1/18/2013 08:58:00 AM

First Look: The District, Serving American Bites (and '90s Music) in the East 90s

The East 90s has suddenly become quite happening, with spots like ABV, Earl's Beer & Cheese and The Guthrie Inn breathing new life into the once-sleepy 'hood. The latest arrival on the burgeoning scene: The District, a slick gastropub serving craft beers, cocktails and American bites at the corner of E. 94th St. and Third Ave. We decided to check it out last night to see what the newest Upper East Side hot spot has to offer.

The space - designed by the team behind Penny Farthing and Corner Social - is stunning, with exposed brick walls, antiques salvaged from an old mansion in North Carolina and a high, mirrored ceiling dripping with exposed Edison bulbs. The best place to sit is in the back corner, where a wraparound red leather banquette offers a cozy spot to people-watch (or canoodle) while you eat. Of course, getting a table might not be easy. At  7 PM. on a Thursday night, the place was packed with an after-work drinking crowd, and there was a wait just to sit down at the bar. We imagine it's even harder to squeeze in on the weekends.

While the focus here is definitely drinking - and maybe watching the game while you're at it - there's also a decent menu of American pub food, including burgers, diver-seared scallops with bacon, wild mushroom risotto and steamed mussels. The burger - which we'd recommend ordering with Irish cheddar - is simple but classic, and comes with a side of some of the best French fries we've had recently (seriously). Crispy and herbed to perfection, those fries were the highlight of our meal.

Important to note: if you enjoy '90s music in addition to the East 90s bar scene, this is your place. During our evening there, we heard everything from "Everybody" by Backstreet Boys to "Don't Speak" by No Doubt, with some Notorious B.I.G., Sugar Ray and Spice Girls thrown in for good measure. Given the overall trendy vibe, the music felt out of place at first, but we have to say - we left with some ideas for our next karaoke venture.

The Details: 1679 Third Ave. (94th St.); 212-289-2005

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