Walk into Ronin’ Stones on Clinton Street and you’ll see a counter with a few stools, some yakitori cooking on a grill, and (probably) no other human beings. Keep walking straight, and you’ll get to the real Ronin’ Stones: a tiny, semi-secret music bar behind a door that says “staff only.” Back here, there’s a small stage, a few tables, and records covering the walls. The music theme is pretty intense, which means they pretty much only play classic rock during the weeknights and jazz on the weekends. While you could technically have a full meal of Japanese food here, the room, unique experience, and short menu are better suited for a drinks-and-snacks date. We especially like the chicken meatball and the marinated beef tongue that comes with jalapeno relish, as well as the oden bowl with fish cakes in it. If the person you’re with likes music, they’ll think very highly of you for bringing them here.
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For barbecue on the Lower East Side, go to Randall’s. It’s counter-service, there’s a full bar, and they make some good sandwiches on bialys.
Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade
Two-Bit’s is like a smaller version of Barcade, and it’s a decent place to kill some time on the Lower East Side.
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If you need a quick snack in the East Village, try Dokodemo. It’s a counter-service spot with Japanese street food like yakisoba and okonomiyaki.
Suki is a Japanese spot in the East Village where you should go the next time you want comfort in the form of a fantastic bowl of curry.
Kanoyama serves some of the best sushi you’ll find for the money in the East Village, and maybe all of Manhattan.
Suggested by our writers
Bohemian has a secret phone number and referral process to get a reservation, but that’s not why you should care about this Japanese spot in Noho.
Pig And Khao
Pig And Khao is a Thai/Filipino restaurant on the LES that serves great food and feels like a party.
If you want a relatively quiet drink and some oysters on the Lower East Side, Black Crescent is there for you.
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