This time of year always brings out New York’s mushy side when it comes to dining out: Which restaurants have the most romantic view? Which restaurants have the best decor? Which place has a wait staff I can trust who can keep my engagement ring on ice until I give the signal?
But what about restaurants for those who want to ditch their significant other before the day of love? For every adorable corner bistro packed to the brim on Valentine’s Day in this city, there’s an equally suitable setting for an unhappy ending. For those who can’t bear to take their relationship to the next level and are ready to throw in the towel, here are 10 New York restaurants where breaking up isn’t that hard to do.
10. The Modern, 9 West 53rd Street
Keep the vibe low-key while you’re being the bearer of bad news, and rely on a Danny Meyer-trained waitstaff to smooth over the mood. This tranquil spot provides a classy exit opportunity and servers who will do anything to ensure a convivial experience. So sit down to one last two- or three-course dinner and make your break with dessert. Afterward, you can walk through museum solo and take in all of the tortured painters who’ve found inspiration through tragedy/freedom.
9. Ellen’s Stardust Diner, 1650 Broadway
Times Square is full of places to dump old baggage, but how many places will sing to you in times of trouble? With a staff that’s more concerned about Broadway monologues and a tourist clientele just itching for real life New York drama, Stardust was made for breaking apart memories. There’s also the chance the singing will be so bad, your former lover will walk out on their own accord, which can really help take the pressure off.
8. Eat, 124 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn
Sometimes the best way to say something is to say nothing at all. Grab two seats at the city’s best silent dining experience, where you’ll be forced to let your eyes tell the story of why you’re refusing to make a duplicate apartment key. You’ll be amazed at the power hand gestures and chewing with your mouth open can have in telling someone this is never going to work.
7. Coffee Shop, 29 Union Square
Perhaps you need to realize your split at an off-hour (maybe on the heels of an hours-long after-dinner fight?): Head to this around-the-clock diner, a beacon of hope when all other neon lights have dimmed. Aloof service means you’re not likely to get any dirty looks and ear drum damaging music that will have longer lasting effects than your former partner in crime means no one will be able to hear you cry. What’s more, you’re close to a number of trains, which means you can make a quick getaway when the conversation comes to an end.
6. Salvation Taco, 145 East 39th Street
Any restaurant that combines games and finger foods immediately registers on the radar when scouting potential dumping grounds: Tacos and table tennis are distracting so you can conquer your emotions (ironically, this is what makes Salvation a good first date spot, too). Let whoever’s about to get their picture removed from your wall take their aggression out on the playing field before diving into some guacamole. Bonus: Plenty of margaritas and tequila are an order away if conversation turns further south of the border.
5. Jewel Bako, 239 East Fifth Street
If you already have the boys or girls lined up for a bar crawl to celebrate your ascent into singledom, do the deed over an immaculate sushi dinner at this East Village shoe box. No one can hate someone who takes them out to a pristine evening of finely presented seafood — so be prepared to cover the bill. But you’ll be in and out quickly (Jewel Bako’s omakase is bafflingly quick), and this restaurant is within close proximity to bars with cheap shots where your friends await to assist in the post-breakup recovery process.
4. Lavo, 39 East 58th Street
Despite the massive douchebaggery associated with this clubstaurant’s European clientele, there’s something to be said for breaking up in a place where people are known to dance in the aisles: Dropping a break-up mid-meatball is probably on the tamer side of what happens here. Loud noises and a room full of Italians that party well into the evening ensure any last minute screaming matches will go unnoticed. As a bonus, the downstairs club is the perfect place to head to if you’re in need of an immediate rebound — or you’re looking to celebrate your newly won freedom.
3. Roll N’ Roaster, 2901 Emmons Avenue, Brooklyn
Sometimes, we can’t wait to close a chapter on an old book as quickly as possible so we can get ready to start a new one. In those times, fast food is necessary, and there’s no better place to grab a quick bite for an even quicker break-up than the old Roll N’ Roaster. Caught in a ’70s time warp, this place has seen it all. Grab a roast beef sandwich or a black and white shake, then proceed to list all the things wrong with the term “us.” The super cheap menu is also a great way to start saving up for someone else who’ll love you better, and its way-out-there location ensures you won’t bump into anyone you know should cheese fries start flying your way.
2. The River Café, 1 Water Street, Brooklyn
Okay, so this iconic waterside restaurant really is one of the most romantic places ever thanks to its stunning views of Manhattan. But if you want to go out in a blaze of glory — maybe with an “I desperately want to love you but I don’t” speech that ends with a last night of getting frisky followed by an amicable goodbye — this is a good spot to book a table for two. And, um, if you’re doing the dumping, you should probably let your date face the window.
1. Zengo, 622 Third Avenue
Richard Sandoval’s self described Latin-Asian “test kitchen” is the ultimate destination for chopping off a testing relationship. Loud enough so that the crowd can’t hear your table chatter, and spacious and dim enough to give you privacy, the menu is replete with small bites you can order to share for that one last moment before reciting the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. The drink list is tequila-heavy if things go off the rails. And if you need to make a fast exit — highly recommended after a break-up — the restaurant’s proximity to Grand Central and taxis flying up Third Avenue can help avoid any awkward pauses after the bill is paid.