NFT New York Restaurants

New York / Restaurants

Sure, eating out in New York can be a competitive sport, sometimes a contact sport. However, once you're equipped with enough information about New York's 25,000 restaurant choices, the rewards are limitless, and we can confirm that this is one of the best damn towns on Earth to eat in. Certainly you could take advantage of the city's gourmet grocery stores and make fabulous meals at home, but compare your Citarella grocery bill to the check at Westville and you'll be eating out more often. But not to worry, we can always help you find the perfect place. Whether you're looking for a restaurant with a rare 28 from Zagat, or you refuse to let that D health rating get between you and good food (re: Kosher delis and Chinatown basements), you'll never have to settle.

Eating Old
Since New York City is a perpetual culinary hotspot featuring tons of celebrity chefs (and Top Chef contestants who packed their knives and went), it's easy to get wrapped up in trendy food that looks more like a Rorschach test than dinner. Some experimental restaurants are remarkably on the cutting edge, but when you're not in the mood for aerated olive-chocolate foie gras (Wylie Dufresne, we're looking at you), you can rely on the Big Apple's longstanding heavyweights. They've relaxed the tie and jacket rule, but you can still rub elbows with the who's who at the posh 21 Club (circa 1929, Map 12); dine on New American cuisine at the 200-plus-year-old Bridge Café, the oldest business in the city, older than Chase Manhattan (circa 1794, Map 1); slurp fresh-shucked oysters and enjoy amazing desserts under the vaulted, tiled ceiling at Grand Central Station's Oyster Bar (circa 1913, Map 13); sample more oysters and one of the best burgers in existence at the venerable Midtown watering hole P.J. Clarke's (circa 1884, Map 13); order the sturgeon scrambled with eggs, onions, and a bialy on the side at Barney Greengrass (circa 1908, Map 16); feast like old-world royalty at The Russian Tea Room (circa 1927, Map 12); or expand your culinary horizons with calf's spleen and cheese on a roll at Ferdinando's Focacceria (circa 1904, Map 32).

Eating Cheap
New York has always had options for us broke folks, and the economic collapse (still hanging on, isn't it?) didn't hurt those options either. At Shake Shack (Map 9, 11, 14, 17, 30, 33, Battery Park City), you can still grab a Shack Burger for under $5 or a Shack Stack (twice the goods) for under $10. Ethnic food has always been a great friend to eaters on a budget. For the city's most succulent soup dumplings, head to Shanghai Café (Map 3). For brilliant Middle Eastern go to Hummus Place (Map 7), Gazala Place (Map 11), or Taïm (Map 5) for some of the best falafel on the planet. For Mexican check out the taquería at The Corner a.k.a. La Esquina (Map 6) or head out to Bushwick's factory-restaurant Tortillería Los Hermanos. The Indian lunch buffet at Tiffin Wallah (Map 10) is less than ten bucks and veggie friendly to boot. Papaya King (Map 17) has kept hot dog lovers grinning since 1932. For a gigantic plate of Puerto Rican food under ten dollars, sit at the counter of La Taza De Oro (Map 8). For a cheap breakfast that even celebs appreciate, La Bonbonniere (Map 5) can't be beat. And many of us can't survive a day without the staples of NYC Jewish eats: bagels and knishes. For bagels, go with perennial winner Ess-a-Bagel (Map 10, 13) or try our favorites: Kossar's Bialys (Map 4), Absolute Bagels (Map 16), or the original Tal Bagels (Map 13, 16, 17). For knishes, nothing beats the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery (Map 6). Since the NFT office began in Chinatown and we're always broke (free advice: don't go into publishing), we are certified experts on eating cheap in this part of town. At Nice Green Bo (Map 3) get the scallion pancakes, at Food Shing/Food Sing 88 (Map 3) get the beef noodle soup, at Fuleen (Map 3) get the shrimp with chili sauce, and for Malaysian order the stingray (!) at Sanur (Map 3).

Eating Hip
Eating hip usually involves the food of the moment (kale chips and artisanal popsicles), beautiful people (who couldn't possibly eat another bite of that amuse-bouche), and some kind of exclusivity (unpublished phone numbers and hidden entrances). Although, with this little hiccup in our economic stability, even the hippest places have had to let the dirty, burger-eating plebeians through their doors. That being said, the ultimate in cool dining is, of course, Rao's (Map 20)--or so we hear. But unless you're the Mayor, the Governor, or Woody Allen, you probably won't be getting a reservation anytime soon. If you can find the unmarked basement door of Bobo (Map 5), you'll really impress your date. Head east to try the always crowded, no-reservations eatery Freemans (Map 6), which hides itself at the end of an alleyway; do not miss the pork chops. For fans of Japanese izakayas, nothing is quite as fun as an evening at En Brasserie (Map 5). Its gourmet menu brilliantly fuses homemade miso with duck, cod, tofu, and anything else you can think of. And the low lighting will make anyone look good. Zenkichi (Map 29) also has killer Japanese, and yes, it's behind a camouflaged front door, but both the food an ambiance are stellar, and it's a great date spot. David Chang's restaurant mini-empire is still on people's radars, so try Momofuku Ko (Map 6). If the lines are too long at the Momofukus or you don't have friends that can afford to score a table at The Spotted Pig (Map 5), try Kuma Inn (Map 4) on the Lower East Side. The small plates like Chinese sausage with Thai chili-lime sauce and pork wasabi dumplings are brilliant, it's BYO sake, and there's no secret phone number. If you don't mind waiting and your date isn't a vegetarian, grab a cocktail in the lobby of the slick Ace Hotel and get ready for a dinner you won't soon forget at The Breslin (Map 9).

Eating Late
Some say New York never sleeps, and some (ahem, Madrid) insist that it does, but like any big city it depends on the neighborhood, so let us help you locate some options. Kang Suh's (Map 9) Korean barbecue runs all night, as well as a host of classic diners like Odessa (Map 7) and Waverly Restaurant (Map 5). Veselka (Map 6) is the place for late-night Ukrainian soul food. You'll find cabbies chowing down past 3 am at Lahore Deli (Map 6), Big Arc Chicken (Map 7), or 99 Cents Fresh Pizza (Map 11, 13). French Roast (Map 5, 14) serves good croque-monsieurs 24 hours, and that dessert you declined earlier in the evening. If you're near Chinatown at 3 a.m, let the wonton soup and barbecue duck at Great NY Noodletown (Map 3) soak up all that beer. And, of course, Blue Ribbon (Map 6) is still one of the best places to eat after midnight.

Eating Pizza
We don't care what Chicago says; we do pizza best! The coal oven spots top most lists: Grimaldi's (Map 30), Lombardi's (Map 6), Luzzo's (Map 7), John's Pizzeria (Map 5), and the original Patsy's (Map 20) in East Harlem. The coal oven enjoys extra cachet because it's illegal now, except in the aforementioned eateries where they were already in operation. However, the regular brick oven joints, such as Franny's (Map 33), Keste (Map 5), Co (Map 8) and Lucali (Map 32) are no slouches. For an upscale pie, try the exquisite creations at Mario Batali's Otto (Map 6). Trying to find something edible near Wall Street? Check out Adrienne's (Map 1) delicious rectangle pies on Stone Street, or walk up to TriBeCa for a luscious Brussels-sprout-bacon-caramelized-onion pie at Saluggi's (Map 2). For a classic Village scene complete with live jazz, check out Arturo's (Map 6) on Houston Street. The outer boroughs seriously represent here: Louie & Ernie's in The Bronx, Tufino in Queens (Map 26), Denino's on Staten Island, and, of course, Roberta's and Di Fara in Brooklyn. Pizza by the slice practically deserves its own category, but the highlights include Patsy's (Map 20, definitely the best slice in the city), Artichoke Basille's Pizza (Map 6, get the grandma slice), Farinella (Map 15, very unique), and Joe's (Map 5, classic NY Style).

Eating Ethnic
Spin a globe, blindly stick your finger onto a spot, and chances are you can find that cuisine on offer in New York. And an outstanding offering it will be. To wit:
Argentine: Buenos Aires (Map 7)
Austrian: Edi & The Wolf (Map 7)
Australian: Tuck Shop (Map 6) and The Thirsty Koala (Map 26)
Chinese: Joe's Shanghai (Map 3), Old Sichuan (Map 3) and Szechuan Gourmet (Map 9)
Cuban: Café Habana (Map 6)
Dominican: El Malecon (Map 16) and El Castillo de Jagua (Map 4)
Egyptian: Kabab Café (Map 26)
Ethiopian: Ghenet (Map 33) and Zoma (Map 19)
German: Heidelberg (Map 15), Zum Schneider (Map 7) and Hallo Berlin (Map 11)
Greek: Kefi (Map 14), Periyali (Map 9) and Pylos (Map 7)
Indian: Dawat (Map 13), Banjara (Map 7) and Indian Tandoor Oven (Map 15)
Italian: Babbo (Map 6), Felidia (Map 13), Il Giglio (Map 2), Sfoglia (Map 17), Al Di La (Map 33), I Trulli (Map 10) and countless others
Japanese: Nobu (Map 2), Takahachi (Map 7), Ki Sushi (Map 32) and about 40 others
Jewish: Sammy's Roumanian (Map 6) and B&H Dairy (Map 6)
Korean: Kang Suh (Map 9) and Seoul Garden (Map 9)
Malaysian: New Malaysia (Map 3)
Mexican: Alma (Map 32) and Mexico 2000 (Map 29)
New Zealand: Nelson Blue (Map 1)
Pakistani: Pakistan Tea House (Map 2) and Haandi (Map 10)
Polish: Christina's (Map 28) and Lomzynianka (Map 28)
Russian: The Russian Vodka Room (Map 12) and Russian Samovar (Map 12)
Scandinavian: Aquavit (Map 13) and Smörgås Chef (Map 1)
South African: Madiba (Map 31)
Southern American: Sylvia's (Map 19) and Cheryl's Global Soul (Map 33)
Spanish: Socarrat (Map 9) and Tia Pol (Map 8)
Sri Lankan: Sigiri (Map 7)
Thai: Pongsri Thai (Map 3) and Sripraphai (Queens)
Turkish: Turkish Kitchen (Map 10)

Eating Meat
New York is home to arguably the world's best steakhouse, Peter Luger (Map 29), but it's competitive at the top, and clawing at Luger's heels are: Mark Joseph Steakhouse (Map 1) and classics like Sparks (Map 13), Palm (Map 13), Smith & Wollensky (Map 13) and the Strip House (Map 6). For the Brazilian-style "all you can eat meat fest," Churrascaria Plataforma (Map 11) does the trick. As for hamburgers, the rankings provide material for eternal debate: Corner Bistro (Map 5, 26), Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien (Map 12), J.G. Melon (Map 15) and Bonnie's Grill (Map 33), to name a few. Elsewhere, Royale (Map 7) compliments the perfect patty with stellar fixins for a song. Texans and Missourians alike can agree that New York has some damn good BBQ, even if we sometimes recruit our BBQ talent from down South: Daisy May's (Map 11), Hill Country (Map 9), Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Map 18) and Blue Smoke (Map 10, Battery Park City) in Manhattan, and Fette Sau (Map 29) and The Smoke Joint (Map 31) in Brooklyn.

Eating Veggie
You could live your whole life here, never eat a shred of meat, and feast like a king every day (and probably live longer). Try the quality Indian fare at Pongal (Map 10), and, for high-end eats, Franchia (Map 10), Candle 79 (Map 15), and Dirt Candy (Map 7). For those on a budget, try Atlas Café (Map 7) for a quick bite and Angelica Kitchen (Map 6) for something a step up. For a delicious macrobiotic meal including dessert, Souen (Map 5, 6) has yet to disappoint. For adventurous veggie heads, nothing beats HanGawi (Map 9), consistently voted one of the best vegetarian and Korean restaurants in the city.

Eating Your Wallet
While we technically use the same currency as the rest of the country, it's actually worth about half as much here as elsewhere. Even the most frugal among us have spent 100 New York dollars on a night out and thought we got off easy--the damage can easily exceed $200 per person at a Michelin-starred restaurant. No doubt you're dying to try Eric Ripert's this and Daniel Boulud's that, but treat this like open bar at your holiday office party: Know your limit (financially, emotionally, morally), and try not to do anything you'll regret in the morning. If you can keep your food down after witnessing triple digits on your share of the tab, start on the slippery slope to gastronomically induced bankruptcy at the following restaurants, which rarely disappoint: Babbo (Map 6), Per Se (Map 11), Gramercy Tavern (Map 9), Le Bernardin (Map 12), Bouley (Map 2), Union Square Cafe (Map 9), Craft (Map 9), Aquavit (Map 13) and Spice Market (Map 5). And remember to manage your expectations: unless you fall in love with your server, the experience will probably not change your life. Although Per Se (Map 11) comes pretty damn close.

Our Favorite Restaurants
Consensus on this subject is always difficult, but with a group of New Yorkers opinionated enough to produce the NFT, we have to at least try and duke it out. We've historically granted the accolade to Blue Ribbon (Map 6): it's open 'til 4 a.m., it's where the chefs of other restaurants go, it's got fondue, beef marrow, fried chicken, great liquor, a great vibe and great service. And it will always have that special place in our hearts and stomachs, but we also have to give a shout out to a few others: Alma (Map 32), an out-of-the-way rooftop Mexican restaurant with stunning views and equally good tamales, mole, margaritas, and ambiance, Sigiri (Map 7), a spicy Sri Lankan gem that's BYOB to boot; Babbo (Map 6), because it's Babbo (call at least one month ahead); Arturo's (Map 6), a classic, old-school pizza joint with live jazz, Greenwich Village locals and amazing coal-fired pizza and Kuma Inn (Map 4), a hard-to-find Asian tapas restaurant that's cool and hip but also affordable, laid-back and mind-blowingly delicious.

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

Mah Ze Dahr
When I need a break from my "office" (aka Jefferson Market Library), I can now run around the corner to the newly opened Mah Ze Dahr Bakery. Exquisitely crafted baked goods is the draw at this modern cafe space. Choose from beautiful pastries like brioche doughnuts, dark chocolate brownies, or brown butter blondies, and order your favorite espresso drink. If you're not in the mood for sweets, they also have savory items such as hand pies (spinach and feta was the choice on a recent afternoon). But whatever you decide, make sure to save room for the Mah-Ze-Dahr bar, their signature item that deserves the title. It's an oatmeal cookie topped with pecans and chocolate chips dipped in a salted caramel sauce. Is it time for another coffee break yet?

Posted By:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian

Saxon + Parole
For old timers, and even people with just a decade or two under their belts here in New York, the transformation of The Bowery from forlorn skid row to the kind of street that can have expense account restaurants, and a clothing joint un-ironically called Blue and Cream, has been one of the stranger turnarounds in New York's recent history. One thing that has remained consistent: it's one of those areas New Yorkers avoid (once because of bums, now because of bros), but as with everything in the City, there are some gems among the fool's gold. Saxon + Parole comes across as a typical overpriced, unauthentic restaurant of the new Bowery, but it's actually not too bad. True, they have a “look at me” dish called the seafood tower (which is pretty much what it says it is) and a steak that costs $58, but with a bunch of dishes in the $25-$30 range, great cocktails and a lovely setting, it's a good option for a nice night out in hell.

Posted By:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian

The East Village, particularly what was once known as Alphabet City, has quietly amassed a pretty solid collection of Latin American restaurants in recent years, with old standbys like Yerba Buena, Yuca Bar, Casa Adela, Caracas and Esperanto joined by newcomers like Fonda, Cafe Cortadito, and now Secara. They serve up Venezuelan food in a appealing decorated space that sits open to the street in warm weather (it used to be the site of The Cardinal, which had the same setup). The menu is pretty straightforward, but it tastes great and is, refreshingly, not expensive. Best of all, it has yet to become overrun like some of the others I mentioned, and the staff is sweetly attentive to the smaller crowd. Worth a try.

Posted By:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian

It's amazing how a simple thing like hot bread straight out of the oven can be so satisfying. Manousheh's small kitchen on Bleecker Street, open behind the counter, is centered on the large oven where they bake their Lebanese-style flatbread. It's served with your choice of topping, like a simple but delicious zaatar (thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, olive oil) or soft akkawi cheese (or both together), all of which make for a surprisingly filling meal for not much money. You can get a sweet version with Nutella as well. The bread (the eponymous manousheh) is still the backbone of each dish, though, and the quiet star of the show.

Posted By:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian

Black Market
Black Market's front window advertises three food items in big letters – cocktails, oysters and burgers – but right on the glass of their front door they throw in an extra superlative: “best burger in town.” There's no shortage of places in town that claim (sometimes quite dubiously) to be the best at something or other, but Black Market has some legitimate claim to the title. They're not doing anything outside the borders of a traditional burger, just doing it well. Their Pat LaFrieda sourced meat is apparently a custom mix. It's well seasoned and finely cooked (to order, of course), with an excellent bun and side of addicting fries to complete the meal. Sure, there are too many great burgers in this town to give the crown definitively to one spot, but it is damn good, and my favorite in the East Village. Beer is the natural compliment to a burger, but if you're feeling a little fancy, they mix a fine cocktail as well.

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Adrienne's Pizzabar
Banh Mi Saigon
Barney Greengrass
Blue Ribbon Brasserie
Burger Joint
Café Habana
Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken
Chili Thai
Community Food and Juice
Cong Ly
Corner Bistro
Defonte's of Brooklyn
El Paso
Fuleen Seafood
Garden Café
JG Melon
Joe's Shanghai
Katz's Delicatessen
Kuma Inn
La Bonbonniere
La Lunchonette
La Taza de Oro
Lahore Deli
Le Pain Quotidien
Max Soha
Nelson Blue
New Malaysia
Nice Green Bo
Olympic Pita
Pakistan Tea House
Patsy's Pizzeria
Pio Pio
Sandy Restaurant
Sanur Restaurant
Shake Shack
Strip House
Sushi Yasuda
Taco Mix
The Modern
The Stanton Social
Tia Pol
Tout Va Bien
Trestle on Tenth
Turkish Kitchen