October 2019: We've overhauled our crown-jewel guide to dining out in NYC and introduced 65 exciting restaurants to our top-100 list. These are places that we believe reflect the way you like to eat out in the best city on earth. We’re talking fresh, inventive, memorable and, clearly, the tastiest establishments in town.
These are the 100 restaurants we can’t quit—even when there’s a constant revolving door of new restaurants and bar openings in NYC. We hope that you’ll find this latest Time Out EAT List more useful in your day-to-day: a reflection of places you actually can (and really want to) eat at, whether you’re looking to splurge a little or it’s rent week.
One thing is for sure: you don’t need to spend a $100 or more in New York to have an exquisite experience. The Time Out team has crisscrossed the city to dine our way throughout the five boroughs. While we’ll always have more ground to cover, you’ll notice that the Michelin-adored restaurants and temples of haute cuisine—Eleven Madison Park, Per Se and Daniel, for example—are no longer on this list. We’ll still respect these white table-clothed restaurants, but we're much more interested in taking a holistic look at how dining has evolved in 2019. Instead, new to the list are Adda, Teranga and Thursday Kitchen, among others.
Below, some of the restaurants are winners for the best brunch in NYC category while others have a must-eat burger.
Note: A number of the best chefs, restaurants and concepts in the city have been welcomed into the Time Out Market. Because that is the highest honor we can award, and we now have a tighter relationship with them, establishments related to market vendors have all been included in the EAT List but not ranked alongside other great establishments in the city. You can find those amazing places below.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best dishes and drinks in NYC
Best of the city under one roof
We know you don’t have a lot of time, so you turn to us for sifting through all the restaurant openings that you should be eating and drinking at now. Our mission is simple (but spelled out here): If we discover something in New York that’s great, it goes in our media and magazine; if it’s unforgettable, it goes in the market. Our Dumbo spot brings to life our editorial picks: Here, you’ll find delicious bites from spots all over the city that earned great reviews from us, namely, Mr. Taka Ramen, Bessou and Miss Ada among many— many other standouts.
Best restaurants in NYC
What is it? Tucked away on a quiet stretch of Smith Street in Carroll Gardens is a Thai restaurant that will keep you coming back for more self-inflicted pain. Whether you’re ordering the “stay-away spicy Udon Thani’s duck salad” or the khao soi, the servers will warn you over and over to be careful of the spice. You’ll go against their advice and end up begging for more of the cooling cucumbers to ward off the heat.
Why go? You’ll keep coming back even through the tears and sweat because the food is that good.
What is it? Inside the highly sought-after Art Deco residential building, 70 Pine Street, resides the first collaboration between James Kent, longtime chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park and executive chef at NoMad, alongside Jeff Katz, managing partner of Del Posto.
Why go? Here, elevated meals are crafted by New York’s fine dining elite. You can ball out like a banker without breaking your piggy bank.
What is it? James Beard Award winners don’t have to open a fancy-ass restaurant to show their prowess. Take Brooks Headley: His tiny East Village eatery’s tofu-cabbage wraps and vegetarian sloppy joes have guests lining up outside.
Why go? Of course, there’s also the uber-popular (for good reason) namesake patty, a gooey, Muenster-loaded monster that’s not just the best veggie burger you’ll ever have but also one of the best burgers—period.
What is it? This cozy Italian restaurant, run by the chef power couple of Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, is a rustic, sophisticated and heart-swelling gem.
Why go? The simple food—towering insalata verde, hearty chopped steak and any of the soul-satisfying pastas—makes this Village favorite a place where everyone wants to be a regular. If the wait for a table is too insane (that’s common), duck across the street for an aperitivo at Bar Pisellino.
What is it? A vegetarian Indian food haven in Floral Park, Queens specializing in fast casual bites, savory snacks and colorful desserts.
Why go? Usha is one of the best vegetarian destinations for generous portions, combo platters that allow you to try a little bit of everything and a menu that strongly demonstrates you don't need meat to have one of the city's most satisfying meals. It's just down the road from Patel Brothers, one of our favorite supermarkets for hard-to-find Indian pantry staples.
What is it? Chef Junghyun Park’s array of modern Korean small plates are meant for sharing but it’s difficult to do when we want to fight over the last piece of fried chicken or the custardy egg with sea urchin.
Why go? The minimalist dining room and friendly service set the perfect stage to experience Korean-inspired dishes we’ve never tasted before.
What is it? We’re confident to stand behind this all-day spin-off of Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes’ Flatiron megahit Cosme. This more casual, cooler follow-up spotlights healthy Mexican and Central American fare.
Why go? Soto-Innes and Olvera have introduced New Yorkers to a much more nuanced understanding of its cuisine, in a way that is elevated and experimental while still remaining approachable, in their hip-yet-casual environment on Lafayette Street.
What is it? This small, stellar Caribbean joint in Bed-Stuy has three specialties: bake, doubles and—you guessed it—roti. The first is a handheld fried-dough bun stuffed with salt fish or fried sand shark and topped with a tangy-sweet tamarind sauce.
Why go? Doubles are the real hit. The $1.50-a-pop Trinidadian snacks are built on a base of bara (fried dough) wrapped around a savory potato-channa curry. Napkins are a must.
What is it? Everything feels timeless yet modern here. Exhibit A: the lasagna for two hits all the nostalgia of a nonna-approved recipe, yet the pinwheel presentation of the pasta with robiola cheese makes us crave another bite.
Why go? Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli have set a new standard for red sauce restaurants for 2019.
What is it? The kitchen at Adda stays true to its roots without imparting gimmicky modern touches on our favorite Indian dishes and lesser known ones. Whether you order butter chicken or a kale pakoda, there’s no holding back on flavors—the heat of peppers and warmth of cumin are just examples—that make you crave even more.
Why go? For a convivial dining experience where the food is as exciting as the vibe.
What is it? A French yakitori spot from lauded chef Greg Baxtrom offering playful dishes like cauliflower okonomiyaki, tempura-fried frog legs and Pocky-style dessert.
Why go? Baxtrom also owns the nearly-impossible-to-get-reservations Prospect Heights hit, Olmsted. At Maison Yaki, you’ll get just as delicious food but each plate only costs $9. There’s pétanque games in the backyard.
What is it? More than a decade in, Brooklyn’s BBQ renaissance shows no signs of cooling down. Need a place to start? Hometown Bar-B-Que is—without a doubt—New York’s hottest smoke joint, a wood-paneled, 120-seat meat haven that’s inspired by self-taught honcho Billy Durney’s Kings County upbringing and travels through the South.
What is it? Your bowl of perfectly al-dente noodles sits in a bowl of broth that took hours to cook, but you’d slurp all the noodles between bites of the tender beef within minutes if you could. Our advice is to savor every bit while you also snack on the other small dishes of delicate tofu and hearty bowl of minced pork over rice.
Why go? This closet-sized restaurant is worth the wait for one of the city’s best bowls of Taiwanese beef noodle soup (or any soup for that matter).
What is it? It doesn’t matter if you can’t read the Thai menu here. Pick any bowl of noodles (we’d recommend the boat noodles) and you’re sure to be satisfied at this bar, which only serves food on weekends.
Why go? You’ll taste bowls of noodle soups that make you feel like you’re in Bangkok.
What is it? At this café nestled inside the Africa Center, you’ll find West African-inspired dishes that will introduce you to some of the continent’s most popular dishes. From jollof rice to fufu, the gluten-free menu surprises us every time.
Why go? One of the leading chefs from West Africa offers a fast-casual concept unlike any other.
What is it? One reason New York cab drivers have been coming here for 25 years is the food: chana masala (spiced chickpeas), yellow dal, chat and everything else is vibrantly spiced and vegetarian-friendly.
Why go? This deli serves a simple menu that’s always satisfying and functions as a lifeline to many New Yorkers.
What is it? Chef Kyungmin Kay Hyun’s sleeper hit boasts approachable dishes with a host of influences—Korean, French and Spanish, to name a few. Expect saucy gnocchi with a Korean chili-pepper sauce, rich duck-confit empanadas, and plantains with chimichurri and ricotta, which is fluffier than the usual cotija.
What is it? They call it second-child syndrome: a loosening of the reins, a slight dimming of the overeagerness that comes with raising the precious firstborn. In that light, think of chef Jeremiah Stone and pastry chef Fabián von Hauske Valtierra’s 44-seat restaurant as the cooler younger sib of Contra, the avant-garde tasting den that’s just two doors down.
Why go? Wildair’s potato darphin topped with Maine sea urchin, fried squid with a side of squid-ink mayo and other innovative dishes are complemented by an absolutely stellar menu of natural wines.
What is it? Cafe at your Mother-in-law is a way more enjoyable experience than actually dining with your partner's parents. Try the wonders of Uzbek-Korean-Russian food through dishes like pelmeni and kuksu, a beef soup with pickled cucumbers and fresh dill.
Why go? Stop by for some history of the former U.S.S.R. through the menu. Afterwards, head to Brighton Beach for a swim.
What is it? Jackson Heights has no shortage of excellent restaurants, as the city’s most ethnically-diverse neighborhood. Lhasa Fast Food specializes in Tibetan momos, such as the chive version available with a side of chutney. The digs are casual but its doesn’t make it any less of a destination.
Why go? Fans of speakeasies will enjoy the mysterious journey to find Lhasa Fast Food. Hidden inside You and Me mobile-phone shop, you’d never know there treats over yonder behind the electrical devices.
What is it? At this vegetarian Ethiopian charmer, you’ll get a spread of traditional bites, including red lentils in berbere sauce, mashed split peas simmered with tomato, and a chickpea stuffing with kale. Cool the heat of the spicier flavors with a strip of injera.
Why go? Bunna is an awesome date night spot. Some might tell you differently, but think eating with our hands from a shared bed of injera, is the perfect way to build intimacy.
What is it? Erik Ramirez cut his teeth at fine dining establishments like Eleven Madison Park. But in 2015 he went off on his own, circling back to his roots of Peru.
Why go? Today, Ramirez has expanded with Llamita and Llama San, but his first remains the Goldie Locks-esque perfect middle between high-end and fast-casual locations.
What is it? One of the few restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown specializing in the cuisine of the Chaoshan region of China, Bo Ky’s menu showcases a mix of Cantonese and Southeast Asian flavors. The number of noodle dishes is long but you can also find roasted duck and any number of rice dishes.
Why go? One of the best noodle shops in Chinatown where you’ll find comforting dishes for a taste-to-cost ratio that can’t be beat.
What is it? For far too long Spam has been given a bad rep. But at Noreetuh, Spam is among the menu’s specialties with dishes like spicy Spam musubi, which ask you to reconsider the canned meat.
Why go? Few restaurants in New York take on the nuance of Hawaiian cuisine. Noreetuh’s does so with gusto, leaving behind all clichés at the door (yeah, no lei decor here).
What is it? Dumpling aficionados trek to this closet-size eatery to order the No. 6: A dozen pork wontons ($7), doused in roasted chili oil and topped with a smattering of diced pickled vegetables, arrives on a Styrofoam plate. Despite more than 30 items on the menu, it’s the only dish everyone seems to order—and for good reason.
Why go? If you love dumplings, this is a must-visit destination for the tasty morsels. We dare you to have just one.
What is it? A kosher diner in the East Village serving up tuna melts, pierogies, kasha varnishkes and borscht.
Why go? Here, you’re forced to talk to people from all walks of life: Your neighbor, the mailman and that one kid from your art class. Regulars know to look out for the heaping portions of complementary challah bread. And yeah, we even have one of their signature bubblegum pink t-shirts which read 'Challah, por favor' in slime green bubble letters. It's one of the last remaining old New York spots in the neighborhood.
What is it? New York may not be like the West Coast when it comes to Mexican food, but with Los Tacos No. 1, we’re getting closer. Behind the taqueria-style counter, you’ll see cooks rolling masa and slicing spit-roasted pork as fast as they can to keep up with this popular eatery.
Why go? Three transplants from California and Tijuana, Mexico dole out casual, authentic South of the Border eats (grilled cactus tacos, carne asada quesadillas) and homemade aguas frescas (horchata, tamarind).
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 slushies, 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 food in the city.
What is it? Chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt focus on cooking that's not overly precious: a vegetable-heavy menu complements the meat and fish courses; you'd be just as happy with a salad as you with the baked fish (the carta di musica, a crackly flatbread, is also irresistible).
Why go? The simply-designed space is filled with natural light during the day, and at dinner, the ambiance is sophisticated yet relaxed. The menu changes almost every day and that's just one reason to come back again and again.
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 is delicious, too.
Why go? abcV is Jean-Georges Vongerichten's first meat-free spot sports a menu of dishes as tasty as the space is chic.
What is it? The dim-sum juggernaut from chef-owners Mak Kwai Pui and Leung Fai Keung—which has five locations in its native Hong Kong and another 39 sites worldwide—became the world’s least-expensive Michelin-starred restaurant when it surprisingly scored a sparkler in 2009 for its freshly made pork buns and translucent shrimp dumplings.
Why go? While the menu isn’t as extensive as some popular Chinatown spots and you won’t find roving carts of dumplings, all the items are executed with care.
What is it? Racines flies under the radar compared to other trendy Tribeca restaurants that command long wait lists and pricey menus. The new-wave French cooking is more casual but executed as well as any fine-dining establishment.
Why go? A modern Parisian bistro dining experience with New York touches—from the stellar wine list to chef Diego Moya’s creative menu and its innovative use of vegetables.
What is it? Created by the Speedy Romeo team, the recently Michelin-starred Oxomoco focuses on wood-fired dishes; favorites include a beet “chorizo" taco, masa-fried cauliflower with black mole, pepitas, and butternut squash crema and chicken al pastor with grilled pineapple. The restaurant exudes a faint campfire smell that spreads throughout the all-white dining room, accented only by the green ivy hanging from the skylights. Be mesmerized by the glow emanating off the illuminated bar, lined with beautiful bottles of mezcal and tequila, ready to be shaken or stirred into cocktails.
Why go? It feels like you’re dining in a trendy Mexico City restaurant.
What is it? Chef Einat Admony (who trained under Bobby Flay) has made a name for herself by creating some of the most fresh tasting falafel we’ve ever had paired best with marinated beets and spicy Moroccan carrot salad.
Why go? You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better meal in NoLita, perfect for a little pre-game to spending hours flipping through McNally Jackson Bookstore’s stacks around the corner.
What is it? You’ll fall in love with cheong fun—the wide, translucent rice noodles that are often filled with pork, beef or shrimp—because Joe’s does it well.
Why go? It’s one of the city’s best bang-for-your-buck and an essential primer to New York dining. With each cheong fun doused in sweet soy sauce, there are few restaurants this comforting.
What is it? The spot sports a fashionably cookie-cutter decor—exposed brick, globe lights, hulking marble bar, you know the drill—but the true draw to the space is the talented Ignacio Mattos, the imaginative Uruguayan-born chef cooking in this Mediterranean-tinged spot.
Why Go? Simple, yet thoughtful fare perfect for a stunning meal any night of the week.
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? What began as a modest cart is now upgraded to a sit-down restaurant specializing in arepas and other Colombian bites in a Jackson Heights. The kitchen is run by Maria Piedad Cano and her family.
Why go? Some of the best South American corn cakes to found in New York.
What is it? Oasis is our no-fail, no-frills, trusty best friend for falafel platters and pita sandwiches. Beyond just damn good falafel, we really appreciate the bounty of pickled veggies that don't feel like an afterthought or filler.
Why go? These days, Williamsburg is a circus of high-rises and upscale eateries. In one of the most gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn it's becoming harder and harder to find affordable vegetarian bites.
What is it? Everyone loves a good taco, but at Claro, your notion of Mexican food is greatly expanded. The aguachile is not exactly your run-of-the-meal ceviche: scallops marinate in a bath of bright citrus and also have an unexpected hit of heat. The tortillas are house made and make a perfect vehicle for the complex moles that feel tradition yet modern.
Why go? Oaxacan cuisine gets a New York touch where everything is carefully sourced.
What is it? Sure, table service is available, but when it comes to L&B, we suggest ordering your grandma-style pie at the to-go counter and sitting outside. There are two rules here: Fight for that Parmesan shaker, and no matter how stuffed you are, you must finish your meal with spumoni, a tricolor ice cream.
Why go? We can’t imagine a better way to spend a post-beach afternoon than snarfing down one of its saucy, pillowy squares in the sun.
What is it? These days it’s easier to find Vietnamese food done well, but it’s often served with a modern twist. For a more traditional, home-style version of the Southeast Asian cuisine, we head to this no-frills restaurant that’s located in the Bronx, once an enclave of the Vietnamese population in New York.
Why go? Two Hanoi House alums have taken over this neighborhood spot and given the menu a few updates while staying true to the kitchen’s comforting Vietnamese recipes.
What is it? Cho Dang Gol has been known as the “Tofu House” since opening in Midtown back in 1997. Their silky housemade white protein of choice tofu appears in many of the items on the menu such as a dumpling jeongol—a spicy kimchi hot pot with squid, pork, veggies and dumplings—and jeon—Korean-style pancakes in flavors like kabocha. We love the complimentary banchan!
Why go? One of the few spots near Penn Station that doesn’t feel like an absolute drag.
What is it? Since 1998, this cult destination in Bay Ridge has been alone at the top of local Middle Eastern establishments, a standard-bearer in a category that has few highlights. The Palestinian-born chef and owner takes extra steps in reviving the flavors of her Nazareth childhood—charring eggplants in charcoal, rolling out pita, hand-making savory yogurt. Her efforts pay dividends in an endless variety of silky spreads—lemony labna, smoky baba ganoush—and almost-narcotic mains.
Why go? More Palestinian restaurants should be getting credit in New York.
What is it? It’s an oldie but def a goody: The corner tavern has been flipping some of the best burgers in town since 1972. Griddled diner-style on a flattop, the eight-ounce, medium-rare beaut is served open-faced with melted American cheese on a lightly toasted bun with the classic fixings.
Why go? The Upper East Side isn’t exactly a food writer’s first choice for culinary excitement, but J.G. continues to hold it down.
What is it? Chef and owner David Chang’s empire of restaurants has many hits, from the fried chicken sandwiches at Fuku to the fine dining-focused Ko. He’s published cookbooks, owned a beloved magazine (R.I.P., Lucky Peach) and keeps growing his business. For us, Momofuku Ssam Bar is that perfect bridge between the Chang of the early days (he started in the East Village with Noodle Bar) and the newer establishments he continues to open across the country. It’s still buzzy, hip music plays and the Korean-inspired cuisine is still just as good as ever.
Why go? You couldn’t get a reservation at Momofuku Ko.
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? There's a Chinese sign hanging out front, but the restaurant actually only serves Greek food. Diners love it so much, the team just opened another spot for spill-over seating across the street.
Why go? Kiki Karamintzas' namesake restaurant manages to be one of the neighborhood's hippest spots without maintaining an Instagram presence or photographable interior design. Which is to say, Kiki's is cool and lively without feeling like it’s trying too hard.
What is it? A modern luncheonette in the heart of Williamsburg serving Old school New York nostalgia through a soulful menu of comforting dishes like rotisserie chicken, lasagna and bialys,
Why go? One of the most pleasant brunch experiences you’ll have on this side of the Williamsburg Bridge.
What is it? A modern take on the retro diner, MeMe’s offers buffalo chicken salad, cacio e pepe funnel cake and veggie hoagies that will make you feel so nostalgic, yo might just find yourself calling up your granny afterwards to tell her you love her.
Why go? The queer-run restaurant has created a space that’s open and inviting to everyone. There’s do-wop music, a disco ball, and complimentary cheese puffs with every meal.