I can’t tell you how many times I get asked what my favorite spots in NYC are, so I figured I’d round them up all in one place. While NYC has no shortage of great establishments, these are my absolute top picks. In addition to having great food (and drinks) these spots also have great atmospheres and service. I’ll be sure to update this page regularly!
Great for a special occasion. Extensive wine menu, and I’m slightly obsessed with their marble bar. On Sundays for brunch they have live music and 1/2 off all wines under $400. Favorite dishes: Cured Fluke, Roast Duck, Pain Perdu (brunch), Egg Sandwich (brunch), Cocoa & Marshmallow dessert.
A cozy addition to the Quality Branded restaurants, tucked away in the West Village. Delicious and inventive comfort food + great cocktails. Favorite dishes: Grilled Nueske’s Bacon, Brown-Bag Curly Fries, Creamed Spinach Hush Puppies, Grilled Octopus, Baked Potato Monkey Bread, The Don Ameche Steak, Scoops. Read more of my review here.
There’s a very special place in my heart for Tacombi, and it’s probably my most frequented spot in the city (just about once a week, but whose counting?). They have 4 locations in the city, but my favorite is Nolita followed by Flatiron. Favorite dishes: Chips and Guac, Crispy Fish Taco, Carnitas Tacos.
The Polo Bar
The Polo Bar is all about the experience, from the moment you make the reservation (must call and only 2 weeks in advance) to stepping into the bar (only available for those with reservations), to walking downstairs to the dining area, which feels like you’re entering an exclusive members-only club. The food is quite good, but not necessarily anything to write home about. One of the few places where the experience trumps all.
Avra (Madison location) is unlike most NYC restaurants I’ve been to, which is why I love it. It’s a beautiful huge space and very white/bright – Grecian inspired. Great for large groups and special occasions. Favorite dishes: Greek Salad, Calamari, Grilled Octopus, Lobster, Chilean Sea Bass.
In a sea of inventive, “fusion” restaurants, Emilio’s Ballato is a traditional Italian restaurant that knows exactly what it’s doing (as in, they don’t even have or appear to need a website). They have incredible service and even better authentic Italian food. You can’t really go wrong with your order, but definitely don’t skip the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese.
Bowery Meat Company
For when you’re feeling extra carnivorous. I’ve also noticed a constant abundance of handsome men in suits, if you’re into that sort of thing. Favorite dishes: Wagyu Meatballs, Chinese BBQ Pork Belly, New York Strip Steak, Duck Lasagna.
Baby Bo’s Cantina
A favorite “hole in the wall” restaurant, and one of my only excuses to go to Murray Hill. Some of the most authentic Mexican food I’ve had in the city.
Another favorite spot tucked away in the West Village. I love going with a friend or two and eating at the small bar. They change their menu (slightly) quite often, but I’ve never had a bad dish there. Favorite dishes: Sage & Ricotta Gnocchi, Duck Breast, Hanger Steak, Brussels Sprouts.
The Smith is the ultimate go-to restaurant, with a few locations across the city. It’s reliable and no frills – perfect for just about any size group or occasion with a wide variety of menu items.
Union Fare is unlike any NYC restaurant experience I’ve had recently in the sense that it’s just so damn BIG (spanning the width of an entire city street), but it totally works. Even with the size of the restaurant they’ve managed to remain chic and sexy, yet fun and casual at the same time. They also have their Gastrohall right next door, which is a great grab-and-go lunch spot (and currently famous for their Birthday Cake Croissants). My favorite dishes from the restaurant side: Ricotta Toast, Ahi Tuna “Melt,” Hamachi Poke, Succulents & Greens, Sweet Chili Ribs.
Freemans is the ultimate cozy brunch spot hidden in a back alley in the LES with colonial/rustic American inspiration. I can’t say I’ve ever been for dinner, but their brunch musts are: House-made Granola, Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich, Burger, Cheese Grits.
Lives up to the hype and absolutely beautiful. Favorite dishes: Croque Monsieur (brunch), Canard et cerises.
The hotties behind The Meatball Shop have done a quite magical thing with balls. A meal you can always count on, made easy with their mix & match menu. I’m partial to the Chicken Meatballs with Pesto Sauce.
Some of the most famous pizza in New York, and for good reason. Expect to wait a bit (always crowded), but it’s worth it. I actually prefer eating at the bar. Get the Rubirosa Supreme.
A crowd-pleaser that you can suggest to just about anyone. Favorite dishes: Yellowtail, Braised Short Ribs, Short Rib & Bone Marrow Agnolotti, Spaghetti, Espresso Budino dessert.
Another all-around favorite, similarly to Upland. A lovely atmosphere with equally great food for both brunch and dinner. Beautiful bar as well.
A classic steakhouse with a modern twist. I’m partial to the Tribeca location. MUST try the Everything Biscuits. Check out all of my favorite dishes in this review.
The EDITION New York can do no wrong in my book, and The Clocktower is no exception. An exceptional dining experience – great for a special occasion. Favorite dishes: Beef Tartare, Long Island Duck, Macaroni and Cheese.
A healthy, fast-casual food mecca with Paleo and vegetarian friendly options. They have everything from hot made to order food, deli-style salads, desserts, juice bar, and a cafe.
Bubby’s is all about the comfort food – don’t go here when you’re trying to eat light. They have great dinner (Chicken & Waffles, anyone?) but I’m partial to their brunch. I love eating at the bar at the Highline location.
A new favorite tucked away in Nolita with a vintage-chic atmosphere and an inventive take on Italian food. I instantly formed a weird obsession with their table settings and china (you’ll see). You MUST order the Taglioni (which comes literally wrapped in prosciutto) and the Gnocchi Di Ceci.
Another healthy fast-casual favorite. Think of it as an Indian-style Chipotle.
Two Hands Restaurant
I had visited their original cafe years prior and was mildly impressed, but I instantly fell in love with the newer Two Hands Restaurant. It’s larger, brighter, and very California-esque. A great spot for breakfast or lunch with friends, or even solo. All of the food I’ve tried there is delicious (their Smashed Avocado is a classic), but the Banana Bread with Espresso Mascarpone is out of this world.
Two words: Crispy Rice. Momoya is where I first discovered the “sushi” favorite that rocked my world, so it holds a special place in my heart. The rest of their menu is full of inventive (and classic) sushi that is always incrediblly fresh.
My other favorite sushi spot…coincidentally also primarily based on there Crispy Rice. Also a favorite – the “She’s So LA” Roll.
Bluestone Lane Cafe
I remember one day looking up and realizing that there were Bluestone Lane coffee shops everywhere, and I certainly can’t complain. The Australian chain has brought some of the best almond milk lattes and Avocado Smashes I’ve had, and since their (3) cafes are technically sit-down establishments, they get a spot on this list.
Not usually as popular as its sister ABC Kitchen, I’m partial to ABC Cocina and their Latin American small plates. The tacos are the standout menu items for me (no surprise there), especially the Savory Glazed Short Rib Tacos.
One of the most Instagram-famous spots in the city (maybe even the world), with incredible vegan food to match. I’ve had a few items that were “eh” (not a fan of their regular veggie burger), but definitely go for the: Guac Burger, Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese, Quinoa Taco Salad.
…and their Banana Pudding. Enough said. Probably my favorite dessert on the planet.
A solid mix of chic hotel bars, trendy (yet chill) bars, and lounges/nightclubs. Take your pick.
Palm Court at The Plaza
The Bar at Baccarat Hotel
New York EDITION Lobby Bar
The Garett East
The Happiest Hour
The Library at the NoMad
Up & Down
310 Bowery Bar
The Other Room
The Elephant Bar
Macao Trading Co.
The Black Lodge
The Mulberry Project
The Flower Shop