Best Midtown restaurants
What’s not to love about Le Bernardin? The seafood-focused menu is impressive to say the least, with a popular four course prix fixe option featuring pan roasted langoustine and other gems of the sea. The ambiance is pure elegance, the wine list stretches for miles and the staff tending to the inviting lounge area mix a mean classic cocktail.
Keens is a New York City institution for a reason. The dark wood paneling, lush carpeting and impressive collection of clay pipes dating back to the 1800s makes you feel as if you’ve snuck into a Gatsby-era gentlemen’s club. The menu also boasts a bygone relic: the classic mutton chop, once a steakhouse staple but a tough find today.
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, so get an early reservation to look out at the garden while the sun’s still out.
It’s got the kind of showy, hyperpersonalized service and keen eye for detail that has come to define Major Food Group, the restaurant label (Carbone, Dirty French, Sadelle’s). The group’s branded blend of New Age ballsiness and nostalgic reverence has brought new light to the former and iconic Four Seasons inside midtown’s Seagram Building.
In an uptown landscape littered with French fine dining establishments, La Grenouille has managed to make a name for itself with its old-school Catskills resort vibe and a range of authentic-with-a-touch-of-modern dishes. The staff is professional and kind, and the prix fixe lunch menu makes for an excellent escape from the office.
Michelin-starred chef Gabriel Kreuther is the master behind this palatial ode to French cuisine overlooking Bryant Park. As romantic as it is chic, Gabriel Kreuther restaurant is, quite simply, a dining experience. Every dish is expertly prepared and exquisitely presented. You can also swing by to his artisan chocolate shop, right next door.
It’s all about the octopus at chef Michael White’s Michelin-starred Columbus Circle eatery. White’s gift for coming up with endless, mouthwatering Italian seafood dishes—Marea is Italian for “tide”—is most evident in his light, fresh fusilli, tossed with red wine braised octopus and rich, buttery bone marrow.
The gap between kati-roll canteens and white-tablecloth Indian has grown wider in the past few years—and leagues more interesting. On looks alone, Indian Accent edges closer to fine-dining than fun-loving, but dishes (pork-belly vindaloo, blue-cheese naan) are much looser than that stoic room makes them out to be.
Quietly tucked away on West 52nd Street, this innovative Korean hotspot shines like a true gem against a backdrop of chain restaurants and brightly lit delis. The menu is refined yet approachable, rife with vegetarian options and authentic, lovingly prepared Korean mainstays like scallion covered pork belly sliders and to-die-for spicy “Korean Fire” chicken wings.
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.
Just a hop, skip and jump down from Grand Central Station, Karuma Zushi has been delighting midtowners with classic, flavorful and amazingly fresh sushi and sashimi for over 35 years—a serious feat considering the cuisine’s fairly recent rise to prominence. The a la carte menu is loaded with the classics—freshwater eel, fatty tuna, Japanese sea urchin.
Despite its address, Quality Meats is a hip, modern steakhouse with a distinctly downtown feel. The warm tones, exposed brick and Edison bulbs add to the charm while the thick cuts of premium beef, seared to juicy perfection, keep loyal patrons coming back for more. Whether you’re there for date night or a lunch meeting, Quality Meats does not disappoint.
Chinese cuisine gets a touch of 1930s glamour at this swank Shanghainese restaurant. The 60-seat spot is styled out with blue-painted walls, leather-and-velvet booths and vintage accoutrements (typewriters, suitcases, posters of Shanghainese movie stars). The menu includes regional specialties, like bang bang chicken (shredded chicken in a spicy sesame sauce).
Just a short stroll north of Times Square, the subdued dining room at Benares offers a respite from midtown madness, as well as a taste of the ’hood’s most ambitious Indian cooking. Virtuoso chef Peter Beck (Tamarind) oversees the region-hopping bill of fare, which includes a robust selection of seafood and vegetarian dishes.
Sushi Yasuda holds the distinction of being Martha Stewart’s favorite sushi joint, and anyone would be hard-pressed to question her taste. Yasuda’s ever-changing menu features some of the Japanese cuisine’s deeper cuts, with fresh, melt-in-your-mouth fish and perfectly salty-sweet rice prepared with expert detail.
Often imitated but never replicated, Halal Guys have become a critical component of any midtown bar night. If you happen to find yourself stumbling to the train after a long session at Jimmy’s Corner, their chicken over rice (with plenty of white and hot sauces) and gyros are well worth the detour—the blend of booze-absorbing starch and perfectly seasoned poultry makes for the perfect nightcap.
Kitsch and chichi mingle at this tiny, hidden spot in the posh Parker Meridien. It’s a perfectly re-created burger emporium circa 1972, down to the “wood” paneling, vinyl booths and iconic ingredients, such as Heinz ketchup and Arnold’s buns. The burgers are picture-perfect, too—juicy and flavorful with the perfect degree of char.