Modern, sustainable, with thoughtful presentation and a heightened focus on freshness—the best American restaurants in NYC are all that and more. The city’s top New American eateries include acclaimed fine dining restaurants, farm-to-table restaurants and vegetable-forward upstarts, with kitchen teams making regular use of the best farmers’ markets in NYC. From seasonable New York pizzas to affordable tasting menus, these are the best New American restaurants in New York City.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC
Best American restaurants in NYC
Swiss chef Daniel Humm mans the kitchen at this vast Art Deco jewel, which began life as a brasserie before evolving into one of the city’s most rarefied and progressive eateries. The service is famously mannered, and the room among the city’s most grand. But the heady, epic tasting menus are the true heart of Eleven Madison Park, a format that spotlights Humm’s auteur instincts. Tableside flourishes are part of the fun: Look out for even more dazzling showmanship—including one dish presented by way of a sleight-of-hand trick.
Here you are at 8pm on a Monday, in a packed restaurant with an hour-and-a-half wait. The fashionably cookie-cutter decor—exposed brick, globe lights, hulking marble bar, you know the drill—suggests you’ve stumbled into another bustling rustic restaurant-cum-bar that’s not worth the wait. Far less common are talents like Ignacio Mattos, the imaginative Uruguayan-born chef cooking in this Mediterranean-tinged spot. With this venture, Mattos and partner Thomas Carter have slouched into a more relaxed posture than during previous stints). Mattos has reined in his modernist tendencies at Estela, with an ever-changing, mostly small-plates menu that pivots from avant-garde toward intimate, bridging the gap between space-age Isa and the homey Italian he used to cook at Il Buco.
Gramercy is the restaurant that transformed Danny Meyer from a one-shop restaurateur to a full-blown impresario, made Tom Colicchio a star and launched a citywide proliferation of casual yet upscale American eateries. It’s delicate constructions of vegetables and fish that dominate now. The influence of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant given to ingredients-worship, is evident as soon as the first course (of the main dining room’s mandated three-course prix fixe) is rolled out.
While plenty of New York restaurants have lately made the environment a priority—sourcing their ingredients locally and crafting dining rooms from salvaged materials—none have done so with quite as much visual and gastronomic panache as chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen. The chef’s “hippie” restaurant, as he’s taken to calling it is a stunner, as artfully merchandised as the shop that surrounds it. Everything, including the antique armoires, reclaimed-wood tables and chandeliers, is gathered from area artisans. Though the restaurant’s sustainable ethos is outlined on the back of the menu like an Al Gore polemic, the cooking, based on the most gorgeous ingredients from up and down the East Coast, delivers one message above all: Food that’s good for the planet needn’t be any less opulent, flavorful or stunning to look at.
Despite the luxe reworking—matched with a pleasant though militantly stiff waitstaff and those fussy trappings left over from the space’s days as the oligarchic Brasserie Pushkin—chef Bryce Shuman thankfully hasn’t lost his sense of fun. That mirth is felt from the get-go, kicking off with a play-with-your-food plate of English-pea puree spackled with sesame and olive oil and served with a single rainbow kale leaf that the waistcoated server instructs to use as a utensil. Later, it’s palpable in a crispy carrot roll—twee enough for a hamster—snowed with crumbles of the fermented root veg, and a nest of julienned kohlrabi, broccoli stem and watermelon radish strips, sauced with honey-mustard dressing and scattered with chive tips.
Like the diverse crowd, the food—from virtuoso Andrew Carmellini—is eclectic: His rollicking menu reflects our increasingly free-form eating habits with loving homages to Chinatown, the barrio, Little Italy and the full range of midtown, from its oyster bars and old chophouses to its taquerias and noodle-shop dives. To showcase this multicultural fare, design firm Roman and Williams divided the old Cub Room space into a cozy warren of intimate rooms with brass fixtures, cream brick walls and dark wooden beams on the ceilings. The various areas are buzzy, not deafening, with conversations evaporating out of the big picture windows.
Buzzing with urban-farming fund-raisers, local brewers pouring their ales and food-world luminaries fresh off Heritage Radio interviews, this sprawling hangout has become the unofficial meeting place for Brooklyn's sustainable-food movement. Opened in 2008 by Chris Parachini, Brandon Hoy and Carlo Mirarchi, Roberta's features its own rooftop garden, a food-focused Internet-radio station and a kitchen that turns out excellent, locally sourced dishes, such as delicate bibb lettuce with red-cherry vinaigrette or linguine carbonara made with lamb pancetta. It also doesn't hurt that the pizzas—like the Cheesus Christ, topped with mozzarella, Taleggio, Parmesan, black pepper and cream—are among the borough's best.
More than a mere crusader for sustainability, Dan Barber is also one of the most talented cooks in town. He builds his oft-changing menu around whatever’s at its peak on his Westchester farm (home to a sibling restaurant). During fresh pea season bright green infuses every inch of the menu, from a velvety spring pea soup to sous-vide duck breast as soft as sushi fanned over a slivered bed of sugar snap peas. Start to finish, there’s a garden on every plate—from buttery ravioli filled with tangy greens to just-picked cherries under a sweet cobbler crust. Once among the most sedate little restaurants in the Village, this cramped subterranean jewel box has become one of the most raucous.
With Contra, young guns Jeremiah Stone, and Fabian von Hauske draw inspiration from Paris’s néo-bistrot movement, which champions affordable set menus served in casual spaces. Their own narrow room verges on spare, stripped down to elemental forms like bare brick, scuffed wooden tables and a slab-oak bar. Stints at forage-friendly restaurants—Stone helped open Isa; Von Hauske worked briefly at Noma and staged at Sweden’s Fäviken—inform the sparse, hyperlocal cooking. Chefs change the menu every day, accommodating bolts of Greenmarket-induced creativity.
Olmsted’s focus on hyperfresh produce should come as no surprise, given chef Greg Baxtrom’s résumé—before opening this seasonal Prospect Heights spot, the chef put in kitchen time at renowned ingredient-driven restaurants like Chicago’s Alinea, Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Atera. It’s at the last of those where Baxtrom met horticulturist Ian Rothman, who partnered with the chef for this white-brick 50-seat dining room—which sports high ceilings, a chef’s counter and butcher-block tables—as well as the backyard garden, equipped with produce beds growing vegetables (Easter egg radishes, Jerusalem artichokes), flowers (violets, lilacs) and herbs (sassafras, opal basil).
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Would you like a side of art with your meal? Every visit to Nha Minh in Williamsburg comes with a dose of the art world, since the restaurant regularly hosts exhibitions for local artists like oil painter Steph Terao and photographer Beth Perkins. Don’t get so caught up in the art on the walls that you ignore the menu of modern Vietnamese cuisine, though. For breakfast, you might order a grain bowl topped with vegetables of the day and a fried egg or two ($10.50 for one egg, $11 for two). Need more protein? Add-ons like asparagus seitan ($2), house-cured salmon ($5) and smoked Vietnamese ham ($5) allow you to customize your bowl to your heart’s content. Other menu items include an adzuki bean tempeh sandwich with hijiki seaweed, pickled carrots, daikon radish and avocado spread on herbed focaccia ($11), a smoked trout bun served with vermicelli rice noodles and vegetables ($13) and scallion egg noodle pancakes ($6).
Venue says: “Vietnamese American Restaurant and Coffee Shop that hosts Art Shows!”