As at Ditch Plains—and presumably all forthcoming urban-surfer-dude shacks—oyster shots are a favorite diversion, as is drinking in general. Behind the bar, the sort of recirculating plastic tanks typically used for grape and orange drinks at old-fashioned pizza parlors are filled with high-octane, neon-hued concoctions, while other cocktails are muddled with fresh fruit. If those libations don’t move you, you can opt for a nice sparkling Shiraz or McLaren Vale Riesling. But it’s not really that kind of place. It’s friendly, high-spirited, a bit crazed, and utterly unpretentious. That goes for the food, too—especially the “hot pot” of salt-and-pepper squid with a fiendishly good dipping sauce made with cream, soy, scallions, and a mystery ingredient that tastes a little like Heinz 57. The burger comes decked out in proper Australian fashion with beets and pineapple, and dessert means a classic Lamington or a pavlova, the tropical-fruit-strewn meringue puck that just might be the urban surfer dude’s answer to blueberry pie.
Address: 29 Bedford St., at Downing St.; 212-633-0202
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Prices: $2 to $24.
Ideal Meal: White-anchovy salad, cheeseburger or lobster roll, Besserat de Bellefon Brut Rosé.
Note: Breakfast is served all day, and, in an unusual twist, so are lunch and dinner.
Scratchpad: Three stars for combining the drop-in-anytime appeal of a diner with unexpectedly good food and an even better, affordable wine list.
Address: 153 Rivington St., nr. Suffolk St.; 212-253-5311
Hours: Dinner daily, from 6 p.m. to midnight. Brunch noon to 4 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $7 to $12; entrées, $9 to $25.
Ideal Meal: Salt-and-pepper squid, fried barramundi and chips, James Boag’s lager, pavlova.
Note: The chef will happily do a seafood tasting menu.
Scratchpad: Two stars for a convivial—if slightly uncomfortable—barroom setting, and food that isn’t an afterthought.