Whether you’re deciding to round up the crew, indulge in a romantic evening on the cusp of a milestone birthday, or simply striving to cap off your year in an unforgettable way, the decision of where to commemorate your special day can be quite a challenge. But have no fear. As your birthday inches ever closer, this curated guide is here to serve up tailored recommendations for all vibes, leading you straight to the best spots for celebrating your birthday in the city.
P.S. For more ideas on restaurants ideal for all kinds of celebrations, head here. If you’re looking for private dining rooms, we’ve got you covered here. And when you want to dine with your crew around a lovely round table, we’ve got a guide for that, too.
For the low-key birthday dinner…
If you’re uncertain about how you’d like to celebrate your special day but have an itching feeling that you should do something, consider paying a visit to Bar Bête in Carroll Gardens, which has some of the most excellent French food in the city (trust us) and a sleeper hit of a wine list. It strikes that perfect balance of feeling genuinely special without going overboard. Oh, and a must-order yellow cake with chocolate frosting for dessert, too.
See also: The beloved Vinatería, a women-owned wine and pasta haven nestled in the heart of Harlem. You’ll savor perfectly cooked pasta, carefully chosen wines, and the comforting embrace of a place that feels like home, drawing inspiration from Italian and Spanish cuisine.
For the BYOB birthday dinner…
If the idea of pairing your favorite bottle of wine or spirits with your meal without the anxiety of hefty corkage fees excites you, consider a BYOB-friendly spot for your celebration. While the scene in NYC may be on the decline, it gives you all the more reason to hit these two standout spots for a laid-back birthday celebration with exceptional cuisine and camaraderie.
Lucali holds a firm grip on Brooklynites’ hearts for good reason. Their New York Neapolitan-style of pizza, with its bubbly, thin crust, and their housemade grandma-style sauce is the ideal companion for a gathering with friends and family; it pairs beautifully with whatever bottle of wine you happen to bring along. Be sure to arrive promptly at 4 p.m. when they open to secure a coveted spot. (Note: Lucali accepts same-day reservations from Global Dining Access members.)
See also: Wu’s Wonton King reigns supreme as one of Chinatown’s best (and most fun) Cantonese establishments. It’s the perfect setting for a delightful get-together with a group of friends where you can order a variety of different plates. Don’t miss the Peking duck, which comes alongside fluffy bao buns; golden fried rice; or if you really want to splurge, the whole roasted pig or King crab special (both of which need to be ordered ahead of time). Another Chinatown favorite for BYOB celebrations, especially among somms? Peking Duck House.
For the romantic birthday dinner for two…
Indulge in a taste of history with a timeless classic at Gage & Tollner, the renowned Brooklyn restaurant and steakhouse that opened its doors in 1879. Treat yourself to iconic favorites like buttery, soft Parker House Rolls, rich she-crab soup with a touch of sherry, and Edna Lewis’s irresistible Fried Chicken. While all the desserts are rave-worthy, don’t pass up the heavenly baked Alaska to cap off your meal. For a proper nightcap, head upstairs to The Sunken Harbor Club. (Pro tip: When you first check-in, ask the host/hostess if they can save you some seats upstairs after your meal at G&T ends.)
See also: Winona’s, a family-owned restaurant in Bushwick, boasts small seasonal plates, an extensive wine list, and an inviting atmosphere where you’ll want to spend hours. Or try Eyval, a modern Persian eatery focusing on Iranian cuisine with a live-fire grill. Nura in Greenpoint is known not only for its thoughtfully curated design but also for its new American, Indian-accented food; don’t sleep on their delicious bread plate, with bread that comes out fresh from their tandoori oven.
For the birthday brunch…
You can’t go wrong with anything from chef Leah Cohen of Pig and Khao or Piggyback. Both Southeast Asian spots offer menus inspired by the chef’s Filipino upbringing, and they’ve both got bottomless brunch for no more than $22 per person with the purchase of an entree. Midtown’s Piggyback, has Asian bar food like fried chicken and a variety of noodles and rice and has more elbow room than the Lower East Side’s Pig and Khao, which caters to classics like sizzling sisig. Either way, you can’t go wrong. .
See also: From the team behind Altro Paradiso, Estela is an extraordinary, elegant spot for an exceptional brunch featuring bold but polished small plates in an intimate and cozy setting. Whatever you do, don’t leave without ordering the endive salad or the ricotta dumplings.
For the blow-out, splurge-worth birthday dinner…
If this is the year you’re going all out, consider checking out The Chef’s Counter at Manhatta. With only 12 seats, this 10-course, three-hour culinary endeavor changes every season and will give you a sweeping view of Manhattan as well as a front-and-center seat to witness talented chefs in action.
See also: For a milestone birthday and night to remember, head to Tatiana, By Kwame Onwuachi, which features global flavors that pan from West Africa and the Caribbean to Asia and New York City, with menu items like curried goat patties and egusi stew dumplings. Don’t miss the Bodega Special for dessert. But be aware it may be difficult to score a spot, and read this first to prepare accordingly. You could also make it a memorable night at Maison Sun in Boerum Hill, where you can experience their nine-course seasonal prix-fixe tasting menu while seated at the chef’s counter. Or maybe head to Sushi Ichimura for an unforgettable sushi omakase menu from chef Eiji Ichimura.
For the birthday buy-out…
Nothing quite says “birthday” like a buy-out, a private dining experience for you and your closest. So, consider heading to Cosme where you can dive into contemporary family-style Mexican cuisine with up to 16 of your dearest loved ones. They’ve got a variety of different menus to choose from, too. And while you’re there, do treat yourself to one of their many excellent cocktails; we’re partial to the Yuzu Raspado.
See also: Jonathan Waxman’s iconic Barbuto, where you have plenty of options for your special day, from a chef’s table for up to 20, a private room option, a cocktail reception, or even a full buyout. Whatever you do, don’t sleep on that famed roasted chicken. For more information on hosting a private birthday shindig at Barbuto, head here.
For something slightly more casual but equally delicious, consider a buy-out of Golden Diner, the Two Bridges/Chinatown staple known for its pillowy soft honey butter pancakes, killer breakfast burritos, pasta specials, and tasty Thai tea tres leches cake. To book at private party at Golden Diner, email email@example.com. Pro tip: Groups of up to eight can book via Resy, and groups of up to 10 can book via email and order from the a la carte menu. (P.S. Weekend brunch is walk-ins only unless you’ve booked a buy-out.)
For the birthday dinner guaranteed to satisfy everyone…
Fort Greene staple Miss Ada is perfect for groups with different dietary needs and restrictions. Chef Tomer Blechman utilizes local and seasonal Mediterranean ingredients to create full mezze spreads, and it’s always sure to impress.
For full-on birthday dinner vibes…
Step into another world at Maomao. This underground Bushwick dining room for Thai-inspired street food features old-school flavor and a rambunctious, loud energy reminiscent of a late night no matter the time of day.
See also: Miss Lily’s 7A Cafe & Rum Bar in the East Village, where it always feels like a party. Come for pitcher specials and some truly excellent Caribbean food. Or head to Peachy’s, the cocktail bar with dim sum bites in a Chinatown basement from Chinese Tuxedo.
For a wine-fueled birthday dinner…
Parcelle is a wine enthusiast’s paradise, boasting an impressive selection of more than 500 wine bottles, including some of the rarest vintages. While the wine alone is reason enough to visit, take advantage of the opportunity to savor the small bites or dinner menu crafted by chef Ron Yan.
See also: In Prospect Lefferts Gardens, you’ll find & Sons Ham Bar, a remarkable 20-seat neighborhood spot that lives up to its name, offering an array of locally sourced American ham, cheese, and exceptional vintages from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Don’t pass up Gem Wine either; it’s a cozy neighborhood wine bar that pairs small and large farm-fresh plates meant for sharing. And lastly, don’t forget about The Four Horsemen in Williamsburg. This charming spot boasts an intimate ambiance, a delectable selection of shareable, seasonally inspired small plates, and a thoughtfully curated wine list for a delightful accompaniment to your celebration. P.S. And if you’re wondering how to get a table, we’ve got you covered here; some prior planning is recommended.
For the birthday person who cares most about dessert…
End your evening on a sweet note with HAGS’ meticulously crafted dessert tasting menu. Comprising five courses, each exclusively vegan and thoughtfully designed to embrace the changing seasons and ingredient availability, this indulgent experience is available Tuesday through Saturday from 9 to 10 p.m. Please note that it’s walk-in only, so be sure to plan accordingly.
See also: If you want a dessert tasting menu experience where you can make a reservation, do consider stopping by Eunji Lee’s incredible Lysée. And if you’re looking for more ideas on where to dine where desserts are a non-negotiable, may we suggest taking a look at our comprehensive guide to some of New York’s best dessert programs? A few highlights include 53, The Noortwyck, and Ci Siamo.
For a birthday meal that makes you feel like you’re not in New York…
For those of us yearning to celebrate our birthdays abroad but without airplane tickets in hand, try heading to Wenwen for the, ahem, BDSM (brined, deboned, soy milk) chicken. The flavors of Taiwan shine through with their menu featuring homestyle dishes such as crispy fried tofu with garlic soy paste, lo ba beng, and fried tangyuan with ice cream.
See also: Looking to be transported directly to a beachside paradise? Head to Negril BK. This restaurant offers innovative Caribbean cuisine that includes favorites like jerk rotisserie chicken, crispy snapper, and the classic rum punch, providing a flavorful escape to the islands.
Or, if you’re lucky enough to secure a reservation, try Roscioli, either for their à la carte or tasting menu experiences. Crafted by the esteemed Roscioli team from Rome, their famed pasta and Italian cured meats and cheeses have now made their way to NYC, including their renowned carbonara. Get lost in their satisfying dishes, sip on some Italian wines, and let your imagination wander to sun-soaked summers abroad in Italy.
For the cocktail hour birthday…
Eager to celebrate without the whole sit-down dinner thing, which might feel a tad too fancy? Try a classy, elegant happy hour with Maison Premiere in Williamsburg. Enjoy a delightful combination of oysters and Champagne that set the stage for a sophisticated yet intimate fun beginning to your evening. If you’re feeling ambitious, experiment with one of their absinthe cocktails.
See also: Laissez Faire, a New Orleans-themed bar in the basement of the Beekman Hotel, knows how to make your night both fancy, fun, and full of spirits. Or, as noted previously, do indulge at The Sunken Harbor Club, a nautical-themed spot and speakeasy upstairs at Gage & Tollner, which will make your birthday smooth sailing.
For the immersive birthday meal…
Go beyond the ordinary and consider the allure of experiential dining, where dinner is more than just a meal, at COTE Korean Steakhouse. Known for its high-quality prime USDA beef and waygu, this Korean barbecue meets the classic steakhouse has an impeccable list of wines and a sophisticated ambiance. Order the butcher’s feast or, for a splurge, the steak omakase. P.S. Here’s how to get into COTE.
For the family-style birthday dinner…
When it comes to gathering your family and loved ones for a memorable dining experience where all tastes are considered, it can become quite a task. Head to Wayla in Downtown Manhattan for a family-style Thai feast. With inventive cocktails and bright rice dishes, Wayla is sure to be a delicious time.
See also: If you’re seeking a cozy, homey atmosphere paired with heartwarming cuisine, al Badawi in the heart of Brooklyn is your ideal destination. The extensive menu features a plethora of mouthwatering dips, fluffy rice dishes, and chargrilled meats that cater to a wide range of desires for all palates of your beloved guests.
Guides to Everywhere You Want to Eat in New York
- The Resy Guide to Celebration Restaurants in New York
- The Resy Guide to Excellent Private Dining Rooms in New York
- The Resy Guide to New York’s Best Round Tables for Group Dining
- The Ultimate Resy Guide to Splurge-Worthy Dining in New York
- The Resy Guide to Omakase in New York
- The New York Restaurants Where We Want to Be Regulars
- The Resy Guide to Italian Pasta in New York
- The Ultimate Guide to New York’s Great Steakhouses
- The Resy Guide to Late-Night Dining in New York
- 19 Great New York Tasting Menus Under $100