If your idea of going out to dinner includes an element of see-and-be-seen, there’s probably a very specific set of spots you hit up: restaurant-lounge Stanton Social, lux speakeasy Beauty & Essex, splashy clubhouse Vandal.
To go with their party vibes, what they all have in common is menus of easily shareable plates by chef Chris Santos, who's been an advocate for social eating over a decade before it became trendy. Now, he’s released a cookbook, “Share,” to make your dinner (though, have you ever considered brunch?) parties at home more fun, too.
We asked Santos where he likes to go when he gets out of his own kitchens (and isn’t busy critiquing others’ cooking as a judge on “Chopped”).
Out-of-town guests: “Tao Downtown is a must-see restaurant just because of its sheer size, and it’s just such an over-the-top experience. Bowery Meat Company is my favorite steakhouse in the city. It’s smaller, it’s located downtown, it’s just stellar.” 92 Ninth Ave., Chelsea; 9 E. First St., East Village
Hidden gem: “Macondo, it’s a small Latin American/Spanish sort of tapas-y restaurant, the food is really, really solid, they’ve got cheap red wine by the carafe that’s delicious. They’re busy, but they’re not a really buzzed-about restaurant.” 157 E. Houston St., LES; 2 Bank St., West Village
Solo dining: "I’m a big fan of the Emily restaurants in Brooklyn, Pizza Loves Emily and Emmy Squared. I live just at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, and sometimes if I have a day off and I happen to be solo, I like to cross the bridge and be in Brooklyn; it feels like I’ve taken a day trip.” 919 Fulton St., Clinton Hill; 364 Grand St., Williamsburg
Date night: “Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, which is more of a cocktail bar although they have food as well, but their cocktails are really magnificent. It’s a really beautiful restaurant, great place to take a date but also just a great place to go and sit at the bar. Also, Casa Mono, Mario Batali’s Spanish tapas restaurant — the food is great and it feels intimate.” 298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg; 52 Irving Place, Gramercy
Insta-worthy: “I love love love the decor at ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina, especially the Cocina side, I love the look and feel of that space. Vegetables are not my first choice — I didn’t get this body by eating vegetables. I’m definitely a meat first guy, pizza and pasta, but they have a section of side dishes under the title of ‘vegetables’ and I always find myself ordering all of them.” 35 E 18th St., Flatiron
Good for a group: “I just did a group dinner with a bunch of my friends at Beatrice Inn, and it was awesome. Angie, the chef there, is just crazy amazing talented, super genius and it’s got such a supper club, cool old New York vibe there. She takes meat all the way.” 285 W. 12th St., West Village