I live in New York and haven’t been able to visit half of the restaurants that I have been wanting to, as there are simply thousands to choose from, so it can be a little overwhelming. I figured that I would go through the therapeutic exercise of narrowing down the list of some of the best restaurants in NYC. It was a hard task, as there are so many good finds, but hopefully this helps you make a decision next time you are looking for a delicious spot to indulge in. This list of my favorite places to eat has a real mixture no matter what type of area, budget or craving you have.
Quick tip for any of the places that are in the higher price range (or even the lower ones), go during restaurant week. You get a 3 course meal for only $38 during dinner and $25 during lunch! Some restaurants have pre-fixe deals year round or occasionally pop up throughout the year.
Burger & Barrel – $$ – Soho
I can’t even describe how out of this world the burgers are here. Their signature Bash Burger comes with bacon jam, ahhh. I am drooling just thinking about it. If you are not in the mood for a burger (if that’s possible) there are other options to choose from. There is a wine bar within it as well so you get the best combination of food and drinks during your visit.
Westville – $$ – East Village/Alphabet City, Chelsea, West Village, South Village
Great if you are looking for healthier options. I love the plates because you can choose a protein, such as grilled chicken, salmon, strip steak, etc and get to pick from multiple tasty sides like pesto or garlic mashed potatoes, soy glazed string beans and green peas with shallots & bacon. Everything tastes so incredibly fresh here!
Butter – $$$ – Times Square
This trendy spot is known for having a number of celebrities popping in for dinner and once you eat here you will understand why, quite simply, the food is delicious! The Beef Filet is my favorite however, that was definitely not a cheap option, which is why I went during restaurant week. The price of my 3 courses were less than the main dish! There are cheaper options but I will have to wait for the next restaurant week until I have my Beef Filet dish again! It recently moved to Midtown, so it is a great place to eat before or after a Broadway show.
Barbeque heaven. Firstly, you have to get the fried green tomatoes and smother them in the cayenne buttermilk ranch dressing. Then, you have the hard decision of picking what to order as your main between items such as ribs, pulled pork, catfish and churrasco chicken. The portions are huge so you might have leftovers. I only say might, because you might accidentally devour it all in one sitting.
Capital Grille– $$$$- Financial District
Primarily known for its steak, but when I go, it is usually for lunch so I choose dishes that are less likely to send me spiraling into a food coma. The last time I went, I had the Maine Lobster Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette. It wasn’t your typical salad, i.e. over flowing with lettuce, there were huge chunks of lobster on top of arugula, avocado and other garnishes. One word… wow!
Shanghai Asian Manor – $$ – Chinatown
Just because you are getting Asian food in Chinatown, doesn’t necessarily mean its good, unless of course you go here! The plates are huge and the food is delicious, making it too hard to decide on just one thing. I solve that problem by always going with a group of friends, so that we can order a bunch of different appetizers and meals and share them between us. The seafood soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, wontons Szechuan style, Lo Mein with mixed meat & shrimp and pan-fried noodles are some of my top choices.
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ – $$$ – East Village, Times Square & Midtown East
Be your own chef! There is a grill in the middle of the table for you to use to cook food that is already seasoned to perfection so you can make your meal exactly the way you want it. I usually purchase one of the value courses which comes with appetizers, assorted meats and vegetables, plus a dessert such as s’mores. Almost everything is cooked by yourself on the BBQ, making it a fun, unique way to dine. Top tip – it is a near perfect first date spot, as any potentially awkward moments can be avoided by adding some more food to the grill.
Petite Abeille – $$ – Stuyvesant Town/Gramercy & Flatiron
If you like mussels, this is the ideal place for you. My absolute favorite thing to order is the mussels soaked in bacon & beer sauce. It might sounds odd but trust me, it fits together perfect. They come with fries which I primarily use for dipping in the giant tub of sauce they come in. The Belgian waffles that they serve for dessert are almost a meal in itself as they are overloaded with different toppings such as ice cream, oreo cookies, dulce de leche, sugar, strawberries… I could go on and on. I prefer to share the mussel pot since they are so large, that way I have room for dessert. You cannot miss out on the dessert here!
Dessert Club, ChikaLicious – $$ – East Village
One word: cronuts!! This is not the original cronuts bakery, but they sure make it taste like it is. Here, they call them Dough’Ssant and have flavors such as Creme Brule, Dutch Apple and Ferrero Nutella. Besides that, they have cakes, ice cream, cupcakes and unique options such as crepe cakes. There are a few seats or you can take it to go. Another option is the ChikaLicious Bar across the street which has more seating and selections.
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory – $ – Chinatown
Make sure to leave some space in your stomach when you eat at Shanghai Asian Manor, as this ice cream shop is only a couple of blocks away and definitely worth saving the room for. There are regular and exotic flavors of ice cream and sorbet to choose from, I always go for the lychee and pumpkin ice cream. Thankfully you can sample before making this difficult decision. 😉
Serendipity 3 – $$ – Upper East Side
The frozen hot chocolate that they are known for is definitely worth the hype. Everything is huge so you can share and try different sweets. Food is served as well which is also good, but I would prefer to have dessert as my meal when I come here! Be prepared for a long wait, but it is worth it.
Veniero’s Pastry Shop – $$ – East Village
I am obsessed with the chocolate covered cannolis here! Also, the lobster tail, red velvet cake, cheesecake.. ok…. everything. This pastry shop in the East Village has been here since 1894 and hasn’t lost its thunder since it opened. I frequent here quite often and am never disappointed by the quality or the selection. I wish I could stop eating so many pastries!
Brasserie Les Halles – $$$- Financial District & Flatiron
I had escargots for the first time in France and afterwards, had an impossible time finding any that matched up to the same standard until I came here. Besides that, the meal that made my life complete is their the Tournedos Rossini which is a filet, topped with foie gras and truffles. It is on the more expensive side ($46), but it was worth every penny. Top Tip – Their Steak Frites Salad is a cheaper option to great cut of steak at a low price ($21).
Bavaria Bier Haus – $$ – Financial District
Pop in for some German food, giant beers and the most scrumptious pretzel you will ever have. It is huge and meant for sharing but I think I could eat it all if I was left alone with it! This is a great place for a group of friends or co-workers to stop in after work or during lunchtime, as it is downtown on Stone Street. You can also sit outside, as the entire street outside is set up for dining in the different restaurants on block.
Taverna Kyclades – $$ – East Village & Astoria
Serving giant portions with good prices, you can’t go wrong! The first time I went, I got scallops assuming I would get 5 at the most and a bunch of vegetables. When my plate came, I thought it was a platter for the table. I have never seen a serving of scallops that big in my life and they were delicious! The chicken, stuffed shrimp and lemon potatoes also top my list. At the end of the meal, you also get a complimentary dessert. No matter what you order, you can’t go wrong and you will have leftovers for the next day. Perfect!
La Pizza & La Pasta – $$ – Flatiron
This is one of the 9 places to eat within the Eataly market in Flatiron. This market is where people go to shop for incredibly fresh products to help make a delicious Italian meal, so it’s no wonder the food prepared in this restaurant is mouth-watering! My goal is to try every restaurant they have. One down, 8 more to go.
In the heart of Times Square, it is a big tourist spot, but also popular with locals such as myself, because of the family style plates and flavorful food. If you don’t want to be in the middle of a tourist trap, there is another location Uptown. When I was younger, I had a birthday tradition with my parents where we would go to a Broadway show and afterwards have a feast here. We would always order too much, starting with the appetizer sampler, then having the chicken parmesan, followed by dessert (even if we couldn’t fit it). You basically get an entire cake, so you are set for dessert for the next 2 weeks! My favorite is the bread pudding, although it would not last 2 weeks in my house after we took it home.
Harry’s Italian – Battery Park & Financial District
Another family style place that will have you fighting each other for the last piece of food on the table. The pizza and main dishes are easily devour-able. Even the bread is hard to stop eating! Once, we ordered the tray of mussels and it looked like an entire tanks worth of mussels was put on our table, so make sure you have a big appetite before you dine here!
Half eggplant and mushroom and half prosciutto pizza
El Toro Blanco – $$ – West Village
Slow roasted short rib empanadas are shoo-in appetizer choice. Most of their drinks are made with tequila, so this is the perfect place to indulge in a drink… or three with your meal.
Fonda – $$ – Alphabet City, Chelsea & Park Slope
You cannot come here without having the guacamole and margaritas. The food is rich and will surely leave you full. Although no matter how stuffed I am, I have to order the Tres Leches cake. It is too good to resist! Top Tip – Check their website before planning a trip here, as they have great deals on different nights of the week and a brilliant all you can drink brunch deal at the weekends.
Blue Water Grill – $$$ – Union Square/Flatiron
I don’t know where to begin. The Sashimi Grade Fluke Crudo appetizer is one of my favorite dishes ever, just bursting with citrus flavor. Other great dishes here are the Union Square roll, macaroni & cheese and banana ice cream tower. There are multiple rooms, so if you are in the mood for some live music, sit in the Jazz room (starting at 6pm) or come during Happy Hour (3-6pm) for deals on oysters and cocktails.
Grand Central Oyster Bar– $$$ – Midtown East
Located in the lower level of Grand Central Terminal, this landmark restaurant has been open since 1913. Serving 25-30 different varieties of oysters, it will keep you coming back to try all of them. However, if you are like me and do not like oysters, don’t cross this place off your list. There is plenty to choose, as there is a wide range of dishes. In fact, the menu changes daily to make sure the freshest seafood is being served.
City Crab & Seafood Co. – $$$ – Gramercy/Flatiron
Crab is one of my favorite things to eat, so when I heard of this place, I had to go. The Shrimp Imperial combines two of my food loves of shrimp and crab together. While this is a common dish, the amount of crab that was stuffed in the jumbo shrimp left me satisfied and full. Many places give you a tiny teaspoons worth, so I was leaping for joy when I saw crab overflowing! The Coconut Cosmo is also a great cocktail to sip on while you enjoy your yummy meal.
Hana – $$ – Lower East Side
I randomly stumbled upon this place, figuring it would be average sushi.. wrong! It is right in the middle of everything in the Lower East Side, so it is a great dinner spot before you spend a night out. The Dynamite Roll taste exactly as it sounds, dynamite! Made of spicy yellowtail, with salmon avocado and topped with spicy lobster, it is ahhhhhmazing. I also love the Lychee Iced Tea which had actual lychee in it. I had to try hard not to gulp it down in one sip, but it was so delicious it was difficult no to.
Sushi Samba – $$$ – West Village
One of the most popular sushi restaurants in the world for a reason! Everything is incredibly fresh and full of flavor, from the sushi to the seafood dishes. The Chilean Seabass is the best I ever had, although they remove it sometimes from the menu, so check before you go, if that is what you are aiming to get.
Koi – $$$ – Midtown West (Bryant Park) & Soho
It is known for its crispy rice topped with Spicy Tuna or Yellowtail Tartare appetizer and it will not let you down. Since it is a sushi restaurant, of course the fish is delicious, but the Spiced Braised Short Ribs are unbelievable. Normally, I order sushi but I decided to try something different and was amazed at how good it was. The rich meat just melted into my mouth. Normally, these type of restaurants don’t serve the best meat dishes but I was happily proven wrong here!