PLAN DATE: MON / MAY 20
Does Tijuana Picnic live up to its name? There’s Mexican food and picnic tables, but there’s also so much more. They turn your expectation on their head by embracing a retro decor, with multi-colored tiled walls, electric lamps, and the aforementioned tables covered in a glossy shine. The resulting vibe is casual but chic—as if a picnic was held in a hotel lobby. The food follows this formula (of breaking formulas) by serving up Mexican dishes with unusual flavors. Duck empanadas and goat cheese quesadillas offer something different but there are classics like skirt steak and elote if you don’t want to mix influences.
Imagine if your wealthy college friend with an art deco apartment started serving drinks and you’ve got Max Fish. Artsy meets dive bar here with bold colored walls, tangled string lights, red vinyl booths and a bathroom plastered with stickers and graffiti. The bar achieves that rare feel of being both hopping and relaxed, so you and your date can dance here but also have a conversation (and watch the dancers instead). They have a good selection of beers and will keep your glass flowing with the basic mixed drinks—just don’t go for an Old Fashioned here, or risk getting side-eye from a regular with a Max Fish tattoo (yup, this bar’s fans are that loyal).
Lower East Side
151 Essex Street, Manhattan
idk tip: The margaritas are strong and the music is loud, so come for that kind of good time.
120 Orchard Street, Manhattan
idk tip: Head downstairs for dancing to old school music and stay upstairs for hip hop.