The SOHO Indoor and Outdoor Dining Scene, NYC
Indoor dining is, once again, gearing up big-time in NYC and the city's foodies could not be happier.
There has never been a better time to go out for brunch, lunch, or dinner and take a much-needed break from cooking at home while also supporting your neighborhoods' small businesses.
And while you're at it; don't be afraid to leave your local comfort zone and explore the food options that other neighborhoods have to offer.
After all, we are ALL in this together. The small business owner is the lifeblood of a city like the Big Apple. So, let's do what we can to spread the wealth around.
Now, let's take a look at some of the restaurants that are making waves on the SOHO foodie scene.
Open for indoor dining at 25% capacity, many of these restaurants are still offering heated outdoor dining.
But, do please call or email the specific restaurant for up to the minute information on reservations and their covid-19 protocols.
Bistrot Leo - Soho
An intimate 50-seat restaurant, Bistrot Leo brings you an authentic yet understated Parisian dining experience.
The interior of the premises will enthrall you. It is both colorful and classy without that all-too-familiar corny and dated "bistro" decor that one tends to find in many French restaurants throughout the city.
The man behind Bistrot Leo is John McDonald. This man of many talents established his reputation years ago with MercBar, a cool, ahead of its time lounge, which helped to change the style of Soho's nightlife.
Earning a Michelin star for Lever House restaurant, John was the editorial director and founder of City magazine. He also launched EBOOST, a performance supplement, as well as Tasting Table, a daily email publication with a focus on food, dining and recipes.
In addition to some very welcoming and socially-distanced indoor seating, you can choose to dine outdoors on their beautiful patio, which is decorated with all manner of potted plants, small trees and bushes.
When night falls, the intimately-lit patio is the perfect place to toast your love with a glass of bubbly.
One of Bitrot Leo's most popular experiences, though, is the Sunset Rooftop Dinner.
Reservations MUST be made in advance and at $75 per person, it's a genuine bargain. Seatings are 6 PM, 6:15, and 6:30 PM.
If you are celebrating a birthday, a promotion at work, or just want to make the evening out of the ordinary, this is the way to do it!
The view from the rooftop is spectacular and the decor is edgy, sleek and sexy with comfy sofas and chairs. Ikea definitely did not decorate this place.
As you sit and enjoy the sun as it slowly sets over the NYC skyline, you'll dine on delights such as Ceviche, (Long Island Blue Fin, oranges, avocado and Serrano peppers), duck fries, grilled salmon with pesto gnocchi and, for dessert, fresh out of the oven, decadent chocolate chip cookies.
Chef Jesse Freijo's diverse menu also includes a la carte dishes like escargot, sardines in French butter and Bone Marrow Casino with succulent chunks of Maine lobster.
As you would expect at a French restaurant, the wine list is second to none. However, if you are in the mood for something that is tasty and super-creative, then you must try one of their cocktails.
The Vive La Vie blends premium Santera tequila, passion fruit and pineapple juice with a dash of pink peppercorn, habanero and lime. This is one cocktail that has a kick to it, that's for sure.
Location and Hours
60 Thompson Street
New York, N.Y. 10012
Tuesday to Saturday 4 PM to 11 PM
Pera - Soho
An exotic and enticing blend of Turkish and other Mediterranean influences, the
the cuisine at this unique restaurant is like nothing you've ever had before.
One of the real joys of living in a city like New York is having the entire world at your doorstep. In most neighborhoods, you can sample food from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, all within walking distance from your apartment.
The diverse community of Soho is proof of that.
Together with their delectable menu, the overall ambiance at Pera is another reason why you should check this establishment out.
Warm and vibrant, the atmosphere transports you to a luxury vacation villa on the coast of Turkey.
Prepare to be spoiled by the attentive and unfailingly polite service, whether you choose to dine indoors or outside on the patio.
Just in time for the colder weather, Pera is opening their Winter Terrace.
Who says that you can't brunch under the sun or dine under the romantic stars
even when it's freezing or raining outside?
Pera's covered and heated terrace will be your destination no matter what kind of weather Storm Fields or Mike Woods predicts for that day.
After all, in the Mediterranean, it is always fashionable to dine out of doors!
To make an already great thing that much better; the good folks at Pera have an out of this world happy hour for you, Monday through Friday, from 4 until 6 PM.
To tickle your fancy there are signature cocktails available for only $8 while select wines can be had for the same price. Draft beers can be had for a mere $7.
During this most joyous of times, you can score your choice of two mezes for the aforementioned eight bucks.
There are a ton of scrumptious options to choose from including house-made Hummus, zucchini fritters, Halloumi cheese croquettes and meatballs Greek-style with stewed tomatoes, Feta and oregano.
Cocktails range from a super-refreshing peach and ginger sangria to the Turkish Apricot Margarita, made with Tequila, apricot puree, lime juice and Triple Sec.
The chef also turns out a totally approachable yet inventive a la carte dinner menu.
Let your senses be seduced as you indulge in Pera's organic beef burger, topped with Turkish slaw, Kasseri cheese ( if you like), and Calabrian chili aioli. This generously-sized burger comes with herb covered fries.
You will also enjoy tucking into their signature Chicken Shashlik. Grilled and marinated to perfection, the chicken breast comes with baby arugula, tomatoes, artichokes, sweet red onions, Bulghur rice and a side of warm pita bread.
Location and Hours
54 Thompson Street
New York, N.Y. 10012
Monday - Tuesday 5 PM to 9:30 PM
Wednesday-Thursday 12 Pm to 9:30 PM
Friday 12 Pm to 10:30 PM
Saturday 11 AM to 10:30 PM
Sunday 11 AM to 9:30 PM
Aurora - Soho
Aurora first achieved resounding success in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn re-defining what to expect from a "traditional" Italian restaurant.
Seeking to expand their culinary footprint on the NYC dining scene, the owners decided to venture into Manhattan, opening a second Aurora in Soho. And, all things considered, the sister restaurant, in terms of ambiance and happy hour offerings, just may have trumped the original.
During the Summer, the management added even more outdoor seating, which gave great joy to long-time patrons, who had been chomping at the bit to return to their favorite haunt.
But, it's the indoor space that commands one's attention. The dining room is a visually-striking mix of an industrial-chic and Tuscan farmhouse. The cool atmosphere sets the stage for a sensual and romantic evening.
Within moments after you are seated, a waiter will bring warm, crusty bread and a small bowl of olive oil to your table. You won't be able to resist dunking chunks of the toasty
bread into the flavorful olive oil.
But, try not to overdo it. You wouldn't want to spoil your appetite for the delights that are to come.
To start things off, regulars in the know usually opt for the risotto croquettes made with Porcini mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and crushed truffles. Absolutely addicting.
Another fantastic appetizer is the peach salad. Luscious peaches are mixed with arugula, shaved zucchini, hazelnuts and goat cheese.
As far as pasta, there are many options to choose from. Highlights include the Ravioli Burrata with mushrooms in a heavenly butter emulsion and the squid ink spaghetti that's topped with shrimp, crab meat, cherry tomatoes and zesty Calabrian peppers.
The kitchen does a flavorful grilled Branzino as well as a juicy half-chicken dish that is accompanied by a mound of broccoli rabe and fingerling potatoes.
Should you be craving a burger, look into the Aurora Black Angus offering. It is everything you are seeking in a hamburger and it's sided up with to-die-for Parmesan truffle fries.
Now, let's talk about that happy hour we alluded to at the beginning of the review.
Aurora's happy hour takes place every day of the week, unlike most other restaurants.
You will be treated to an array of beverage and bite delights from 4:30 until 6:30 PM. House red or white wine is available by the glass for seven dollars. Select lagers come in at a very reasonable $5.50.
Nine bucks will get you one of the bar's superb signature elixirs, the Cappelletti Spritz, which is a blend of Prosecco, Cynar and aromatic bitters.
At Aurora, the happy hour snacks are on the house! Yes, you heard that right!
Receive a complimentary plate of olives, cheese and Focaccia bread with your drink order.
While we're talking about special deals here, you might be interested to know that, during brunch, refills of their featured libations are priced at only $5. That includes Mimosas, Bellinis and the Balsamic Bloody Mary.
So, be prepared to kick back, laugh with your friends and simply enjoy being carefree for a couple of hours.
Location and Hours
510 Broome Street
New York, N.Y. 10013
Monday to Thursday 4PM to 11 PM
Friday 4 PM to 12 AM
Saturday 11 AM to 12 AM
Sunday 11 AM to 10 PM
Soho Park - Soho
Lush greenery abounds at this All-American take on a traditional German beer garden.
From the spacious, greenhouse-like dining room to the charming courtyard, replete with picnic tables and sun-splashed patio; everywhere you look, there are flowers, plants and trees.
It's a vibrant atmosphere that will get you in the mood to celebrate and make the most of your evening.
An extra reason to smile is Soho Park's inviting happy hour. Available all day, every day, happy hour here means $6 drafts and Coronas, $7 house wine and $9 Aperol Spritz, Mojitos and Margaritas.
On the go since 2006, Soho Park must be doing something right. They are located in a neighborhood that has no shortage of restaurants and bars to choose from; many of which have come and gone during the years that this beer garden has been in operation.
Locals, though, swear by the wide selection of beers, killer cocktails and food that, though it may not win a Michelin star, is hearty, unpretentious and filling.
Any beer garden that is worth its' reputation just HAS to have a couple of German dishes on the menu, right?
Well, if you are seeking a nice, juicy hunk of bratwurst or Kielbasa, look no further. The spiced kielbasa sandwich is topped with grilled onions and smoked paprika mustard. The kitchens' brats are as flavorful and authentic as you'd find in Berlin.
And, as far as hot dogs go, their frankfurters are old-school, with just the right amount of snap when you bite into your dog which, by the way, is drenched in a mound of sauerkraut.
However, if German-style sausages aren't your thing, Soho Park's menu features items such as beer-battered fish and chips (tilapia fillets) with house-made tartar sauce as well as a smoked turkey and portobello mushroom sandwich with melted Swiss and a sensational sherry-dijon dressing.
Perfect for the chillier temperatures is their big, hearty bowl of chili, which is layered with spices and Angus ground beef.
You can wash it all down with imported or domestic beers as well as drinks like the Soho Park Mojito, which mixes light rum and muddled limes with sugar, mint and a splash of soda.
Location and Hours
62 Prince Street
New York, N.Y. 10012
Monday to Saturday 11:30 AM to 9 PM
Sunday 12 PM to 9 PM
Boqueria - Soho
No matter how many times you dine at Boqueria, the experience never gets old.
The attentive, friendly service will spoil you and there is always something new to choose from on the menu. Plus, they might just have the best sangria in town.
Offering Barcelona-style tapas, Boqueria has a sleek, contemporary feel in both decor and the emphasis on farm-fresh ingredients prepared with flair and ingenuity.
Part of the overall experience comes from watching the chefs at work in the open kitchen.
Hand sanitizer is always available and the tables are appropriately spaced so that you feel safe and secure.
You can feel the joy on the part of the wait staff that they are back, doing what they love......giving you, the customer, a very special evening.
They have quite a selection of bebidas and tapas offerings during happy hour, which takes place on weekdays from 2:30 until 5:30 PM.
Besides the usual red or white varieties, they also have a seasonal sangria. All are available for just $9 during happy hour.
You can also have imported beer from Barcelona for five bucks, and a glass of vino de la casa for a mere $8. Also on special is their signature, Margarita. This drink is not for the faint-hearted as it's made with Shishito infused tequila and lime juice.
Happy hour tapas range from a plate of Aceitunas, (imported marinated olives ), and Escalivada, ( fire-roasted eggplant, onions, red peppers, yogurt, olive oil and fresh herbs ) to a traditional Spanish omelet comprised of organic eggs, confit potatoes and onions.
The a la carte tapas menu also has grilled octopus and lamb meatballs in a light tomato sauce with sheep's milk cheese.
Aside from tapas, Boqueria's kitchen offers a limited but delectable selection of larger plates. You can't go wrong with any of their paellas, especially the seafood version which consists of Bomba rice, clams, monkfish, sepia, squid, shrimp, mussels, saffron and salsa verde.
The Paella Montana, with chunks of roasted chicken, chorizo, kale and grilled peppers on a bed of Bomba rice ain't bad, either.
If you are a steak lover, then you simply must try the Carne a la Plancha. A mouth-watering 12-ounce hanger steak is smothered in piquillo peppers and pimento butter.
When it comes to sweet endings, the Spanish staple, Churros, is the one with your name on it.
You won't be able to get enough of this dessert that consists of fried dough dusted with cinnamon sugar with a cup of extra thick hot chocolate on the side for dipping.
Location and Hours
171 Spring Street
New York, N.Y. 10012
Sunday to Wednesday 12 PM to 9 PM
Thursday to Saturday 12 PM to 10 PM