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Photograph: Courtesy Jeffrey Gurwin Kefi

The best restaurants near Central Park in NYC

New York’s best restaurants near Central Park include white-tablecloth French spots and an iconic Jewish delicatessen

By Christina Izzo and Time Out contributors

Some days, simply taking a stroll through Central Park in New York can have you working up an appetite—luckily, there’s plenty of great restaurants near Central Park at which to refuel, from some of the city’s best fine dining restaurants to storied delicatessens serving one of the best bagels in NYC. From high-end Indian to one of the best brunch places in Manhattan, here are the best restaurants to check out near Central Park.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Central Park

Best restaurants near Central Park

Photograph: Courtesy Marea

1. Marea

Restaurants Italian Midtown West

Michael White, who built a national reputation at Fiamma in New York and Las Vegas, only to see his fledgling empire squashed overnight in a partnership meltdown, returned stronger than he left. The chef strives to continue the comeback that began at Convivio and Alto with the new seafoodcentric Marea, his third and most ambitious venture with partner Chris Cannon. An upmarket shrine to the simple pleasures of the Italian coastline, the project is a gutsy gamble from a chef with bravado to burn.

Black sea bass
Photograph: Courtesy Francesco Tonelli

2. Jean Georges

Restaurants French Upper West Side

Unlike so many of its vaunted peers, Jean Georges has not become a shadow of itself: The top-rated food is still breathtaking. A velvety foie gras terrine with spiced fig jam is coated in a thin brûlée shell; a more ascetic dish of green asparagus with rich morels showcases the vegetables’ essence. Pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini’s dessert quartets include “late harvest”—a plum sorbet, verbena-poached pear and a palate cleanser of melon soup with “vanilla noodles.”


3. Indian Accent

Restaurants Indian Midtown West

Indian Accent at Le Parker Meridien New York is the first international outpost of Rohit Khattar and celebu-chef Manish Mehrotra’s South Delhi blockbuster, India’s sole representative on the S. Pellegrino list of world’s best restaurants. (It currently sits at No. 77.) On looks alone, Indian Accent edges closer to fine-dining than fun-loving, all inoffensive grays and sculptural plating—the only similitude of Indian flash is one gold-leafed wall—and its menu is stuffily organized into prix-fixe options and a chef’s tasting menu. But then arrives an amuse bouche of warm naan imbued with, what is that, blue cheese? Yes, it’s a funky core of sharp Danish blue. Amuse, indeed.

4. Barney Greengrass

Restaurants Delis Upper West Side

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.

Cafe Boulud
Photograph: Courtesy Cafe Boulud

5. Café Boulud

Restaurants French Lenox Hill

The place has been an uptown mainstay for more than a decade, a power room with a loyal neighborhood following and its own seating hierarchy at dinner and lunch.The menu combines youthful American whimsy with understate refinement: Poulet Vallée d’Auge with purple potatoes and bacon, seared foie gras with parsnip and pecan, and monkfish with Tokyo turnips and nori-dusted tofu.

6. RedFarm

Restaurants Chinese West Village

New York chefs have reimagined Korean, reinvented Italian and turned Thai on its head. But Chinese food—the best of it sequestered in the outer boroughs, the worst of it prepared behind bulletproof glass in any number of neighborhood dumps—has mostly been stuck in a traditional rut. In this context, RedFarm is indeed groundbreaking: an interpretive Chinese kitchen whose high-end ingredients and whimsical plating have helped pack the dining room since opening night.

Photograph: Courtesy Sarabeth's

7. Sarabeth’s

Restaurants American Upper East Side

Charming Sarabeth's serves a homestyle breakfast, with little-house-in-the-woods menu items to match: Kids can try the Baby Bear—porridge with milk and honey—while parents nosh on the Goldie Lox, a plate of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and cream cheese. Lunch and dinner are equally cozy, with the likes of chicken potpie and house-baked pastries on the menu.

Calle Ocho
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Julian P.

8. Calle Ocho

Restaurants Cuban Upper West Side

Locals sardine themselves into this vibrant joint with Cuban-themed collages to enjoy inventive Pan-Latin food, as well as excellent homemade sangrias. The harried waitstaff delivers a starter round of velvety goat-cheese empanadas and rum-glazed shrimp without much more than a stressed smile, but the mouthwatering appetizers soon make up for the coldness. A pumpkin-seed–encrusted mahi-mahi has the sultriness of a Havana summer night, while thin sheets of rosy, tender tuna tiradito are dressed with roasted pineapple, avocado and jalapeños. Coconut sorbet in a luscious chocolate shell, and peanut butter–drenched cheesecake are the best part of an already buena noche; don’t worry—you won’t hear your conscience over the peppy salsa music anyway.

Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

9. Kefi

Restaurants Greek Upper West Side

Michael Psilakis (Anthos) has made himself the face of Greek cuisine in New York City, offering often excellent food at bargain prices. No starter runs more than $10, including moist beef-and-pork meatballs in a sauce that crosses marinara with tapenade. The entres, meanwhile, stay under $17—even the perfectly charred grilled branzino fillets. Antithetically, Psilakis is at his best with pastas (macaroni and feta cheese bound with bechamel, pillowy sheep's-milk dumplings with lamb sausage).

10. Caffè Storico

Restaurants Italian Upper West Side

In 2006, Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr stormed New York with spin-offs of his hometown megahits Buddakan and Morimoto. But after that big breakout push, he turned his attention elsewhere for five years. He returned with his first New York original: a luxe Venetian snack bar set in the New-York Historical Society—a keystone of the museum's $65 million renovation. Here, the menu highlights cicchetti, Italy's answer to tapas, like meatballs, grilled cuttlefish and baccalà mantecato (a creamy salt cod spread native to Venice).

Loeb Boathouse
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Dru C.

11. The Loeb Boathouse Central Park

Restaurants American Central Park

Get a fresh perspective on your own city. The setting is serene enough to offset the somewhat stiff service and hefty prices. The Boathouse salad is a gorgeous sculpture of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, olives and large, rectangular chunks of feta cheese. Crab cakes, more crab than cake, are worth every penny. Fish and fowl are fresh and beautifully presented. Allow yourself to linger over mascarpone cheesecake before taking the restaurant’s trolley back to civilization. Paying for location is par for the course in New York routine; here, it’s well worth it.

The Plaza Food Hall
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Thomas C.

12. The Plaza Food Hall

Restaurants Food court Midtown West

Entrepreneur-chef Todd English, inspired by the great food halls of Europe, opened this market in the Plaza Hotel in 2010. The sprawling venue featured multiple stations, including a raw bar, pizza shop, sushi counter and more. Vendors include Billy’s Bakery, Luke’s Lobster and No. 7 Sub.

Planning a picnic in Central Park?


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