My wife and I are coming to Manhattan for the Big Apple Backyard Barbecue in Madison Square Park this weekend. We're set for food on Saturday, but we'd like a cool Manhattan experience for Friday night dinner. Can you guys recommend anything fun and hip in the area around the Ace Hotel and Madison Square Park? We're open to any cuisine (except barbecue!). Entrees under $30 and some attention to bartending and cocktails would be a plus.
We can travel out of the neighborhood if you have a great recommendation a little further away.