Freckled Foodie’s Guide to The West Village

If cooking in the kitchen is my one true love, dining out is definitely my side piece. The excitement of trying a new restaurant and sharing the experience with the ones I love, combined with the unique atmosphere and menu that every worthwhile restaurant provides, makes my stomach and heart do a happy dance. With every restaurant I dine at and enjoy, I immediately place it into a sub-category in my mind (or the ongoing 5 page note on my iPhone) and mark it for a future date. Fortunately for my friends, when I receive texts asking for restaurant recommendations for specific neighborhoods or occasions, I am always fully prepared and equipped with a quick response. With my love for sharing dining experiences of all kind and making sure all of my friends and reader’s never waste a meal at an un-enjoyable restaurant, I have created a new venture on my blog: Freckled Foodie & Friends Favorites, a neighborhood guide from foodies you can trust.  These aren’t your typical yelp reviews or google searches, but instead recommendations from food bloggers all over the country; people who take their food very seriously and who, I hope, you trust. Each guide will focus on recommendations from the writer’s specific neighborhood, because, what’s better than insight from a local!

To kick things off, the first guide will be to the West Village and written by yours truly, myself. Not only is this area filled an massive amount of NYC’s top restaurants and bars, but also the place I have been fortunate enough to call home for the past 4+ years.

The West Village Guide

Thes guides include recommendations for the common situations everyone so often finds themselves in. Parents are in town? Don’t take them to any average restaurant that you often frequent, do it big! Too tired or busy to cook dinner but still want something healthy? Grab some takeout that won’t leave you feeling like garbage. And for the times you either need a vegetable focused meal or a good burger and fries, we’ve got you covered.

See below for the first guide and stay tuned for many more to come!

Place to order a strong cocktail:

Employees Only: my favorite part about cocktails bars is having the opportunity to speak with the mixologists about what type of flavors / alcohol I like and then asking them to create whatever they feel like. I swear, this is the best way to find new cocktail combinations, and this is the best place for this practice. Go-to order: whatever the bartender is feeling that includes tequila or vodka

Happiest Hour: For when you want to feel like you escaped the dirty streets of NYC and entered some Floridian themed room filled with flamingos and pineapples. Go-to order: maid to order (mint, cucumber, and lime juice) with tequila

Entwine: The one bar in the West Village that few people have heard of that offers not only comfortable couches, but also a small patio out back. Go-to order: Moscow mule made with fresh ginger and served in the proper copper mug

The Garret West: Want to really confuse people? Take them to the Five Guys in the West Village, walk to the back, go up a random set of stairs, and enter a small yet incredible bar. Voila, NYC. Go-to order: the first lady (gin, cucumber, matcha green tea, lemon, egg white, fresh basil)

Best burger:

Bar Sardine: I am hesitant to include this in fear that people will learn about my best kept secret of NYC, but this is my happy place. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it, hands down best burger in the city. Go-to order (menu often changes): oysters, local burrata, and the fedora burger and fries

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Bar Sardine

Spotted Pig: I dream about shoveling these fries into my mouth. This classic burger and West Village establishment is an absolute must try.  Go-to order: deviled eggs (the best you will ever have), devils on horseback, chargrilled burger (beware, this comes with a heaping serving of blue cheese that can be removed if preferred)

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Spotted Pig

Corner Bistro: Want to have a great burger and probably the cheapest dinner available in the West Village? Go here. This no-frills (whatsoever) historical establishment will leave you confused how you only spent $40 for a burger and multiple beers. Plus, at the bare minimum you have the chance to get a pic under the famous neon sign. Go-to order: bistro burger with fries

Parents are in town:

L’artusi: The hype is real people, there is a reason this is so many people’s favorite restaurant in NYC. Attempt to snag a reservation and then order as many dishes that can possibly squeeze on to your table. Go-to order: dayboat scallops, roasted mushrooms, tagliatelle Bolognese, charred octopus, and the olive oil cake (this is a must)

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L’Artusi

Charlie Bird: Want to eat incredible food, drink from an extensive wine list, and halfway through your dinner notice the incredible hip-hop that is playing through the speakers in the background? Me too. If so, go here and love every second of your night. Go-to order: razor clams, farro (w/ sugar snap pea, mint, pecorino, pistachio), roasted farm chicken, and the olive oil gelator (must)

Blue Hill: For the best dining experience in NYC, go to Blue Hill. This probably requires some large life event celebration (big birthday, engagement, anniversary, etc), but the price tag is worth every damn penny. From the simply perfect raw vegetables straight from the Stone Barns farm to the three separate servings of dessert, this meal will blow your mind and question everything you think you know about food. Go-to order: the menu constantly changes, but there is always one staple: the best bread and butter that will ever exist

Date night that involves getting dressed up:

Dell’anima: The younger sister of L’artusi that so often gets ignored but deserves just as much attention. A smaller, more intimate, version serving up just as great food. Plus, if you are like me and enjoy watching the chefs of a restaurant in all of their glory, you have the option to sit at the “chef’s bar” and observe every drop of sweat that goes into making that perfect dish in front of you. Go-to order: avocado and ricotta bruschetta, charred octopus, bucatini alla arrabbiata, pork chop (this preparation changes but is consistently my favorite one in NYC), and espresso-rum almond cake

Barbuto: One word: chicken. This may be the main reason why you first decide to go to Barbuto, but there is also so much more. Go on a nice night when the exterior walls are rolled up (perks of having a restaurant in an old garage) and enjoy some great people watching and even better food. Go-to order: salumi plate (best one in NYC), insalata di cavolo, pollo al forno (non-negotiable), patate side

Quality Eats: NYC has a ton of great steakhouses, but, that being said, there are times I want to enjoy a great steak and not be surrounded by all males over the age of 40. In this instance, the best, and probably only, option is Quality Eats. Dig in to a juicy, delicious, perfectly cooked steak, with a great cocktail or flight of wine, and surround yourself with people in their mid 20s-30s looking to do the same thing. Go-to order: grilled nueske’s bacon (with peanut butter and jalapeno jelly), crab & avocado, seared scallops, the Don Ameche steak, and the this sh*t is bananas dressed up scoops (roasted banana ice cream, peanut butter caramel, candied bacon, cinnamon toast)

Date night where I can still wear leggings:

The Meatball Shop: A staple on everyone’s list and there is a reason why. Consistently good food, insanely reasonable prices, simple and home run booze options, and most importantly, meatballs. There are times I want to eat somewhere other than my kitchen and simultaneously still wear my leggings and sweatshirt, or, maybe head straight to dinner from a workout class, and this is where I go. Go-to order: classic meatballs with pesto over sautéed spinach with a family jewel (fried egg), or a spicy pork meatball sub with spicy meat sauce and cheese, both with a classic Moscow mule (served in the appropriate coper mug)

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The Meatball Shop

Girl’s night out:

Rosemary’s: One of my favorite interior decorated restaurants in New York serving up farm fresh goods. The perfect place to grab a big table with a group of girls, enjoy some cocktails, and go to town on the focaccia. Go-to order: fig and prosciutto foccace, kale celery caesar, and orecchiette with sausage

Aria Wine Bar: This place is the epitome of the perfect spot for a girl’s dinner. With reasonably priced wines, an overwhelming list of small dishes, and long wooden shared tables, it provides everything you are looking for. Go-to order (the menu and specials change often): mozzarella with prosciutto, octopus with celery and potatoes, orecchiette with sausage, lamb chops, and lasagna Bolognese

Malaparte: Where the menu is handwritten on a clipboard and you can sit outside in the heart of the West Village while enjoying authentic pasta. Go-to order (the menu and specials change often): burrata with prosciutto and arugula, whole branzino, and spinach gnocchi

Takeout without feeling like garbage:

Bareburger: Why is that whenever someone criticizes someone for being too thin they immediately say, “go eat a burger”. Yes, some burgers are egregiously filled with unnecessary ingredients and will leave you feeling like you need to roll out of the restaurant, but Bareburger is the last thing from that. Most likely because it sincerely cares about the ingredients used (all organic and grass fed), the food here provides you with the perfect mix of enjoying a burger and still feeling fresh. Go-to order: bison burger in a collard green wrap with pickles, jalapeno, avocado, spinach, tomato, sprouts, and spicy mustard with a side of sweet potato fries

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Bareburger

Taim: Yes, the falafel here is out of this world and arguably the best in NYC, but the Sabich sandwich is what will keep you coming back for more. With lightly fried eggplant, boiled egg, creamy humus, and tahini all stuffed into a warm pita, it is hands down the best thing you can buy for $8 in the West Village. Go-to order: the Sabich sandwich or the mixed falafel platter

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Taim

Chelsea Market (Dickson’s Meat Stand & Tuckshop): This includes entering the tourist trap of Chelsea Market and stopping at two separate places, but I promise they are close to each other and it is worth it. Plus, you should all know by now that if you enter from the side entrances you severely cut down the amount of elbowing through people taking selfies required. To make this meal, grab the half rotisserie chicken from Dickson’s Meat Stand (the best butcher in the area) and the kale salad from Tuck Shop (do not know who they envision eating this salad but it is an insanely well jam-packed tupperware). Together, this will serve two people, or your dinner and lunch for the next day because we all hate sad desk lunches, all for sub $10 a serving. Go-to order: rotisserie chicken from Dicksons and kale salad from Tuck Shop

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Combo meal from Chelsea Market

Ultra-health focused:

Springbone Kitchen: After a weekend filled with one too many drinks, chips, fries, or bites of ice cream and all you need is a healthy meal that makes you feel like you are doing something good for your body, Springbone is the answer. Go-to order: the big salad with chicken or RachL’s lamb & tabbouleh bowl

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Springbone Kitchen

Sweet treat:

Van Leeuwen: As someone who answers the “what is your favorite food” question by blurting out ice cream before the person is even finished asking, I feel very passionately that classic and original flavors should be the focus of a creamery’s menu. In a city that is filled with a thousand different takes on ice cream (roll ups, soft serves, flavors packed with unthinkable ingredients, etc), I am a sucker for the simplistic scoops. And that is exactly what Van Leeuwen perfects. Plus, they offer vegan ice cream that no other place will ever compare to. Go-to order:mint chip, cookies and cream, vegan chocolate, peanut butter fluff (if it is a special)

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Van Leeuwen

Big Gay Ice Cream: Although I just went on a rant above about how I will always lean towards the classic ice cream flavors, the combinations at Big Gay are something I am willing to leave my comfort zone for. Go-to order: salty pimp cone (vanilla soft serve, dulce de leche, salt, and a chocolate shell) or the American globs cone (vanilla soft serve, dark chocolate pretzels, and a chocolate shell)

All things brunch:

Bubby’s High Line: Pancakes, large open room, bloody mary’s, and biscuits. Bubbys does all these things perfectly and is the best brunch spot for any group, especially if a large one. Go-to order: buttermilk biscuits, banana nut sourdough pancakes, bubby’s breakfast, bacon, and a classic bloody

La Bonbonierre: This place is unlike anywhere else in the West Village. It is cash only, covered in magazine and newspaper clippings, inexpensive, and like a small-town diner. On the mornings I wake up hungover and all I can stomach is a simple breakfast and a strong cup of coffee, this is where I crawl to. Go-to order: 3 eggs sunny side up with toast, hashbrowns, bacon, and a cup of black coffee

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La Bonbonierre

Wild Son: A newcomer to the West Village, this Instagram worthy spot has healthy brunch options that don’t leave you feeling like poop the rest of the day. Go-to order: grandma Anna sandwich, grain & egg bowl with avocado and bacon, and buckwheat pancakes

5 thoughts on “Freckled Foodie’s Guide to The West Village”

  1. Wow – great spots to try! Thanks for this edited list of places to go to! Love the pictures and categories! Guess I will be visiting you a lot this fall!

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