There are groups of wasted 20-somethings still populating the sidewalks of the Bowery. It’s just that now they’re as likely to be drunk on $115 bottles of Barolo as they are on PBR.
Star chefs have descended -- Daniel Boulud’s DBGB bears a strong family resemblance to his uptown cafe -- and raised the bar for everyone. So current restaurants, menus, and, of course, prices are stark departures from the Bowery of old.
Here are a few places worth checking out:
B-Bar and Grill
One of the earliest harbingers of the Bowery’s gentrification, B-Bar has now become its grand dame.
The huge outdoor courtyard makes this the perfect place to have a drink and observe the scene.
While the food isn’t the reason people come to this restaurant, its standard burgers and brunch food are satisfying.
At 40 East 4th Street. Information: 1+ 212 475-2220; http://bbarandgrill.com.
This retro diner serves food and alcohol 24 hours a day, a major advantage for pre-(or post-) gig pick me ups.
The clientele is a mixture of hipsters and hipster tourists, so it’s a great place for people watching.
Another draw is its close proximity to the New Museum and all on-site and nearby parties.
The trick is to sample a few cocktails before digging into the food.
At 241 Bowery. Information: +1-212-388-0052; http://www.thebowerydiner.com.
DBGB Kitchen & Bar
Though this is Daniel Boulud’s least expensive restaurant, he hasn’t sacrificed quality.
The sausages are the ostensible stars of the menu, but small plates, like the fried egg and asparagus and the crispy calamari, are worth the trip downtown.
At 299 Bowery. Information: +1-212-933-5300; http://www.danielnyc.com
Hecho en Dumbo
If you can get past the $10 bowl of guacamole, you’ll enjoy a meal at Hecho en Dumbo, the unnecessarily swank Mexican restaurant that serves a range of small, delicious plates.
This is food that you won’t find at a taco truck: Try the Tacos de Tuetano, with bone marrow, wagyu beef tongue and avocado salsa, or the excellent Tacos el Alcalde, with smoked sable, braised octopus and shrimp with queso fresco.
At 354 Bowery. Information: +1-212-937-4245; http://www.hechoendumbo.com.
Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Just off the Bowery on Great Jones St., this Italian restaurant/grocery/wine bar puts an emphasis on fresh, wholesome comestibles.
Come here to pick up a fantastic loaf of ciabatta, or sit down for their excellent salumi board.
It seems pricey until you taste the food -- then prices feel entirely reasonable.
At 53 Great Jones St. Information: +1-212-837-2622; http://www.ilbucovineria.com.
The crowd at Peels is so self-consciously hip you want to dislike the restaurant, but the place is so nice you can’t help enjoying yourself.
The second floor is gorgeous, with soaring windows, a beautiful bar and spacious tables.
Try the beer-battered onion rings or the fried chicken. There’s usually a line, so be sure to make a reservation.
At 325 Bowery. Information: +1-646-602-7015; http://www.peelsnyc.com.
It’s a Keith McNally restaurant: despite crowds and unceasing cacophony, the wait staff is friendly and pleasant, and the food is much better than it needs to be.
The pizzas are a standout -- choose from a list of toppings to make your own, including arugula, egg, pancetta and pickled chiles.
At 282 Bowery. Information: +1-212-226-1966; http://www.pulinosny.com.
A block away from the Bowery on a quiet stretch of Bond Street, this is one of the best downtown spots to grab a relaxed drink or small bite.
It’s usually filled with a local crowd of young artists/writers/models chit-chatting over fava bean crostini, Moroccan meatballs and affordable bottles of wine.
At 26 Bond St. Information: +1-646-329-5836; http://www.thesmilenyc.com
(James Tarmy writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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