NYC Guide: Our 10 Favorite Restaurants

New York has many fabulous restaurants, but, honestly, it also has some not-so-good ones, and at first glance, it’s not always easy to tell the difference. You want those fantastic, giddy, transporting meals that you’ll remember for years, not touristy overpriced places, of course. So, I’m excited to share our ten absolute favorite New York restaurants…

West Village:

1. ’ino. This teeny Italian sandwich shop is magical. The delicious pressed panini combine bold meats and cheeses (my favorite is the cacciatorini, goat cheese and black olive pesto), and the ambiance is bustling and romantic. Honestly, it’s the type of food that makes you say “Oh my goodness, this is so good” with every bite. It’s the perfect cheap date spot, or place to meet a friend for a cozy dinner. (Insider tip: Stop by to have a glass of wine in the late afternoon; it’s quieter then, and you can sit at the wooden bar, sip your wine and watch the light slant in through the windows.) Update: ‘ino has closed! Heartbreak! Two other great neighborhoody Italian restaurants in the West Village are Malaparte (bonus: they take reservations for two!) and Frankies Spuntino (recommendations: the ricotta honey crostini, the meatball sandwich, the tuna sandwich and the spicy sausage cavatelli)

2. Hudson Clearwater. Just like the secret playground, Hudson Clearwater is a secret restaurant. You only discover it through word-of-mouth, since the restaurant itself looks like a boarded-up storefront. But if you walk around the corner and down the street, you’ll discover an unmarked green door in a brick wall. Push open the door, walk through a lovely little garden and you’ll find a beautiful hidden restaurant. The sparkling dining room and friendly staff welcomes you, and you can settle in for a perfect cocktail (the Hudson Mule has bison-grass vodka, ginger beer, lime and candied ginger) and rustic American food (like grilled hangar steak, followed by strawberry and blueberry shortcake).

3. Tartine. This postage-stamp-sized French restaurant on a tree-lined street in the West Village serves simple, inexpensive dishes, including the world’s best spicy chicken and fries. You wait in line on the sidewalk for a table (which feels lovely on a breezy evening); and it’s BYOB so bring along your favorite cheap wine. (Tip: After dinner, walk down the block to Magnolia Bakery and get a cupcake for dessert.)

4. Café Cluny might be my favorite restaurant in New York City. Alex and I had our very first date here, and now Toby comes along with us for breakfast. The cozy, romantic, laid-back atmosphere makes it the perfect neighborhood spot–we’ve been here 8 million times with friends and always have a great time. The food is a mix of French and American; try the corn-and-crab fritters and burger. (Bonus: They take reservations.)

5. Mary’s Fish Camp. This perma-packed tiny seafood restaurant makes you feel like you’ve been whisked up to Maine. Just look at the menu and you’ll understand why. Also, it has best lobster roll in the city. True story: One night, the woman next to us ordered a lobster roll for dinner–and another one for dessert!


6. Co.. Where to find the best pizza in New York is obviously a hot debate. My favorite pizza, hand downs, is Co. The secret is the crust, which is chewy, springy, thin and flavorful–honestly, you could just eat the crust and call it a day. And the toppings are clever and quirky, including spinach, hot dogs and zucchini blossoms. Delicious. (P.S. Keep your eye out for celebrities. We’ve spotted Michael Kors and Martha Stewart multiple times!)

East Village:

7. Mermaid Inn. There’s something special about the Mermaid Inn. I can never quite put my finger on it, but it has one of the coziest dining rooms in New York. As soon as you walk in, you feel the stress melt off, and you take a seat, order calamari and fish tacos, and reeeeeelax. Alex and I have had some of the loveliest dates here, and it’s a great place for a group, too, since you can sit in their back room or fairy-light-covered garden. Bonus: Since they don’t have a dessert menu, they bring everyone a espresso cup filled with chocolate pudding and one of those funny fortune-telling fish!


8. Hampton Chutney. A perfect little lunch spot when shopping in Soho and Nolita. They have spicy Indian dosas and masala potatoes, as well as mouthwatering sandwiches (my fave is the #21, with avocado, fresh mozzarella and tomato.) It’s tiny, so you have to perch on bar stools or eat on the bench outside.

Lower East Side:

9. Schiller’s Liquor Bar. This uber-hip French-American bistro nails all the satisfying dishes they serve (think: garlic shrimp, steak frites, mac n’ cheese with bacon), and it’s such a lively, bustling place that you feel like you’re at a really fun party. The bathroom is a trip (I’ll let you figure it out for yourself:) and the vibe is playful–for example, their wine list has three categories: cheap, decent and good. A really fun place for dinner or late-night drinks.


10. Frankies Spuntino. Alex and I live in Manhattan, but it’s worth biking across the Brooklyn Bridge to eat dinner at Frankies Spuntino, the Italian restaurant in Carroll Gardens. The vibe feels cozy yet hip (the restaurant is owned by two cool guys both named Frank), and the food is sooooo delicious and not-too-expensive–try the meatballs and cavatelli with sausage and browned sage butter. (Tip: They have a gorgeous back garden, including a stable, where you can have weddings and parties.)

And, for special, splurgy occasions, my two favorite fancy places are:

Wallse (West Village) is Austrian and they serve the most amazing, surprising food; every bite is a taste explosion. The service is elegant and beautiful; the wines are crisp and dry, and you feel like you’re on a hilltop in Austria. (Also, don’t you love the giant portrait of the chef on the wall? Hilarious.) We went here (for the tasting menu!) the night we got engaged, and it was pitch-perfect. :)

Mario Batali’s Babbo (Greenwich Village) serves rich Italian food (think: Chianti-stained pappardelle with wild boar ragu, and spaghettini with spicy budding chives and a one-pound lobster), but, if you’re really hungry, go for the insanely delicious pasta tasting menu. Request a table in the beautiful upstairs dining room, order one of their not-too-expensive bottles of wine, and enjoy. (Tip: Call for a reservation way ahead of time; this place is definitely not a secret, ha!)

Whew! So I’d love to know: What are your favorite restaurants in New York? I would LOVE to hear. So many amazing places, too little time. :)

(Top image layout by HipHipGinGin for Cup of Jo; top image by Laura Ratliff. Restaurant photos by Laura Ratliff, Mucca Design, New York Magazine, Serious Eats, My Hotel Life, Immaculate Infatuation, Fork & Shaker, Town & Country Travel, Karma Free Cooking, Lovely Fashionista, the Trad, Dolce Loves and Joon Bug.)

  1. Some of my faves include:

    – Prune
    – Pastis
    – Pomme Frites
    – The House

  2. I totally whole-heartedly second both Schiller’s (go here for brunch and don’t even think about getting something that doesn’t come with their INSANE home fires) and Frankie’s. I used to live around the corner from Frankie’s and sadly went there the day I moved out of town. I still longingly think back on the heirloom tomato salad I had. Fantastic. Also, the pizza place that’s a few blocks away from there: Lucali. It’s just as good as Grimaldi’s. Yeah, I said it. Plus, you’ll probably have a shorter wait, although Lucali is known for its lines too.

  3. Anonymous says...

    I would also suggest checking City Maps to find child-friendly New York City restaurants. It’s full of information on every business in NYC and is constantly updated. It’s my go to.

  4. Wonderful tips! How do you (and your lovely readers) feel about THE HOUSE restaurant? We booked it for our first anniversary dinner next weekend…and I’ve never been to NY before!

  5. greyisbeautiful says...

    Jennifer Whisk it good – THANK YOU for the kid friendly tips! much appreciated!

  6. Great list, Joanna. Of course, this is just making me realize how we don’t go out enough anymore! Kudos to you for making it a priority even with a little one.

    I’d also add Balaboosta and Highlands (in your neck of the woods). Both have incredibly creative fresh food. On the Asian tip, Blue Ribbon Sushi is fantastic. Very intimate, cozy dining room and killer food. Also, Hana Sushi on 7th ave @ 21st. Small, personal and fresh sushi. One of my all-time favorite meals is the gobdol bibimbap at Han Bat in Koreatown. Go there with friends, order that, the jap chae and the scallion pancake with seafood, and you will be a very happy camper.

    For the person who asked for kid-friendly places, definitely The Smith, Schiller’s, Locanda Verde and Otto are all boisterous, loud places that can handle the occasional crying baby or screaming toddler.

    God, I’m hungry.

  7. i LOVE mary’s fish camp, ‘ino & schillers. I can’t wait to try the other places!!
    fancy [no]pants

  8. Oh this made me hungry for NY tastes – some of my faves include: artichoke dip from Freemans, pork buns from Momofuku and burgers from Spotted Pig. But NY pretty much has the best restaurants in the world.

  9. I love Capizzi in Hell’s Kitchen – amazing homemade pizzas from a wood-burning oven, a great wine list, and one of the best panna cottas I’ve ever tasted. They even crush their own dried red pepper, which adds that perfect zing to the pizza.

  10. I am from Sydney, Australia and this makes me want to jump on a plane to NYC right now!!!

  11. I was just saying how much I need to go to New york and this series of posts is not making things any easier! I went to Hudson Clearwater back in February – what a gem. I’ve been to one or two of the others you mentioned too! I’ve got a huge list of restaurants to try next time and the rest of these are being added.

  12. PORCHETTA is totally brilliant also. Best pork sandwhiches ever.

  13. Bar pitti would definitely be in my list – if it’s still exists…!

  14. This is an incredible list! I was just in NYC for my birthday and although we did lots of amazing things (including walking the BB), this list would have been wonderful to have on hand! Thank you!

  15. Joanna–

    I moved to the west coast from Brooklyn just over a year ago. Today (after reading your post) was the first time I really pined for New York again.

    thank you.


  16. In the East Village we love Cafe Mogador… such a great vibe and awesome Moroccan food. And the best (and most creative) tacos I’ve ever had were on Mercadito on Ave. B, though I think that location is closed now.

    In Soho, we love this tiny Cuban hole in the wall on Thompson called Cafe Cubano. Order the mojitos and anything off the menu… authentic, charming, cheap and delicious. A great find in the huge expanse of Soho.

    (my husband, the great carnivore, insists that before you die you have to try the pork buns at Momofuku.)

  17. Harley says...

    Jack the Horse Tavern (Brooklyn Heights) is my all time fav in NYC.

    Northeastern Kingdom (Bushwick) so yummy, especially brunch.

    S’mac (East Village) only serve mac n cheese!

    Cuba (Greenwich Village) Amazing Cuban food, live Cuban music, a guy who rolls cigars in the corner

    National Underground (LES) Kinda grungy but best burger I have ever had… including shake shack!

  18. Fail. When I lived in New York, I don’t think I went to any of these places! I tried to go to Co. twice, but the wait was just too long :) Some places I did enjoy were Blue Ribbon Bakery for a traditional brunch, Mas Farmhouse (which was probably the best meal I had in New York, but it’s a splurge, so definitely only for special occasions!), and Alta for delicious tapas and fun drinks with your girlfriends!

  19. Your list is making me feel so homesick…ino, frankies! I actually teared up when I saw that picture of the wallsé dining room.

  20. This is seriously making me hungry. Both the post and the commenters. I will definitely be adding your faves to my list. Thinking about it and my own list of faves is making me drool! Time for lunch!

  21. Oh Joanna! I love Ino too! The truffled egg toast is my favorite. I used to work at Tria in Philly, and we had something similar on our menu. I can’t wait to head back east this fall!!!

  22. Fantastic list. Could not agree more. Babbo is my favorite.

  23. went to Schiller’s for brunch (just before that big snowstorm around Christmas time last year) and it was fantastic. No alcohol until noon (or was it 11?), though. So we just stayed longer :)

    Otherwise I try to get to Sylvia’s for their fried chicken every time I’m in NY. Great series!

  24. Anonymous says...

    A few more favorites to add ;
    Momofuku – the best pork buns in the city although their seafood bun is even better.
    Taim – amazing hole in the fall falafel joint – delicious
    ABC kitchen – for a treat – beautiful seasonal food – also the ice-cream sundae is incredible

    I’m still missing Florent – has anybody found an equivalent out there????

  25. ‘ino is the place I fantasize about eating on cold days, and now that I live in the neighborhood (as opposed to across the country) I can! Thanks too for the low down on Wallse, I walk past it regularly and was wondering what goes on in there. My regular go to for nearly 10 years now, has got to be Cafe Gitane, either the Nolita or Jane locations, just came back from some afternoon avocado toast in fact!

  26. I was bummed with Mermaid Inn when I last went, I was expecting it to be better….maybe for dinner? I went for brunch.

    Last time I was in NY I tried to get in for dinner at Babbo–no luck, but I did see Batali at the bar!

    My favorite places in NYC are Otto (also a Batali restaurant), Pearl Oyster Bar, Inoteca, Stonehome Wine Bar (Fort Greene) and, hello, Cake Man Raven!

    I loved the food at Perry Street but the vibe was way too stiff.

    I wrote about a bunch of places in this post and got feedback from my readers:

    You’re lucky to live in such a great city for food!

  27. Oh I LOVE Schiller’s! Their sticky toffee pudding is to die for.

    In Brooklyn, there’s a place called Benny’s Delice (close to the Clinton-Washington stop) that’s really excellent for breakfast, sandwiches, coffee, and pastries.

  28. I’m a native New Yorker and on my last visit to NY I finally tried Sylvia’s. They greet you like we were long lost family. The person serving you may seen distracted – it is only because it’s a super busy place anytime of the night. Everyone should try, at least once, Sylvia’s fried chicken & waffles with a side of collard greens. It’s the real deal in Southern cooking.

  29. Joanna,
    Thank you for this fantastic list of recommendations. I’ve never eaten at any of them, and I’m so excited to try them all! This whole guide has my giddy. My two favorite recent restaurants are Otto (amazing, amazing and a great vibe) and Cafeteria (which is open 24/7, as a super added bonus).

  30. greyisbeautiful says...

    Which of these are the most kid friendly? We’re traveling to NYC with 2 little one year olds yikes!

  31. Anonymous says...

    These look wonderful, but let’s not forget the paper napkin restaurants (for the more budget-conscious foodie):

    Roberta’s – Pizza and then some. Plus, they grow all their veggies and spices out back! (Bushwick)

    Pies and Thighs – All-American home cookin’. (Williamsburg)

    Feta Sau – BBQ by the pound and oversized mason jars of home brew? Yes, please! (Williamsburg)

    Endless Summer – Trust me, this truck is not street meat. This is art! (Williamsburg)

    Happy dining!

  32. LOVING these recommendations!! Eating out in NYC is one of my favorite things and I love trying new restaurants. Thanks so much for sharing!! =)

  33. Thank you so much for sharing all your great restaurant secrets. I’m loving this series!

  34. Jess says...

    My boyfriend and I are going to NYC to see Chuck Berry on New Year’s Eve and we are staying in Brooklyn. Any suggestions for a good place to go for dinner on NYE that won’t cost a small fortune?

  35. Oh gosh, this post makes me want to move to New York so badly!

  36. Great list! I also LOVE Kefi(Greek) and cafe Frida (Mexican) on the upper West Side!

  37. omg, i LOVE frankie’s spuntino. it is SO GOOD, isn’t it?

    i also really like co ba near chelsea market for tasty vietnamese.

  38. I’ve been working abroad for two months and this post made my mouth water! I MISS NEW YORK RESTAURANTS!!!! Cafe Cluny is hands-down perfection, and Babbo is the single-best meal I’ve had in the city. I also love Momofuku ssäm bar in the east village (they have a great brunch special). Extra Virgin in the West Village is also wonderful as is Perry Street. And if you’re trying to find a decent meal closer to mid-town, Les Halles (Anthony Bourdain’s first NYC restaurant where I SAT NEXT TO HIM ONCE!!! I ALMOST DIED) is a fantastic choice. Both the Confit de Canard with truffle potatoes and the steak frites are reasonably priced and fantastic. Sigh. I just had lunch and now I’m starving at the thought.

  39. omg…there are SO many amazing places to eat here in NYC! I LOVE Mermaid Inn too! And I smiled when I remembered the fortune fish:) We used to go there a lot bc we lived just north of the place. I’m going to suggest it for our next date! Among my MANY favorites: Locanda Verde, Keste, Artisinal, Morandi, Roc, Rare, BLT Prime (this one is my favorite location) and Max (the lasagna is obscenely delicious). For big celebrations and very special occassions I love Gramercy Tavern like a few people commented. We went there for an anniversary one year and just had the MOST amazing dinner and we’ll never forget it.

  40. Kajitsu is incredible, and their tasting menu changes monthly with the seasons.

  41. One of our favorite restaurants in NYC is Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn. AMAZING food—we always have a wonderful time there.

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. How can you forget the UWS? :)
    Cafe Luxembourg used to be our local .. good for star spotting too, saw Al Pacino and Cyndi Lauper! Love it and miss it so….
    Chocolate sundae dessert cannot be missed!

  44. You have some great picks!
    I love Gemma @ the bowery hotel, Freeman’s Ally and Jeffery’s grocery in the west village!


  45. My favorite New York places are Marea, Keens and Luke’s Lobster. I wish I could eat at all three this weekend…yummy!!!

  46. FRANKIES! They have the best French toast in the city!

  47. I cannot even explain how much I love this series already! The hotel post was great–and I think this one is even better (maybe only because it involves food-hehe). We are planning a trip for early december and it is making our plans easier and more exciting!! Thanks! xo

  48. NYC you’re too far away!!!!! – One day!
    Love from Oz! Jx

  49. esca for great italian dining and seafood ( tuna carpaccio- yum…)!
    when I feel like eating in central park and was too lazy/busy to take stuff from home- I go straight to whole foods at columbus circle. they have everything- from ready-to-eat fruits and veg to soups, meat, fish, pasta. everything delicious and you can take it wherever you want.
    I love your tips about NYC!:)

  50. Leanne says...

    Thank you so much for this Joanna. It’s amazing. The pictures are great and you obviously spent alot of time. WAY better than a guide book/random website’s recs.

    Next visit I’ll know exactly where to go.

  51. Thanks for this list! We’ll hopefully be back in New York around New Year’s to celebrate with some French friends who have moved there. Café Cluny looks like a perfect spot to bring them for brunch!

    xox Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris

  52. Anonymous says...

    Thanks for all the info i’ll be back in NYC next year for visits and I can’t wait to try some of these.
    I have to say on previous visits I have had fantastic times at Freemans and at Lure, snack on Thompson, the clinton street bakery, the smile, Inoteca opposite the rivington and I’m booking now for Blue Hills as I can never get a table!

  53. Thank you so much for the NYC guides. We will be there in late December as part of our honeymoon (from Australia). You have great taste, so cant wait to check out your recommendations.

  54. vanessa DROIN says...

    Many thanks to share your adresses in NYC. I will try next time I will be in your country. Vanessa from France

  55. I loved Pio Pio when I visited my brother. Also I definitely think its more fun with a group of people!

  56. love this list. :) thank you joanna! one of my faves isn’t actually a restaurant, it’s a japanese grocery store in soho called “sunshine grocery.” after having lived in japan for a bit in college, i can honestly say this place has *themostauthentic* japanese food i’ve had in the us of a. seriously a gem of a store with such delicious food!

  57. oh. and I’ll happily add Marlow & Sons to the list in Brooklyn. they have the most incredible fried chicken (and i’m not the biggest meat eater really…) and zesty mustard-dressed green bean salad with pouched egg. literally my mouth is watering just thinking about that meal. and will agree with Motorino in the East Village. and, my god, Ballaboosta in Nolita has the best, best best hummus and pita around. and their fish is amazing and so fresh as well. Rubirosa in Nolita for simply amazing pasta and a nice vibe.

  58. Joanna, I had that exact experience at ‘ino in the late afternoon. sun slanting through the windows. quiet din of mostly waitstaff chatting behind me. wine + book + half panini with salad. amazing and so quintessentially new york. tartine is a gem too. oh, LA is having a hard time stacking up.

  59. Very nice, thanks for sharing.

  60. Also, a new favorite is RedFarm on Hudson for an American take on Chinese food.

  61. Mole on Hudson and Jane. Absolutely awesome mexican food, even the desserts are good. Also Applewood in Park Slope, it was quite the mind-blowing experience.

  62. I love all of these! I would add Gottino, Buvette and Hundred Acres. But my very favorites are already on your list. Hmm, now I’m hungry again.

  63. Pure Food and Wine ( take-out as ” the Lucky Duck” ) – just East off the union square. It’s a raw food restaurant, but you’d never know – A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. :)

  64. Ed says...

    No. 7 in Fort Greene. One of those places where you sit down, look at the menu, go “Hmmm, does that really work?” Decide to stay and find out, and realize that was the Best. Decision. Ever.

    The Cover Club in Cobble Hill is the best cocktail joint in the city for my money, their Old Fashioned is spot on. But not everyone knows their brunch is great too.

    Dhaba. Murray, nay Curry, Hill. Best curry in NYC, in my opinion. They even have a “London-inspired” section to the menu to please us Brits who miss a good Balti, and I think it’s better than Brick Lane in the East Village. Thursday night is curry night in our soon to be family and this is top of our list.

    Fette Sau for BBQ. Seriously, make the trip to Hipsterburg for this, there’s no better BBQ in NYC. Then pay a visit to the owner’s bar Spuyten Duyvil across the street afterwards for craft beers and barkeeps who know them intimately. Leif is especially knowledgeable and his recommendations haven’t failed yet.

    If you are splurging then I can’t go further than Daniel. Maybe it’s slightly stuffy, maybe it has got a bit stale, maybe-schmabey! All I can say is our 1st wedding anniversary dinner here was an amazing experience and culinarily spectacular.

    I definitely agree there are some unspectacular restaurants in Manhattan trading on their location. I think that per capita the restaurant quality in Brooklyn is much higher because they have to work harder.

  65. I’ve updated my “restaurants to try” list with these! Thanks for sharing. My Brooklyn favorites are Grocery in Carroll Gardens and The Good Fork in Red Hook–both tiny places with some of the best meals I’ve ever had. Highly recommended!

  66. Need to try Marys Fish Camp and Hampton Chutney asap.

    My go-to place in the city is Hillstone! The Veggie burger is amazing, the service is great and the food is consistent.

  67. Love it!

  68. I drove up from pa to try on wedding dresses at lovely and after we went to cafe cluny to eat! we just stumbled upon it and it was the first ny restaurant my daughter and future sister in law ever ate at! we loved it, the decor and uniforms were so cute….and the food?! awesome. so glad to see it made your list!

  69. Joanna, you read my mind with this post. My husband and I are moving to Spain soon and as we’re saying goodbye to our hometown, I wanted to do a series of posts on where to eat in Miami. Should make for some excellent research don’t you agree?

  70. Anonymous says...

    Lol We can def. tell that your favorite food types are french, italian and American because you totally skipped out on the Asian, Latin/Spanish, African resturaunts that are all over the city! Can we get the non-sponsor edition of the resturaunts?

  71. thank you for sharing! my little bro is moving to NY and I can’t wait to visit him. now I know where to go!

  72. Your suggestions make me want to hop on a plane and fly to NYC for a nonstop feast! Definitely will bookmark this list for future visits! Thanks for taking the time to make t!

  73. I love ino and Co.!! (Jim Lahey’s bread is yummy.)
    Have you tried “vezzo” yet? I love this place. it is located 31st and Lex and one of the greatest thin crust pizza place! :)

  74. You are making me so excited for my birthday trip to NYC in October! I just wrote these all down; can’t wait to see the rest of your NYC posts! Thanks for sharing.

  75. it’s so funny that i should read this post just as i finished watching morning glory. The liquor bar is a major backdrop for the movie. Good read and can’t wait to try the good eats!

  76. Bookmarked! However, I’ll take you pizza recommendation and one-up you. Luzzo’s on 1st Ave and 13th street. I lived in Italy for a semester in college and I’m only 25, but hands down the BEST pizza I’ve eaten in the states. Their crust is amazingggg. I’ll try yours, if you try mine! :)

    Best Italian overall: Malatesta. phenomenal.

  77. I’m coming to New York for the first time in December and am very excited to try some of these restaurants! Thanks for the tips, love this type of post!


  78. I am bookmarking this post! I’m only a 3 hour drive from the city so hubby and I like to take lots of long weekends in the city.

    A few spots we always gravitate towards are Zucca Trattoria, Tavern on Jane, and Virage for brunch.

  79. When we visited New York in May, we were told to head to Frankie’s, and you are right, it was amazing!! We waited over an hour for a table and it was totally worth it- my husband and I shared three entrees between the two of us…and had dessert after!

    An incredible restaurant with an even better story is Prune. Gabrielle Hamilton wrote her memoir- Blood, Bones and Butter and i bought a copy on the spot (signed!) and read it immediately. It was satisfying! Definitely check out that teeny tiny restaurant for dinner!

  80. PERFECT timing, Jo! My big brother turns 32 today and I was trying to come up with a great gift to send him (he’s in New York). I’ll send him to Babbo! Thank you so much for the insider info!

  81. Oh perfect! My husband are making the trek down to New York sometime after the beginning of the year and this is exactly what I needed. I think my first time in the city will be sprinkled with a bit more delicious food. :)

  82. ps. we tried the new Frankies Spuntino in the west village last night — it was good, but the ambiance isn’t as transporting as the one in brooklyn. so it’s good but not as perfect :)

  83. haha, brooke, that would be amazing to have hampton chutney cater a wedding! :) we had them do our post-wedding brunch, funnily enough :) xoxo

  84. ps. also, Little Giant for brunch (they have the best eggs and grits!) and Beagle for dinner (they pair small plates with mini cocktails=amazing). xoxo

  85. Thank you very much! I have bookmarked this under my NYC Food tab, so now I have a new list next time I’m in the city. :)

  86. Megan says...

    thanks for the list, these look right up my alley. i’m also looking forward to trying the new frankies!

  87. oh prune is amazing!!! these are all great suggestions. yay :)

  88. i’m excited about this list— thanks! my list definitely includes restaurants on a budget… but, some are:

    pomodoro in soho for their vodka or white slice
    pepe rosso in soho for penne vodka with pancetta
    westville (in w village, chelsea and e village) for mac n cheese with bacon and their amazing sides

    to name a few :)

    thanks again! looking forward to the rest of the nyc guide.

  89. This is great! I am moving to New York in December and this will be a great start as to where to go eat!

  90. I would love to go to Tartine! Also my cousin just opened a restaurant in Merrick not too long ago called Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails ( It sounds amazing, I haven’t been though because I live in Cali :(

  91. ohhh! Thank you so much for this information! In a month I come back to New York and sure, I´m so lucky for this post! thanks!

  92. Loved this! I moved out of NYC last summer, and this is making me want to go right back because a lot of these places are my favorites too. You are SO right about Mermaid Inn! I feel like that place is constantly underrated. It has always been a favorite of mine.

  93. Loved this! I moved out of NYC last summer, and this is making me want to go right back because a lot of these places are my favorites too. You are SO right about Mermaid Inn! I feel like that place is constantly underrated. It has always been a favorite of mine.

  94. This makes me want to come back to New York right now! Thanks Jo, I have bookmarked this for future reference when I am lucky enough to return x

  95. Extra Virgin in the West Village has the best french toast of my life.

    I am so excited for this list! I live on the UWS and am always excited to try new places. I swear I could try a new spot ever week and never see and do everything NYC has to offer.

  96. i love that you are writing this series! thank you. i loved ino so much and went there twice in the 4 days we stayed at your apartment (once with my hubby and once with my girlfriend.) thanks for the recommendation. such a great low key vibe and delicious food!!!

    i can’t wait to get back to ny to check out your other suggestions!

    xo stephanie

  97. kimberly says...

    great list joanna! i mostly hang out/go on dates with my husband in bk and especially love le barricou and dumont (ask to sit in the garden) – both in williamsburg. as a side note, barcade is probably my favorite bar in the area with possibly the best craft beer selection in the city.

  98. Wow. Totally bookmarking this for the next time I find myself in NYC. Thanks!

  99. Laura says...

    i love cluny and ‘ino and would have to add scarpetta, westville (in west village, westville east in east village, and westville chelsea), corsino, and the rest of keith mcnally’s restaurants: balthazar, pastis, minetta tavern, morandi, and pulino’s bar and pizzeria–they’re all so good! oh–and bar pitti. although the wait can be annoying, it’s totally worth it.

  100. So many of my favorites are on your list Tartine, Frankies, Hampton Chutney… (I seriously tried to figure out how to have them cater my wedding).

    Makes me think I would like the rest of your list as well. Good thing I’m coming out in a few weeks!

  101. My absolute favorite restaurant in NYC is Kuma Inn. It’s almost a secret because it’s on the second floor of a building with graffiti going up the stairs, and the only sign is painted on the door frame. They serve asian/thai tapas that is delicious and not super expensive. It’s a really tiny place though so you have to make reservations :)

  102. Sounds like some wonderful places, I’m glad you’ve added both ends of the market here :D beautiful :D

  103. Wow did this post make me hungry. The chianti stained pappardelle @ Babbo is to die for. Great suggestions!

    PEELS on the LES for brunch is amazing! Build a biscuit? Yes, please!

    Also love Rye in Williamsburg (so cozy) and The Manhattan Inn in Greenpoint.

  104. Tia says...

    I LOVE ino!! We discovered it our last trip to NYC!!! We were lucky to walk in at the right time bc we got the last seats in the house.

    For Soho, one of my all time favorite spots is Cafe Gitane on Mott St. The avocado toast and the Morrocan cous cous is out of this world!

  105. I live in Santa Barbara and don’t get to New York nearly often enough, but I love ‘ino. Babbo is exceptional… we had the tasting menu on our last visit and it took us down. I can’t remember the last time I was that full! Can’t wait to try the rest of your recommendations :)

  106. I love Cafe henri on bedford st! Have you been there? I love their crepes.

  107. Anonymous says...

    i second motorino for the best pizza. after i eat it, i can’t stop thinking about it and i just want MORE. the brussels sprouts pizza is to die for. now i’ll have to try co. !

  108. Frankies!! The best! Joanna, have you had their french toast? Probably the best thing I have ever tasted.

  109. I love this list, Joanna! I already have many great dates in mind. Thank you! xoxo

  110. So excited that two of my favorites made your list! And I’m not even a new yorker (though my month of august there was literally spent eating my way through the city, so if there’s one thing I sussed out, it was the restaurant situation). Love Co. and Cafe Cluny is absolutely wonderful! I will say though, I think if you’re headed to Magnolia at any point, the thing to get is the banana pudding. Best. Dessert. Ever. And I’m not even a pudding fan. Or a banana fan for that matter. But it’s ridiculously good. As for the best cupcake, I’d say Sprinkles. Or the tiny ones at Baked by Melissa that I wrote about here:

    Like I said, I ate a LOT the month I was there…

  111. I am so going to keep this list (and your places to stay) on hand for my next NYC visit. last time I was there I felt so lost as to where to go!

    we did however eat breakfast at a place I’m sure you know of… the Kitchenette. we loved it; the decor and food were yummy!

  112. Anonymous says...

    Fantastic post! I shall put these restaurants on my fall and winter to-do list. :)

    My favorite restaurant in Manhattan is Blue Hill. Absolutely incredible and worth every shiny little penny.

    And hands down, my favorite restaurant in Brooklyn is called James, located in Prospect Heights. Such a beautiful, classy, simple, unpretentious interior, with great food, cocktails, and service.

  113. Northeast Kingdom in Bushwick. Sean and I go there almost every week and never, ever have a bad meal. Amazing ambiance, perfect prices, deliciousness all around!

  114. Great post! I love Frankies & you’re so right about the bathroom in Schillers! One of my favorite restaurants in Soho is Lovely Day. They have an awesome menu mixed with thai but then delicious specials like pork chops. It’s a little hole in the wall with the perfect light breakfast to start your day.

    Another favorite of mine is a farm to table spot, Northern Spy – it’s moderately priced and a lot of the decor is made from refurbished bowling alleys/wood. Love it!

  115. alright this has now been bookmarked! and highLighted! I cant wait to do a little walking tour weekends with these parks and places to eat in mind!
    What is your take on Agave? I will be working there when I move.. not sure what to expect!

  116. Joanna, thank you so much! Even though it’s 2 years away we are planning a big trip to NYC and Paris for my 30th birthday (December 2013!). I can’t wait to follow all of your recommendations! xo

  117. I have been looking foward to your NYC city guides! My Husband and I are in the midst of planning our 1 year anniversary to NYC! Thanks for the helpful information.

  118. Great list! I think there are a few more that I would have to include – Locanda Verde, Buvette (have you been? its near your apt, a must visit), Socarrat Paella Bar, Sushi Yasuda, Hill Country and Eleven Madison Park for a super fancy meal. Oh and Torrisi Italian Specialties which is perhaps the best new restaurant in NYC in years.

  119. youre making me drool with all this talk of deliciousness…

    mmmmmm next time i’m in NYC (hopefully soon) i’ll be sure to cross a few of these must sees/eats off my list.

    thanks for sharing!

  120. I love so many of these!! It’s a great list. My list would also have L’Artusi in the West Village for their amazing homemade pastas (I love sitting at the bar), Junoon in Chelsea if you are in the mood for Indian and Locanda Verde in Tribeca (their sheep’s milk ricotta is superb). All of them, albeit not cheap, are must trys in you have not already!

  121. Amy says...

    Thanks for these! Looking for some new ones to try…I still love The Spotted Pig and The Breslin (I guess I am a suck for April Bloomfield!)

    These are 10 good reasons why you, Alex and Toby have to stay in NYC!

  122. I’ve been to NYC many times & every time my husband & I make it there our favorite restaurant is a little Italian place called Max’s. So delish!!!

  123. I’m so glad your list doesn’t include Cafeteria! I had an experience so bad there that I have absolutely no memory of the food.

    However, I still remember how much I loved the lemon-ricotta pancakes at Sarabeth’s (I always went to the one on Amsterdam), where they also had what may be the best bacon I’ve ever eaten.

  124. Anonymous says...

    I want to go to all of them!!!!

  125. I died over ABC Kitchen the last time i was in the city but I’ve eat at about half of your list. Feel very lucky and excited to try the rest of your great tips.

  126. i second the first commenter: motorino! from the batali bastianich collective, im also partial to lupa in the west village (get the salad with the guanciale!) and otto right outside washington square park. meatball shop on the LES is fantastic and fun, and i’ve never had a bad meal at the smith in the east village and it’s nice and casual. of course momofuku noodle bar and ssam bar are fantastic, if im willing to put up with a wait. the crack pie at milk bar, across from ssam bar is NOT to be missed. im also partial to a few spots in astoria, such as sweet afton and vesta. mmm, drooling now.

  127. great list! after my fiance and i got engaged, we went to the mermaid inn and sat at the bar and had oysters and champagne :)

  128. My favorite restaurant is Cafe Cluny! I used to live two doors down (it was such a treat!), but I still go there as often as I can for breakfast on the weekends. I also love La Bottega at the Maritime Hotel for outdoor seating. Have you been to the new Frankie’s Spuntino 570 on Hudson? It just opened and it’s terrific!

  129. We went to Cafe Cluny after we got married a year ago. Married in City Hall, came back to Cafe Cluny for lunch. I had the most delicious cocktail I’ve ever had in my life there. The food was pretty good too! I’m definitely trying some of these in December.

  130. I just got back from NY and had a lovely brunch at wallse, I just thought it was a bit too formal for a saturday noon…
    I did try a couple of really nice places in brooklyn: pauly gee in greenpoint (amazing pizza! was worth the hour-long wait) and the bedford for brunch
    I love NYC restaurants, I think they often beat the Paris places I am used to, with really nice service and great quality-price ratio (but I guess you only ever want what you can’t have every day!)

  131. This guide is already fabulous, and there only two categories. :) Can’t wait to get back to NY.

  132. What lovely places! i’m definitely writing them all down. Love the idea of Hudson Clearwater, can’t wait to try that next time we’re there!

  133. oh yeah! and roberta’s in bushwick. you’d love it. we’ll take you!

  134. wonderful choices! we love gramercy tavern for those super special nights out. best meal in nyc, hands down.

  135. Used to be Woo Lae Oak in Soho, but I just realized that they closed. I guess I’m off to try some of your great suggestions next time I visit!

  136. ps: will be posting wedding pics on the blog tomorrow so please come and take a look. :) we did it on the pier in Red Hook overlooking the statue of liberty, my friend married us.

  137. Oh! I am sad now, just got back from GETTING MARRIED in NYC last week. :) Would love to have tried some of these.

    Nearly went to Frankie Spuntino’s for our wedding meal but we were staying in Red Hook so went to a local place called Fort Defiance down there, which was a fab bustling bar with great tasty food.

  138. I LOVE Hudson Clearwater! I am glad it’s a well kept secret, since I don’t want everyone in the world to go there and make it tough to get a reservation. ;) I have celiac disease and most of the menu is naturally gluten free; what isn’t, the chefs take special care to prepare for me. What a great restaurant!

  139. I went to Prune when I was in NYC last- it was yummy. (Plus, I saw Liv Tyler…maybe not cool to gawk, but give me a break, I’m from Ohio!) :)

  140. So Ive been to New York 10 times doing makeover for Nate and I always tend to run into the overpriced tourist places.

    This is GOOD stuff,

    so I am going to try these out this week.

    Rashon aka Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  141. You’re making me so excited for my NY trip in October!

  142. Motorino in the East Village has some of the best pizza that I have had in NYC. I also love Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick for not only pizza but other deliciousness!