Butterfield 8 is a first-floor lounge with skyline views. At the back of the room, past the dazzling chandeliers and vintage ceiling mouldings, hangs a full-wall, photorealistic mural of a misty cityscape. The ambiance is classic Manhattan, but the menu looks beyond its neighborhood to encompass pub-food favorites from across the country, often tweaked into surprising new shapes. Mac ‘n’ cheese comes fashioned into crispy squares topped with bacon, jalapeños, and marinara sauce, and philly cheesesteaks are packed into egg-roll wrappers with garnishes of caramelized onions and spicy ketchup. As for larger dishes, the menu drops into Memphis for pulled-pork sliders, New Orleans for crab-cake sandwiches with Cajun rémoulade, and the New England coast for plates of citrus-tinged Atlantic salmon. Though the venue is the official NYC bar of the Denver Broncos, sports fans of all stripes are welcome to take seats at the 40-foot granite bar and cheer as their teams compete on high-definition TVs overhead or suddenly parade past the front windows.
Little Town NYC unabashedly hearts New York. Of its three restaurants, two are located in iconic Manhattan spots: one in Union Square, the other on Theater District’s Restaurant Row. Little Town’s fancy for the Empire State shines through on the menu, too, with homestyle dishes such as the Adirondack chicken pesto and an Angus beef burger topped with crispy Berkshire bacon. The Suburb Backyard BBQ platter is piled high with enough buffalo wings, Nathan's hot dogs, and other locally inspired fare to feed a family of four.
Little Town NYC also takes great pride in its beer list, which features more than 100 local brews, including IPAs and amber ales that hail from breweries in Long Island, Ithaca, and Saratoga Springs. At the Restaurant Row location, you can enjoy a pilsner from Coney Island while sitting in a booth constructed from the beach’s old wooden boardwalk.
Ox Cart Tavern takes pride in crafting almost every component of its creative comfort cuisine from scratch, from fresh grinding all meats in-house to handcrafting its own ketchup. Chef David Pitula’s contemporary spin on American classics start with appetite whetters such as chili-coated sweet-onion rings ($4) or roasted-garlic and goat-cheese spinach pies ($7) with zesty chipotle dip. A board of burger options present variations on a beefy 9-ounce theme, with selections as versatile as a hula burger ($12), which dances to its doom with a sweet-savory stack of grilled pineapple, Italian ham, and Swiss cheese, to the bacon, cheddar, and sautéed-mushroom-topped Good ol’ Boy ($12), which attempts to distract diners by singing all 37 verses of “American Pie.” A pastoral version of fish 'n' chips situates beer-battered white fish near a pyramid of pickled vegetables and a heap of hand cut fries ($13), and the Gelato sundae ($6) sweetly caps the meal with a tower of homemade fudge and bourbon caramel, crowned with maraschino cherries, fresh whipped cream, and praline.
The warm woods and worn brick of Matts Grill welcomes guests to a menu of casual American fare arranged on colorfully painted china by executive chef Ray Camacho. An appetizer of buttermilk calamari begs for dipping in a duo of cilantro-tartar and sweet-chili sauces, and the grilled flatbread pizza melts three cheeses over a bed of bacon, mushrooms, and tomato. Nestled between French bread drizzled with basil aioli, a sirloin steak sandwich combines Continental and hearty American influences more elegantly than a steer dressed in a beret. A main course of imported penne mingles with fresh basil in a savory tomato sauce, and the roasted barbecue chicken beds down on southwestern fried rice. In a final dish of apple crisp, autumn flavors peek through light, crumbly pastry like a prize pumpkin hiding in a rose garden.
Dorian Gray, a literary-themed gastro pub bedecked with mahogany and distressed bricks, permits patrons to cozy up to beer and Irish-influenced fare. With one hand toting a pint of Dorian Gray Amber ($5) and the other a glass of Vinvita pinot grigio ($7), guests can use their mouth to graze on Irish cheddar mini burgers ($6) or signature, french-fried curry chips with four in the mornin’ sauce ($6). New Zealand lamb chops share a diner's attention with peas and mash ($14), and the doughy cradle of shepherd's pie bears beef, onions, carrots, and peas ($11).
Upscale Gastropub Cuisine | Snout-to-Tail Cooking | Irresistible Lamb Burger | Cask-Conditioned Beer
Where to Sit: Colorful curtains close off the dining room's booths from the surrounding hubbub, encouraging guests to lose themselves in private tête-à-têtes and aliens to take off their uncomfortable human masks.
What to Drink: The Spotted Pig Bitter, which is brewed specially for Breslin, attains its distinctive flavor from secondary fermentation in its cask. The beer foregoes artificial carbonation or pressurization, with bartenders hand pumping each pour into its glass.
The Chef: Chef April Bloomfield forged her skills in the kitchens of London's River Café and Berkeley's Chez Panisse. She wasted no time upon arriving in New York, quickly opening the city's first proper gastropub, The Spotted Pig.
Let the Kitchen Decide: Large parties can opt for the expansive chef's-table dinner, designed for groups of 8–12 and served just three times each night. These feasts might include whole suckling pig or balsamic roasted duck, accompanied by sides that are hand-selected by Chef April Bloomfield.
Using the Whole Hog: The menu is a veritable tribute to the many uses of pig, meandering from pork-fat-fried peanuts to the apotheosis of offal, the pig's foot for two, which is deboned, stuffed with pork, braised until tender, and fried.
While You're Waiting: Head over to the bar to enjoy craft cocktails, hand-pumped beer, and a playlist that "bounces smartly between rock and hip-hop," according to the New York Times.
Inside Tip: Guests staying upstairs in the Ace Hotel receive the singular privileges of placing reservations and ordering room service directly from the kitchen.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Pursue the exhibits at the nearby Museum of Sex (233 Fifth Avenue), which approaches its risqué subject with a deft mixture of playfulness and scholarly rigor.
After: Drink in panoramic views of the city's skyline while sipping a cocktail on the rooftop patio at 230 Fifth (230 Fifth Avenue).