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AOA Bar and Grill

Whenever my family is in town, I use this time to really take advantage of restaurants and scenes I do not frequent. AOA sits right across the street from the train stop I always use to get to and from SoHo, Canal Street ACE. The restaurant is located right at the triangle that turns SoHo and Chinatown into Tribeca. It wasn't until recently that I found out that the iconic red neon sign, AOA, stood for "Avenue of the Americas."

Starving after a full day out and about hanging out in Little Italy, traveling to Central Park for a stroll, then having overpriced mediocre drinks at the Jimmy (you pay for the view), my mother and I waltzed into AOA expecting to have to wait an hour tops for a table. Much to our surprise even on a Saturday night, the restaurant was pretty vacant allowing us to choose which table we wanted to sit at.

The restaurant has a nice balance between Tribeca chic and a sports bar with a slightly upscale menu; truffle macaroni and cheese and pulled-pork sliders.

First glance at the menu and I knew what I wanted...or did I? Appetizers are an easy choice for me, so we chose the spinach and artichoke dip. A classic and popular favorite. I knew I wanted the warm goat cheese salad with steak as my entree, but I also wanted the wild salmon served with crab bisque. So we settled on the warm goat cheese salad, chimmichurri steak, and an AOA burger as the three main choices.

(Spinach Artichoke Dip)

The spinach and artichoke dip is served with pita triangles, however, not enough pita for the amount of dip they give you. The gag is that it's $3 for extra pita. That was a turn off so they're lucky the dip was so, so good that it ultimately felt worth it.

My skirt steak was incredible. Prepared medium with a warm pink center. The seasoning was light, just how I prefer my steak and chimichurri did not overpower the simplicity of the dish.

The warm goat cheese salad is a great addition when you're going heavy with the meats and cheeses and you need something to make you feel like you made one healthy choice tonight.

The menu at AOA is pretty dynamic. You can order wood-fire pizza or a burger, but you can also get Shepherd's Pie or Rigatoni Alla Chitarra. The prices are fairly cheap for the neighborhood. Each entree is $20 or less and a glass of wine is about $11. The relaxed atmosphere, that also has several televisions that stream sports games, makes this place ideal for families or large parties.

Rating: 4 stars overall for food, drinks, atmosphere, and waitstaff

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