As the publicists who keep sending us their drinks and menu promotions won’t let us forget, Valentine’s Day is not only around the corner, but also one of the most profitable days of the year for the restaurant industry.
Plenty of amorous and orally fixated couples have rushed to reserve their seats, but what options are there for those who’d prefer to use a candlelit dinner to end their relationship, rather than let it limp along until February 15? Is it better to blow a sorry-let’s-be-friends wad at Per Se, or to cut one’s losses — and all possibilities of future communication — in line at Taco Bell? It’s a perplexing decision for those who wish to air their personal drama in full view of the public. So herewith, a field guide of sorts to where to end it all, and begin anew.
10. Eataly. This high-end food court presents myriad opportunities for romantic sabotage. You can cry and argue to your broken heart’s content in relative privacy, thanks to the high shelves of artisanal chestnut curd and Calabrian olive oil. The nonstop din of the place helpfully muffles the screams of freshly scorned, and it’s often crowded enough that you can disappear before your now-ex can run you down and beat your ass. You may even have time to pick up a ball of fresh mozzarella on your way out. 200 Fifth Avenue, 212-229-2560
9. One if by Land, Two if by Sea. There’s an unwritten rule that you don’t set foot in this place unless you plan to come out engaged and/or en route to being naked. This makes it an excellent choice for sadists and masochists alike. A breakup here is a victory for perversity and the forces of darkness, if not the wallet: You may find yourself paying more to break up with your newly un-significant other than you did in the entirety of your blighted relationship. 17 Barrow Street, 212-255-8649
8. Cheep’s Falafel. If the name isn’t enough incentive, the cranky staff should make this an even clearer option for dispatching your paramour. What’s more, it’s perfect for the passive-aggressive: Since you obviously don’t like the person that much, why would you bother to go down the street to Mamoun’s, which sells much better falafel? As an added bonus, there are plenty of free paper napkins. The staff will grudgingly provide them, and then gaze at you with penetrating disdain as you repair to the sterile, semi-private booth in the back to mop up the tears you have caused. 129 Second Avenue, 212-777-7763
7. Any restaurant on Court Street before 6:30 p.m. For those who want to break up in almost total seclusion, but with the aid of a decent bread basket. It’s possible there will be small children present at this hour. That’s good, because you’ll be able to literally see the future you are avoiding with the person tearing up across the table.
6. Má Pêche. For those wishing to avoid a guilt trip and do right by their former flame, this is a decent option. Not only is the food good, the room is possibly one of the most unromantic in New York restaurant history, unless you’re turned on by paintings of half-naked men in gorilla masks. It’s also often half-empty, and those who are there won’t know you because they’re mostly clueless hotel guests and tourists. 15 West 56th Street, 212-757-5878
5. A bar. Any bar. Look, while it would be nice to get a meal out of this scenario, it would probably be even nicer to just drink to oblivion and then fall effortlessly into a dreamless, forgiving sleep. And if it’s not in your own bed, then so much the better.
4. Caliente Cab Co. On a similar note, why not opt for a place where the food is so bad that you’ll be driven to drink anyway? This works particularly well for both vindictive son-of-a-bitch types and those who operate on the assumption that awful food will provide an easy segue to “sayonara.” Also, the crowd here tends to be somewhat vocal, particularly when lubricated by endless shots of Patrón, so they’re unlikely either to hear what’s happening or give a shit. And given that romance isn’t really in the air here anyway, you’re probably in good company. 61 Seventh Avenue South, 212-243-8517
3. Char No. 4. Another sound option for the guilt-ridden gourmand. Full of both top-shelf brown liquor and excellent food, this Cobble Hill spot allows the perpetrator to ply his or her victim with the elixir of the gods, wait until it’s made everything nice and soft around the edges, and then move in for the (apologetic) kill. And because it’s a bar, this is nothing the staff hasn’t seen before. Most likely they’ll be happy to provide something additional to dull the pain. The lamb pastrami sandwich works particularly well for this purpose. 196 Smith Street, Brooklyn, 718-643-2106
2. Vesuvio Restaurant and Pizza. According to the Department of Health, this Bay Ridge establishment has the worst inspection score of any restaurant in the five boroughs. Ringing in at a whopping 101 points, it all but promises you and your date a fine meal made with ingredients sourced from dented cans and prepared free from the hassle of working thermometers, correct holding temperatures, and properly sterilized equipment. Hair restraints and personal hygiene also seem to be optional at Vesuvio, something that has further endeared it to its burgeoning rodent population. And to you, you special person! 7303 Third Avenue, 718-745-0222
1. Heartbreak. Jesus Christ. The name renders the food, drinks, and ambiance completely irrelevant. If you’re a stone-cold bastard with impeccable timing, this place may as well be called Jackpot. 29 East 2nd Street, 212-777-2502
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