Best restaurants in NYC
What is it? Don’t call it a comeback. After attaining best-in-the-world status and then closing shop for a spiffy redesign last summer, this Gramercy treasure returned with a bang. Post-revamp, Daniel Humm still mans the kitchen at this über progressive landmark, which has a grand dining room to match its heady, epic tasting menus. The eight- to 10-course format nicely spotlights Humm’s auteur instincts. Lucky for you, those signature savory black-and-white cookies didn’t go anywhere, either.
Why go? A tasting menu like no other blends with five-star service for the best restaurant in NYC (and possibly the world)
What is it? Siblings Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze brought Le Bernardin to Gotham back in 1986, and the swanky spot has maintained its reputation ever since. With white tablecloths, punctilious service and a jackets-required policy in the main dining room, it has retro formality in spades. Presided over by Éric Ripert, this haute-French seafood classic still delivers the goods with its tasting menu, four-course feast and (much more affordable but equally stunning) bar snacks.
Why go? For delectable French seafood
What is it? When world-renowned sushi chef Masa Takayama arrived in New York, he offered what’s likely the most expensive dining experience in the city’s history (today, dinner for two can top $1,500). To be clear, Takayama doesn’t overcharge for his meals: He overspends, and the mystique of it all—his exquisite materials, rare ingredients and labor-intensive techniques—can be lost on a diner who doesn’t know the ins and outs. Takayama meticulously prepares each perfect, bite-size gift, and the sushi almost melts in your mouth. To serious food lovers (us included), this ritual is a priceless experience.
Why go? Takayama doesn’t distract diners from the meal: the space feels like a temple for seafood worship
What is it? Five glorious, luxurious rooms. Positively elegant service. Enough foie gras and truffles to make the biggest Francophile blush. A see-and-be-scene crowd. Daniel Humm and William Guidara’s haute-cuisine titan has perfected French-inflected fare. There’s the roasted chicken you’ve read so much about, as well as slow-cooked suckling pig and dry-aged jalapeño-accented duck. The food, like the space, exudes unbuttoned decadence.
Why go? It’s the best roast chicken you'll get in town
What is it? Not a bad view, eh? Ask for a table by the window at this recent sky-high arrival. While every seat will grant you a stellar view (if your back is to the window, there’s a mirror positioned over the kitchen to see the skyline), you want the vertigo-inducing experience of peering out through a few inches of glass 60 floors up. Along the windowsill, you’ll even find several binoculars for getting a better peek at the action below.
Why Go? The views plus a price tag of $78 for three courses essentially makes it a steal
What is it? Let’s hear it for Williamsburg’s ultimate OG. Although a slew of Luger copycats have prospered over the past decade, none has captured the elusive charm of this stucco-walled, beer-hall–style steakhouse, with dark-wood tables, well-worn wooden floors, and waiters in waistcoats and bow ties. Excess is the thing, be it the reasonably health-conscious tomato salad, the famous 44-ounce porterhouse for two or the decadent apple strudel, which comes with a bowl full of schlag (whipped cream). Go for it all—it’s a singular New York evening.
Why go? For 44 perfect ounces of sliced prime beef.
What is it? This fish has us hooked. After decades of New Yorkers’ sushi shrugs, this one-stop Little Tokyo spot flipped the script when it opened in 2016, eventually becoming the only Japanese restaurant in the city to receive two Michelin stars. Ginza’s fresh, seasonal omakase is flown in daily from Tokyo’s prestigious Tsukiji market, but the menu is not slavishly dependent on exotic varieties. Ginza delivers fish the way a diamond delivers carbon: with a spectacular flawlessness that’s lush with luxury.
Why go? It’s the only Michelin two-star Japanese restaurant in the city
What is it? You’ve got to make it through the reservations ringer to gain access to chef David Chang’s slim tasting menu. The ever-evolving 12 to 15 courses feature dishes like raw fluke in a coating of tangy, mellow buttermilk, poppy seeds and house-made chili sauce or a frozen foie-gras torchon, shaved over lychee puree and pine-nut brittle. It’s all brilliantly executed and further proof that Chang is the kind of pioneer the city needs right now.
Why go? David Chang is the contrarian pioneer that the city needs
What is it? The front door of this fine-dining Korean restaurant from the husband-and-wife team behind Atoboy is hidden in the foyer of a walk-up apartment building on the edge of Nomad (we can’t help but wonder whether a thriving restaurant makes for a friendly neighbor). Past the bar, a flight of stairs brings you to the basement, where you can enjoy snacks on couches in the stone-floor lounge before taking a seat at one of the 14 chairs at the black-granite counter overlooking the kitchen.
Once seated, you’ll collect a series of cards throughout the 10-course, $175-per-person tasting menu. With each course, another chapter of the gastronomic story unfolds when another card arrives, meticulously describing the components of the dish alongside a little nugget of history or culinary knowledge. The menu—which includes deep-fried langoustine with creamed uni, grilled and braised turbot, and scorched rice pudding—makes for a great meal and a you-should-have-been-there tale.
Why go? It’s Korean food unlike anything you’ve had in town.
What is it? If a new restaurant is lucky, it’ll have one destination dish that piques food-geek interest and draws New York’s increasingly discerning eaters across bridges and through tunnels for a mere taste. Lilia—the airy Williamsburg pasta parlor that simultaneously serves as the kitchen comeback and solo debut from acclaimed A Voce vet Missy Robbins—has an entire menu of destination dishes; the biggest problem you’ll have here, other than scoring a free table, is picking a favorite.
Why go? It’s easily the best bowl of pasta you'll have this year.
What is it? Expectations are high at Per Se, and that goes both ways. You are expected to come when they’ll have you—you might be put on standby for four nights, only to win a 10pm Tuesday spot—and fork over a pretty penny if you cancel. You’re expected to wear the right clothes, pay a non-negotiable deposit and pretend you aren’t eating in a shopping mall. Thomas Keller’s restaurant, in turn, is expected to deliver a spectacular meal for even prettier pennies (the $340 nine-course tasting menu, for example). And it does. The foie gras with raw almonds is lush, the butter-poached lobster with bearnaise mousseline is tender and sweet, and the dining room has a level of luxury fit for Streisand.
Why go? The 30-for-30 deal for the millennial crowd is not to be missed
What is it? Enrique Olvera, the megawatt Mexico City talent behind Pujol, made his stateside debut with this bare-concrete Flatiron dining room that slings elegant, high-gear small plates. Pristine and market-fresh, Olvera’s menu is a masterpiece, with single-corn-tortilla tacos, sinful carnitas, and surprising touches, such as bone-marrow salsa and a savory-sweet meringue.
Why go? Cosme brought a much needed Latino flavor to upper-echelon NYC restaurants
What is it? From 1959 to 2016, the Four Seasons was the city’s most exclusive supper club, a veritable village green for New York’s wealthy, famous and powerful. So it’s no small feat that Major Food Group’s remake of the famed Grill Room, which opened its doors last year, dazzles. Inspired by midcentury menus from Delmonico’s and the 21 Club, chef Mario Carbone deftly reconstructs continental classics like filet Peconic, lobster Newburg and three iterations of Dover sole. And, of course, there’s the prime rib that’s wheeled out on a $10,000 silver-domed service trolley by tuxedo-clad waiters.
Why go? The prime rib
What is it? Ah, the restaurant that transformed Danny Meyer from a one-shop restaurateur into a full-blown impresario, made Tom Colicchio a star and launched a citywide proliferation of casual-yet-upscale American eateries. Under chef Michael Anthony (Blue Hill at Stone Barns), the delicate constructions of farmers’-market produce, meats and fish shine in Gramercy’s mandated $129 three-course prix fixe. In the front, though, a lively, no-fuss à la carte tavern is a sweet alternative to the main dining room.
Why go? Thoughtful American fare with the best cookie plate in town
What is it? Five years back, Adam Tihany’s vibrant redesign brought Daniel Boulud’s classic restaurant into the 21st century. The food is as thought out as the decor, with unusually generous entrées that consist of seafood stunners and top-form nouveau French fare. Sure, Daniel is still a big-ticket commitment, but Boulud and his team make a powerful case for living high on the hog.
Why go? No place does better nouveau French fare
What is it? The Italian-American supper clubs immortalized in mob movies and sepia-toned photos were never as dreamy as they seemed. Moving beyond sentimentality in their homage to those restaurants, however, the young guns behind Carbone have turned the whole genre on its head. Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone’s spot is a Godfather hangout on steroids, more fantastical set piece than history-bound throwback. It’s a hype-worthy spin on a vanishing form and a restaurant where, breadsticks to bow ties, everything looks, tastes and feels authentic.
Why go? For a 21st-century restaurant sporting 20th-century charm
What is it? The painstakingly crafted Neapolitan pies—cracker-thin crust with a pleasing char and a subtle Parmesan zing—have been prepared by hand for more than 50 years at Domenico De Marco’s unassuming corner joint. To keep yourself occupied during what feels like an interminable wait, check out the window boxes full of herbs used to flavor the sauce and drop some “Did you know the dough is made several times a day?” knowledge on a pal.
Why go? It’s NYC—we take our pizza very seriously
What is it? Some diners might be drawn to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s staple for its localvore politics: The soap is organic, the leftovers are composted, and the herbs are snipped from the rooftop garden. But if you strip away the ethics, you’re left with a beautiful restaurant with food that’s as distinctive as it is thrilling. Haute-sustainable cooking at its finest, some highlights include a supremely buttery arctic char fillet and a flattened, juicy roasted half chicken. Inside this space, food that’s good for the planet is also opulent, flavorful and stunning to look at.
Why go? Go shopping for upscale home goods right in the same building
What is it? It’s a scene out of Ratatouille: Lined with copper pots and hand-glazed tiles, the open kitchen churns with an almost cartoonish hustle as chefs skim their two-foot-high toques against the range hoods while plating hazelnut-freckled leek vinaigrettes or, say, foie-marbled veal terrines. But it’s no movie; rather, it’s the animated stir of prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr’s Le Coucou, which makes the case for a revival of French fine dining.
Why go? For the revival of fine-dining French
What is it? You may remember Daisuke Nakazawa toiling over egg custard as the modest apprentice in Jiro Dreams of Sushi, humbled by the rigors of an 11-year stint under the world’s most distinguished sushi chef, Jiro Ono. The pupil has emerged as the teacher at this sleek West Village sushi bar, where he sets each of the 20 or so morsels on your plate in a graceful choreography. And the fewer the embellishments, the better.
Why go? Nakazawa is a jokester who places a live squirming shrimp on your plate just for a laugh
Lilia’s James Beard Award–winning chef Missy Robbins is serving her famous pasta and vegetable dishes in a brand-new space, which has a pasta-making room that’s visible to diners and passersby alike. Witness the chefs prepare 10 starchy specials, including fettuccine bathed in buffalo butter, corzetti peppered with Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and summer herbs, and Sardinian gnocchi packed with clams, sea beans and saffron.
What is it? Fact: When I reviewed Frenchette a few months ago, I waited four hours for a table; since then, the hype hasn’t died down at all. A peek at this Tribeca brasserie’s reservation book will show that only a few tables are available for the next month, and they’re for 10pm or later. Add in a bustling bar with a rotating roster of high-profile patrons and you’ve got one of the hottest spots in town. If you are able to get a prime-time resy, an abundance of comforting French fare awaits, such as duck frites smothered in a bearnaise sauce or baked gnocchi showered with ham and cheese. Score a table—and your bragging rights.
Why go? The trendy Tribeca spot has duck frites that shouldn't be missed
What is it? Last year, Midtown East got a jolt of Japanese culinary star power when Michelin-starred chefs Hiroki Yoshitake and Yuu Shimano opened shop to highlight New Washoku cuisine. Choose from a six- or eight-course tasting menu—including, perhaps, red shrimp and caviar or broiled cod in a Parmesan foam—or go with à la carte options like braised pork belly with roasted chicory and cream cheese or roasted Wagyu steak. Want to be closer to the action? Opt for the eight-seat sushi bar.
Why go? You can sit in either the main dining room or the eight-seat sushi bar
What is it? More than a mere crusader for sustainability, Dan Barber is one of the most talented cooks in town. He builds his oft-changing menu around whatever is at its peak on his Westchester farm (home to sibling restaurant Blue Hill Stone Barns). For instance, during pea season, bright green infuses every inch of the menu. Year-round, every plate showcases his garden’s bounty.
Why go? You want to go to the upstate iteration but you also don't want to leave Manhattan
What is it? This cavernous cafeteria is a repository of New York history: The walls are crowded with glossies of celebs spanning the past century, and the classic Jewish deli offerings are nonpareil. Start with a crispy-skinned all-beef hot dog, then flag down a meat cutter and order a legendary sandwich. The brisket sings with horseradish, and the thick-cut pastrami stacked high between slices of rye is the stuff of dreams. Pro tip: Everything here tastes better with a can of Dr. Brown’s soda.
Why go? You’ve seen Meg Ryan's bit, no?
What is it? The ceiling and walls are hung with tobacco pipes, some from Babe Ruth, J.P. Morgan, Teddy Roosevelt and other long-ago Keens regulars. Even in these nonsmoking days, you can catch a whiff of the restaurant’s 130 years of history. Beveled-glass doors, two working fireplaces and a forest’s worth of dark wood suggest a time when “Diamond Jim” Brady piled his table with bushels of oysters, slabs of seared beef and troughs of ale. Other aspects have remained unchanged, too: The menu still lists a three-inch-thick mutton chop and classic desserts such as key lime pie.
Why go? Sirloin and porterhouse (for two or three) hold their own against any steak in the city
What is it? Last year, Brooklyn’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars made the movin’-on-up jump over the East River to Hell’s Kitchen. Twice the size of the original, the food at Chef’s Table 2.0 is thankfully still on point—and still pricey. Taking a date to enjoy executive chef Jared Sippel’s four-course Mediterranean prix fixe could send you back more than a grand.
Why go? It’s Brooklyn’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant
What is it? This 20-seat follow-up to Neta in the West Village has a cool-kid atmosphere—the beanie-clad chef remains, as does the thumping “99 Problems”—but where an expensive omakase was an option at Neta, here it’s mandatory. No matter: It’s a parade of exceptionally made edomae sushi (prepared by sushi demigod Masa Takayama’s longtime disciples) served in its purest form: lightly lacquered with soy and nestled atop a slip of warm, loosely packed rice.
Why go? The rock-star chefs were longtime disciples of sushi demigod Masa Takayama
What is it? Seeing a meticulous sushi master practice in this bamboo-accented space is a sight to behold. Therefore, the only way to go here is counter seating, where you can witness—and chat up—the chefs. Prime your palate with miso soup and segue into the raw stuff: petals of buttery fluke, rich eel, dessert-sweet egg custard and nearly translucent discs of sliced scallop over neat cubes of milky sushi rice. This is a sushi purist’s paradise, where no two meals are ever the same.
Why go? For high-quality sushi without the stuffy atmosphere
What is it? Sure, this Prospect Heights jewel from Greg Baxtrom (Per Se, Blue Hill at Stone Barns) initially smacks of veggie fussiness—the ribboned carrot crêpe is sprinkled with sunflower petals—but plumb its expertly balanced depths and you’ll see a different picture. Think of it as fine dining wrapped up in a neighborhood-spot aesthetic: The most expensive entrée doesn’t exceed $25, impromptu “Happy Birthday” sing-alongs occur among strangers, and you can openly curse over just how fucking good a dish is. And it is.
Why go? The eclectic menu tastes even better when eating in the outdoor garden
What is it? Nur is the forward-thinking pan–Middle Eastern restaurant in Gramercy from Israeli-Moroccan celebu-toque Meir Adoni (of Tel Aviv’s acclaimed Blue Sky and Lumina) and Breads Bakery founder Gadi Peleg. Adoni, one in a growing line of chefs who are retooling Israeli eating in New York, stretches beyond comfort dishes to pull influences from all over the Levant, from Jewish and Arab traditions to his own North African roots.
Why go? Their array of breads makes for the perfect evening of carboloading
What is it? This petite favorite is packed with downtown dwellers sipping soju cocktails at a long, wooden communal table while awaiting the culinary creations of NYC’s latest in a trending class of contemporary Korean restaurants. Chef Soogil Lim’s refined French technique mixes with his Korean heritage for exceptional dishes that stay true to both. The best thing on the menu? The price tag: Few plates exceed $20.
Why go? Affordable Korean food gets a touch of French flair
What is it? The rustic, three-story space is actually open every day of the week and boasts an outdoor patio, a market, a private dining room and a rooftop garden. Its brunch items—like the viral hazelnut-maple praline pancakes and the seriously Instagrammable cocktails—do, however, scream Sunday Funday.
Why go? Don't sleep on the cocktails, they're as thoughtful as they are Instagrammable
What is it? ABC Kitchen’s Dan Kluger ups the ante on the food we’ve grown to love at his previous post. The chef’s acclaimed layering techniques—finding harmony in a clang of sweet, sour and salty—are showcased in plates such as crispy Indian-spiced cauliflower bulbs brightened with a tart swipe of Meyer lemon jam or a seasonal grain salad with earthy-sweet root vegetables dressed in smoky chili aioli and a hit of lemon.
Why go? Vegetable have never tasted so good
What is it? Korean food has expanded in breadth and ambition in recent years, but none of it has seen a boost quite like Korean barbecue. Just look at Cote, a sleek Flatiron District effort from Simon Kim of the Michelin-starred Piora. Sitting 10 blocks south of K-Town proper, it’s deliberately billed as a “Korean steakhouse,” a distinction that’s felt in its swank decor and starters you’d more likely find at an all-American meat temple than at a bulgogi grill. Not only that, the joint earned a Michelin star within its first year of opening.
Why go? Cote earned a Michelin star within its first year of opening
What is it? The name’s a playful twist on the phonetic pronunciation of misada, the Hebrew word for “restaurant.” At this Fort Greene spot, Israeli-born chef Tomer Blechman (Bar Bolonat) combines his Latvian heritage with Mediterranean cooking for smart mezzes and main-course Middle Eastern plates, best enjoyed on the outdoor terrace.
Why go? You can eat your weight in fluffy pita on their outdoor terrace
What is it? Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s first meat-free venture looks like the inside of Gwyneth Paltrow’s brain: The spacious room is a Goop-y stretch of all-white furniture, with pops of color (courtesy of the artisanal ceramic plateware), millennial-pink wall panels and boho banquettes. Each menu arrives with a chart that details the health benefits of various vegetables. Oh, the food’s delicious, too.
Why go? ABCV is Jean-Georges Vongerichten's first meat-free spot
What is it? If you haven’t heard of this sprawling ode to artisanal pizza, you must have just emerged from that rock you’ve been living under. Perhaps the Bushwick essential, this oasis on an industrial block grows much of its own produce and slings out brick-oven pies that feature inventive toppings, such as guanciale and egg or kale, Taleggio and Berkshire pork sausage. The dining room is cozy, but don’t miss the roomy outdoor beer garden (or the seasonal frozen dranks).
Why go? Large groups can nosh on a multicourse meal with stellar wood-oven pizza
What is it? This convivial New England–style joint was a forerunner of the city’s fish-shack trend. The outstanding lobster roll—sweet, lemony meat laced with mayonnaise on a butter-enriched bun—is Pearl’s raison d’être, but sophisticated summer-all-year dishes fare equally well.
Why go? For the eternal summer meal
What is it? Chef Nick Perkins, a veteran of Andrew Tarlow’s Williamsburg empire of Diner and Marlow & Sons, brings some serious chops to this Bed-Stuy beauty. In the 30-seat dining room (marble-topped bar, cushioned banquettes) designed by Perkins’s brother, Russell, the toque turns out Mediterranean-focused plates that are always elevated but never fussy.
Why go? For high-quality seafood fare that's not fussy
What is it? La Grenouille, which opened in 1962, is a window into a time when stuffy waiters and chateaubriand were considered the peek experience of fine dining. It doesn’t get much snootier: Jackets are required, cell phones and kids are forbidden, and the electric-red decor, full of mirrors and flowers and Art Deco details, has the feel of a Mad Men power lunch. But beyond its throwback charm, it endures for one big reason: top-form culinary execution.
Why go? For old-world, over-the-top romance
What is it? If you had to pick one restaurant from Michael White (Convivio, Alto), this would be it. The spectacular shrine to the Italian coastline is a worthy indulgence. Spend you shall, but you will be rewarded with superb crostini and seafood-focused pastas.
Why go? If you had to pick one Michael White restaurant, it would be this one
What is it? Chef-owner Alfred Portale made his name with towering New American constructions, and though the menu doesn’t push any flavor boundaries, the execution is damn impressive—as is the restaurant’s soaring, traditional, masculine space. It’s upscale overload, with standouts such as the juicy fried soft-shell crabs with morels, fresh peas, ramps and couscous.
Why go? For upscale food that’s not too esoteric
What is it? Pizza is the star of the show at Emily. Categorized by sauce color, the menu has a red column and a white column. Where should you start? The namesake white pizza, topped with mozzarella, pistachios, truffle sottocenere and honey. It’s a performance in restraint, with the drizzled sweet honey dancing with the sumptuous mozzarella, all mingling with a slight crunch from the pistachios and truffle sottocenere.
Why go? For some of the city's buzziest new pizza in the last couple of years
What is it? A stunning spin-off of the original Tamarind in the Flatiron District, the Tribeca location boasts a sprawling menu that draws from all corners of India. Beyond the requisite chicken tikka masala (one of the best we’ve had), there are other consistent pleasures coming out of the twin tandoor ovens, like the lamb chops—tangy, spicy and tender—and the moist sea bass slathered with thick yogurt.
Why go? For some of the best Indian food in the city
What is it? Keith McNally’s lovingly restored Minetta Tavern may be the first iconic restaurant of postmillennial New York. The place is as buzzy now as ever, yet the food (like the exquisite Black Label burger) is as much of a draw as the happening scene.
Why go? The pricey Black Label burger is worth every penny
What is it? Tocqueville co-owner Marco Moreira returned to his aquatic roots—he was trained as a sushi chef—when he opened this ode to Japanese cuisine in 2006. The room, designed by architect Richard Bloch (Masa), feels like a sanctuary, and, fittingly, the dishes have a near-religious following among raw-fish fanatics.
Why go? For tuna aficionados, there's a sampler with five different cuts
What is it? For New Yorkers, lining up at Russ & Daughters is a time-honored morning tradition. Pull a ticket, wait for your number to be called, then sidle up to the glass cases to gawk over the stunning sable and sturgeon. The routine hasn’t changed much since the smoked-fish emporium launched more than a century ago.
Why go? For fresh fish in an institution
What is it? Some of the best restaurants on this list, like Le Coucou or the NoMad, found their homes in hotels, and the trend keeps growing. This year, the Freehand Hotel made its first local appearance, adding to the Sydell Group’s roster of locations in Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles, and with it came a new favorite: Simon & the Whale. Restaurateur Gabriel Stulman (Joseph Leonard, Bar Sardine) opened the eatery in conjunction with the all-day Studio café and the cozy George Washington Bar, all under the same roof. And they’re all glorious.
Why go? Baker Zoe Kanan's black bread is worth the trip in itself
What is it? David Bouley’s name may be behind this venture, but the star chef is not in the kitchen. Instead, he has handed the reins to talented Japanese import Isao Yamada. The ever-changing seasonal menu, which rotates through 5,000 dishes that Yamada spent years testing, is best experienced as the intricate multicourse feast known as kaiseki.
Why go? To experience food from not one, but two, of the world’s leading chefs
What is it? In one of New York's few (and certainly only trendy) Persian restaurants, the incredibly fragrant cuisine of Iran is finally getting the spotlight it deserves. Dine on roasted eggplant dip, beef-and-potato kebab and rosewater sorbet at this traditional Persian spot in Prospect Heights led by the chef-owner who moved to the city from Iran in the 1980s.
Why Go? One of the best and only representations of Persian cuisine in town.
What is it? The big-box room, situated on the ground floor of the Grace Building, is too comfortably cream-toned for cool, fixed with timber barn beams and folky stork wallprints evocative of the Alsatian farm country where Gabriel Kreuther—the man, not the restaurant—hails. But Kreuther isn’t concerned with cool, nor should he be. After an acclaimed decade at Danny Meyer’s MoMA restaurant, the Modern, the veteran chef joins the grand pantheon of name-bearing flagships—the Daniels, the Jean-Georges—with cooking that’s as personal as it is precise.
Why go? Dine in a space as beautiful as the food
What is it? For the yet-to-be converted, Korean barbecue can seem like utter chaos—a frenzy of pounding K-pop hits and smoke-spewing tableside grills always an inch or two away from firing up a lawsuit. Despite the noise and crowd, the cooking speaks of a quiet refinement courtesy of young-gun chef Deuki Hong, who previously put in kitchen time at Jean Georges and Momofuku.
Why go? Hong wet-ages his Omaha beef for three weeks before the servers showcase the carne in escalating degrees of flavor and heft
What is it? With four-star ambitions and prices to match, Del Posto set the bar awfully high when it opened in 2005, but the cavernous restaurant has become nothing less than one of the city’s top destinations for refined, upscale Italian cuisine. The clubby dining room, serenaded nightly by a twinkling grand piano, feels like the lobby of an opulent grand hotel. The kitchen challenges its French competition in butter consumption.
Why go? For casual celeb spotting (hi, Bey and Jay)
What is it? In the überindulgent world of three-figure omakase thrills, sushi reigns, with finance whales and deep-pocketed diners kneeling at the throne of trumped-up toro. But tempura, Japan’s battered-and-fried preparation of seafood and vegetables, was never a part of that fine-dining fawning. Enter Masao Matsui.
Why go? The tempura batter includes Dash, a Japanese soup stock made from fish and kelp
What is it? Good looks aren’t everything, but they’re serious business here, where tables overlook the MoMA’s sculpture garden and diners carve their meat with Porsche steak knives. The pre-fixe menus are as carefully curated as any museum show, from vibrant opening bites to hearty mains.
Why go? If you get an early reservation, you can look out at the garden while the sun’s still out
What is it? The 8,000-square-foot, 150-seat space features a ground-level dining room with bold, wall-spanning murals, as well as a large balcony above and an in-house tortilleria in the basement. A roving bar cart stocked with small-batch mescal and tequila is wheeled throughout the space, while servers convoy platters of modern Mexican fare to your table.
Why go? Just Google "Empellon avocado"
What is it? Owner Giuseppe Pappalardo of Staten Island pizzeria Joe & Pat's enlisted his son Angelo (Esca) as chef and pizzaiolo at this Italian restaurant, offering simple, thin-crust pizzas and classic red-sauce fare. Rubirosa's crisp yet pliable pies have a delicate char and a small ring of crackerlike crust around the edges.
Why go? We've yet to go wrong with the no-frills vodka rendition, which boasts a layer of creamy, booze-spiked tomato sauce and a gooey patchwork of fresh mozzarella
What is it? From the moment it opened, Andrew Carmellini’s rollicking Soho eatery seemed destined to join the ranks of neighborhood classics like Balthazar and Blue Ribbon. The virtuoso chef offers diners an exuberant gastro-tour of the American melting pot, making stops in the barrio, New England and even the Mexican border.
Why go? For a reliable date night option in Soho
What is it? This sleek outpost of a Japanese ramen chain is always packed with New Yorkers and Nippon natives who queue up (often for two hours or more) for the simple pleasure of a bowl of soup. The chain’s self-styled “Ramen King,” specializes in tonkotsu, a pork-based ramen from southern Japan.
Why go? Sometimes chicken noodle soup just won’t do it
What is it? Despite decor that Jewish mothers might call “schmutzy,” this legendary deli is a madhouse at breakfast and brunch. Enormous egg platters come with the usual choice of smoked fish (such as sturgeon or Nova Scotia salmon). Prices are high but portions are large—and that goes for the sandwiches, too. Or try the less costly dishes: matzo-ball soup, creamy egg salad or cold pink borscht served in a glass jar.
Why go? If you can’t travel to get bubby’s homestyle cooking on the weekends
What is it? Grilling may be the ultimate American art form, but New York restaurants rarely explore its greaseless flame-licked potential. With St. Anselm, Joe Carroll delivers one of the city’s most impressive exceptions. The well-rounded menu, heavy on veggies, combines Mediterranean, Asian and all-American flavors.
Why go? It’s one of the best deals for steak in the city
What is it? Thai restaurant Uncle Boons is part of a riptide of upstarts repackaging homey Asian food—once relegated to holes-in-the-wall or fusty midtown warhorses—in buzzy, forward-thinking joints. So at this dark-wood-paneled rathskeller, you’ll find tap wine and beer slushes, vintage Thai flatware carved from teak and brass, and perhaps major foodies plowing through noodles in the back dining room.
Why go? For some of the hippest Thai in the city
What is it? This sequel to the popular dell’anima strives to deliver more than its precursor, with buttoned-up Ralph Lauren–inspired decor and pristinely presented small plates like squid ink pasta and a raw spin on vitello tonnato (veal topped with tender cubes of tuna). The upscale trattoria's larger dishes offer a homey quality, including a comforting buckwheat tagliatelle with brussels sprouts and fontina.
Why go?The bottle of the fan-favorite house wine puts all other table reds to shame
What is it? Not only is the iconic Balthazar still trendy, but the kitchen rarely makes a false step. At dinner, the place is perennially packed with rail-thin lookers dressed to the nines. But the bread is great, the food is good, and the service is surprisingly friendly. Don’t hate the patrons because they’re beautiful; just join them.
Why go? For two things that usually don’t mix: bread and buzz
What is it? This uptown mainstay recently received a face-lift, but the food remains a reflection of the iconic Daniel Boulud. Accomplished chefs prepare modern variations of French cuisine, plus more-whimsical seasonal and international dishes.
Why go? To dip into classic uptown elegance
What is it?
This heralded Israeli pita shop in Chelsea Market is a key player in the renaissance of Middle Eastern cuisine in NYC. The menu is split up between in-a-pita and out-of-the-pita, though you're going to want to get a sampling of both (especially the whole roasted baby cauliflower).
Why go? Their folded cheeseburger pita will make you question everything you thought you knew about a great burger
What is it? Designed by the film-set decorator and Wes Anderson collaborator Kris Moran, the space is a circus for the senses. Naan is the gateway drug—puffed, buttery and pocked with char—but the kulchas, pillowy griddled flatbreads stuffed with chicken and split chickpeas or bacon and cheese, are the truly dangerous addiction. However, Cardoz, a native of Bombay, has built more than just a kingdom of carbs. Bombay Bread Bar is the kind of colorful, rollicking spot that will reintroduce New Yorkers to Indian food through an eccentric lens.
Why go? Chef Cardoz is a master of naan.
What is it? Sipping wine out of a pricey Zalto stem is an activity typical of more formal surroundings, but at Charlie Bird, you swirl a smoky Rodano chianti riserva while nodding your head to the Notorious B.I.G. Devoted in equal measure to seasonal cooking and serious wine, this West Village spot roughs up its own polish with subtle hints of the street, like large graphic prints of boom boxes and the now-ubiquitous restaurant soundtrack of early-’90s hip-hop.
Why go? For wine bravado in addition to delicious eats
What is it? Brooklyn’s pizza legacies are legion—from Grimaldi’s in Dumbo to Ditmas Park’s fabled Di Fara. To this noble lineup add Lucali. The artisanal intent at the candlelit pizzeria is visible in the flour-dashed marble counter where the dough is punched and stretched, and in the brick oven from which it later emerges crisp and blistered. There are just two items on Lucali’s menu: pies and calzones, adorned with milky, elastic mozzarella and simple toppings like chewy rounds of pepperoni or slivers of artichoke.
Why go? BYOB, baby
What is it? Il Buco’s casual offshoot—one part winecentric restaurant (Vineria), one part gourmet food pantry (Alimentari)—pulls off the retail-restaurant mash-up more elegantly than most. The store in front is artfully curated like a miniature Dean & DeLuca, with dangling hams and bespoke hunks of cheese. In the evenings, though, you'll find plenty of inducements to abandon shopping in favor of a family-style dinner in the back.
Why go? To go grocery shopping while you eat
What is it? In the years since the 2006 opening of Ssäm Bar, chef and owner David Chang has added to his résumé cookbook author (Momofuku), magazine editor (Lucky Peach) and—with the ascendency of his pastry chef Christina Tosi—even talent scout. To understand his astounding success and cult of personality, one need look no further than this perpetually buzzy restaurant, still a crown jewel of the East Village dining scene. Waiters hustle to raucous rock music inside this wood-paneled 50-seat space, ferrying platters of oysters and regional American hams, oozing pork buns, and daring offal dishes to tables still packed with food cognoscenti.
Why go? You couldn’t get a reservation at Momofuku Ko
What is it? Owner Robert De Niro swapped his train-wreck trattoria, Ago, for this blockbuster replacement. The bold family-style fare is best enjoyed as a bacchanalian banquet at the stylish, downtown locale.
Why go? You want a flashy dinner in the quieter Tribeca nabe
What is it? The force is strong with the new incarnation of Union Square Cafe, the beloved flagship of the formidable Danny Meyer empire that stood on East 16th Street since 1985. For all of his updates, Rockwell also seasoned the space with nostalgia, little Easter eggs for the devoted set: the cherrywood service stations, the dark-green wainscotting, the quirky and colorful paintings that line the walls. But the most crucial holdover is in the kitchen, where executive chef Carmen Quagliata—who headed the original USC for a decade—can still be found overseeing scrumptious staples.
Why go? It’s a downtown classic that just gets better with age
What is it? They call it second-child syndrome: a loosening of the reins, a slight dimming of the overeagerness that comes with adding a sibling to that precious firstborn. Such is the case of Wildair, the 45-seat sister restaurant to chef Jeremiah Stone and pastry chef Fabian von Hauske’s avant-garde tasting-menu den, Contra, two doors down. Wildair is more low-pressure, set with sardine-packed bar tables, a fuzzy midaughts soundtrack and neighborhood affability. And though Wildair’s snacky, à la carte menu has less sharp-edged experimentation than Contra’s, there are low-key innovations at play here.
Why go? For one of the best wine lists curated at a restaurant
What is it? The owners of Bar Henry branched out to Queens with this 40-seat Mexican eatery, specializing in the regional cuisine of Cintalapa, Chiapas. Brothers Cosme and Luis Aguilar, the chef and GM respectively, pay homage to their late mother with traditional plates, including some based on her recipes, such as chicken mole and cochinito chiapaneco (guajillo-marinated baby pork ribs).