The Best Restaurants in New York City

By one estimate, New York City is home to almost 8,000 restaurants—add in cafés and delis, and the count is closer to 24,000. This list is, needless to say, a mere starting point to the many dining rooms worth sampling, from an intimate Italian restaurant in the West Village to inventive small plates from chef-owner Ignacio Mattos on the Upper East Side.

11 Madison Ave
In April 2017, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List (produced by the British magazine Restaurant) bestowed the title of the greatest restaurant anywhere on Eleven Madison Park. It marked the first time in 13 years that an American establishment secured the top spot. (The previous U.S. winner was Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, in 2003 and 2004.) It’s not the restaurant’s only laurel: It has also received three stars from Michelin and four from the New York Times. If you want to judge for yourself, be prepared to spend $295 for an 8-to-10-course tasting menu (or $155 for the smaller five-course bar menu). Both prices include tips, but not beverages. Executive chef Daniel Humm’s menu could be called haute American—local ingredients are highlighted in dishes with preparations that border on, but don’t cross into, the fussy. The dining room itself complements the meal. Right after the restaurant was named the world’s best, it closed for a four-month renovation, and its new light- and art-filled interior pairs perfectly with Humm’s dishes.
43-15 Crescent St, Long Island City, NY 11101, USA
Husband-and-wife team Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis have pulled off a remarkable feat, managing to entice gourmets to travel to Long Island City in Queens for a meal. While Obraitis manages M. Wells Steakhouse, Dufour presides over the kitchen. Having honed his craft at Montreal‘s celebrated Au Pied de Cochon, here Dufour reimagines an old-school chophouse by venturing beyond the typical prime cuts of beef to include sweetbreads and pig’s head on the menu. Among the sides, the poutine is a nod to Dufour’s Quebecois roots as are seasonal dishes like the meat pies sold during the winter holidays. Other steak-house classics are updated with touches like candied nuts on the wedge salad. If you want to sample Dufour’s contemporary Quebecois cuisine and aren’t in the mood for steak, the M. Wells Dinette at MoMA PS1 is another option, though it has a limited menu.
42 East 20th Street
Gramercy Tavern in the Flatiron District can fairly be described as a New York institution. When the restaurant opened in 1994, Tom Colicchio, who has gone on to fame as much as a television chef as one who cooks in his kitchens, presided over the restaurant. In 2006, he passed the reins to Michael Anthony. Gramercy Tavern is actually two restaurants in one. The Tavern, in the front, is a lively, buzzy space where the menu is à la carte; the more formal Dining Room, in the rear of the restaurant, also has an à la carte menu—as well as prix fixe and tasting ones—at lunch, though only set menus at dinner, when a three-course version is $129 and a seasonal tasting one is $179. The vegetable tasting menu at dinner, for $159, is perhaps among the most gourmet vegetarian meals anyone will ever experience. (All prices include gratuities.) The dishes in both spaces could be described as American comfort food elevated with some gourmet touches. You can expect fresh produce to be emphasized in plates like the duck meatloaf and the cobblers and pies—the restaurant is known for its desserts.
261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206, USA
Arguably one of New York’s best pizza places, Roberta’s would surely be more crowded than it already is if it wasn’t so hard to get to—at least for residents of Manhattan (or travelers staying there). This Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant serving wood-fired pizzas is in the Bushwick neighborhood, six stops into Brooklyn on the L train; once you arrive, you may find yourself having to wait in line for an hour for a table. All the effort, however, is worth it for the thin-crust pizzas that range from the traditional (Margheritas, white pizzas) to those with surprising toppings, like picked onions and jalapeños. There is also a bakery on-site, if you want to grab a sweet treat to enjoy after your excursion to Bushwick.
155 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019, USA
Le Bernardin, on 51st Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, is one of the handful of New York restaurants that is regularly awarded four stars by the New York Times (it is also one of five restaurants in the city with three Michelin stars). Chef Eric Ripert’s specialty is fish, and the menu is divided into three categories: “almost raw,” “barely touched,” and “lightly cooked.” If you like your tuna cooked medium, this isn’t the right place for you. Ripert often finds his inspiration in Japanese cooking, with his sashimi and light broths, and adds some Latin American influences, in his ceviches and some other dishes. The fish is always allowed to take center stage, and typically any sauce is merely intended to accent its flavors. The dining room has an understated, contemporary style with light-wood walls and high ceilings. Unlike some celebrated chefs, Ripert has chosen not to build a restaurant empire, increasing the odds that on any visit he will be at Le Bernardin, presiding over its kitchen and dining room.
112 Lincoln Ave, Bronx, NY 10454, USA
Of all New York’s boroughs, the Bronx has had the hardest time shaking the reputation left over from darker periods in the city’s history. The South Bronx is not, however, the lawless, crime-ridden neighborhood you might imagine if you have watched too many Al Pacino and Robert De Niro movies of the ‘70s. Adventurous travelers are crossing the Harlem River to visit long-established destinations like the area’s Antiques Row and new additions like the Bronx Brewery. A good way to start or end a day of exploring the district is with a meal at Charlies Bar & Kitchen, a lively local favorite that serves comfort-food favorites like barbecue ribs, burgers, and mac and cheese.
46 Bowery, New York, NY 10013, USA
New York City’s Chinese and Chinese American populations total around 570,000, making this the largest concentration of Chinese outside the mother country. The first Chinatown in Manhattan dates to the 1870s, and while it continues to grow, it has also been joined by other Chinatowns, including one in Flushing, Queens. That is where Joe’s Shanghai opened its first location, in 1995—though the two in Manhattan, on Pell Street in Chinatown and West 56th Street in Midtown, will be more convenient for most travelers. You can expect a wait for a table, and when you are seated you may be sharing it with strangers. The restaurant can be noisy, and as soon as you have finished your meal, you’ll be encouraged to settle up and leave. In other words, people don’t come here for the atmosphere or the service. Instead, the excellent and generous renditions of favorite Chinese dishes, especially the restaurant’s signature soup dumplings, are the draw. The dumplings are served in bamboo steamer baskets and each one holds a pork or crab meatball in a hot broth, all wrapped up in a doughy package. It may prove to be the most flavorful moment of your trip to New York.
278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014, USA
New York abounds in corner pizzerias selling pizza by the slice—it’s the default meal on the go for many residents. Those neighborhood spots are decidedly humble, even if the pizza is often very tasty. But should you want to make an evening out of trying one of New York’s signature dishes, John’s of Bleecker Street is a good option. The restaurant has been around since 1929 (though it was originally located on Sullivan Street). All of the pizzas are baked in a coal-fired brick oven, giving their thin crusts some blackened edges. While there are a few pasta dishes and salads on the menu, the reason to come here is for the pizzas and calzones served in a casual setting with black-and-white tiled floors and diner-style banquettes.
65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003, USA
The melodious invitations of “irasshaimase” (“welcome”) from all the staff at Ippudo NY as I walked into the restaurant quickly transported me back to Japan although I must admit it seemed to me slightly dissonant, almost like a dubbed movie, when I heard the phrase perfectly uttered from some of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed waiters. But the welcome was a nice touch, an additional layer of the place’s verisimilitude. We waited for our table in the busy bar area where ramen bowls lined its red walls like trophies in a hunting lodge. The glowing reviews and reasonable prices make Ippudo NY a very popular choice even at six in the evening - presumably just a late lunch for New Yorkers. The restaurant does not take reservations so expect a little wait. We sat in a narrow wing filled with a concentrate of small tables: You are close enough to your neighbors to smell what they ordered and be influenced by their decisions. We started with the pork bun, a popular choice: It was smooth and creamy but not as sweet as the ones I had in Japan. My wife and I both ordered ramen, she the miso tonkotsu and I the traditional tonkotsu, and we delighted in its milky oil-dappled broth, the telltale soft boiled egg, and the freshly pulled ramen. We finished with the matcha (green tea) ice cream and soft tofu, a distinctively Japanese combination, and it completed our reintroduction to the dining experiences we so loved in Japan and we were left to reflexively whisper to ourselves “oishi.”
298 Bedford Avenue
Maison Premiere’s French influence invites you into another era around its marble horseshoe bar. If you come early, you can take your time here. We were lured by the $1 oyster special during happy hour. It all washed down well with a boozy sazerac and a sweet Pimm’s cup (as pictured). If your liver is craving more, MP has the largest collection of premium absinthe in New York City, centered around “the world’s most accurate working replica of an absinthe fountain,” according to their site. It’s a great place for your day drinking needs.
228 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014, USA
This intimate, 110-seat restaurant has been hailed as one of the West Village’s true gems since it opened in 2008, both due to the chef’s fresh take on classic Italian cuisine and the inviting ambiance the cozy, dimly-lit eatery exudes. An open kitchen grants diners front-row seats to a culinary production with a rotating cast of fresh pastas starring tagliatelle, orecchiette, and garganelli. Seafood also features prominently in the form of charred octopus, roasted cod, scallops or Arctic char. Oenophiles will delight in the extensive list of Italian wines by region, including an impressive 2,500-bottle cellar that also plays host to private dinners. Just be sure and save room for dessert; the buttery olive oil cake flies out of the kitchen every dinner. Don’t have time to make it down to L’Artusi for dinner? The weekend brunch menu is equally divine.
207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003, USA
I go to Momofuku Ssam Bar every time I’m in NY and free for Sunday brunch. It is worth all the hype it has garnered. Go with a large group and order many orders of the pork buns, which are more like Chinese tacos, stuffed with tender pork belly and crunchy pickles.
42 Grove St, New York, NY 10014, USA
The first time I ate at Buvette, a Parisian-style café / bistro in the West Village, I distinctively had a sense of déjà vu. Except the food was so good, I was focused on each of the tiny plates of delight than digging through my memory bank on the source of the déjà vu. Later, after the food coma has subsided, I realized that this used to be The Pink Teacup and I was there over 10 years ago. This is just one of those magical things about NYC. Except, we are not here about the past, but the present and most specifically, how good the food is at Buvette. A small menu serving French-inspired small plates, great for sharing, Buvette is a 50-seat gastroteca, a place where people meet for casual food and drink any time of day. It is great any time of the day. Trust me. I’ve had all three meals there and every single time it is a delight.
205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, USA
Despite multiple trips over countless years going to New York City, it wasn’t until a year ago today that I encountered this sandwich — the one that left me drooling until I could enjoy it again. Katz’s quickly went from a one-stop place for me to a traditional stop, regardless of my city plans. Katz’s Delicatessen is located in NYC’s Lower East Side and has been a proud resident since 1888. That fact alone should be enough to persuade you to pay it a visit. While there may be many options for food, the only thing I ever ordered is the pastrami on rye. It’s thick-cut, perfectly seasoned, stack of meat with mustard on rye. Did I mention I don’t even like mustard? This is the only sandwich where I will eat it. Served with a side of pickles, you really can’t go wrong. I convinced a visiting group from California to try it as I was enjoying mine when they claimed seats nearby — and they agreed with my impression of this NYC staple (4 of their 6 party members had ordered this sandwich) Be warned: I have yet to visit the deli when it isn’t packed full of people, so don’t plan on this being a quick stop. The lines may be out the door, and it may feel like chaos inside (think sardines in human form), but once you start eating you will forget any of the “trouble” had while waiting. The best way to order is to fall in line, don’t be shy, and talk to those behind the counters. They’ll share their stories and give a free taste while you wait. Don’t forget to tip them!
35 E 21st St, New York, NY 10010, USA
In October 2014, Chef Enrique Olvera opened his much-anticipated New York restaurant Cosme, which offers an inventive dining experience in the Flatiron District. The spacious restaurant is a short walk from Langham Place, Fifth Avenue, and features modern Mexican dishes with locally sourced ingredients and housemade tortillas. But guests should not come expecting standard chips and guacamole, Chef Olvera is known for utilizing creative and sometimes surprising ingredients in his dishes. Menu items include burrata, salsa verde and weeds, and occidental purple corn pozole, pork jowl, lettuce, radish, Mexican oregano. The eclectic menu items are meant to be shared, and certain Mexican specialties, like dried chiles, beans and heirloom corn are imported from Mexico. Chef Olvera’s Mexico City restaurant Pujol has gained world fame for his fresh take Mexican food, and Cosme offers more stellar options. The bar also pours a wide variety of mezcals and tequilas. Photo by T.Tseng/Flickr.
113 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012, USA
Michelin-starred Minetta Tavern, which opened in 1937, has attracted plenty of literary luminaries over the years, including Ernest Hemingway and e.e. cummings, and continues to attract the famous and not-so-famous with its Paris-bistro-meets-NYC-tavern menu and vibe. There’s roasted bone marrow and trout meunière, and plenty of aperitifs, beers, wines, and cocktails (including one named for a Hemingway novel) to wash down whatever you order. Before or after your stop at this iconic Greenwich Village stop, walk through nearby Washington Square Park (as close to a “campus” as New York University gets) or watch a game of basketball at the famous West 4th Street courts.
54 East 1st St
Chef Gabrielle Hamilton opened Prune in 1999. It took a little more than a decade, but when her career took off, it rocketed into the stratosphere. In 2011, she was named Best Chef in New York City by the James Beard Foundation, and in the years since, she has published a memoir about her life and the restaurant, as well as hosted her own television show on PBS. All of these have contributed to Prune’s popularity, and the warmly-lit restaurant is now an East Village fixture. Adventurous eaters who aren’t afraid of organ meats or game such as braised rabbit will especially be rewarded, as these are a strength of Hamilton and co-chef Ashley Merriman.
264 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014, USA
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.
224 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012, USA
It can be extremely difficult to keep up with cool restaurant openings in NYC. My trick? I look for the lineups. On Soho’s edge, Jack’s Wife Freda had a buzz that caught my attention. When I returned, I was able to get a table solo at this packed boite. Duo Dean and Maya Jankelowitz (ex-Balthazar) make an inventive brunch menu stemming from Israeli and South African influences. I was in a Dr. Seuss mood and had the green shakshuka - yes, green eggs, no ham. I’m a fan of their housemade juices as well. Next time: rosewater waffles.
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