People coming to NYC always ask me for recommendations on where to dine, so here’s the list of my current favorites with just a short blurb on each. The restaurants with a star in front are my all time favorites.  Also have an another post that include new restaurants that I have heard great things about and plan on trying soon, and ones I have tried and recommend you don’t waste your time and money on.

Three things you should know about me before reading my list.  First, is that I prefer to eat at the bar (and thankfully they are starting to re-open up after COVID), and my list includes many restaurants that encourage foodies to do just that.  Second, I prefer the city’s downtown energy, so not many uptown restaurants included.  And lastly, I don’t like steak houses…touristy, power lunch/dinner places.  Other than that, just enjoy these great places as I do on a regular basis.

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My Favorite Restaurants

  • ABC Kitchen – 35 E. 18th St., 1212-475-5829  – Chef Jean-Georges rustic, casual, farm-to-table restaurant, located in the ABC Carpet & Home department store. Perfect if you want to browse for chic Italian linens or furniture before drinks or dinner. It serves good food, but not quite the same standard before their chef, Dan Kluger, moved on (opened his own restaurant, Loring Place, reviewed below).  Something is just missing with the new chef.  If you go after this review order the crab toast appetizer.  (abchome.com/eat/abc-kitchen)
  • Aldea – 31 W 17th St., 1212-675-7223 – Chef George Mendes’ Portuguese / Spanish restaurant in NYC.  The menu is inspired by Mendes’ home on the Iberian Peninsula, but with a modern, seasonal approach.  The menu features lots of shellfish, various preparations of salt-cod, or bacalhau, rice dishes and Iberian-cured hams. The interior is lovely, soothing and welcoming.    The chefs table and the wood bar with six coveted seats at the Chef’s Counter overlooks the activity of the kitchen. Their is also a Mezzanine level.  Must orders:  Appetizers – Bacalhau A Bras, Hokkaido Urchin Toast, Grilled Octopus, Country Pork Pate, Shrimp Alhinh, Mains – Arroz De Pato, House Salt Cod,  Beef and Braised Shortribs.

  • Aqua Grill –  210 Spring St., My favorite seafood restaurant in NYC has permanently closed due to the financial impact of COVID 19
  • Augustine – 5 Beekman St / Nassau St. in the Beekman Thompson Hotel – Keith McNally’s new Art Nouveau bistro serving French food from that era (think saucisson en brioche with a frisee salad, salad of foie gras, artichokes, haricots verts & lettuce… My fellow foodie, Allison, really enjoyed the restaurant so that is a good enough recommendation to add it.
  • Bar Boulud & Boulud Sud – 1900 Broadway, 1212-595-0303 & 20 W 64th St., 1212-595-1313 – OK, my two token uptown restaurants!  Both Daniel Boulud’s and on the casual side. Bar Boulud focuses on wine and charcuterie, Boulud Sud has a Mediterranean theme and food is really, really good. Some of my favorites at Boulud Sud; Appetizers – Lamb Flatbread, Sicilian Sardines, Crudo, Octopus.  Mains – Any of the Pastas, Sea Bass or Lamb. And don’t forget the sides, all interesting and delicious. (barboulud.com and bouludsud.com).

  • Batard – 239 W Broadway (Tribeca), 212-219-2777- This has become one of my favorite restaurants.  Not only is the food “perfect” but the service and staff couldn’t be more welcoming.  I dine at the small bar, of course,  where you can order a la carte vs. the prix fix menu.  They have a large selection of interesting, small batch alcohol and probably one of the best wine lists in NYC (especially for Burgundy – my favorite wines).  Batard has it’s Michelin-star and  is part of the Myriad restaurant group (Tribeca Grill and Nobu).   You can taste joy in the food and you will have a grin on your face with every bite.  
  • Bohemian – 57 Great Jones St. – “Exclusive” (referral-only) Japanese restaurant / bar hidden behind a butcher shop (butcher shop specializes & supplies them with Kobe beef – so don’t miss the beef tartar or one of the Kobe dishes).  You need to email them requesting the phone number with a compelling “foodie” reason (www.playearth.jp).  The space is small and dining room seats only 25, including a couple of couches and a six-seat bar (open to 2 AM, so after dinner it takes on a lounge vibe with jazz and Japanese music).  The Chef, Kiyo Shinoki, serves a mix of American, French, and Japanese small plates.  My favorites:  beef tartare, poke, sashimi, branzino, and the smoked tuna with micro greens!
  • Bond Street – 6 Bond St., 212-777-2500 – creative sushi & Japanses dishes in a trendy atmosphere.   Was “the” hot spot 8-10 years ago but hasn’t lost any of its appeal.  Food is fresh and innovative, don’t miss Big Eye Tuna Tarts (add the black truffles), the Red Snapper Tacos, or the special Sushi/Sashimi Omakase. (http://bondstrestaurant.com)
  • Buvette – 42 Grove Street, West Village (no reservations) – Cozy, rustic-chic French bistro serving small-plates at breakfast, lunch & dinner. Chef Jody Williams opened a second bistro in Paris so you can enjoy her food in both cities.  Small plates include plenty of vegetarian options (salads with fennel or beets, ratatouille, a croque with wild mushrooms and tangy cheese) alongside satisfying miniature versions of coq au vin, os à moelle, and cassoulet. 
  • Casa Mono – 52 Irving Pl., 1212-253-2773–  very creative Spanish tapas, in a small cozy setting. Large bar for walk-ins with a spill over bar around the corner.  (http://asasmononyc.com)
  • Chumley’s –  86 Bedford St, 1212-675-2081 – the renowned West Village speakeasy reopened after being closed for around 10 years.  It’s a cozy, welcoming restaurant owned by Alessandro Borgognone (Sushi Nakazawa). He took over the space and has turned this pub into a great restaurant with food from Atera alum chef Victoria Blamey.  Must try’s are the pretzel, steak tartar, hamburger (below) and fried chicken.

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  • Cosme – 35 E 21st St., 1212-913-9659 – Enrique Olvera, very famous Mexican chef opened his first NYC restaurant.  Don’t expect the usual Mexican fare as Chef Olvera did his research on what NY’ers want and has incorporated his research in his space and cooking.  What you have is a inviting,  hip space and innovative Mexican inspired dishes.  But this is the only bar I will recommend skipping.  High, awkward, and uncomfortable chairs don’t make the dining experience pleasant (or getting on or off them!).  Not to be missed, the Duck Carnitas (really, really amazing).
  • dell’anima38 Eighth Ave (Jane), 1212-366-6633 – former Babbo sommelier and an ex–Del Posto kitchen whiz, Chef Gabe Thompson, got together to open this unassuming little Italian trattoria.   Small copy place, filled with locals who genuinely love food.  This is a place for foodies!
  • Estela – 47 Houston St., 1212-219-7693 – you will probably walk right by this bar / restaurant on Houston without knowing it is there, but it is a hidden gem you should seek out.  Mediterranean small dishes (with a few entree size ones) whose flavors continue to open up and get better with each mouthful.  Great bar and cocktail menu also. (estelanyc.com)
  • Gotham Bar & Grill – 12 E. 12 Street – This wonderful, neighborhood mainstay, has permanently closed due to the financial impact of COVID 19
  • Il Buco – 47 Bond St., 1212-533-1932 – Been around for over 25 years and has turned out many wonderful chefs who are now on their own.  Very cozy, with the look of an Italian farmhouse.  Mediterranean and Italian small plates with daily specials.  Nice, small bar.  (ilbuco.com)
  • I Sodi – 105 Christopher St., 1212-414-5774 – small, intimate space with some of the best Tuscan cooking in NY.  Delightful service at the bar or at a table. (isodinyc.com)
  • King – 18 King Street, SoHo,  917.825.1618 – Cozy , neighborhood restaurant headed up by two chefs, Jess Shadbolt and Clare de Boer.  These creative chefs cook a different slate of dishes each night influenced by the food of south of France and Northern Italy.  The changes tend to be evolutionary, drawing from a fixed repertoire of ideas and what is in season.  You night get helpings of roast guinea hen flavored with lemon and ricotta one night; a faithful version of Provençal fish stew made with Long Island clams, tender fluke, and steamed lobster the next; and simple hanger steak grilled with rosemary on your third visit.  All amazing and I would gladly eat there every night if I could.
  • L’Amico – Eventi Hotel, 849 Ave of Americas (30th St.) 1212-201-4065 – Brasserie from Laurent Tourondel has an open kitchen and two wood-burning ovens to produce crisp, charred pizzas and chickens and steaks.  Casual food for the Vine hotel bar that has a spacious outdoor patio with a big movie screen.  Very noisy and difficult for conversation but lively.(http://lamico.nyc)
  • L’Artusi -228 W. 10th St., 1212-255-5757 – creative small-plate Italian fare, eating bar-centric restaurant with 30 seats. You must order one of the Crudos, and don’t miss the pastas, and side vegetables.  Two bar areas with good bartenders.  (lartusi.com)

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  • Le Coucou – 138 Lafayette Street (Howard Street), 212-271-4252 – OK the hottest new chef in NYC, Daniel Rose, (Chicago native whose fame is from Spring and La Bourse et La Vie in Paris) and the hardest to get reservations in the city.  I was lucky enough to have a dear friend who is one of their bartenders, and she was able to get us a much coveted reservation.   And I now know first hand what the raves are based on…it was perfect in every way.  First the decor, it is one of the loveliest restaurants I have eaten in (first picture in my post).  The service was excellent, and you couldn’t ask for a better wine list.  And then the food…I don’t know what to say but WOW!  Do not miss (here’s the list):  Warmed oysters, Fried veal head (yes I am serious, it was one of the best dishes), sweetbreads, Crepinette (chicken, foie gras, roasted plum), Pike quenelle with lobster sauce, Rabbit (all of the rabbit), Lamb loin, and all the rest of the main courses.  Cannot wait to go back!

  • Locanda Verde – 377 Greenwich St., 1212-925-3797  – casual, but sophisticated, neighborhood Italian, this is another place for Chef Andrew Carmellini to shine.   Don’t miss their pasta dishes (especially in  Truffle season),  and they have a great brunch.  (locandaverdenyc.com)
  • Loring Place – 21 W 8th Street, 1212-388-1831 – After a 2 year wait, Dan Kluger (ABC Kitchen) has finally opened his own place.  And it was well worth waiting for!  The restaurant is lovely, and has, what makes this girl very happy, a bar room with a comfortable bar where I can eat and drink.  Kluger trained under the greats; Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio before making his mark at ABC Kitchen.   Of course, everything is locally sourced, and seasonal, preparing a large part of the menu in his wood burning oven, grill and smoker box.  At ABC Kitchen he was known for his vegetables and he is continuing the tradition with delicious wood-grilled broccoli with pistachio-mint dressing, and a celery Caesar salad that was sooo good I wanted to order another.  He also house-mills his flour for the in-house baked bread and pizza’s.  All wonderful.
  • Loyal – 289 Bleecker St (Seventh Ave) – Chef, John Fraser (Nix and Dovetail) opened an American brasserie in the West Village.  Loved Dovetail, but afraid I can’t recommend his new addition.  I loved the bartender, Matthew, and the atmosphere is inviting, if you arrive very early, but gets packed and very noisy quickly.  And the food…boring is the first word that comes to mind.  And we tried quite a few items, each more disappointing than the next.  The only thing that looked interesting was the burger with duck fat fried tater totters…we gave up at this point and didn’t try it.  Skip this place. 
  • Mimi – 185 Sullivan St (nr. Bleeker), 212-418-1260  – Little friendly, warm, Village bistro with French roots but a interesting twist on each dish.  Chef Liz Johnson (25 years old) changes the menu constantly serving odd little flavorful wonders.  Some examples are the asparagus dressed in smoky porridge with bits of fresh uni,  the duck a l’orange presented with the head on, douced in Grand Marnier, then lit on fire at your table, or fresh-made gnocchi layered with uni and white asparagus.  Has gotten rave reviews but I am still undecided.  Food tasted good, but was visually unappealing.  Might have been an off night so will try again before I remove them from this list. (http://miminyc.com)
  • Minetta Tavern –  113 MacDougal St., 1212-475-3850 – Keith McNally remodeled this old Greenwich Village mainstay.  French cuisine (try the specials), the famous Black Label Burger is a must, and great steaks.  Hard to get reservations, but if you arrive when they open, or just time it perfectly, you can get a seat a the inviting bar and have dinner with the friendly and helpful bartenders.   (minettatavernnyc.com)
  • Nur – 34 E 20th Street, 212-505-3420 – modern Middle Eastern food including “street food elevated to fine dining”.  Chef Meir Adoni is pretty famous in Tel Aviv for Middle Eastern food with elements of French technique, infused with his Moroccan heritage and a global flair.  A mouthful, but it seems to work. Menu is designed for sharing so you can sample many of his culinary delights. Loved the octopus, sea bass, smoked eggplant carpaccio, the Horias (lamb kebab in grilled pita with pine nuts and eggplant.  And you must are any of his breads as Adoni’s partner is the founder of Breads Bakery.

  • The Musket Room – 265 Elizabeth St., 1212-219-0764  –  A taste of New Zealand, and a special favorite, which earned a Michelin Star within only 4 months of opening. Service is incredibly hospitable, the mixologist at the bar makes some mean cocktails, and the decor is farmhouse-chic.  Chef Matt Lambert’s specialty is modern New Zealand cuisine, and he crafts dishes that are seasonal, delicious, and sometimes wildly creative. A rum-cured torchon of foie gras is dense yet melting upon contact, accompanied by sweet dates, tart green apple gel, and buttery brioche. And the quail appetizer with a delicious bread sauce shouldn’t be missed (below).  For dessert you must order the slim chocolate torte, so smooth and sinfully rich, that my choolateholic dining companion persuaded me to get a second order (didn’t take too much persuading). (themusketroom.com)

  • Oceans  – 233 Park Ave South, New York, 212.209.1055 – Our favorite Seafood restaurant in NYC.  Delicious food, beautiful atmosphere, and excellent service.  With Gato’s closing, a good deal of their staff are now working here, and they are the best of the best! Don’t miss the Tuna Tartare below), Tsunami, Little Gem Caesar, Shrimp Scampi, Spanish Octopus, Crab Cakes and the Hawaiian Walu.
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  • Sushi Katsuei – 357 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014, 212-463-0039 – newly opened in Manhattan, in the Sushi Soto space  (original is in Park Slope, Brooklyn), serving excellent, affordable omakase and Japanese options a la carte.  Chef Anug Ko Win  told Eater ” I don’t like the prices to be too high because I want people to relax and enjoy”. This small, modern space, is comfortable with very attentive service.  Large Saki list but limited wine choices.  
  • Sushi Nakazawa – 23 Commerce Street, 1212-924-2212, sushinakazawa.com –   you can easily walk pass this unassuming store front, but from the moment you realize the lovely brown door is the entrance, you have entered a Zen atmosphere where the tensions of the day dissolves.  John greats you in the cozy front bar with a warm welcome.  Have a drink before dinner, as John and the bartender are great company, and will engage you in lively conversation. The perfect beginning to this evening.  Then you enter the dining room.  You can either sit at the Sushi Bar (if you are lucky to snag a reservation for this coveted spot) or at a table in the small, sophisticated dining room.  Chef Daisuke Nakazawa serves a twenty-course Sushi omakase  menu with ingredients sourced domestically and internationally. He shows his love of this cuisine in each piece that is presented, oh so beautifully, and only the best and freshest find its way to your plate.  It was delicious, some of the best sushi I have every had.  Good wine and Sake list and service attentive and friendly.  A great overall experience. A tip:  you can also eat at the bar or bar tables in the front room and order a la carte!   (http://sushinakazara.com)

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  • Tonchin  – 13 West 36 Street – Found this Tokyo Ramen restaurant that opened a branch in NYC and was very impressed.  They did a NY twist to it, adding lots of creative small plates and a decent wine list.  The food was amazing, service friendly and attentive, and vibe was casual and fun. Booked another reservation for the following week while I was dining. Don’t miss the Bites Sampler (order 3; Umami Sea Salt Edamame, Crispy Garlic &  Cajun Salt Shishito, and the Poke Tuna & Avocado ), Fish Buns, Spicy Chicken Wings, Gyoza, and of course the Ramen (they have 1/2 orders).
  • Tuome – 536 E. 5th Street (near Ave B), 646.833.7811 – not sure what took me so long to get here, but it will certainly become one of my regular haunts.   Chef Thomas Chen (from 11 Madison)  cooks contemporary American with Asian influences.  Space is small, rustic, intimate, with great service, and East Village casual.   Don’t miss the Octopus with pork XO sauce; Chicken Liver Mousse with New York maple; and Crispy Deviled Eggs with Chili for appetizers.  On the mains, Striped Bass with Black Lentils, Bonito and English Peas; Chicken Porridge with Basil Sauce; and the Pig Out for two (Berkshire Pork, Spicy Peanut Noodle and Condiments). like sticky rice with duck fat. SOOO Good!

  • Untitled – Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort St., 1212-570-3670 – the latest Danny Meyer restaurant with a modern American menu.  Space has floor to ceiling windows and an extra-long bar for dining. Must haves:  Tomato & Melon Sashimi; Lobster toast; black bass; fluke with radish, sorrell & lime.  Then, after a few glasses of wine, stroll The Whitney!  (http://untitledatthewhitney.com)
  • Union Square Cafe (The New One) – Park Avenue South/ 19th St. in the space that was occupied by City Crab.  Danny Meyer relocated his longstanding restaurant, along with a 450-square-foot space next door, Daily Provisions, serving coffee, breakfast pastries, breads, and a large to-go menu of sandwiches, salads, and rotisserie items.  The restaurant is warm, cozy, and the bar inviting.  Service is great, as that is the core of Danny Meyers philosophy. Food was as good as I remembered.  Say yes to the bread, butter and olives to begin the meal (give up those carbs next week) and try one of the pasta dishes or the burger.  I had a special that day of goose stuffed ravioli, pretty special.
  • Upland – 345 Park Ave South, 1212-686-1006  – Justin Smillie, who received 3 stars from The Times when he was at Il Buco Alimentari, is the chef.  and I think the second hottest chef in town (Daniel Rose is first).  He hooked up with Stephen Starr from Buddakan and what they have created is a Californian / Italian Brasserie that actually works.  The food is creative and  delicious.  His signature dish, and my favorite hands down, is the short ribs (I normally do not like short ribs, but I dream of this dish).  Love the kale & sausage pizza (blackened crust and enough to share with your friends).  Also excellent is the Grilled Veal Ribs, Whole Crispy Mushroom, Five Lettuce “ceasar” (trust me I NEVER order Ceasar Salad – this is quite unique), Hamachi Crudo, Slow Cooked Lamb Neck, Long Island Duck Breast.  And for lunch the burger is a must.  Large wine list with many reasonable priced finds. (uplandnyc.com).
  • Via Carota – 51 Grove Street (7th Ave), 1212-255-1962 –  Highly recommended by my fellow foodie, Mus! And I totally agree with him.  Jody Williams and Rita Sodi are the dynamic chef duo at this warm, casual, Italian restaurant.  Williams wonderful French restaurant Buvette, and Sodi’s Italian one, I Sodi, are right in the neighborhood and this is their first venture together.  And the combo really works.  The pasta’s delicious as is everything on the menu.   (viacarota.com)
  • Vic’s – 31 Great Jones St.,212-253-5700 – The restaurant is lovely, lively and best of all, turning out delicious, interesting dishes all night.  A must for anyone who loves great food, interesting wines, and a fun evening.

  • Wildair – 142 Orchard St – Wine bar with elaborate snacks from Chef’s Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske.  An ever-evolving menu serving interesting tweaks to classic dishes, like spicy tuna spread across vast slices of bread topped with a green frizzle (turned out to be scallions) – a giant Japanese bruschetta!  Try the swordfish with cranberry beans and romesco, breaded pork Milanese with egg-laden gribiche sauce, scallop tartare with grapefruit sitting in a deep-green pool of  cucumber-jalapeno-kale sauce, pork rilettes, and hazelnut tart. With an unusual wine list including mostly organic and natural bottles.
  • Zadie’s Oyster Room –  413 E. 12th St – Chef Marco Canora, from Hearth, converted his wine bar into an Oyster room with a vintage menu (tribute to the oyster rooms and cellars that dominated NYC in the 1890’s).  Oysters are served in multiple styles; raw, pickled, fried, boiled, baked, steamed and poached.  “Oysters and seaweed, they obviously go well together” states Canora, and seaweed is woven into the menu enough that he almost called it the oyster and seaweed room.

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