New York City! So many places to eat, so many moments standing frozen deciding where to go. To help, we’ve enlisted a panel of New York food pros and asked them where they pick up bagels, grab brunch with the kids, and meet for date nights. Or just, you know, what neighborhood spot they crave on nights when they don’t feel like cooking. Not surprisingly, they had some very New York-style opinions on the matter.

First, our distinguished panel…

Eric Kim, cookbook author and New York Times staff writer and columnist; Einat Admony, cookbook author, owner of Balaboosta and Taim; Maya Jankelowitz, co-owner of Jack’s Wife Freda; Jon Gray, founder Ghetto Gastro and author Black Power KitchenAmanda Hesser, co-founder Food52; Emily Weinstein, Food & Cooking Editor, New York Times; Natasha Pickowicz, James Beard Award-winning pastry chef; Caroline Schiff, executive pastry chef at Gage & Tollner; Hana Asbrink, deputy food editor, Bon Appetit; Vallery Lomas, cookbook author and Great American Baking Show winner; Lia Ronnen, publisher at Artisan and Workman; Ruth Chan, illustrator; Yolanda Edwards, travel writer, Yolo Journal; Ali Slagle, cookbook author and contributor, NYT Cooking.


Where to take the kids

LaRina Pastifico e Vino (Italian, Fort Greene/Brooklyn) “Our family’s favorite restaurant. My kids are obsessed with the pastas.” — Einat Admony

Blue Ribbon (Sushi, West Village, Midtown) “It’s our go-to for takeout on busy school nights. We love how they shout welcome — ‘Irasshaimase! — to everyone entering the dining room.” — Maya Jankelowitz

Nabila’s (Cobble Hill/Brooklyn) “A new-but-instantly-beloved Lebanese spot run by a mother and her son (sob!), where I take my two little boys and fantasize about our co-owning a restaurant someday. Think: spinach pies, braised lamb, spiced rice, eggplant salad, tangy hummus.” — Joanna

Jack’s Wife Freda co-owner Maya Jankelowitz with her kids

When you want to eat outside…

Jack’s Wife Freda (Mediterranean, or as they describe it “South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine”; Soho/Chelsea/West Village/Williamsburg) “We love the Chelsea location in the winter because the outdoor space is well heated. I always get the halloumi, grilled simply with grapes and mint.” — EK

Frankies Spuntino (Italian, Carroll Gardens/Brooklyn) “You feel transported to Italy when you sit the garden, drinking spritzes and eating their famous sausage-and-sage cavatelli under fairy lights. It’s one of those places where you always have a good time. (Fun fact: Maureen, our marketing director, got engaged here!)” — Joanna

Johnny’s Reef (Seafood, Bronx) “Go to the ‘Hood Hamptons,’ aka City Island. My summertime ritual is ordering fried shrimp, no coleslaw, lemons on the side; then I mix up that tarter and cocktail sauce.” — Jon Gray

King (French/Italian, Soho) “I’ve always loved eating outdoors at King. Sitting at a table on the sidewalk with a cocktail and a plate of panisse at dusk — heaven.” — Emily Weinstein

Xi’an Famous Foods

When you’re craving dumplings…

Xi’an Famous Foods (Chinese, Chelsea/Financial District/Chinatown/Upper East Side) “Get the spicy sour spinach dumplings! They douse them with a lip-smacking combination of chili oil, vinegar, cilantro, and sesame seeds; it’s how I dress dumplings at home now, too.” – Ali Slagle

Tian Jin Dumpling House (Chinese, Flushing/Queens) “Their lamb and squash dumplings are the best dumplings I’ve had in my life. I also love that you can buy a frozen bag of 50 to eat at home; and how eating in Flushing always immerses you in the full Chinese experience.” — Ruth Chan

Barney Greengrass

When you want a hit of classic New York…

Barney Greengrass (Jewish, Upper West Side) “This Jewish deli is it for me. Get the blintzes.” — EW

Grand Central Oyster Bar (Seafood, Midtown) “When I was a publishing intern, my boss took me to lunch here, and it just felt so fancy. I love ordering oysters and French fries — plus, chowder, the New England creamy kind. I sit in either the dining room or the saloon, which feels very old-fashioned New York.” — EK

Peppa’s (Jamaican, Crown Heights/Lower East Side/Flatbush) “Jerk from a sidewalk smoker — whether in front yards or at the park — is quintessential New York to me. Few smells make me salivate more than a whiff of jerk from Peppa’s. (Here’s a great NYTimes story about jerk traditions in Jamaica and New York.)” — AS

Mina’s (Greek, Long Island City, Queens) “‘Museum restaurant’ is my favorite kind of restaurant (‘department store restaurant’ is my second favorite), and Mina’s at MoMA PS1 is perfect in the summer. After wandering around the museum, you can sit in their calm minty-hued dining room or in the pebbly courtyard, and snack on crunchy carrot salads, olive oil cake, and natural Greek wines.” — Natasha Pickowicz

For a romantic date night…

Corner Delhi (Indian/American; Park Slope/Brooklyn) “This postage-stamp-sized restaurant combines Indian flavors and New-American fare. Alex and I bike here for dates, and we love the green dining room decorated with Indian movie posters. Don’t miss the King Salmon Crudo Pain Puri, which is four crispy puff balls filled with chopped raw salmon; you pour tamarind water over and pop into your mouth in one perfect bite.” — Joanna

Overstory (Cocktail bar, Financial District) “This one wins for the best and sexiest bar with the most insane views.” — Yolanda Edwards

Tudor City Steakhouse (American, Turtle Bay) “The mellow neighborhood along the East River where the UN is located is one of my very favorite Manhattan neighborhoods for wandering, mostly because Tudor City, the historic apartment complex, is located there. Tudor City is like a mini world unto itself, with its own dry cleaner, wine shop, and day care. I love its steakhouse for easy date nights. First, stroll through the enchanting Tudor City Gardens across the street, then sit in the dining room overlooking the FDR and order martinis and fries.” — NP

Yellow Rose (Texan, East Village) “You can’t not be happy here with the upbeat music and cactus margarita glasses. Skip the tacos and focus on apps and sides; the way they highlight vegetables is so special.” — AS

Cervo’s (Portugese, Lower East Side) “I love this place so dang much for its excellent food, wine, and people!” — Hana Asbrink


When you’re in the mood for pizza…

Di Fara (Midwood/Brooklyn, South Street Seaport, Staten Island) “Good ingredients, combined with care, no shortcuts in any way. Once I waited more than three hours in the relentless summer heat, but once that pizza hit the table, I forgot all about those sweaty hours.” — AS

Joe’s Pizza (West Village) “For almost 50 years, Joe’s has served the ultimate New York slice: gooey cheese, fresh sauce, thin, slightly crispy crust. Line up (usually along with cute old men) on the Greenwich Village corner, then walk across the street to watch a pick-up basketball game on West 4th Street.” — Joanna

Ops (Bushwick/Brooklyn) “I love how simple the menu is. Salad, wine, and the best naturally leavened pizza!” — Caroline Schiff

Mel’s (Chelsea) There’s a lot of good pizza in New York, but wow, this place is really good. The combinations are humble but creative. Their white pizza with mushroom situation is really tasty.” — EK

The Dutch by portfoliolivingnyc

When it’s time for brunch…

The Dutch (American, Soho) “I love their amazing cornmeal flapjacks, and soft scrambled eggs with trout roe and smoked salmon. I’ve been eating here for a decade, since college.” — EK

Old Brooklyn Bagel Shoppe (Bagels, Prospect Heights/Brooklyn). “Our Saturday morning routine is to walk the dog in Prospect Park and then come here for bagels. They really do have the best bagels in NYC. Good size, good density, good spring. And their scallion cream cheese has nice big hunks of scallion.” — RC

ABCv (Vegan; Flatiron) “For a gluten-free vegetarian, like myself, this place is an embarrassment of riches. The amazing dosas, the bowls, the pancakes, and the best corn muffin.” — Lia Ronnen

Meet Fresh

When you want a treat…

Meet Fresh (Taiwanese, East Village, Park Slope/Brooklyn, Flushing/Queens, Long Island City/Queens) Says AS: “When I was a kid, I’d beg my mom for a lunch of shaved ice. The one I liked had boba, mochi, red beans, condensed milk, and fruit. I argued it was a suitable lunch because there was protein from the red beans. Now that I’m a grown up, I get Meet Fresh shaved ice anytime I want.” And RC seconds that: “Their shaved ice, sweet tofu, and hot dessert soups make me miss Asia in the best way.”

Fanfan Doughnuts (Clinton Hill/Brooklyn) “The best doughnuts anywhere, hands down.” — CS

The Social (Ice cream, Prospect Heights/Brooklyn) “This ice cream/donut spot is all about building community. They even threw a block party to celebrate a picture book I’d made called Thank You, Neighbor! I love their bold flavors.” — RC

Green Garden Juice and Health Food (West Indian-inspired, Bronx) “Hit it for a green sea moss smoothie.” — Jon G.

Sugar Hill Creamery (Ice cream, Harlem/Morningside Heights) “Really good people, and really good ice cream. I love this family-owned spot.” — EK [Ed. note: We also love their pop-culture-inspired ice cream flavors.)


When it’s a special occasion…

Cosme (Mexican, Flatiron) “They serve delicious Mexican food, and it’s my go-to for when friends or family are visiting.” — Amanda Hesser

Locanda Vini e Oli (Italian, Clinton Hill/Brooklyn) “This spot feels so much like Italy: unfussy, soulful, like home. Their patio extends down a beautiful Brooklyn block, and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather drink a spritz on a warm night.” — AS

Veronika (Eastern European, Gramercy) “Newly re-opened, this restaurant has one of the prettiest dining rooms I’ve ever been in. I love the food, especially their pierogi and schnitzel, and the martinis are served in elegant coupes.” — YE

Cafe Altro Paradiso (Italian, Soho) “Ignacio Mattos is, in my opinion, New York’s best chef. I love his salads — always bright with acid — but it’s the oysters that have me making excuses to get there. They’re perfect plump beauties topped with an addictive white balsamic mignonette.” — LR

Marlow & Sons (American, Williamsburg/Brooklyn) “In all my years as a New Yorker, I’ve done the most celebrating at Marlow & Sons, one of the the original Andrew Tarlow restaurants, where for years you could get oysters and a cocktail and brick chicken and salted chocolate caramel tart. It has evolved a lot over the years but a constant is the convergence of food, drinks, setting and vibes — all impeccable.” — EW


That place you hope no one else finds out about…

Mogmog (Japanese, Long Island City/Queens) “A tiny Japanese grocery just opened in Hunter’s Point. I stock up on sashimi-grade fish and pantry goodies, like frozen yuzu peels and black sesame paste, but I never leave without sampling something from their kitchen, like their unagi rolls, crispy karaage chicken, or salmon collar bento boxes.” — NP

The Panorama Room (Small plates, Roosevelt Island) “Roosevelt Island is one of my favorite NYC oddities — I prefer to take the ferry there, then explore the Four Freedoms State Park, before making my way over to the Panorama Room, an 18th-floor rooftop bar in the Graduate Hotel. They have the best skyline views, without any of the frustrating crowds and lines.” — NP

Romans photo by Brea Souders

When you want to go around the corner and feel welcome…

Inga’s (American, Brooklyn Heights/Brooklyn) “They call it a tavern, and the burbling chatter in the dining room and the style of food — liverwurst, braised lamb, burgers, celery salad — validate this. The atmosphere, cooking and service is all great.” — AH

Ginjan Cafe (West African, Harlem) “They sell coffee and West African beverages, like their signature ‘Ginjan,’ but they also have delicious pastries and hearty bowls and salads. The owners are two brothers from Guinea who have an amazing story.” — Vallery Lomas

“My current neighborhood favorites include pandemic newcomers Sami & Susu (Mediterranean; Lower East Side) and Saigon Social (Vietnamese; Lower East Side) for their grit as much as for their flavorful menus and hospitality.” — HA

Roman’s (Italian, Fort Greene/Brooklyn) “I like a restaurant where there aren’t too many choices. Roman’s changes its menu every day and keeps it delightfully pared down. There’s always something seasonal, something classic, all amazingly well executed. Make sure to have one of the two daily cocktails (Bitter or Sour — I always go for bitter).” — AH

White Tiger (Korean, Prospect Heights/Brooklyn, Clinton Hill/Brooklyn) “This is a sensational Korean restaurant. My daughter loves the Korean rice cakes with sesame sauce.” — EA

Where do you love eating in New York? Please share!

P.S. Five not-expensive things to do in New York, and Toby and Anton’s NYC guide for kids.

(Top photo grid, clockwise from upper left: Jack’s Wife Freda, Barney Greengrass, Veronika, LaRina, all via Instagram.)