As an NYC-based brand, we love trying new restaurants and food trends in our amazing city. We fell in love with the “New York Happy Meal” concept–a martini + fries–from Grub Street’s Newsletter, The Year I Ate New York, by E. Alex Jung. We also happen to know some pretty kule people who know where to find this perfect combo, so we got their takes on where to find the absolute best—no surprise toy required. Read on for your next very, very happy meal 🍸🍟.
We asked some of our friends who know their way around the NYC martini + fry scene to recommend the absolute best:
Susie Park, Creative Consultant and Martini Connoisseur
Currently, my martini order is basically like someone ordering at Starbucks: Titos martini, dry, slightly dirty — the opposite of catholic school girl dirty, and no garnish (it takes away from the alcohol in my glass). My original is Kettle One martini, dirty, with extra olives.
The first time I had a Martini was at Pastis, the original location, at the communal table (which was filled with all of my friends). As a result, Pastis will always be one of my go-to Happy Meal spots, even at the new location. French fries are always ordered with aioli. JG Melon is my favorite NYC restaurant. They need to be mentioned. That said, their new fries are not my jam. Is there still a shortage of cottage fries? My order at JG Melon is a martini, fries (extra crispy) with a side of mayo, and bbq sauce. The back lounge at Greenwich Hotel, which is usually for hotel guests only, has fries on its menu. A cozy couch seat by the fire with a martini and fries, and a side of mustard is the perfect way to end a day. Polo Bar and Bemelmans Bar are honorable mentions. While not technically a “Happy Meal,” their snack caddies cannot be ignored. Plus, Bemelmans martinis come with a little sidecar.
At Pastis, I would wear a shapeless dress with puffy sleeves and KULE Betty striped sweater over my shoulders. At JG Melon, I would do jeans and a button-down, a KULE leopard cardigan, brown 20-year-old Gucci loafers from college, and heart socks. As for Greenwich Hotel: anything that looks like I’m coming from work, but really am coming from working on my couch. I’d throw one of the big striped totes in to complete my “work” look.
Zach Weiss, Head of Brand at Outerspace 3PL and Man About Town
No matter how fancy a restaurant or watering hole might be, I think the ultimate compliment you can pay to any fry is that it’s exactly like a McDonald’s fry, particularly regarding the width and crispiness. With that in mind, I think some of my favorite spots that get this right in New York are Raoul’s, The Standard Grill, Jojo, and The Polo Bar. On the martini front, I used to be a strict dirty-vodka martini, but these days I’ve been favoring the purity of the gin twist, probably due to spending too much time with some Brits this winter. If I’m feeling bold, I go for the Vesper, a combination of both gin and vodka with a bit of Lillet Blanc, or a Gibson with the little cocktail onions, provided it’s my last stop of the night, and my breath won’t be offending anyone I come across.
As for the outfit, I’ve got no hard and fast rules there. This is always dictated by the chosen venue, the present company, and, frankly, whether I feel like putting on a tie.
Alex Hill, Recipe Developer and Cooking Instructor
First is The Smith in The Flatiron. Let’s never hate on a chain restaurant with great bartenders! When I worked close by The Smith, my coworkers and I would go all the time for the mussels & fries and a good cold extra dirty martini with extra olives! I also like DUMBO House in Brooklyn. Although Dumbo House is membership-only, their fries are pretty slamming, be sure to get all the dips, including the garlic aioli, and their martinis are A++++! I mean, the rooftop overlooking the Brooklyn bridge while sipping on dirty martinis and eating hot fries is a win-win Friday night for me!
I would def wear The Sinclair cardigan (in black, of course). It gives cute and casual, but you can dress it up or down! I’m definitely also a sneaker girl, and pairing them with statement socks adds a nice little touch. So, I could also do biker shorts, a crop top, and socks for cute for a martini & fries type of night.
Brian Solis, Head of Fashion at Dora Maar
I love having the NYC Happy Meal at two places in NYC and with Edward Barsamian. Bemelmams Bar at The Carlyle and The Nines. When ordering at the table at either establishment, they bring a small vessel of the remaining martini from the shaker to refresh as you sip. I am a vodka martini, preferably Grey Goose, shaken and slightly dirty with olives and, if possible, with shards of ice floating in the glass. No condiments with my fries in a NY Happy Meal. The martini balances the salty fries and makes the perfect pairing. My other go-to pairing with my fries is a side of mayo, but sans martini.
As for New York Happy Meal dressing: Bemelmans wear a classic three-button fitted blazer, wide-leg pants preferably pleated (maybe with texture), a classic white button down, and monk strap shoes with a chunky sole. At The Nines, I wear an oversized coat, great knit, straight-leg clean pants, and a sleek loafer.
Chloe King, Fashion Market and Editorial Director
You know I don’t need much of a reason to get dressed up; last time I met up at Corner Bar for a martini, I wore a printed Helmstedt nightgown dress, striped (KULE!) socks, loafers, and a ski hat made out of raffia.
Jim Kuerschner, President at KULE
100% without a doubt, the answer is Edward’s in Tribeca. It’s a little hole in the wall (across from the more popular Odeon). It’s a neighborhood spot that always has a seat for you but with just the right amount of people to always feel cozy. When I was working in Canada, Jon and I would go there every Friday night when I flew home. They make a killer Pat La Frieda burger, cobb salad, and martini. And the fries are off the charts. For a martini: vodka, dirty, bone dry. For fries: gotta have ketchup. What more do you need? We had our wedding dinner at Edward’s there after getting married at City Hall in 2018. We are Edward’s’ #1 fans.
Dress code: everything from tuxes (i.e. my wedding) to tees (i.e. my daily life).
Sam Todd, Social Media and Marketing Consultant
My perfect NY Happy Meal is a dirty Hendricks martini with a few olives. (If I’m feeling indulgent, stuffed with blue cheese.) And for the fries, ketchup and nice grainy mustard are great, but mayo is absolutely required. As for the best spots to find one: Balthazar! Owner Keith McNally is up to his usual antics, and this will always be a no-brainer. I also love Fanelli Cafe, which has been one of the best places for an ice-cold martini (paired with a cheeseburger and fries) for decades. Then there’s The Odeon, another classic from Mr. McNally and one that has never let me down. Located right across the street is Edward’s, a lowkey spot that a certain gentleman by the name of James Kuerschner introduced me to years and years ago. I also love Julius in Greenwich Village. This one’s for the gays (although I recommend everyone visit Julius at some point while in NYC, no matter their persuasion) and especially for those who like their martinis very strong and very inexpensive. In The West Village are Jeffrey’s Grocery and its across-the-street sister (brother?) restaurant Joseph Leonard, which are some of the best spots to sit at the bar, chat with a bartender (who will most likely be the kindest person you speak with all day), and have a fantastic ‘tini. Last but not least is Soho Grand! As a former employee of this New York mainstay, I could never leave it out. It’s home away from home for me and many of my friends in New York and an ideal place to grab a “NY Happy Meal.”
And what am I wearing? I’m so glad you asked. A nicely structured coat (a friend once equated coats in NYC to cars in LA — it’s our place to put everything, and you’re pretty screwed without a decent one) over a worn-in white Oxford shirt, my favorite pair of APCs, and white sneakers paired with a fun pair of KULE socks (the “OMG” ones are my current fav).