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Photograph: Cayla Zahoran

NYC's 35 best Manhattan restaurants

The best restaurants in Manhattan are not only some of the city's finest, but also the world's greatest.

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Amber Sutherland-Namako
&
Time Out contributors
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Choosing a restaurant in NYC, where new spots pop up all the time, is one of life’s most rewarding challenges, and any way to narrow the field presents a welcome edge. Price point’s a good place to start, and location is always imperative. Manhattan makes sense most of the time, and it just happens to have more than a few magnificent diners, cafes, bistros, power lunch spots and special occasion destinations. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island all have their share too, but these are the best places to eat and drink on the island of Manhattan. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best Manhattan restaurants

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Hell's Kitchen

Sometimes, when you really love a piece of music, it stings a little to hear it in a convenience store or from a passing car. The song was your thing. Its easy for Kochi to feel like your thing, but you’ll want to tell everyone you know to go. “Go to Kochi,” you will shout, “it has a marvelous menu of skewers like doenjang-marinated grilled halibut, slow cooked pork tenderloin and crispy shrimp with charred eggplant sauce, all inspired by Korean royal court cuisine,” you will command, and then everyone will clap. Go to Kochi.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Financial District

Click and clack through the regal lobby leading to Crown Shy and know that you’ve made it. This is our top special occasion spot when reservations are available, ideally at a table in view of the elegant open kitchen. Our favorite order is still the reverently presented braised short rib that’s been on the menu since Crown Shy’s opening, a few Crown cocktails topped with all manner of lush botanicals, followed by the sticky toffee pudding for two. On no-occasion nights, we like to sit at the bar and start to feel like something good is bound to happen. Once we order the gruyère fritters, it usually does.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Flatiron

The last reservation we made here was for five doggone forty-five in the afternoon, because it’s too tough a ticket at primetime. And we snapped that early hour right up, as any opportunity to taste Rezdôra’s strozzapreti, tagliolini, cappelletti and other exquisite handmade pastas familiar to Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region is a golden one. We usually order a la carte, but Rezdôra also has one of the most memorable tasting menus in the city.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • West Village
  • price 3 of 4

Sushi Nakazawa is at the top of its class without the prices to match. You can book its exquisitely sourced twenty-course tasting for $120 in the dining room or $150 at the counter. That is still a lot of money! But similar experiences at the best sushi restaurants in the city roll up into the hundreds. Nakazawa’s brilliant sake pairing is an additional $90, which is also relatively affordable compared to its contemporaries. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Midtown East
  • price 4 of 4

The front door of this fine-dining Korean restaurant from the husband-and-wife team behind Atoboy is hidden in the foyer of a walk-up apartment building on the edge of Nomad. Past the bar, a flight of stairs brings you to the basement, where you can enjoy snacks on couches in the stone-floor lounge before taking a seat at one of the 14 chairs at the black-granite counter overlooking the kitchen.

  • Restaurants
  • Lower East Side

Newly opened Dhamaka is already one of the best new restaurants in NYC, and it’s practically peerless. Boasting recipes from “the other side of India,” its gurda kapoora (goat kidney, testicles, red onion and pao) doh khleh (pork with lime, cilantro, onion and ginger) and champaran meat (mutton, garlic, red chili) are all uncommon in the five boroughs. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Flatiron
  • price 3 of 4

A Korean steakhouse with slick decor, Cote is on our shortlist of restaurants we reserve when we're looking to impress. The smokeless grills at each table ensure each bit of beautiful meat is just the right doneness. 

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

Chinese hot pot, customarily stewed with thinly sliced meats, vegetables and stock, gets a brothless showcase at this East Village eatery from owner Ning Amelie Kang and chef Qilong Zhao. Ma la means numbing and spicy, and the restaurant’s starring dish is a variation on Chongqing-hailing dry pot, a stir-fry-like spread built with a choice of 52 add-ins.

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Raoul’s
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Soho
  • price 4 of 4

Situated on Prince Street since 1975, Raoul’s is made for red wine and romance. French by way of Soho with tartare, foie gras, moules frites and roast chicken on the menu, few places still feel as thoroughly Gotham-esque as Raoul’s sumptuous back dining room where the air is always a little electric. 

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Flatiron
  • price 3 of 4

Enrique Olvera is the megawatt Mexico City talent behind Pujol, regularly ranked one of the 20 best restaurants in the world. His stateside debut Cosme, a bare-concrete Flatiron dining room, was similarly received upon opening and it remains popular today.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Flatiron
  • price 3 of 4

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s first meat-free venture looks like Gwyneth Paltrow’s sketchbook: The spacious room is a Goop-y stretch of white furniture, with pops of color courtesy of artisanal ceramic plateware, and rosy wall panels. Each menu arrives with a chart that details the health benefits of various vegetables, and each dish is delicious. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Malaysian
  • Two Bridges

If you aren't already an amateur food photographer, Kopitaim's beautifully plated dishes will inspire the new hobby. And there are more than enough items to capture. Order a lovely pandan chicken, nasi lemak or belachan wings and don't forget to enjoy 'em while you're racking up the likes. 

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Lower East Side
  • price 2 of 4

One of NYC's finest and most refined plant-based restaurants, Dirt Candy always innovates. Its five-course tasting changes with the seasons, and might include vegan "caviar," tomato tart with smoked feta and carrot gnocchi. 

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Belle Harlem
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Harlem

Belle Harlem was fashioned to feel like an intimate dinner party when it first opened with an a la carte menu in 2016. Its recent shift to tasting menus seems even moreso; when’s the last time you ordered a particular dish at a pal’s pad? Previous hits included mac-and-cheese spring rolls with bacon marmalade, buttermilk fried chicken with lemon-ricotta waffles and filet mignon with charred cream leeks and lollipop kale.

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Lower East Side
  • price 2 of 4

This bright cafeteria is a repository of New York history—glossies of celebs spanning the past century crowd the walls, and the classic Jewish deli offerings are nonpareil. Start with a snappy all-beef hot dog, then flag down a meat cutter and order a legendary sandwich. The brisket sings with horseradish, and the thick-cut pastrami stacked high between slices of rye is the stuff of dreams. Everything tastes better with a glass of the hoppy house lager; if you’re on the wagon, make it a Dr. Brown’s.

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  • Restaurants
  • Central Asian
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 1 of 4

Quick, convenient and satisfying, Mamoun's Falafel has been a MacDougal Street staple from morning until late since 1971. Its classic falafel sandwich in a soft pita with hot sauce and tahineh is a favorite, and shawarma plates, dips and pastries are available too.

Joe's Steam Rice Roll
  • Restaurants
  • Food court
  • Soho
  • price 1 of 4

Canal Street is bursting with activity, including in its namesake food-hall. Canal Street Market's clear standout vendor is Joe's Steam Rice Roll, the first New York expansion of the Queens favorite. 

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Russ & Daughters
  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

For New Yorkers, lining up at Russ & Daughters is a time-honored morning tradition. Pull a ticket, wait for your number to be called, then sidle up to the glass cases to gawk at the stunning sable and sturgeon. The routine hasn’t changed much since the smoked-fish emporium opened more than a century ago.

  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Harlem
  • price 3 of 4

Globally-inspired soul food takes center stage at Marcus Samuelsson's Harlem bistro. The former Aquavit chef-turned culinary celebrity's present menus include chicken and waffles, pan fried catfish and shrimp and grits. 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 3 of 4

Keith McNally’s lovingly restored Minetta Tavern may be the first iconic restaurant of postmillennial New York. The place is as buzzy now as ever, and the food (like the excellent Black Label burger) is as much of a draw as the happening scene.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Murray Hill
  • price 3 of 4

Kajitsu serves shojin cuisine, meat-free preparations that trace to Zen Buddhism, in a tranquil environment that will put you at ease. Each jewel-like course is an artful representation of simplicity and seasonality. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

The lunch counter is tiny and cramped, but it’s also one of our favorite places in the whole city. Here, you'll meet people from all walks of life: Your neighbor, the mailman and Michael Shannon (He’s randomly there a lot.) Real regulars know to look out for the heaping portions of complimentary challah bread. And yeah, we even have a signature B&H bubblegum pink t-shirt that reads 'Challah, por favor' in slime green bubble letters. It's one of the last remaining old New York spots in the neighborhood.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • West African
  • East Harlem

Teranga serves West African–inspired dishes in a fast-casual café nestled inside the Africa Center, which is a cultural hub that’s “committed to an integrated approach for understanding all aspects of the African continent, including transforming narratives.” Chef Pierre Thiam’s menus help tell the story.

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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Harlem
  • price 2 of 4

Sylvia's, a soul food restaurant in Harlem, has been a neighborhood staple since 1962. Today, its operated by Sylvia's family, and it still serves "world famous bar-b-que ribs & fried chicken," traditional collard greens and fried shrimp, catfish or whiting. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • East Village
  • price 4 of 4

You’ve got to make it through the reservations ringer to gain access to chef David Chang’s slim tasting menu. The ever-evolving 12 to 15 courses feature dishes like raw fluke in a coating of tangy, mellow buttermilk, poppy seeds and house-made chili sauce or a frozen foie-gras torchon, shaved over lychee puree and pine-nut brittle. Whatever the evening's order, it’s all brilliantly executed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Nolita
  • price 2 of 4

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. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Greenwich Village
  • price 3 of 4

Italian-American meals immortalized in mob movies and sepia-toned photos seem so dreamy you can almost taste them, and Carbone's take is technicolor. The spot is a Goodfellas hangout to the max, more fantastical set piece than recreation. If you can get a table, please invite us. 

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

In the #trending millennial slang lexicon, basic is not a compliment—it’s a dig to the banal, extra-regular-ness of, say, fur-lined Ugg boots and pumpkin-spice lattes. Basic cooking is no exception, redolent with whiffs of home kitchens and hands-on Sauté 101 classes. But the soulful Italian plates served at Via Carota, the first joint effort from chef power couple Jody Williams and Rita Sodi—at once rustic, sophisticated and heart-swelling—proves simple food can be anything but basic. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • East Village
  • price 2 of 4

Noodle Bar has been around the block, but it's still a fun original. Its extra spicy pork ramen with thai chili, sesame and scallion is a favorite, and we almost always add in a poached egg. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Lower East Side
  • price 2 of 4

Wildair, the 45-seat sister restaurant to chef Jeremiah Stone and pastry chef Fabian von Hauske’s avant-garde tasting-menu den, Contra, is two doors from the original. Wildair is set with sardine-packed bar tables, a fuzzy midaughts soundtrack and neighborhood affability. And though its snacky, à la carte menu has less sharp-edged experimentation than Contra’s, you will catch the occasional low-key innovation.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Noho
  • price 2 of 4

In addition to the sumptuous antipasto, primi and secondi served in the back, you can pick up some hard-to-find pantry staples from Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria's butcher counter and shelves lined with fancy olive oils and tinned fish.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • East Village
  • price 2 of 4

From the steaming rice-noodle bowls of the Yunnan province to the tear-jerking orders of spicy Szechuan dry pot, dining out in the East Village is a celebration of regional Chinese cuisine, and we’re here for it. Enter artist and Hunan native Chao Wang, who opened this slurp shop to bring a taste of his home to NYC. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4

In a white-tiled East Village storefront, former James Beard Award-winning Del Posto pastry great and erstwhile punk-rock drummer Brooks Headley gives his uberpopular veggie burger pop-up the brick-and-mortar treatment, offering the namesake patty, tofu-cabbage wraps, vegetarian sloppy joes and vanilla-labna gelato.

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