You don’t hear much about Georgian food in New York. You hear even less about restaurants that serve Georgian food and have live music. Oda House has both: Chef Maia Acquaviva, transplanted from the Republic of Georgia, serves up Georgian shish kebab, slow-cooked lamb, soup dumplings, and a hoard of cheese breads. And in homage to the East Village of old, the small restaurant left enough space for their weekend two-man band to serenade the diners with traditional music. Just think, you can get yourself culture and travel without leaving the city – and once you enter this delightful space, you won’t want to leave it.
76 Avenue B, New York
How often do you bother to hang out in the Time Warner Center? A WholeFoods and a couple stores that nobody can afford anything from – who would? I’m here to tell you that you should. Center Bar sits on the fourth floor of the building, captained by chef Michael Lomonaco. The bar offers cuisine in the form of small plates that range in price from $12 to $87, but it’s worth saving your pennies for this indulgence. Center Bar has three rotating piano players from 6-10pm, Tuesday through Saturday, playing jazz, Broadway hits, and requests. Sit back with a cocktail to unwind after work, listen to some great music, and contemplate the view of Central Park. New York, New York, A number one.
10 Columbus Circle, New York
Dead Rabbit, aside from having a fabulous name, is the kind of restaurant that New York used to have by the dozens: Grocery and Grog. The ground floor taproom offers the fare of any good working person’s pub – craft beer, cider, spirits, and informality, after which you can stop in the corner and pick up your groceries (provided you’re looking for vinegars, oils, dried fruit and nuts, tinned goods, and spreads). Upstairs in the parlor you can sit for small plates of oysters and clams brewed in beer or welsh rabbits (spelt rarebit it’s posh cheese-on-toast not rabbit), communal punches, and historically-accurate cocktails of the 19th century. Even better, the taproom offers a band playing Irish music to go with your dinner every Monday from 9:30 to 12:30, and on weekend evenings the parlor hosts a pianist to help you relax with your meal.
30 Water Street, New York
Tucked into the East Village, Euzkadi is exactly the kind of tapas joint New York deserves. A mosaic paves the sidewalk entrance to entice the artsy folk who reside there, bringing them into a world of ceilings painted like a Neolithic cave and wood bars, oil paintings and tchotchkes imported from Spain. The food is full of bold Basque flavors and the dishes are like those you might expect to find in this Spanish region – the menu is grilled meat- and seafood-heavy. On Tuesday nights from 8 to closing you can sit back with several small plates and a live Flamenco guitarist to help you unwind, and for those looking for a great weekend experience head in to hear the bartenders double as DJs.
108 E. 4th Street, New York
Chez Josephine is a restaurant that every New Yorker should know – those that already do wish that we could keep it jealously to ourselves. Open since 1986 as a tribute to his adopted mother, Jean-Claude Baker has created a place with such an atmosphere of welcome that you might think you’re visiting family from the moment you step through the door. The piano plays nightly, offering a steady stream of entertainment while you take in the atmosphere and enjoy the life of a fabulous woman. The kitchen serving up its delightful French bistro fare is open until 1:00am, so it’s already a favorite among theater-goers – make it your next stop and you won’t be disappointed.
414 W. 42nd Street, New York
There are more and more reasons to escape the confines of Mid-and Downtown Manhattan and venture above 110th street, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is just another of them. The decor may be fake roadhouse, but there is nothing fake about the meat, or the deliciousness of it. And the blues bands that play every week (with some others mixed into the rotation) are as real as any good blues can be. Catch the music on Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30pm until they leave in the early morning hours with an order of pork ribs or a starter of chicken wings on the table, and you might think that you’re way down south.
700 W. 125th Street, New York
Originally an old mechanic shop, but converted in 2003, Antique Garage is now a most comfortable restaurant – gorgeously stuffed to the rafters with antiques against exposed red brick. The menu is of Mediterranean inspiration, with Turkish and modernized Ottoman cuisine. Even better than a meal amidst the antiques (which you can purchase – they’re all for sale) is a meal amidst good live music, and every day but Friday is a day for music – most often jazz. The bands change per day, but they come back on a regular schedule, which you can find on the website, so you can always find your favorites.
41 Mercer Street, New York