First up, can I just say that writing an New York City bachelorette dining guide is hard! There are so many choices and I want you to love your experience in my city. So take a look through the below, but make sure to also check out my first NYC Dining Guide! It includes many, many more recommendations.
Restaurants have to meet a few very important criteria to make this list. First, they can’t charge you crazy rates for being a large party. Some restaurant require large parties to have a set menu and buy things like “beverage packages” and meet “room minimums.” You just want to go to dinner! So if they have a policy that will end up costing you $75 a head just for the food or will force you to meet a $2500 minimum in three hours (I am not making these numbers up, they are legitimate packages I found while researching this article), they are out! Also, they have to accept reservations. If you have a group of six or more, you are just never going to get into a nice restaurant without a reservation. Not on a Saturday night. No way. Unless you wait, like, two hours. And you don’t want to do that. You have some celebrating to do!
For this list, I let myself go up a little bit on price point for you. My first list focused on restaurants where you could pretty easily get an entree for $15 and still enjoy some ambiance. This time, I’ve upped my price point to places that average around $20-$25 an entree. I’ve made sure that each of my selections still has lower-priced options, but we can look at a whole new group of restaurants if we open the price point a bit. Eating cheaply can definitely be done in New York—what’s difficult is finding cheap eats with atmosphere. Lots of incredible hole-in-the-wall joints are making amazing food in New York, but many only have counter service or have six chairs crammed up against the wall in a railroad-style eatery. They can’t accommodate a big group. Or they won’t have that urban, energetic New York atmosphere you desire. I’ve tried to pick places that deliver on atmosphere, will serve great food and can accommodate a big party with ease (no easy feat).
Also, note: Happy hour is your friend. A lot of these restaurants have considerable deals between the hours of 5 and 7pm.
Pagani: A beautiful rustic Italian restaurant with plenty of candlelight and leather banquettes perfect for seating a large group (they also have a private back room that can accommodate 13). The homemade pasta dishes are the star, like the ricciatelle with wild mushrooms and arugula ($19.50) or the gnocchi with gorgonzola and black truffle ($23).
Flex Mussels: This place focuses on doing one thing really really well: mussels. The menu offers over 20 preparations, from the classic white white with garlic and herbs ($21) to thai flavored with a curry coconut broth, lemongrass and kaffir lime ($24) or decadent Maine lobster with bacon and a creamy chowder-like broth ($26). And yes, they do offer a few non-mussel dishes (helpfully listed on their “Not Mussels” menu), and a good happy hour menu. Save room for dessert and try the key lime pie in a glass, a deep fried whoopee pie (sinful but delicious) or a selection from their donut “collection.”
Bacaro: The ambiance of this little Italian spot is pitch-perfect for a bachelorette party. A flight of stairs leads down to a wine cellar–like dining room lit by romantic candlelight. The location is a bit off the beaten path, tucked away in Chinatown, but a quick cab ride will bring you to the heart of nightlife just a few blocks north in the Lower East Side. They’re great with groups and the food is lovely and quite affordable—braised pork shank with polenta will run you $20 or try a whole wheat pasta with duck ragu for $17.
The Mermaid Inn: The perfect spot for the seafood-loving bachelorette, The Mermaid Inn feels like a New England home with a bit of New York City flair. A daily happy hour from 5-7pm offers $1 oysters, $7 specialty cocktails like a Mermaid Mary and a menu of delicious snacks, like shrimp corn dogs ($3) or fish tacos ($3.50). The dinner menu is a bit pricier, with entrees like linguini and clams running $24, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a seafood restaurant with this high quality at a lower price.
Burger and Barrel: The ambiance of this winepub is warm, urban chic, with dark wood booths, brick walls and low lighting. Entrees like duck lasagna or Southern fried chicken will set you back $20, but you can also easily make a meal for the table with their sharing plates, which include things like a kale Caesar salad, chicken lollipops with Asian BBQ sauce or rock shrimp hush puppies for around $14 each.
Momofuku Noodle Bar: OK, I cheated a little on this one. But Momofuku is a New York institution and a dining experience not to be missed. The restaurant is small and incredibly popular (for good reason), but reservations are not offered…unless you order the fried chicken. Yep, the only way to get a reservation is to order the Korean fried chicken dinner ($135, including a few sides, but no drinks or other dishes—those will cost extra). Since the meal will feed up to 8 people, the cost isn’t prohibitive, so I let this one slip onto the list. So sue me. It’s that good.
The Frying Pan: Set on a barge floating in the Hudson River (docked next to a historic ship that you can also drink aboard), The Frying Pan is the perfect place to spend a sunny summer afternoon. Order a bucket of cold Coronas and some Old Bay French fries and enjoy the sunshine and the breeze off the river.
The Met Rooftop: Want a rooftop bar without the a hefty price tag or bottle service? Or just a fun way to end your visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Grab a drink on the roof! Open during the summer, the roof features a sculpture installation plus stunning views of Central Park and midtown Manhattan. Sunset is the perfect time to visit.
Tequila Park: You like the name already, am I right? Located in a courtyard of the Hudson Hotel, Tequila Park looks like the coolest little Mexican eatery you’ve encountered. With ivy climbing the brick walls and plenty of inviting seating, this is the perfect place to kick back with a margarita and a few yummy and inventive tacos.
Gallows Green: From the folks behind Sleep No More, an interactive theater experience unlike any other, this bar is a bit of immersive theater in and of itself. Take the elevator to the top floor and suddenly find yourself outside a log cabin surrounded by a pine forest. Inside you’ll find bunk beds that serve as seating, communal tables, plush armchairs, and an outdoor patio under the stars. Truly transporting.
Momofuku Milk Bar: Oh man, this place. They do such crazy/wonderful things! Their inventive desserts remind you of childhood favorites but are totally grown up. Best known for their crack pie and compost cookies, which must be tried to be comprehended, they also mix up a mean frozen yogurt and naked cakes in unique flavors like cereal milk (way more yummy than it sounds). Not a sit-down joint, but pick up for a celebration in the hotel.
Dylan’s Candy Bar: Worth a stop for sheer color and sweetness overload. Dylan’s is the ultimate candy store, packed with every sweet treat imaginable, from nostalgic favorites to new creations. You can also hold private events here, making it a great location for a sweet-themed shower. Or stop in at the Candy Bar for a candy-themed cocktail, like a Pop Rocks Explosion made with vodka, melon liquor, lime and orange juices and, yes, Pop Rocks!
Sprinkles: Two words: Cupcake ATM. Worth it for the Instagram alone, am I right?