354 Third Ave at 26th St (212-696-1011). Subway: 6 to 28th St. Mon--Thu 11:30am--4pm, 5--11pm; Fri 11:30am--4:30pm, 5pm--midnight; Sat 11am--4pm, 5pm--midnight; Sun 11am--4pm, 5--11pm. Average main course: $17.
Aptly named, this Murray Hill eatery had our heads spinning from the moment we walked in: We had to shout over dinner one night as basketball fans hooted and hollered at six flat-screen TVs. Surrounded by divey Irish pubs, the restaurant attempts to break out of the neighborhood formula by combining sports bar with more serious dining—proving to fratboys that there is life beyond nachos and wings. The design is enticing: There are floor-to-ceiling windows, dark wood tables, tan leather chairs and large abstract wall hangings. And unlike other eateries in the area, Vertigo serves food late: A full menu is available until 11pm or midnight, and the bar menu is served until 4am. When the kitchen sticks to the staples, the results are good: A salad of frise, endive and watercress with Roquefort, walnuts and sliced green apples was delicious—the peppery endive balanced the sweetness of the apples and the creamy pungency of the blue cheese. And a grilled hanger steak, ordered rare, was tender and juicy. But when the kitchen tried to reach beyond basic bar food, it misfired: Pepper-seared tuna came plated with chewy and blandly buttery barley risotto, for example. At least our bill wasn’t dizzying: Most of the entrees cost less than $20.—TONY