Zach Hilty/

Nylon Nights

Where To Eat In June

Ten NYLON-y restaurants where the vibes are as immaculate as the food.

by Tim Latterner

A big night out doesn’t always mean stumbling out of the bar at 4 a.m. — it can also mean stepping out of a restaurant at midnight, just a little wine drunk. While you could achieve this effect anywhere that won’t give you the boot the moment it hits closing time, you’re much better off finding a “hangout restaurant”: a place with a menu and wine list worth camping out for, combined with an atmosphere that allows for (and encourages) a long stay.

It requires a delicate balance of lighting, clientele, noise level, design details, and cuisine — you want nice food, but not a series of overly cheffy dishes, and a bustling energy that’s not so popular that they need to keep turning over tables to meet demand. It’s a tough intersection of cool, pleasant, and newish (and if not newish, at least still fun-feeling) to find — but we’ve done the work for you by compiling a list of our most stood-behind multipurpose players in the nightlife scene right now.

This list is in no particular order, and it’s subject to change — but it is an of-the-moment reflection of what we’re feeling for June.


This East Village newcomer is sort of the nepo baby of restaurants in that it comes from the team behind Claud. If it were anyone else, I’d be writing, “A raw bar? For summer? How original.” But Claud carries a lot of weight in this neighborhood, and the food, as you might have read, it as good as they say. And as much as this roundup is about laid-back communal dinners, I do like that there’s one pick that’s more about the performance of being presented with food while you’re all lined up. Because of that, I’d recommend going with just two to three pals; otherwise, the ones on the ends won’t get to talk to each other at all.

I live two full train transfers away from Sailor in Fort Greene, but it’s worth the travel time. April Bloomfield’s new spot is open, airy, and delicious. (It’s also from Happy Cooking, the team behind other group-dining-friendly options like Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey’s Grocery.) It’s got a certain neighborhood charm while still feeling elevated and like you’re really doing something by going to dinner here. (If that doesn’t do it, the difficulty in finding a reservation will.)

When Casino first opened, I have to say I didn’t love it — it mostly made me miss the address’ former tenant, Mission Chinese Food. But after a recent visit, I’d like to retract my previous statement. Casino has fully grown into the restaurant it was always meant to be. There are a bunch of small-plates-with-cocktails places around Dimes Square, and I’m glad to have Casino as a more elevated, full-dinner location for pasta and “coastal” cuisine that still captures the area’s energy.


Before “Dimes Square” even became a term, Kiki’s was serving up some of the best Greek food this side of the East River. Now, it’s become a staple of the downtowner’s diet. There is always a line of people putting their names on the list, but those who snag a table at a good time are set up nicely with tzatziki, grilled octopus, lemon potatoes, and tin cups of rosé. The interior gets a bit crowded, and the tables in the back room are high-tops, so it’s best to keep this to parties of four or fewer.

Zach Hilty/

Calling COQODAQ a fried-chicken place is like calling 4 Charles Prime Rib a burger joint. At first glance, it reads like a cheeky way to be fun and humble with cuisine while still being expensive. But... it’s worth it. While COQODAQ is often referred to as a cathedral of fried chicken, it’s even more so about the wine and champagne pairings, which speak to the ambiance and experience. Chicken is also inherently sharable, so it’s better done in groups. Bring a few friends, spend the money, and order enough wine so that you’re not so affected by the bill.

Balthazar is still the power-dinner spot. The crown jewel in Keith McNally’s restaurant fiefdom in New York is always happening. Oddly enough, it functions similarly to how Bemelmans does in that the buzzy crowd is mainly young people in their mid-20s looking for a fun dinner before going out, and older people who have been coming here for the same thing since they were in their mid-20s. The high ceilings make the room feel alive and raucous, but depending on your seats, you can still hear everyone. There’s also a good blend of bar seats, two-tops, booths, and round seats by the window to work for groups of most sizes — though the good part of having a larger party is you have more chances to leave a postcard that McNally will repost on his Instagram. I’m at four now.

Third dates may go to Balthazar, but it means having a first date go well at Café Select. The Nolita restaurant is the perfect mix of unpretentious, not too expensive, but cool enough to find interesting. Now that I’m no longer single, I love it for the layout: There’s a row of two-top tables for date night and a back alcove for when we’re a party of four and want some more privacy. There’s even a back room through the kitchen for really big groups. Come for too many oysters and Aperol spritzes, and stay to people-watch.

If I were to describe chef Flynn McGarry, it would sound like a Sex and the City character that dated Carrie for two episodes and everyone remembers loving years later. (I mean that as a high compliment.) The 25-year-old, well-dressed, ginger-coiffed chef is a fixture on the downtown scene, and his wine bar feels like if your coolest friend threw a dinner party at their apartment. There’s an à la carte menu, but the best thing to get is the wine experience tasting menu.

For those looking for food that can do as much heavy lifting as the “scene,” this is the spot, brought to you by the team from Don Angie. The seafood restaurant is new, so it’s still developing its crowd of regulars, but its popularity fills the room night over night.

Wu’s Wonton King is at the center of a bustling intersection of downtown cool kids, but it’s not trying to be the new hot Dimes Square restaurant. Since it opened in 2016, though, it’s been bringing guests in steadily for its affordable, plentiful food and BYO policy. I’ve been to so many birthday dinners here where the group orders tons of dishes and has a fantastic time without spending too much money. If this list was ranked by cost-effectiveness, it’d be hard not to see Wu’s at the top.