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Le Bernardin
Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & Tammar

The best midtown restaurants in NYC

Yes, they exist—from Herald Square to Columbus Circle and everywhere in between, these are the best midtown restaurants

By Jake Cohen, Christina Izzo and Time Out contributors

Sure, midtown might not be the first area you think of when you think of fine dining, but there’s great grub to be find in the city’s mid section—the best midtown restaurants in NYC are proof. Whether you’re looking for cheap eats from the city’s best food trucks and carts, a meaty meal at one of New York’s best steakhouses or a tasting-menu dinner at a fine-dining stunner, you can find all of the above at the best midtown restaurants in New York City.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best Midtown restaurants

Le Bernardin
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Caste

1. Le Bernardin

Restaurants French Midtown West

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Keens Steakhouse

2. Keens Steakhouse

Restaurants Steakhouse Midtown West

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. 

The Modern
Photograph: Jessica Lin

3. The Modern

Restaurants Contemporary American Midtown West

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.

The Grill
Photograph: Teddy Wolff

4. The Grill

Restaurants American Midtown East

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. 

La Grenouille
Photograph: Ilenia Martini

5. La Grenouille

Restaurants French Midtown East

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.

GABRIEL KREUTHER sturgeon and sauerkraut tart
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

6. Gabriel Kreuther

Restaurants French Midtown West

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Marea

7. Marea

Restaurants Italian Midtown West

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. 

Indian Accent
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

8. Indian Accent

Restaurants Indian Midtown West

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. 

Photograph: Courtesy Danji

9. Danji

Restaurants Korean Hell's Kitchen

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. 

Bar AwardsEmpellonCrab Nachos
Photograph: Courtesy Empellon

10. Empellón

Restaurants Mexican Midtown East

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.

Photograph: Filip Wolak

11. Kuruma Zushi

Restaurants Japanese Midtown East

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.

Quality Meats
Photograph: Atsushi Tomioka

12. Quality Meats

Restaurants Steakhouse Midtown West

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Cafe China

13. Cafe China

Restaurants Chinese Midtown

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).

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

14. Benares

Restaurants Indian Midtown West

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.

Photograph: Filip Wolak

15. Sushi Yasuda

Restaurants Japanese Midtown East

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.

Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Dan Nguyen

16. Halal Guys

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.

Burger Joint
Photograph: David Rosenzweig

17. Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien

Restaurants Hamburgers Midtown West

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. 

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