Double Your Fun – a Great Bar & Resto in One: Jo’s!

13 Jul

When I’m running a few minutes early for dinner with a friend (yes, it does *occasionally* happen), I really appreciate a resto that rocks a solid bar scene where I can get my sip on and wait.  So with 15 minutes to spare and no idea what to expect, I showed up early for dinner at Jo’s in Nolita (Elizabeth btwn Houston/Prince) and was thrilled at what I found.  The rustic neighborhood joint, which knocks a couple bucks off your bottom line with happy hour till 8pm daily, is a great spot to hang while sipping a glass of vino in good anonymous company.

Walking into Jo’s, you might not even know this legit bar doubles as an eclectic eatery.  Blackboard specials and a small sign pointing to the rear dining room are your only clues to the joint’s seemingly secret identity.  Spend a moment taking in the cocktail-craving swarm imbibing in the front room – I opted for a happy hour glass of Gruner ($7; regularly $9). Soon enough, you’ll be good to check on your table and let the hostess whisk you to the back room where the casual wooden paneling borders dangerously close to sexy.    I was surprised, after leaving the healthily occupied bar area, to see that the dining room had many tables available BUT after tasting the amazing food, you could call me straight up perplexed.

 My dining partner du jour and I started with the Portobello Mushroom Sliders – 3 bite size veggie-friendly burgers topped w/a creamy cheese and decadent caramelized onions.  I nibbled to savor every scrumptious morsel.  Next, my din-date had the Garganelli ($16), a ziti-wannabe with street-cred (not to mention Lardons, caramelized shrooms & 3 cheeses) that was described as intensely rich.  He would’ve loved some bread to dip, but that didn’t seem to hinder his impressive plate-cleaning performance, which was only surpassed by the number I did on my meal.  I had the Mussels ($12) w/ Serrano pepper, Thai curry, coconut, scallion and lemongrass.  Do NOT underestimate how spicy this dish is; it’s one of those rare flavorful heat-forward dishes that I sometimes dream about… Yes, I dream in food – but that’s neither here nor there.  Don’t judge – order the mussels.

I’ve got just a handful of “neighborhood spots” I’ll recommend when a friend isn’t too specific about what they’re looking for in a resto and Jo’s just edged its way up my list.  Even better?  You can dine with a 30% discount from Savored.com most Sunday-Thursdays.  You might be out for dinner with a friend; you might be out for drinks with a date – you MIGHT even be on a date with a friend (git ‘er done) – whatever the case, Jo’s is sure to hit the spot.

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