Here's one thing we can safely predict for the year ahead: You're going to have a birthday. And you're going to need to celebrate on said day, preferably with some sort of fancy tasting menu, down and dirty barbecue or good old-fashioned boozy fun. Book a table at one of these 9 restaurants, BYO party hats, and you're set for the year ahead.
You can order meat by the half pound, so get the full range—brisket, pulled pork, lamb belly, turkey—and let your group go to town. There may be a line, but the meat is worth it, and there's plenty of beer to pass the time while you wait.
Head to the back of Dan Kluger's buzzy new spot behind the discrete set of doors, and you'll find a communal table set for a night away from the crowds. Because nothing promises a year of happiness like starting things off with thick butternut squash "fries," aged cheddar and Brussels sprout-topped pizza, and a souped-up Blizzard from your childhood that'll make you wish you were turning eight again.
This Williamsburg neighborhood favorite does brunch with flair—but don't pinhole it as such. The black banquette-lined space upstairs is a sleek contrast to the whitewashed brick below, making it the ideal spot to tuck into for a celebratory night. The chef will work with you to create your ideal menu, be it family style or a set menu of his picturesque (and delicious) dishes.
Wish every meal could be a continuous stream of dim sum? Or that your birthday cake would come in the form of eggy custard tarts? You call the shots, so make it happen. Go for brunch at this cavernous, well-loved Lower Manhattan staple, where panfried turnip cakes, pork buns and plenty of dumplings will keep you full through to normal dinner hour.
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⑤ Il Buco
Walk into this hideaway off cobblestoned, celebrity-lined Bond Street and head down the stairs to the 200-year-old wine cellar. Edgar Allan Poe was apparently inspired to write The Cask of Amontillado here, and that's even without receiving plates of seared octopus and wild boar sugo. The sconces on the brick walls, exquisite Mediterranean food and alcoves brimming with bottles will trick you into thinking you're happily lost in Renaissance-era Europe.
Give it an hour or two, and you're bound to find yourself standing on a chair waving your napkin in the air like a white flag, surrendering all airs of composure. There's even a song instructing you to do so, and fans of the rambunctious Sammy's Roumanian vibe will love the no-holds-barred spirit here, complete with a family style Italian meal and firecracker-laden cannoli platter. And remember that "napkin shaking is for all ages," 90-year-olds included.
Head to Brooklyn for a full spread of Korean BBQ and private karaoke party rooms—all in one lively spot. When you're done belting out all the Pat Benatar that's humanly possible, soothe your throat with a beer across the street at Threes Brewing.
This underrated, homey Flatiron choice is a branch of a Russian restaurant, whose "authenticity hasn't been lost in translation." That means everything from the food (house-cured herring and a full array of more than 20 infused vodkas) to the wallpapered interior lined with old photos and adorable matryoshka dolls. Expect to get serenaded in Russian, with tambourines.
Age in style at this New York classic, where you'll get the chance to watch chefs as they prepare dinner for you and your guests. Go all in on a suckling pig for the group or opt for the roast chicken this place is known for. Suggested wine pairings are included to help take yet one more thing off your plate. And you won't need a candle: Dessert comes with a giant sparkler for a memorable finish.
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