Best NYC Birthday Restaurants & Ideas 2018

We made the plans, now you bring the balloons

Even if you're not celebrating this month, chances are you know someone who is. Here's where to go in New York City for dinner, the place to source dessert and a fresh list of gift ideas.

Where to Eat

For a Dressed-Up Affair: Juku

It's part cocktail lounge, part Japanese izakaya, part omakase—but this Chinatown hideaway is all class . . . even after you've downed multiple craft cocktails and pours of sake.

The Hard-to-Get-Into It Restaurant: Fausto

Spend the evening in the wine cellar at this Park Slope hot spot, and you'll be so charmed you might have to be dragged out. Owner and wine director Joe Campanale will put together wine pairings from an impressive list for your family style Italian meal.

The wine cellar at Fausto | Photo: Liz Clayton

For a Milestone Birthday: Scampi

Gather 50 of your closest friends in your own room at the gorgeously designed Flatiron newcomer for a meal of grilled branzino, braised pork ravioli and whole-roasted cauliflower. If you have a more intimate group, book the chef's table in the main dining room. With a full view of the bar—which will surely be functioning at max speed to soften the aging blow—it's the best seat in the house.

A Cocktail Spot with a Small Group: The Williamsburg Hotel

Walk in and head down the stairs, where you'll find round couches that enable conversation, live music and a bar that's central to the action. When you get hungry for dinner, sidle into a booth at new restaurant Harvey just steps away.

Something More Casual: Threes Brewing

The "winterized" yard at the Gowanus brewery lets you celebrate outside without freezing your brain cells. There are heated tents, hanging plants, food from The Meat Hook and, of course, high-quality drinks. 

Where to Get the Cake

Mah Ze Dahr Bakery

When the West Village bakery opened, it was all about the choux and the soft-serve—deservedly so—but its cakes are not to be missed. Both the dark chocolate layer cake and the chocolate cookie-crusted cheesecake are solid choices, but the chef's special chocolate-on-vanilla combo is a winning classic. Speaking of the choux: While you're there, pick one up for the birthday person of honor. Consider it the good-luck candle.

What to Gift

Products we have our eyes on that will help your friend (or yourself) live more deliciously.

Butter Pat Cast-Iron Pan

This chef-approved take on the kitchen staple is deceptively light, questionably thin around the edges and looks more like a bronzed antique than something capable of everything cast-iron pans are known and loved for. It even has a 100-year warranty, in case you have any doubts.

Steeped Coffee Tea Bags

This one is for those who know the best gift is that of a seamless morning routine. This newly launched subscription service supplies packets that look like Earl Grey but taste like a coffee shop-level morning brew.

To'ak Chocolate

Nothing says "I appreciate your existence" like the most expensive chocolate in the world. The company treats chocolate making the same way winemakers or distillers approach their spirits, and no two batches are the same.