast old-school hip-hop from the speakers, making the usually-packed space even louder. You can’t make reservations, so this place is great for last-second dates, or a solo meal where you break the ice with strangers by asking which of the 250 natural wines they’re currently drinking.

Wine grapes are like Batman - their struggle during development makes them stronger in the end. For proof, drink a few that were made at high elevations, where temperature shifts build character like growing up in Wayne Manor with nobody around but Alfred. For the next couple weeks, you can try a bunch of them at Ruffian, which has branded its heated, covered outdoor patio “Base Camp.” Pair wines from places like Argentina and Spain with khachapuri or smoked beet bao with sourdough buns.

If you’re meeting someone who gets excited about wine (or someone you want to impress with your own excitement about wine), head to Ruffian. This bar in the East Village has over 250 wines - most of which are natural options from small producers in southern and eastern Europe - and a very knowledgeable staff that’s happy to discuss fermentation methods, or to tell you what’s “funky as f*ck,” depending on your preference. Along with great wine, this place has a comfortable outdoor set-up built in front of their spot on East 7th Street.

Calling Ruffian a wine bar feels misleading considering we’d absolutely go just for their constantly changing menu of Eastern Mediterranean dishes. But not calling Ruffian a wine bar also feels inaccurate considering their wine list, which includes more than 250 bottles from small producers around the world, could keep us occupied for a very long time. Semantics aside, you should go to Ruffian, which is currently offering a $30 three-course tasting menu for the first time ever. You can reserve a table or walk-in from 4-11pm any day except Tuesday.

If you’re meeting someone who gets excited about wine (or someone you want to impress with your excitement about wine), head to Ruffian. This bar in the East Village has over 250 wines - most of which are natural options from small producers in southern and eastern Europe - and a very knowledgeable staff that’s happy to discuss fermentation methods. This place has a comfortable outdoor setup built in front of their spot on East 7th Street with plenty of room for you and a date.

On top of being worried about the normal date stuff, like avoiding awkward silences and making sure you don’t have arugula in your teeth, you also want to pick a spot that says, “I’m clearly into cool sh*t.” Try this 20-seat East Village wine bar. Get some really good small plates from the constantly-changing menu, then ask the bartender to tell you about some of the 250 natural wines they serve. That should give you a few seconds to check the food-in-teeth status with your phone camera, too.

The most important thing you’ll be consuming at Ruffian is wine. That’s not to say the food, which changes all the time, isn’t good - it is, especially considering it’s all made by one person standing behind the bar. But this is a wine bar first and foremost, with more than 250 (mostly natural) options for you to explore while you eat things like red lentil hummus or curried carrots and forget that “wine and cheese” was ever even a thing.

When: Mon-Sat, 5-7pm; Sun, 3-5pm

The Deal: $10-$16 Snacks; $13-$16 Glasses Of Wine

A small bar in the East Village serving excellent wine and some very good small plates. If wine is a priority for you (or you’re with a wine person), come here for Happy Hour. It’s one of the nicer options in the East Village.

The people behind Ruffian and Kindred, two natural wine bars in the East Village, are now offering pick up and delivery.

Ruffian is worth visiting just for the wine. With over 250 mostly-natural options organized into categories like “Beach Sipping,” “Stoop Sipping,” “Rootsy” and “Kool-Aid,” this is one of the best places to drink and learn about wine in the entire city. That said, you could also go to Ruffian just for the vegetarian food. The menu constantly changes, but all of the of Mediterranean dishes are shareable - like a dish with smoked carrot and cannellini bean dumplings in a fennel ginger broth.

People are particular about turkey. Some like it roasted, others enjoy it fried, and plenty more prefer it replaced by just about any other land-bound animal. Whatever your preference, Ruffian is happy to play a supporting role, with an “everything-but-the-bird” meal kit that includes all of the sides you’ll need for groups of three or six, while leaving the protein up to you. Something you should leave up to our favorite wine bar in Manhattan is, well, wine, which they’ve taken care of with Thanksgiving packages of 3, 6, or 12 bottles.

Calling Ruffian a wine bar feels misleading considering we’d absolutely go just for their constantly changing menu of Eastern Mediterranean dishes. But not calling Ruffian a wine bar also feels inaccurate considering their wine list, which includes more than 250 bottles from small producers around the world, could keep us occupied for a very long time. Semantics aside, you should go to Ruffian, which is currently offering a $30 three-course tasting menu for the first time ever. You can reserve a table or walk-in from 4-11pm any day except Tuesday.

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