Kaia Wine Bar: Good Vibe and Good Food and Wine, South African Style, at Kaia
This friendly, low-key place is a real find. Lots of meaty bar food: biltong, the South African "jerky" (almost more like bresaola), honey- and rooibos tea-glazed ribs, bobotie vethoek ("cape malay spiced beef in fried dough with mrs. balls chutney) -- and by the way, had an elk slider with quince and cranberry lately? Lots of American-made charcuterie, too (Broadbent country ham from Kentucky!) and a really nice range of U.S. cheeses, mostly from around the Northeast. And non-meat stuff too, if you insist (Kaia herfs slaai is -- guess what? -- a kale salad, this time with dried cranberries, oranges, pistachios, and Vermont goat cheese). And about 40 South African wines (plus a few others), mostly at $12 or less. We loved the unoaked Vriesenhof-Paradyskloff chardonnay from Stellenbosch and the Southern Right Hermanus pinotage. Oh, and if you're intellectually and/or culturally inclined, it's around the corner from the 92nd Street Y and perfect for a casual bite and a few glasses before or after an event there.