Where to Eat around The Westin New York Grand Central
New York’s sweeping cityscape is ever changing—mixing peoples, traditions and expectations unlike anywhere else in the world. The constant energy here inspires visitors and locals alike to explore the endless, unique experiences NYC has to offer.
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.
89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, USA
The Grand Central Oyster Bar celebrates its 100th anniversary this year as a New York institution. Located in the lower concourse of Grand Central, it serves over 25 varieties of oysters daily. There is a huge menu of American seafood—chowder, fried clams, lobster rolls, clams casino—whatever you are looking for, they will have it. The Oyster Bar is also famous for its architecture—the beautiful arched tile ceilings are the hallmark of famed Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, who left his unique stamp across NYC. Take your pick from three different seating areas: a series of old-fashioned, U-shaped counters which seem to be popular with tourists and locals; the oyster bar, which would be perfect for singles or those dining in pairs; and the saloon-type restaurant in the back, popular with the business crowd. Wherever you are sitting, it will be bustling with activity. While there are several other oyster bars in the city, the Grand Central Oyster Bar offers a piece of New York history. It’s like stepping back in time, a retro celebration of old Americana that generations of locals, tourists and travelers have visited over the years. My suggestion is to stop in for fresh oysters and cold beer at the bar.
328 East 78th Street
My vote for the best bowl of Asian noodles in New York City goes to Xi’an Famous Foods, which also won over Anthony Bourdain, food critics, and countless locals. The family-run business celebrates signature spicy dishes from its hometown in western China. Most of the locations are small—you will likely wait—however, once you dig in to your bowl of spicy broth, stewed pork (or lamb, or oxtail) that falls apart on your fork because it’s so tender and hand-ripped noodles, you will understand. Do yourself a favor, skip the available cans of soda and instead opt for their homemade cold jasmine tea (sweetened or unsweetened). It perfectly cuts the heat. There are more than 10 locations, including the original in Queens. They do a brisk business at lunchtime; visit for a late lunch or early dinner to improve your chances of getting a seat.
103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, USA
These days, wandering the Lower East Side (the area between the Bowery and the East River, with Houston Street marking its northern border and Canal Street its southern one), it can feel impossible to recall that this neighborhood was once among the city’s most overcrowded, teeming with immigrants. Its streets were filled with Germans, Greeks, Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, and other Europeans newly arrived in the United States, including a significant Jewish population. Today, boutiques and bars cater to gentrifiers, much of the population is Puerto Rican or Dominican, and the few traces of that earlier era are hard to find—the facades of Yiddish theaters and synagogues that have long since closed. The Tenement Museum on Orchard Street is dedicated to assuring that period of the city’s past is not lost forever. On each floor of the restored tenement building, the lives of some of its former occupants are brought to life, from the German saloon owners on the first floor to the Jewish immigrants who occupied the top one. Docents in character and costume help to make the stories of those immigrants personal. The museum also organizes walking tours of the Lower East Side and offers talks on the district’s history.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, a farmers market sets up in Union Square in New York City. On the west side of the square, by 16th Street, is an orchard stand which makes the best apple cider donuts in the entire world. Breezy Hill Orchard is always there with many different types of apples, pears, pies, baked goods and - best of all - apple cider donuts. A bag of three will only cost you a few dollars. Coupled with a cup of hot apple cider, it might just be the most perfect breakfast. Pull up a seat on one of the many benches in the park and gaze up through the towering trees as donut crumbs tumble down your chin.
New York, NY 10018, USA
A few green acres of valuable Midtown Manhattan real estate affords office workers and visitors with valuable peace and space, two things that are hard to find in the surrounding streets. Bryant Park shares the block between Fifth and Sixth avenues and 41st and 42nd street with the main branch of the New York City Library (also worth a visit). The library runs an al fresco reading room along the north end of the park, and occasionally hosts readings and author events. In summer, a stage at the western edge of the vast green lawn runs a busy schedule of performances and films. In winter, the lawn becomes an ice skating rink and the site of a busy holiday market. All year round, the park is a popular destination for the bocce ball courts, ping pong tables, small carousel, food kiosks, open lawns, gravel paths, seasonal plantings, and a graceful fountain. It may be a challenge to find a seat at lunchtime, but it’s worth the wait. Take a break from your walk and enjoy some great people-watching, as well as shade and a measure of serenity in a green space bound on all sides by tall buildings.
398 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022, USA
Exposed brick, bright windows, fresh flowers and cushy seating set the scene for this French bistro– cozy, classy and fragrant. The food is fresh and French, so it is inherently delicious. Everything is prepared from scratch, using seasonal quality ingredients– many of which come directly from their upstate farm. Perfect portions with a price to match. Did I mention the husband and wife team (Zeze and Peggy O’Dea) also own a flower shop, which explains the fabulous arrangements wich they call “A labor of love”.