Help me narrow my shortlist please. (NYC)

Hi, I’ll be heading to New York at the end of April with my partner. We will be staying on the Lower East Side.

I’m looking for restaurants with a bit of a buzz, but do not want to have to shout to be heard. Also in the evening I like to relax over my meal and would consider a sitting time of under 2 hours to be a rush. I don’t mind a quicker turnover at lunchtime.

I’m currently considering the following restaurants and would be grateful for any help weeding out those that are too loud or have a short turnover.

Italian - Via Carota, Etrusca, Foul Witch
Persian/Israeli - Eyval, Laser Wolf
Thai - Zaab Zaab Brooklyn, Lum Lum
Spanish/Portuguese - Cervo’s, Tia Pol, Casa Mono
Wine Bar - Claud, Four Horseman

I’ll be in New York for five days, and hope to dine in one restaurant from each of the categories. I’d gladly welcome any alternative suggestions.

Thanks in advance.


For Spanish / Portuguese, I’d make a strong rec for Tomino Taberna de Gallega. Have always enjoyed Tia Pol / Casa Mono during my pre-kids NYC days and admittedly haven’t been to either in years, but on a recent trip to NYC, we hit Tomino Taberna and it was an incredible meal. And love the ambience which retains that intimate, tapas bar feel without feeling cramped (i.e. Tia Pol).


Thank you, I’ll take a look.

Not sure if Via Carota takes reservations these days. They do have a waitlist, if you can get your name on the list sooner than later. I wasn’t able to visit on my last visit in 2019 because it was too busy and I got my name on the list too late. We enjoyed drinks at their Bar Pisellino across the street.

While Lupa has been around forever, we enjoyed Lupa’s pasta tasting menu when we couldn’t get into Via Carota. Lupa takes online reservations. The other place that looked good to me was Altro Paradiso

Some of my colleagues have been to Etrusca and have noted that while good, it is also uneven. I would chalk it up to being a newish operation, so it might be better to let them get their operations to settle in first.

Via Carota is great, but i think I prefer their sister restaurant I Sodi, maybe b/c they take reservations, but both are great.

Others to consider for Italian.

Rezdôra for great handmade, curated pasta (opt for the pasta tasting)

Marea for seafood centric pasta (get the octopus and bone marrow fusilli).

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Thanks for this, I’ll leave Etrusca for a later visit.

Italian - Via Carota is lovely, but if you don’t want to wait go at an off time. Otherwise L’artusi around the corner, or Carbone if you want that vibe.

Thai - There are write-ups of LumLum here. It’s not sceney / buzzy really, and it’s not relaxed in the 2h sense unless you go late. I like Wayla not far from where you’re staying, if you can get seated in the back. Thai Diner is hard to reserve but probably the buzz you want, though maybe not the extended table time.

Spanish - Go to La Vara over Tia Pol (I love Tia Pol, it hasn’t been Alex Raij for many years).

Wine bar - It would help if you could be more specific with what you’re trying to do here. In the meantime, I’d suggest Aldo Sohm or Wildair (very different from each other).

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I don’t have a lot of Thai in Manhattan, but I do like Soothr.

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This is great.

I had looked at Wayla as an option, so may go with that. It was the steamed fish & crying tiger menu items in both zaab zaab & Lum Lum that appealed to me.

Regarding “wine bars” - I suppose I’ve titled it incorrectly. I’m looking for a restaurant serving classic dishes, but in a more casual/modern setting.

The steak and the whole fried fish at Wayla are favorites for me. They do run out of stuff if it’s busy (for eg ribs, I have yet to try).

Re the other, what cuisine re classic dishes?

I suppose classic cuisine would be French, however with a more modern approach without the heavy amount of butter & cream normally associated with French cookery.

Claud’s menu is a great example, and I’ll aim to get a reservation there.

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My one visit there was plenty. I honestly don’t know what people see in the place - the food’s on par with any random “pick a protein” Thai place, and the less said about the drinks, the better.

Go to Thai Diner.


We had fantastic soft-shelled crabs at Cha Kee in Chinatown recently. And really good soft-shelled crabs at NY Noodletown, but at Noodletown you can’t sit for 2 hours.

When we were there, the soft-shelled crabs were only served in the evening.

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Lum Lum will be loud during dinner time.

Thank you. Would lunchtime be a better option? They don’t take midweek lunchtime reservations, would there be much of a wait?

I didn’t find LumLum loud on any visit but everyone has different tolerance for sound. (You can also ask to be seated on the bar side which has only 3 tables.) Less busy (and buzzy) at lunch as with everywhere else.

Id weed out Zaab Zaab brooklyn if you have an issue with a short turnover. They are very buzzy and crowded with it felt more emphasis on drinks than great food

I would just note that if its two for dinner, most places these days won’t let you have two+ hours at a table unless you are having a late dinner and there is no one after you. Many places will note on the reservation that a two top gets 1 1/2 hours a four top 2 hours. Any place that is buzzy is stacked with reservations. If your reservation is before 8, expect that there is a reservation following you and that the staff will be encouraging you to move on as there will be another couple waiting impatiently. We had this happen just a few weeks ago and the manager was trying to manage a very awkward situation where there was a two top lingering far past their allotted time. We were impatient but reasonable and when we were seated a 1/2 hour past our chosen time they comped us with wine, free bread and an app. Was nice but really threw off what I had planned to eat as I was filling up on the comped stuff before we even ordered.

+1 on La Vara.

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Good to know.

Would dining after 8.30pm on a Sunday or Monday increase my chances of keeping the table for 2 hours?