Yes, Hill Country is a restaurant, but no hostess will seat you and no server will come by to take your order. Instead, arriving patrons are given a meal ticket, which they carry into a Texas-style market. At one counter, they order meats by weight, watching as pitmasters pull their selection from smoking pits fueled with Texas post oak and the menus of lesser barbecue restaurants. The menu includes the signature moist brisket—juicy, fatty morsels that New York Times’ reporter Pete Wells is said to order a pound of every time because it shows “Hill Country’s rotisserie barbecue pits at their finest.” Whatever meat guests choose, it’s carved onto sturdy sheets of butcher paper they carry with them as they stop at additional counters to collect sides and desserts.
Though all meat is served with white bread or crackers, a lineup of sides includes corn pudding, Longhorn cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese, and sweet potato bourbon mash. The dessert case displays temptations such as banana pudding, which Wells gushed is “built upon a custard so thick with eggs and cream it brings Paris to mind.” Guests can return to the counters as many times as they like; each item ordered is noted on their ticket, which they turn in to the cashier at the end of the meal. The menu has some devoted culinary fans—renowned food critic Frank Bruni named Hill Country one of his five favorite restaurants, for instance—but the eatery attracts a musically inclined audience as well. Downstairs in the Boot Bar, a state-of-the-art stage hosts nationally touring blues, alt-country, and honky-tonk acts that have included Dale Wilson and Roseanne Cash. The shows take place Tuesday–Saturday nights, and are often free of charge.
A parade of bas-relief pastoral figures cavorts across the entryway of Delia?s Lounge, signaling both the spirit of revelry and the wealth of mesmerizing visual artifacts to be found inside. A fireplace warms a room stuffed to its plush gills with velvet sofas, leopard-print banquettes, wooden sculptures, and a giant reproduction of the Mona Lisa serenely surveying the cozy scene. Until the wee hours of the morning, the kitchen fills the small, candle-topped tables with a variety of appropriately shareable plates such as pan-seared crab-cakes, chicken quesadilla rolls, hamburger sliders, and shrimp cocktail with house-made horseradish sauce.
New York Magazine dubbed Delia?s a Critics? Pick, averring that ?you won't find tastier, or larger, cocktails in Manhattan.? Martinis range from the spare to the sweet: Hendrick's Gin bears a simple slice of cucumber, apple martinis blend liqueurs, vodka, and an apple slice garnish, and the Godiva white-chocolate martini presents vodka, cacao, and white-chocolate liqueur in a glass lined with a chocolate drizzle.
Spherical lights seem to drift in smooth bubbly spirals up toward the ceiling of Fl?te Bar & Lounge?s Gramercy location. Conversation bursts effervescently off walls and artwork in a palette of ros? pinks and prosecco tans. Myriad champagnes and sparkling wines, including Perrier-Jou?t gran brut and a range of cavas, form lacelike crowns of bubbles in an atmosphere that aims to blend the French art de vivre aesthetic with a dash of NYC nightclub. Patrons can select single flutes or bottles, or they can sample several flights that showcase different grapes, a single producer, or the patience of a waitress willing to help you pick out all the bubbles. Cocktails lean heavily on sparkling wines and include bellinis, a blend of prosecco and fruit puree, which pair nicely with small plates of cheese and fruit or foie gras terrine.
Fl?te now operates locations in Midtown, Gramercy, and Paris. In Midtown, visitors descend a short flight of stairs before sinking into intimate booths or plush benches. The original Midtown location celebrates its speakeasy roots with fiery jazz nights every Saturday, complete with performers and guests alike dressed in period apparel.
Helping to spread laughs throughout the land, Helium Comedy Club hosts headliners and tomorrow's brightest stars at its Philadelphia, Portland, and Buffalo locations. In front of a tabled showroom that allows audiences a clear sightline and maximizes guffaw acoustics, a bustling calendar of familiar comic talent fills most of the week with levity, and open mic nights and standup workshops put aspiring jokesmiths higher up the comedy rung. Although the club holds guests to a two-item minimum, the menu inspires curiosity regarding maximum orders, with tempting dishes such as teriyaki salmon and seasonal chicken brioche.
Lovin’ Cup’s owners had a dream of creating a place that celebrates life’s pleasures and offers the unique and personal experience each of their customers seeks. And to achieve that dream, it took the combined efforts of all five owners to truly fill Lovin' Cup to the brim, each one specializing in a different area of the culinary arts or entertainment. The crew started with a simple, delicious menu of familiar eats made right, such as Angus beef burgers, gourmet pizzas, and hearty sandwiches. They paired these, with an array of craft beers on tap – plus more than 50 varieties in bottles – and a carefully curated list of international wines.
To entertain the brain's higher functions, they host game nights every Monday, open mic performances every Tuesday, and live music of every genre on Thursdays. Performances rotate between jazz, alt-country, indie, and rock groups as often as they change out their drafts on tap and, presumably, their socks. And finally, the owners paid similarly close attention to the artistic décor of their space, from the polished wood of their wine racks and tables to the mutable collection of art that peppers the walls.
Though its dining room is in the heart of Yonkers, La Bella Havana's food transports diners straight to Cuba with the chefs' homestyle Caribbean cooking. Drawing equal inspiration from the land and sea, hearty comfort foods include sauteed chorizo with fried plantain chips, empanadas with a variety of fillings, and massive servings of paella that the New York Times hailed as "the real deal: stuffed with seafood, chorizo and chicken, full of flavor and cooked to perfection." The drink menu similarly embraces its Cuban roots with hand-blended mojitos and other potent tropical cocktails.
But Cuba's presence inside the restaurant also goes beyond the edibles to its island-inspired decor. The walls give the appearance of rustic, exposed brickwork peeking through plaster and a glance upward yields ceiling fans and their distinctively leaf-shaped blades. Even the bar area is shaded by a thatched straw canopy, which shields the bartenders from the imported Cuban sunshine.