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8 Amazing Village Restaurants NYC Locals Don't Want You to Know About

Classic spots and glitzy newcomers you have to try in Greenwich Village and the West Village

New Yorkers are notoriously tough critics, so when they give a restaurant their blessing it’s worth taking note. Here are eight of the top local-approved eateries in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and West Village, from classic spots that have withstood the test of time to glitzy newcomers that have quickly made themselves at home. 

1. Cornelia Street Cafe

Cornelia Street Cafe
Opened by three artists in 1977, this restaurant has maintained its bohemian vibe despite the rapidly changing neighborhood. It’s one of those places that’s a good bet no matter the time of day, that's popular yet usually with a table available, and that's comfortable whether it’s your first time or your hundredth. The food is supremely tasty, with influences from around the world. The dinner menu includes dishes like country paté, Thai bouillabaisse, merguez meatballs, and a solid burger. The performance space downstairs has seen countless luminaries on its stage over the years (their website boasts that Suzanne Vega and The Vagina Monologues both got their start here), and they crank out some 700 readings and performances a year with twice-daily offerings. —29 Cornelia St. | (212) 989-9319 | website

2. Corner Bistro

Corner Bistro
Corner Bistro is one of those places that is in all the tour books yet stubbornly manages to remain a local hangout. This place is the definition of no frills: The decor has remained virtually unchanged since it opened in 1961, and the namesake Bistro burger—piled high with bacon and cheese—is served on a plastic plate. At $9.75, the price might seem sky high to locals who remember cheaper burgers, but hey, rent is expensive and it’s still one of the best deals in town. Thankfully mugs of ice-cold McSorley's are still $3 a pop. —331 W. 4th St. | (212) 242-9502 | website

3. Dominique Ansel KITCHEN

Dominique Ansel KITCHEN
There was a lot of buzz when Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel opened up an outpost in the West Village this past spring, and the crowds have yet to thin out. You’ll find no gimmicky treats here though, simply classic pastries reimagined as their decadent best selves. Highlights include 48-Hour Tea-Ramisu, lemon yuzu butter tart, a buttery garlic bread croissant, a plain croissant piled high with boursin cheese and prosciutto, and the richest croque madame you can imagine. They also serve soft-serve ice cream through an adjoining window on summer weekends, with creative flavors like burrata with balsamic caramel and gianduja with orange blossom and sea salt. —137 Seventh Ave. South | (212) 242-5111 | website

4. Elephant and Castle

Elephant and Castle
This isn’t a restaurant that shows up in tour books or on the pages of glossy food magazines, but that’s exactly what has kept locals coming back since 1973. It has a cozy and welcoming dining room and a menu that is a pleasant mix of seasonal dishes and old favorites they couldn’t dare stop serving. The smoked chicken salad with avocado, apple, hazelnuts, and orange-ginger dressing is good any time of year, as are the omelets that are served all day. In cooler weather nothing beats a bowl of hot chocolate to accompany one of the soothing soup specials, like cauliflower with lemon oil. —68 Greenwich Ave. | (212) 243-1400 | website

5. Mimi

A newcomer to the neighborhood, this hip, 25-seat French restaurant is already attracting repeat customers for its solid food in a chic, intimate environment. The veal tartare with Parmesan and watercress can win over even those who shy away from raw meat, while the roast chicken with escarole and potato dumplings features the crispiest skin one could hope for. Ile flottante, a rice pudding with rose water and coconut, makes for a good dessert, and both the wine and cocktail lists are worth exploring. Mimi is the kind of place that’s just as appropriate for a fun night out with friends as it is for a romantic date. —

185 Sullivan St. | (212) 418-1269 | website

6. Murray’s Cheese Bar

Murray's Cheese Bar
Murray’s cheese shop, which has been open since 1940, is a Village institution and is now in every guide book and food tour. So when they opened their cheese-focused restaurant a few doors down in 2012, locals were excited. It quickly became a neighborhood favorite for its cheese-focused food and carefully curated craft beer and wine list. They change their menu often, but some favorites—like buffalo cheese curds and a killer macaroni and cheese—persist. They also have themed cheese flights (like Farm to Slate and Spanish Summer) for the table to share, and knowledgeable cheesemongers on hand to help make your selections. —264 Bleecker St. | (646) 476-8882 | website

7. Pearl Oyster Bar

Pearl Oyster Bar
Before lobster rolls were trendy in New York, there was Pearl Oyster Bar. Open since 1997, this tiny, no-reservations restaurant still has a solid 45-minute wait for a table on any given weekend night. But those who have eaten here will tell you it’s worth it, whether you dine at the namesake bar or in the cozy adjoining dining room (this is not a place to take big groups). Of course the fresh oysters and lobster roll are sure bets, but don’t overlook whatever whole fish they are serving that day, which can be enjoyed pan roasted or grilled. —18 Cornelia St. | (212) 691-8211 | website

8. Sevilla

In an age where chefs boast of their whimsical, hyper-seasonal menus, Sevilla is the odd restaurant out, an eatery that is seemingly frozen in time. The only thing that has changed about the menu in recent memory at this Spanish restaurant is the occasional bump in price; but at nearly 75 years old, why mess with success? The gargantuan portions of dishes like paella a la Valenciana and arroz con pollo come to the table in steaming pots, skillfully carried by career waiters in classic red uniforms. The bar, which is a remnant of when the space was an Irish pub in the 1920s and '30s, turns out excellent sangria and the cheapest cocktails in town. They also have a no reservations policy, so expect a wait on weekend nights. —62 Charles St. | (212) 929-3189 | website

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