Soho is more than just the downtown hub of shopping in New York—there’s also the high-quality crop of Soho bars and restaurants available for you to refuel at during your retail-therapy trip. Sex and the City–approved French restaurants, Italian sandwich shops, the best brunch in NYC—the neighborhood’s got a little something for everybody. Here are the best Soho restaurants NYC has to offer.
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Best Soho restaurants in NYC
From the team behind Tribeca sensation Locanda Verde, the Dutch has been packed since it opened, attracting a cross section of the downtown social scene. Right from the get-go the restaurant lived up to its preopening hype, bringing real heat to Soho as Balthazar and Blue Ribbon did in the ’90s. Like the diverse crowd, the food—from virtuoso Andrew Carmellini—is eclectic: His rollicking menu reflects our increasingly free-form eating habits with loving homages to Chinatown, the barrio, Little Italy and the full range of midtown, from its oyster bars and old chophouses to its taquerias and noodle-shop dives.
Sipping wine out of a $60 Zalto stem is an activity typical of more formal surroundings, but at Charlie Bird, you swirl a smoky Rodano chianti riserva while nodding your head to the Notorious B.I.G. Devoted in equal measure to seasonal cooking and serious wine, this West Village spot roughs up its own polish with subtle hints of the street, like large graphic prints of boom boxes and the now-ubiquitous restaurant soundtrack of early-’90s hip-hop. It’s one in a burgeoning class of wine-focused restaurants, like Pearl & Ash, that deliver vino nerdism with downtown cool.
Dominique Ansel honed his skills as executive pastry chef at Daniel for six years before opening this American and French patisserie. Caramelized croissants, miniature pastel meringues and madeleines make up the sweet selections at the counter. But the café also serves savory offerings, like roasted butternut squash soup and a pork club sandwich with pickled eggs, tomatoes and spicy mayo on sourdough.
This old-school Italian sub shop—a Soho institution since 1986—was known as Melampo before an ownership change in 2001. Of the 40 plus-size grinders, crowd favorites include the Romeo: smoked chicken breast on Italian bread, slathered with Bel Paese (a semisoft Italian cheese) and hot-pepper dressing. Former owner Alessandro Gualandi was famous for his temper, and a bit of Gotham tude still prevails: A posted sign delineates the things you may not ask for (coffee, tomato sauce and bathrooms, among them), and regulars know to order their selections by name.
Not only is the iconic Balthazar still trendy, but the kitchen rarely makes a false step. At dinner, the place is perennially packed with rail-thin lookers dressed to the nines. But the bread is great, the food is good, and the service is surprisingly friendly. The $99 three-tiered seafood platter casts the most impressive shadow of any dish in town. The frisée aux lardons is exemplary. The skate with brown butter and capers and a standard-bearing roasted chicken on mashed potatoes for two are both délicieux. Don’t hate the patrons because they’re beautiful; just join them.
As famous for its 4am closing time as for its long lines, this downtown haunt has been an after-hours magnet for clubbers, clocked-out chefs and ne’er-do-wells since 1992. The restaurant’s trappings—brick walls, globe lamps, slanted mirrors—reflect the bistro menu (hanger steak, escargot), but seafood is also a big focus: Look out for the raw-bar towers.
The word balaboosta connotes an endearing Jewish type: The homemaker who possesses just the right touch in everything—a true domestic goddess. Israeli chef-owner Einat Admony—also of the falafel joint Tam, and a veteran of the kitchens at Tabla, Danube, Patria and Bolo—embodies that multiplicity. She’s well versed in the ingredients of India, Europe, South America and of course, her native Middle East, combining them in dishes—some great, most daring—at this downtown venture. Lamb three ways was a fitting homage to Admony’s high- and lowbrow culinary backgrounds—a tender lamb chop was bathed in lime sauce; soft tenderloin wrapped in Swiss chard rested on fennel puree; and fried kibbe was filled with a hearty mixture of lamb, pine nuts, raisins and spices.
Keith McNally protégé Dean Jankelowitz (Schiller’s, Pastis, Balthazar) is behind this morning-to-evening café. The 40-seat restaurant—sporting dark-green leather banquettes, brass railings and marble counters—serves homey fare, like Jankelowitz’s grandmother’s matzo ball soup made with duck fat, a skirt steak sandwich served alongside hand-cut fries, and piri-piri-hot-sauce-marinated chicken kebabs. In the morning, find Stumptown coffee, homemade croissants and full breakfast plates, including soft-boiled eggs with challah "soldiers" (strips).
The retro yacht interior at this sexy subterranean restaurant might make you forget you’re docked in Soho. Hit the sushi bar to compare the flavors and textures of premium catches, or grab a table for a more extensive meal. Lure’s greatest achievement is its treatment of the classics. Dishes that have become rote at so many fish-focused eateries—seared yellowtail glazed in dashi, a lobster roll stuffed with sweet meat—are executed here with the dazzling skill usually reserved for more ambitious menus.
Fishing nets and posters of the Côte d’Azur may not entice you into this French bistro, but the exuberant cooking of Marseille-born chef-owner Didier Pawlicki should. The chef lavishes his mussels with curried cream and apples, and his garlicky, ruby-red slices of rare hanger steak are served with a sensuous trio of sides (carrot puree, potato gratin in a cheesy veil, and a pot of zucchini flan). A dessert of fluffy profiteroles had us moaning—very French indeed.
Looking to spend the entire day in Soho?
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que - Harlem
At this famed roadhouse, tykes can enjoy "dino" sliders ($4 each) made with pulled pork or brisket. The eatery scores extra points by offering temporary T. rex tattoos to children.
Venue says: “Harlem Dinosaur has a Happy Hour! Every Mon-Fri from 3pm-7pm at the bar. Check out our website for $2-$6 happy hour specials”