New York is a city that’s overflowing with restaurants. I think I once read that you could go to a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for 10 years without ever going back to the same place. But quantity does definitely not imply quality… and that’s where we come in.
It’s not usually our style to tell you to not go somewhere, but please don’t fall into the Tao restaurants or Vandal trap- they somehow always make their way onto tourists’ restaurant lists and they really don’t deserve your time or money.
This list will highlight our favourite spots in the city that never sleeps, and we will try to include a range of cuisines, areas, and price points.
Since eating at Sugarfish, I have found it very difficult to enjoy sushi elsewhere. Not only is the sushi here phenomenal, but it also comes with a really reasonable price tag and excellent service. They do not take reservations and the wait can be hours long, but plan ahead, go put your name on the list, and grab a drink at one of the many restaurants or bars in the area while you wait. (If the wait is too long, you can give Meir Adoni’s ‘Nur’ a try)
Carbone Greenwich Village
This restaurant group has a few excellent restaurants, but only Carbone makes it onto our must-visits. You have to e-mail them to reserve a table: weekends and weeknights fill up a week or two in advance, but weekday lunches are usually safe for walk-ins. You have to try the iconic vodka rigatoni.
Minetta Tavern Greenwich Village
The burger at this French brasserie is one of our all time favorites. It will set you back a ridiculous $31, but you’re on holiday, so enjoy it!
Peter Lugar Williamsburg (Brooklyn)
Peter Lugar is a New York establishment. It has been on every “best restaurant” list since before I was born. This visit will give you an old-school New York dining experience and of course, the steak is to-die-for.
L’artusi West Village
Literally everything at l’artusi will make you say ‘OMG’ the minute you put the first bite into your mouth. Definitely get a pasta, and they usually have some version of a homemade ricotta special that you won’t want to miss.
Pasquale Jones Nolita
This modern Italian restaurant is really exceptional. Order whatever you want ‘cause everything is good. Although, we do urge you to ask for the off-menu cacio e pepe.
Dinner with the family:
Agern Grand Central Terminal
This Michelin star restaurant is located inside Grand Central Station. The food is absolutely incredible and for some reason it’s never very full, so this is a great option for a last-minute indulgence.
I never really grasped what American cuisine was, and I’m still not sure I do, but I’m pretty sure Upland is it. On the menu you’ll find beef tartare (isn’t this French?), cacio e pepe (Italian?), and hamburger (German?). Anyway, they’re all delicious.
Babbo Greenwich Village
This two-floor establishment is quiet and dimly lit and serves truly authentic Italian dishes.
4 Charles Prime Rib West Village
This steakhouse is really intimate so getting a reservation might be hard, but you should try. Share a burger to start (they’ll even cut it up for you) and follow with a beautiful cut of prime rib.
The fun nights out:
Lil’ Frankies East Village
This cash-only Italian spot is great for groups (except for when it comes to paying the bill). It’ll be full of young people celebrating birthdays or Tuesday or whatever.
Sammy’s Roumanian Lower East Side
Sammy’s is hard to describe. Imagine paying to go to someone else’s Bar Mitzvah. You might ask: why would you do that? Answer: because you can get stupidly drunk, dance the horah, and not worry about your aunt Miriam judging you. Honestly, just go and see for yourself.
La Esquina Nolita
This cool Mexican restaurant in SoHo is a unique experience. The food is excellent and they serve margaritas by the pitcher! The music is very loud, so don’t bring grandma here.
If you’re missing home:
Miznon Chelsea Market
In my opinion the Miznon in New York is actually better than in Tel Aviv. The pita is incredibly soft and the meat is so juicy. The chraime pita is a personal favourite, and order a ‘lavan’ for your vegetarian friend.
Meir Adoni confuses me. I really wasn’t a fan of his popular Tel Aviv restaurants, Mizlala and Catit, but still believe that his Lumina and Blue Sky, in the Carlton Hotel are the best Kosher restaurants in the city. I went into Nur with an open mind and I’m so glad that I gave it a shot. The Jerusalem-inspired food is really excellent, as is the service and atmosphere. The waiting time for a reservation in the dining room is supposedly weeks long, but I’ve never waited more than 30 minutes for a space for two on the bar. (Side note- Nur is directly opposite Sugarfish, so it’s a great backup for when the wait there is hours long.)
Before or after Broadway (from 46th St to 58th St):
A great choice if you’re in need of a margarita after seeing Wicked for the third time.
This restaurant group has spots all over the city- check out the Columbus Circle branch for a full meal or small bites before or after your show (this one is very close to Lincoln Center). Be sure to try the oxtail fried rice!
Ippudo has three branches: one is downtown in the east village, and two are fairly close to the theaters on Broadway. They serve REALLY good ramen. Also, order the chicken wings.
Good Casual Spots:
JG Melon Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and Greenwich Village
This family restaurant is a favourite for New York locals. The Upper East Side original has been open since 1972! This location is our favourite, but they have also opened up in Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side. They are famous for their cheeseburgers, so you shouldn’t really get anything else.
RedFarm West Village and Upper West Side
If you can’t be bothered to travel to China Town, RedFarm will do the trick. Soup dumplings in a chic setting with great service- sign me up! There is usually a wait to be seated, but they’ll take your number so you can go get a drink in the area while you wait. We haven’t been to the Upper West Side location of RedFarm, but they do allow you to put your name on the waiting list over the phone and it’s also much bigger. If the food is the same as at the one downtown, you’ll be happy.
Yuba East Village
This no-frills sushi restaurant is neither fancy, nor is it cheap. But I don’t care. The sushi is great and sometimes you just want good food without all the fuss that often comes with it. The wine is really cheap so this is a great spot for a light meal and drink before going out. They also deliver!
Jack’s Wife Freda SoHo and West Village
This place is a super basic b*tch brunch spot, but I love it anyway. The breakfast bowl is perfection and it’s in a cute little corner in SoHo. We prefer the atmosphere at the SoHo location more than the West Village one.
Joe’s Pizza West Village, East Village, Bryant Park, and Williamsburg (Brooklyn)
This is where you should be getting your New York slice. Get just one, order a pie, take it to go, move in, I don’t care. Just go.
This iconic pizza joint is worth making the trip to Bushwick (also, once you’re there you should definitely have a walk around and enjoy all the street art). They serve incredible wood-fired pizzas with toppings that might sound eccentric but once you eat it you’ll wonder why you never thought of it.
While the food here is undeniably good, you come here for the view. This Italian restaurant is situated on the river in DUMBO, overlooking the Manhattan Bridge. In the summer it’s worth waiting for a table on the patio. Try to arrive around sunset, only because I honestly can’t tell you if the view is more beautiful during the day or night.
A couple of bars while you’re here:
Decibel is somewhere you want to make sure you visit during your trip- they definitely don’t have anywhere like this in Tel Aviv. It’s a small graffiti-covered room where you can enjoy excellent sake from a huge selection and some really high quality sashimi along with it.
This speakeasy bar is hidden behind – you guessed it – a barber shop. On the weekends it’s packed so it’s a good place to go dancing and during the week it’s a nice romantic spot to enjoy a delicious cocktail.
If you’re in NYC, you have to hit the speakeasies. This bar has a pharmacy theme- think bartenders in lab coats. They have live bands, performers, and the crowd is always cool. This is a great spot to hit if you have ventured down to China Town for dinner.