The neon sign above this corner restaurant beckons to weary and hungry passersby, promising wallet-friendly and edible snacks for the late night munchies. The taqueria does not disappoint, with tasty chorizo tacos and plates of enchiladas. Our recommendation is to grab a Topo Chico and carry your tacos across the street to the park benches. However, should you desire more of that Soho flair, allow us to introduce you to La Esquina's fancier digs. A not-so-secret door in the taqueria opens to a basement restaurant, complete with chic patrons, high-end cocktails and raucous good time. Think of it as family friendly up top with a big-time party down below.
Legend has it that the two brothers from Alsace, France came to Soho and were so poor they threw nothing out, not even the salt. But they did buy a little restaurant that was on sale. And soon, people trickled downstairs out of their illegal lofts to try the steaks and fish at low prices, even cheaper at the bar. That was over 30 years ago, today it's picture-perfect, candlelit interiors surround an impressive art collection. But none of that exterior beauty can compete with the inviting menu of Parisian brasserie favorites. A convivial crowd of up-and-coming models, elderly neighborhood regulars and the sort of women who look like they work in galleries happily convene for hearty glasses of Gamay and perfectly prepared steak au poivre.
From sushi to bakeries to fried chicken, Blue Ribbon Brasserie has become an institution in NYC, LA, Las Vegas and London. Rumor has it that the best steak tartare in town can be had here. The Brothers Bromberg's menu also boasts a variety of heavenly, chocolate-themed desserts that are perfect for late-night fits of entropy. Truth is the Bromberg brothers consistently get it right whatever it may be, from matzo ball soup to the fried chicken, to the beef marrow and oxtail marmalade eaten with hot crusty bread, no kidding. Blue Ribbon is a SoHo standby. Don't skip the Sullivan Street Spritz, by the way, a refreshing mix of Kronan Swedish Punsch and Hayman Old Tom Gin.
The long, well-lit space combines a 12-seat bar, perfect for grabbing a glass of Rosado and a few pintxos, as well as high-top tables and inviting leather banquettes toward the back. A young, good-looking crew, replete with designer shopping bags from the surrounding SoHo stores, fill all three spaces, chattering over glasses of house-made sangria and lightly sparkling cava. The crowd-pleasing Catalonian and Iberian cuisine is the true star, though. Tables runneth over with small plates like Medjool dates wrapped in salty bacon, plus silky slices of Jamon Iberico with Marcona almonds, as well as more substantial dishes such as grilled trout over lentils, or seared cubes of tender lamb.
The perennially packed Balthazar serves French bistro fare to about 1,500 impossibly stylish guests of media moguls, models and the people who break freshly baked bread with them. The escargot, braised in garlic and white wine, is a favorite, as is the classic tarte tatin. Linger over a glass (or bottle) of wine, and you're sure to see at least one boldfaced name. The highly coveted rear booths are unofficially reserved for the truly elite, so let your glance pass over all the restaurant's flatteringly lit nooks and crannies â" but don't stare, of course! This is New York, after all.
A neighborhood favorite for locals and travelers alike, The Dutch blends urban Italian and American flavors serving elevated takes on Southern American classics like seared scallops with citrus and slivers of radish, rabbit pot pie and perfectly fried local oysters. The buttery, jalapeno-studded cornbread is what other bread baskets aspire to be, and the inventive cocktails, solid beer list and carefully selected international wines by the glass keep things hopping at all hours. At the chic cocktail bar, a stylish, multi-generational crowd sips house-infused gins and classic Manhattans prepared by smiling, plaid-shirted professionals. Care for the briny and sophisticated? Check out the raw Prince Platter for $145.
On a small stretch of bars and restaurants favored by brunch-ing fashionistas and club kids heading to top-secret dance halls, Osteria Morini is a class act. Never mind who walks in, the atmosphere is still a bit rustic yet sophisticated. And, all the guests no matter how high and mighty are all there to sample Michael White's impressive northern Italian fare, such as homemade pasta, slow-roasted short ribs and an impressive salumi bar. Those with a thirst for the old country can order a glass from the well-priced Italian wine list, or perk up with the substantial affogato, a shot of espresso served over vanilla ice cream in a sizable soda glass.
The tables at King are close together, giving you that neighborhood vibe that makes you feel like you're a regular. King is an Italian restaurant with a menu that changes daily based on the freshest ingredients and seasonal goods. Expect 2-3 starters, a couple of salad choices, a pasta of the day, and a handful of meats and seafood, such as the quail chargrilled over rosemary branches with anchovy, braised Cicoria and butterball potatoes. A word to the wise that this isn't the cheapest option in town. With wine, expect to drop a few Benjamins and leave without a doggy bag.
Unlike King, Charlie Bird takes a more traditional approach to Italian food with classic dishes like spaghetti, gnocchi and cacio e pepe. But in modern Soho style, the spaghetti's paired with cauliflower, lemon and anchovy; the gnocchi tossed with ricotta and mint, and the cacio e pepe happens to be rigatoni. The atmosphere is lively, loud and young with a heavy sprinkling of hip-hop bumping on the speakers. If you're looking for a little less panache with your pastas, opt to go during lunch when the music is a bit more muted and the restaurant offers a $32 prix fixe.
The Bombay Bread Bar isn't your typical Indian restaurant. There's no lunch buffet, for one. Instead, the chef takes some liberty with the menu, infusing it with innovative dishes, including a green chickpea samosa and Goan-style pork ribs in a spicy vindaloo. On Sundays and Mondays, Kerala fried chicken hits plates in honor of the spices used in Southern India. Aesthetically, the space has serious style thanks to set decorator Kris Moran, a longtime member of Wes Anderson's creative team. As for the scene? Well, this *is* Soho, after all, so expect young design agency professionals, model types, and tech guys. Pro tip: don't skip the cocktails.