The Lower East Side, perhaps more than any other NYC neighborhood, feels like a world of its own. Despite posh hotels and fine dining, the area still has enough grit to feel legitimate and enough undiscovered spots to feel special. If you have something to celebrate, and you’re willing to hike down past Houston Street, make it an LES date night at some excellent, less-chatted-about spots.
Many an unforgettable night begins with a single cocktail, and your evening to remember starts with a few sips at Attaboy, a classic speakeasy with industrial flair hiding out at Delancey and Eldridge Streets. Inside the skinny, brick-walled bar (replete with the scene’s bowler hats and dim lighting) you’ll find a cozy booth that’s perfect for sharing a few whispers. At Attaboy, each cocktail is a secret of its own, as there’s no menu. Bartenders instead ask you what your tastes are and whip up a custom cocktail on the spot. You may not know what drink you’re getting, but you won’t be surprised when it’s delicious.
Walk just a few blocks, and you’re at your next destination: Dirty French. Topping several critics’ “Best of” lists, this New York bistro causes a delectable ruckus by taking classic French stylings and boosting them with unexpected, bold flavors—like the green curry that pops up next to the mushroom mille-feuille. This killer app pairing mushrooms laced like French pastry with assertive spices matches the restaurant’s delightfully noisy interior, which boasts ’80s tunes and modern art. Before you’re too full from the addictively warm and herbaceous flatbread with fromage blanc that accompanies your table, save room for your main: the lamb saddle boulangère. Tender and flavored up with cumin, each bite continues the theme this place builds on: lip smacking. It’s worth noting that Dirty French only takes reservations one month in advance, but it’s a wait that’ll make your evening all the sweeter.
Rockwood Music Hall
Finally, before you’re done exploring, head two blocks west for a nightcap at Rockwood Music Hall. Three separate stages offer plenty of music every night. Red and purple lighting sets the mood as you camp out at a side table with a glass of wine. Onstage, a bunch of 20-somethings are channeling late 1980s’ synth rock—and doing a pretty darn good job at it, too. If you waltz over to stage two, you may find a blues band, complete with upright piano, heating up the joint.
Done well, a LES date night combines new and old, flash and calm, and the unique with the authentically New York. So grab a partner in crime and see how much the city has to offer, even within just a few blocks.