Ask the Critic: Where to Eat Before a Night Out
Editor's note: Here to answer your questions is senior managing editor, former SENY editor, and frequent author of our NYC restaurant reviews Carey Jones. We'll take a few of your questions each week and give you the New York restaurant advice you're looking for. Email email@example.com with the subject line Ask the Critic to submit your question!
Dear Critic, I'm looking for affordable, fun dinner places in neighborhoods with good bars. I have a tendency to go out drinking on weekend nights, forget to eat anything, and then end up at some terrible dollar pizza or greasy kebab spot at 3 a.m. (and regretting it deeply the next day). I feel like actually, you know, having dinner might be a good plan. What are some casual dinner spots, particularly in good bar neighborhoods like the East Village and Williamsburg, where my friends and I can grab a good bite to eat?
Rather than a warmed-over $1 slice, why not pregame with pizza at one of the city's excellent sit-down spots: Kesté or Motorino? And rather than a midnight Big Mac, why not start with a respectable burger? Whitman's is in the heart of the East Village, and they've got burgers for your every mood: the pimento cheese-stuffed "Juicy Lucy," the brisket "Mangold" with red onions and horseradish, the simple but nicely executed "Upstate" with pickles and special sauce.
Depending on the hour, there may be a line, but Caracas Arepa Bar fits all your needs: a substantial meal, varied and affordable, and they've got locations in the Williamsburg and the East Village. Zizi Limona is another good Williamsburg bet, with creative Mediterranean fare that's great for sharing with a group; back in the East Village, 7 Spices is a no-frills but mighty friendly Turkish spot that, best yet, is BYOB—should you be inclined to start your night out on the cheap.
Nothing fills the belly like barbecue, and Mighty Quinn's is some of the best in the city; a pile of sliced brisket and burnt end baked beans will fortify you for any night ahead. Around the corner, Malai Marke is another great bet, a few notches above the generally mediocre Indian restaurants on East Sixth; vegetarians and meat-lovers will both be well-served by their excellent curries, and the seafood dishes are worth particular attention.
And if you're already out drinking, and really wanted to keep things on the cheap? You could do far worse than the free-with-a-drink pizzas at Alligator Lounge. Are they Slice-worthy? Nah. But they're made fresh and served hot and far better than plenty of those dollar slices out there. And cost a whole dollar less.
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