Girls’ night out has meant different things to me depending on my mood and, quite frankly, my age. When I was in my 20s, it meant rowdy nights at bars where the beer was cheap and Happy Hour came with complimentary food (aka “dinner”). Meeting men was also tops on my list. In my 30s, it meant nights ignoring men and concentrating on what my girlfriends were saying. It also meant a welcome respite away from the kids with strong Margaritas and meals I didn’t have to cook. Mid-life meant more of the same, albeit with the desire for a generous pour and a quieter atmosphere for catching up with old friends. Here’s a sampling of places meant for chitchat, gossip, cocktails, and friendship.
When you want some peace and quiet—away from the kids, the hubby, and the kitchen—grab a seat at Bar’Lees (157 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck, 914-630-7512), where you can sit down amidst an ever-changing array of artwork and let someone else serve you.
This five-month-old spot is quiet, cozy, and classy. It’s like being at a friend’s home—and the hosts don’t mind if you stay all night. In fact, lounging with glasses (or a bottle) of wine is encouraged. The drinks are the main draw—wine and whiskey have been hand-selected for your enjoyment—but there is seasonal food (mainly small plates), ideal for nibbling during conversations.
Fewer spots are better suited for a budget-friendly, beer-fueled rendezvous than the Tasting Room at Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (444 Saw Mill River Rd, Elmsford 914-741-2337), a no-frills space with a 30-foot-long oak bar, wooden barrels, high-top tables, and a glass door to view what’s going on inside the brewery. If you like beer—fresh, local, and oh so delicious—and enjoy being around young guys, this is your place. (The ratio was practically four to one on a recent night.) Just don’t come too hungry: The food is strictly munchies like nuts, chips, hot dogs from Village Dog from Thursday to Saturday, and pizza on Friday nights from the DoughNation mobile pizza truck, making the beer and the boys the main attractions.
A forerunner in Westchester’s Latin-chic scene, Don Coqui (115 Cedar St, New Rochelle 914-648-4848; 107 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains) has just added a second Westchester location, giving you—and your muchachas—more choices for toasting with sangria (three kinds!) and indulging in oversized portions of Puerto Rican specialties. This is a place for pure fun with a festive beat all its own. Depending on what night you go, you’ll find folks lined up in the lounge or at one of the three different bars (two on the first floor and a third on the second level, ideal for intimate dinner parties) or enjoying the restaurant’s signature Latin Jazz, Salsa, and Traditional Trio nights. It seems there’s always a party going on—and a reason to join in.
Emma’s Ale House (68 Gedney Way, White Plains 914-683-3662) may not be the first place you’d think of for a girls’ night out, considering its long list of craft beers and various sports games featured on the bar’s five TVs. Then again, we love the high-top tables, ideal for small-plate grazing; the fact that we can order something other than a Corona; and the chance to perhaps learn something in the process from Link, our favorite bartender, who “can make anything.” Another perk for girls on their night out: The bar area is large and separate from the dining room. (Loose translation: no kids here!) An added bonus for the single gals in your group: Very often, this is where the boys are.
It’s hard to resist a place that’s close to shopping—another fun female pastime—which is partly why meeting at Fig & Olive (696 White Plains Rd, Scarsdale 914-725-2900) in the Vernon Hills Shopping Center is so attractive. The other? The sheer gorgeousness of the place, with its open floor plan, double-height ceilings, and, to enjoy during the warm weather months, an outdoor seating area. The other attractive part: The heart-healthy Mediterranean menu, meaning everything (except dessert) is made with olive oil, not butter. And, of course, there are the inventive cocktails that will have you daydreaming of the South of France (e.g., Piscine, sparkling wine served on ice with fresh strawberries, and Summer in Provence, made with muddled blackberries, house-made rosemary syrup, fresh lemon juice, and gin). New since February: DJ Lou Annunziata spins music on Thursday nights from 9 pm to 11 pm with $10 special cocktails.
Everyone from PTA moms to 20-somethings gather at Lucy’s Lounge (446 Bedford Rd, Pleasantville 914-747-4740), where an inviting dance floor, foot-stomping live music, and a long list of drinks make for a cheerful atmosphere, great for big-number birthday celebrations, bridal party blow-outs, and, yes, girls’ night out. Open until 3 am during the week and 4 am on weekends, it has many features of the city nightclubs of your youth—but without the madding crowds and puke on the sidewalk. There’s more excitement on the way, including the soon-to-come rooftop terrace and the in-the-works food options.
Not into a night of food, drink,
Chocolations (607 E Boston Post
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Melanie Rose (914-834-2900), owner of the Larchmont-based beadz, will come to your home (or any other venue) for a jewelry-making party.
Looking to build your culinary repertoire? Bloomingdale’s (175 Bloomingdale Rd, White Plains 914-684-6300) and Sur La Table (125 Westchester Ave, White Plains 914-220-9810) offer a variety of cooking classes.
Lola’s Mexican Kitchen (169 E Post Rd, White Plains 914-358-4939) is the kind of place ideal for rejoicing. Girls, whatever you’re toasting, there’s a drink with your name on it here—including more than 80 different tequilas—as well as a lively atmosphere where you can let loose and make merry. The bar area is huge, with plenty of reservable high-top tables and lots of stools great for parking your purse and enjoying one of the eatery’s famous 16-ounce Margaritas or a small plate such as the black-bean hummus or the blue-corn calamari. You’ll find it hard to choose between the inventive food options (brisket taco, spicy Caesar salad, and Cajun fries, to name a few) and the cocktails (delicious and colorful Margaritas, Mojitos, and drinks in flavors like pomegranate, mango, and pear). Luckily, the space here is massive, so you can easily move your group into the adjacent dining room, where you can order house specialty Pablo’s Chicken—and another round.
Upscale and intimate with extremely comfortable digs and an attentive staff eager to make your girls’ night out perfect, The Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester (3 Renaissance Sq, White Plains 914-946-5500), is everything you’d expect of a lounge in the Westchester location of one of the country’s finest hotel chains. Go midweek (on weekends, it tends to be a bit crowded) for a seat by the dancing fire (it’s on from October to June) and sample a Hemingway Daiquiri or a brut rosé Champagne before digging into one of The Lounge’s delicious entrées. For a real splurge, head afterwards to the spa upstairs and make the girls’ night out a girls’ weekend in.
Looking for someplace easy to find, regardless of where you and your friends live in the County? NoMa Social (1 Radisson Plaza, New Rochelle 914-576-4141), a stone’s throw from I-95, is a great choice. Located just off the lobby of the Radisson Hotel New Rochelle, this revamped, remodeled, and re-energized space oozes a sultry, stylish vibe that’s sophisticated but not snobbish. Soft, purple velvet couches and white leather wing chairs allow small groups to gather and unwind. But the unconventional seating options are not the only gem. The cocktail list is long, with handpicked wines and 30 specialty Martinis (including five under 150 calories), carefully selected by Food and Beverage Director Colby Brock. The seasonal menu is big on both small and large plates, encouraging sharing and grazing. There’s also live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, with no cover, as well as a half-price Happy Hour just for ladies Monday to Friday from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, complete with a complimentary tapas taste.
Come warm weather, there’s nowhere better to hang out than the rooftop bar at Red Hat on the River (1 Bridge St, Irvington 914-591-5888), where you can sink into one of the soft, cushiony sofas and enjoy the view of the Hudson while sipping on a Pear Vanilla Martini. The downstairs bar is pretty nice, too, with an updated light-bites menu including Asian-style pork meatballs, organic quinoa bites, and risotto-squash beignets. We also love the tables outside on the terrace, where you can catch up with your friends as the sun sets. Sitting here, watching the Hudson lapping against the dock, you’ll be reminded why you love living in Westchester.
121 Restaurant (2 Dingle Ridge Rd, North Salem 914-669-0121) is your classic neighborhood haunt, a onetime farmhouse with a big wraparound porch, ideal for alfresco dining—perhaps a wood-fired pizza and a chilled glass of Chardonnay. The mood is laid back and homey, with reliable food and a feeling of community where moms tend to bond over leafy greens and bar specialties such as a Mr. Pink (St-Germain, raspberry iced tea, lemon, and Prosecco) or the 121 (Absolut Berry Açaí, pomegranate juice, and fresh mint).
At Taiim Cellar (11 Boniface Cir, Scarsdale 914-723-6900, the four-month-old lounge-y Middle Eastern wine bar, everything is made to order, including the flash-fried eggplant sandwich, the marinated beet salad, and the assortment of 12 hummus offerings (try the truffle oil, and/or the fresh basil), complete with a basket of warm pita. Pair the food with artisan cocktails with names like “Arabian Night Moves” and “Liquid Baklava,” or a selection from the long list of wines. By the way, owner Zamir Iosepovici is happy to suggest coupling your wine with an interesting assortment of cheeses, all of which arrive on a hefty cutting board with a thoughtful pairing of jelly or olive oil for the best flavor profile. If ever a place was made for women, this is it, with its healthy light-bites menu, cozy ambience, and Middle Eastern authenticity and hospitality.
Yes, it can be loud, depending on which night you go. But there’s no denying Village Social (251 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-241-6260) has a spirited vibe that makes this one of the coolest restaurants in Westchester. We love the oaky aroma that emanates from the wood-burning oven (ordering pizza here is a must); the nicely sized outdoor terrace (the better to gather on post-office hours with a gaggle of girlfriends and glasses of chilled white wine); and the roomy bar where it feels like you’ve just walked into the cool kids’ party. We also love the sign behind the bar that proclaims, “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time,”—a girls’ night out credo if I ever heard one, and the pitch-perfect backdrop for a noteworthy escape, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
Frequent Westchester Magazine contributor Jeanne Muchnick (jeannemuchnick.com) believes firmly in nights out sans men.