With each and every season, Greenwich Village welcomes a batch of new restaurants (and says goodbye to a few others), but Minetta Tavern will likely always endure. Nearly 80 years have passed since the beloved institution first opened its doors, yet scoring a prime time reservation there remains as difficult as ever, and getting a seat at the bar during dinner is no easy feat either. So what is one to do when savoring their legendary côte de boeuf or much touted Black Label burger is but a dream?
For those looking to stay within walking distance, there's no shortage of worthwhile alternatives with a much more accommodating seating chart. And while these spots may not have counted Ernest Hemingway and Dylan Thomas among their past guests, we can guarantee that they all capture the spirit of New York in their own unique way.
Although Minetta is deservedly well-regarded for its old-school French cuisine with a rustic slant, it's hardly the only place in this city that does it well. Nearby, Le Gigot serves bistro fare in a petite space that buzzes with romantic, Parisian-style charm. The menu sticks to the classics—boeuf bourguignon, duck confit, cassoulet—without any deviations. This unfussy traditionalism translates to refined but comforting food topped off with graceful service and a brief but wisely selected wine list.
Slightly to the north, Amélie offers a more casual atmosphere with one of the most expansive and diverse wine menus in the neighborhood. Although they do have a few hearty mains, the food is geared more toward small plates, cheese, and charcuterie for pairing with drinks. The Salade Amélie is the rare house salad that manages to excite, with a diverse mix of crunchy vegetables and a legitimately judicious dash of truffle oil.
Burgers (Besides the Black Label)
If we could only eat one New York hamburger for the rest of our lives, we might choose Minetta's Black Label burger, and we've made trips to the restaurant just for a taste of one.
But, given options, we'd happily consider many of the other bun-bedecked creations in the area. A strong nearby contender is Burger and Barrel, which, like Minetta, gets their beef from Pat La Frieda. Their Classic Burger, topped with all of the expected fixings, is sure to satisfy purists, while the Bash Burger keeps things smoky with an onion and bacon jam.
Also of note nearby is Daddy-O. The neighborhood watering hole is better known for its carefully selected list of spirits and unique cocktails, but their lunch and dinner menu fulfills all of our bar food fantasies. The burger is a standout, with meat from nearby Florence Meat Market. And just down the street, there's Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen, whose hefty Burger Deluxe will satisfy any cravings for a beefy, honest-to-goodness patty.
More Good Eating Nearby
Walking on any direction from Macdougal Street, there's no shortage of very good restaurants to choose from. But on any given night, the most popular spots tend to fill up quickly, giving way to waits that are almost as forbidding as Minetta's. Our standby on a bustling Friday or Saturday when there seemingly isn't a table to be found is Commerce. We'd head there just to get our hands on the bread basket, but they also excel at their own brand of new American by way of Asia, France, and Italy. And if you've still got beef on the mind, their porterhouse for two is a glorious homage to the classic New York steakhouse. For anyone planning ahead, scoring a reservation at Commerce via their Open Table page is easy enough.
Drinks While You Wait
So you're determined to eat at Minetta, even if it means waiting until the late hours of the evening? You'll probably want a drink or two while passing the time. There's no shortage of bars in the area, but we'd prefer to head somewhere that also has a few good bites to tide ourselves over. Fedora fits the bill perfectly, with quirkily named cocktails and offal-centric appetizers. A short walk away, Whitehall has a fantastic bar focused squarely on gin. While you're there, grab a few oysters or some mushy pea fritters from their menu of updated British cuisine.
What are your favorite Greenwich Village spots for enjoying classic and comforting fare without the wait? Let us know in the comments!