Turning 21 is honestly a huge deal—don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Trust me—I just turned this life-changing age a few weeks ago in the middle of my senior year. To celebrate this new freedom, you can't just go to a low-key, chill dinner (not sure why you would want that for your 21st birthday, anyways). Below are some of the most festive, fun restaurants with the coolest vibes in NYC. 

1. Bodega Negra

A classy Mexican spot is a perfect way to celebrate your new legality. If your birthday happens to fall on a Monday, you must go here for their Loco Mondays. It's basically a party featuring people dressed in Day of the Dead outfits, burlesque performers, and fire breathers.

2. Catch

This rooftop serves incredible seafood along with their signature "Hit Me" cake. The best part is that now that you are #legal, you can stay at Catch after dinner for the whole night because it becomes an amazing club. It's also right in the center of the Meatpacking district, so there are plenty of other places right around the corner to go out.

3. Vandal

Vandal has the coolest vibes for a 21st birthday. Think downtown restaurant meets street art gallery. Every wall is covered with some type of graffiti art or sculpture so make sure you take a full lap of the place to see it all. Don't forget to hit up the club downstairs after dinner.

4. Beauty & Essex

If this Lower East Side spot looks familiar, it's because J-Lo had her VMA after-party here this past August. It's easy to see why. When you first walk in, you'll probably think you're in the wrong place because the entrance is a full functioning pawn shop. Head straight back to the secret(ish) door to enter the two-floor, luxurious restaurant. Their grilled cheese dumplings are a total must. Pro tip: go to the bathroom for some free champagne

5. Bagatelle

This is an iconic French bistro, and now that you are legal, you can enjoy the atmosphere to the fullest. Get ready to dance on the tables. Sparklers and bottles are everywhere you turn. You can even tell yourself the whole restaurant is celebrating you.

6. Stanton Social

This happening spot, right in the Lower East Side, not only has cool vibes but amazing food, but they also have a crazy cocktail menu. For dessert, make sure to get the whiskey milkshake shot (yes, that is a real thing).

Whichever restaurant you choose from this list, you really can't go wrong. They all have lively atmospheres that make turning 21 as special as should be. Now that you are finally legal, there are no limits to where you can go. Enjoy the freedom!