The best Greenwich Village restaurants in NYC are a diverse bunch. There are high-end Japanese food counters, acclaimed falafel joints and fast-casual vegan restaurants. Whether you’re craving a veggie burger or spicy rigatoni at one of the best Italian restaurants in NYC, check out New York’s best Greenwich Village restaurants.
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Best Greenwich Village restaurants
To gauge the change in New York sushi, just look at the soundtrack. The soothing strings and serene jazz of topflight toro temples have been swapped out for the devil-may-care swagger of Jay Z and the Notorious B.I.G., pumped out at decibels more commonly befitting a beer dive than a sushi counter. The cool-kid cred can be felt at raw-fish young’uns like New York Sushi Ko and Sushi Nakazawa, but nowhere was it more unabashedly in-your-face than at Neta. From behind a minimalist ebony counter, rock-star chefs Jimmy Lau and a beanie-capped Nick Kim—longtime disciples of sushi demigod Masa Takayama—brazenly served peanut-butter ice cream and uni-rich risotto alongside their gleaming, à la carte tiles of nigiri. That populist streak softly colors this 20-seat follow-up—the beanie remains, as does the thumping “99 Problems”—but where a pricey omakase was an option at Neta, here it’s mandatory. A cool $135 prompts a parade of exceptionally made edomaezushi served in its purest form, each lightly lacquered with soy and nestled atop a slip of warm, loosely packed rice. Luscious, marbled toro, a usually late-in-the-game cut affectionately known as the kobe beef of the sea, boldly arrives first, even before sweet Spanish mackerel with barely there shreds of young ginger or sea bream dabbed with plummy ume shiso.
For three decades Keith McNally’s New York restaurants have defined effortless cool, generating the sort of overnight buzz—and long-running exclusivity—institutions are made of. His hot spots have become pop culture touchstones—Odeon, Nell’s, Caf Luxembourg in the ’80s; Pravda, Balthazar, Pastis in the ’90s—delivering intangible pleasures that go far beyond food. McNally’s Minetta Tavern, a West Village relic reborn, may be the first iconic restaurant of postmillennial recession New York. The lovingly restored dining room is as nostalgic as the '21’ Club’s—and getting in the door as difficult as penetrating Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn. But unlike the Vanity Fair editor’s celebrity canteen, Minetta’s prices are reasonable, and the food is as much of a draw as the scene. In recent years, Minetta Tavern—which began as a speakeasy in the 1920s and later attracted all types of luminaries—had become a museum piece, notable only for its time-capsule interior. McNally hasn’t tampered much with the setting. Black-and-white snapshots and caricatures of bygone notables still hang above brand-new, artfully scuffed red leather banquettes. The back-room murals have been buffed to their original splendor, and the place—with an unlisted number for insiders—is as buzzy now as it must have been in its heyday.
The Italian-American supper clubs immortalized in mob movies and sepia-toned photos were never as dreamy as they seemed. And the red-sauce classics still served behind curtained windows at clubby holdouts like Il Mulino and Rao’s are rarely as inspiring as our memories of them. The young guns behind Carbone, though, have moved beyond sentimentality in their homage to these restaurants by flipping the whole genre onto its head. The new spot, from tag-team chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, is a Godfather hangout on steroids, more fantastical set piece than history-bound throwback. Like Torrisi and Parm, their earlier projects together, it’s a hyped-up spin on a vanishing form, a restaurant where, bread sticks to bowties, everything looks, tastes and feels like much more of itself. Under brass chandeliers, on navy walls, hangs brash modern art on old-school Italianate themes, curated, like the food here, by a downtown tastemaker (Julian Schnabel’s son Vito). The waiters, a seasoned crew plucked from powerhouse dining rooms all throughout the city, have the smooth steps and cool banter of celluloid pros. But Zac Posen designed their wide-lapelled burgundy tuxes. And the moneyed swells blowing their bankrolls in the entry-level front room or more sedate VIP inner sanctum—out back near the kitchen—aren’t capos or dons but young bankers and food-obsessed hipsters.
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.
A powerhouse trio—Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone and Jeff "ZZ" Zalaznick—continues its neo-Italian-American hot streak (including Carbone and Parm) with a raw bar. Scrapping an initial lobster-club concept, the 12-seat spot highlights first-rate cocktails and crudo. At the marble bar, acclaimed barman Thomas Waugh (Death & Company) concocts a beverage program decidedly more eclectic than the classic one a few doors down at Carbone: rum, housemade coconut cream, acacia honey and lime juice served in a frozen coconut; a gin tipple of fresh and freeze-dried strawberry, calamansi puree, rosemary-infused vermouth and Pernod pastis. In bar-friendly small plates, the chefs explore raw fish in all forms, with East Coast oysters on the half-shell and Santa Barbara spot prawns. Composed crudos include cured Japanese sardines alongside Cara Cara oranges; tuna carpaccio with bone marrow and foie gras; and shimaaji (striped horse mackerel) tartare topped with whipped ricotta and Petrossian caviar.
Chaste, conscious and carne-free—such are the holistic hallmarks of vegetarian dining. And while you can depend on a meatless meal at Nix—the first fully veg-only restaurant from John Fraser, who dipped his toe in the genre with Meatless Mondays at Michelin-starred Dovetail and his blogger-luring rotisserie beets at Narcissa—there are no #cleaneating diatribes to be found at the Cali-chic Union Square restaurant. (The closest thing to didacticism comes at the meal’s end, with a postcard explaining that Nix is named for the plaintiff in the 1983 Supreme Court decision that designated tomatoes as vegetables, not fruit.) Instead, Fraser, working again with Dovetail lieutenant Nicolas Farias in the kitchen, operates in a similar vein as Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen: The veg dishes here are defined more by decadence than discipline, having no qualms about drenching any bulb, leaf or stalk in sight in dairy or fryer oil. It’s a good-natured gluttony to bear in mind while ordering—the kitchen might not exhibit much self-restraint, but you should, for your arteries’ sake. Off-duty media girls with Haim hair and faux-leather clogs tear at puffy tandoori-fired flatbread ($5), dipping them in jewel-toned spreads ($4 each) like a surprisingly fiery red-pepper–walnut hummus and a rich laban, cool with marinated cucumber.
Supposedly one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, Mario Batali’s Babbo is certainly among the hardest to get into. The warmly lit, white-walled townhouse is alive with reggae, rock & roll and the ambient chatter of diners who enthusiastically lift pasta-laced forks and wineglasses to their mouths. Sadly, such liveliness can’t be said for the food. The balsamic and brown-butter sauce that bathes the goose liver ravioli can be overly reduced and borderline burnt. And while the grilled pork chop with artichokes and cipollini onions is beautifully caramelized, that’s no great feat. Save for the atmosphere and affordable wines by the quartino, nothing about this restaurant merits the hype.
It’s 4am, and you have three dollars and the munchies. Take heart: Mamoun’s Falafel is there for you, day or night. Serving quality Middle Eastern food since 1971, the place charges an extra 50 cents for to-go orders (which seems like a premium on top of a $2 order), so it’s an even better deal to show up late at night, when you might get a seat. The tabouli sandwich is tasty, but it will give you dry-mouth (if you don’t already have it), so pair it with lentil soup or order it as a platter (which includes veggies, dressing and pita). The falafel is served in a pita with lettuce, tomato and tahini, and you’d be well advised to add hummus or baba ganoush. Sweet pastries such as baklava and knafe—shredded phyllo dough with pistachios—leave you satisfied and ready for bed.
When times are tough, restaurateurs tend to lean on reliable formulas to stay afloat. That seems to be the case with the Mermaid Oyster Bar, from Danny Abrams and Cindy Smith. This third (and best), oyster-heavy location of Abrams’s popular New-England seafood eatery, the Mermaid Inn, has replaced their elegant but ill-fated bistro, Smith’s, which closed late last year. The couple swiftly refurbished the space, convincingly transforming a formerly sultry dining room into a bright fish shack with wainscoting and whitewashed walls. While the name suggests a mostly uncooked menu, the bill of fare is balanced between the curated raw bar—16 oysters complemented by the usual clams, mussels, crab, shrimp cocktail and lobster—and plated dishes that salute seafood favorites, ranging from greaseless clam strips with a tangy tartar sauce to a robust shellfish-enriched lobster bisque. With the help of our pleasant waiter, it was fun choosing among the exclusively North American oysters, split on the menu into East and West Coast categories; each type is accompanied by intriguing vocabulary like lettucy, zesty salinity and deep cup. We weren’t disappointed by the spectrum of flavor—from a musky Hog Island to the pungent Pemaquid. Entres, like a clean and meaty grilled Idaho trout with herbaceous salsa verde, were as simple as they were rewarding. And local tap beers, such as the hoppy Captain Lawrence Freshchester Pale Ale, were laid-back yet suitable matches for the dishes.
From cupcake-slinging vegan queen Chloe Coscarelli comes this entirely plant-based concept in the heart of Greenwich Village, offering meat- and dairy-free grab n' go treats, cold-pressed juices and a veggie burger (tempeh-lentil-chia-walnut patty on a potato bun to add to New York's growing pantheon. Continuing her vegan crusade—she wrote three cookbooks on it—Coscarelli stocks her takeout section with matcha kelp noodles in cashew cream sauce, brunch with quinoa hash browns and organic scrambled tofu, and dessert with gluten-free ice creams (roasted banana bourbon kale cookies).
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Sheryl Yvette
There's no psychoanalysis on the menu at this Sigmund Freud–nodding Village eatery—instead, market-driven Austrian fare is the focus of the 65-seat dining room from Michelin-starred chef Eduard Frauneder and the team behind Edi & the Wolf and the Third Man. Taking over the longtime home of Pasticceria Bruno, the restaurant evokes a turn-of-the-century brasserie in Frauneder’s native Vienna, touting vintage Thonet chairs, leather banquettes and glasswork salvaged from old skylights in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Patrons can settle at marble-topped café tables for elevated takes on Edi & the Wolf favorites—an onion tarte with mountain cheese plays on the tavern's Alsatian flatbread—as well as new dishes such as skirt steak with charred scallion and celeriac mille-feuille, and a burger with farmhouse cheddar, onion jam and crispy fennel. Behind a rustic mahogany bar, Third Man barkeeps stir seasonal, Freud-alluding cocktails, including the vodka-charged Slip (lime juice, egg white) and the tequila-fortified Libido (honey-jalapeño syrup, turmeric juice and Thai basil).
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The two outposts of this sushi joint—in Harlem and Greenwich Village—offer a nearly identical menu of Japanese classics. Start the meal with some shrimp shumai, edamame or a light seaweed salad ($5). If you’re after a roll, there are plenty of options to choose from, including classics like a spicy tuna roll ($5.50) or signature options like a rainbow roll ($10). Sashimi lovers might want to go all in on a 13-piece box with everything from striped bass to yellowtail ($23). If raw fish isn’t your style, Sushi Sushi also offers plenty of cooked options, like teriyaki rice bowls with your choice of seafood—salmon, squid, tuna, fluke or sea bass—and broccoli, asparagus, onions, cucumber and avocado ($19). For dessert, try a sweet roll with PB&J or banana, nutella and strawberries or a tempura-battered and fried Twinkie (all $5).
Venue says: “Now delivering fresh, tasty sushi anywhere in Manhattan! Order now by calling 212-477-4000, catering also available.”