There are so many restaurants to dine at in NYC, sometimes it’s tough to pick out a spot for lunch or dinner. Please, avoid the touristy locations. And please, eat good food when you come to New York City. It’s an experience you’ll never forget and will talk about for years to come. Below is a list of restaurants I truly enjoy, and I hope you will too!
Paprika: Located on St. Marks between 1st and A Ave. This spot is great for brunch and/or dinner. They menu changes seasonal but you can never go wrong ordering a pasta dish (it’s homemade!). This restaurant has a casual atmosphere and can get pretty crowded. (For more information click here.)
STK: Want a good steak? Great appetizers? A fun atmosphere to enjoy with friends? Great music? You’ll find all of those things here in this Meatpacking restaurant. Note: don’t take an older crowd here unless they don’t mind loud music.
Sea Thai: If you’re looking for an inexpensive, trending, tasty Thai food restaurant then head over to Sea Thai in the Meatpacking district. Suggestion: order several appetizers and share with friends. The plates’ serving sizes are perfect for a tappas style dinner!
Highpoint Bistro: A great place for both brunch, lunch, and dinner. I’ve never had a bad meal here and the food is loaded with flavor. The burger is delish, so are the sandwiches for lunch. For dinner, order the crazy corn and Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf. For appetizers order the tuna tartare tacos! (For more information click here.)
Co.: This Chelsea restaurant is always packed with people no matter what day of the week it is. The salads are perfectly portioned and the gourmet pizzas are to die for. This restaurant is perfect for lunch or dinner. (For more information click here.)
Spitzers: This Lower East Side gastropub has a ridiculously large selection of beer on tap. The food is also spectacular. Be sure to order a burger with a fried egg. Also, the truffled mac and cheese is my favorite. Honestly, I would probably rank their mac and cheese number 1 in my book.
Shake Shack: Great for lunch and dinner, this New York City institution is quickly branching out to other cities as well. The original Shake Shack is located in Madison Square Park. Be sure to order a Shack Burger and cheese fries. The ‘Shroom Burger is also a great hit! (For more information click here.)
Meatball Shop: A Fantastic place for lunch or dinner — but beware of the long wait. Dinner time you can expect to wait at least 2 hours for a table. This small Lower East Side restaurant is a big hit with the locals — the meatball-focused restaurant makes you feel like you are sitting and eating in your Italian grandmother’s kitchen. What could be better than that? (For more information click here.)
Hearth: If you’ve found this restaurant on your own, then it sounds to me like you don’t need my recommendations. If you’re dining with just one other person be sure to reserve stools at the bar that over looks the kitchen and order the tasting menu. The chef will personally serve you each serving and you’ll be entertained all evening while you watch the chefs prepare dozens of dinners. (For more information click here.)
The Green Table: Located inside the Chelsea Market, this restaurant focuses on the beauty of seasonal cuisine. Every dish is full of flavor, plus the restaurant’s location is the perfect place to people watch inside the busy market. (For More Information click here.)
I Tre Merli Bistro: It’s a fabulous small bistro in the heart of the West Village. Reservations are needed especially on a busy Friday or Saturday night. I’ve never had a bad meal here and I am always excited to see what seasonal dishes the chef has added to the menu. Plus, their gnocchi al pesto is out of this world. (For more information click here.)
La Esquina: Such a tasty place to eat at for either lunch or dinner. If you wish to eat at the restaurant downstairs you will need to place a reservation almost 1 month in advance. But the small taqueria is a great place to eat at if you are looking to eat quickly. The tacos are the best I have ever had and their grilled corn is perfectly seasoned with cheese and spices. (For more information click here.)
Minetta Tavern: Good luck trying to get a reservation here — you’ll need to reserve a table a month in advance! But if it’s just you and one other person grab a seat at the bar and order the Black Label Burger… Be prepared to sink your teeth into the best burger you’ll ever taste. The bone marrow appetizer is also fantastic! (For more information click here.)
L’Artusi: I can’t think of anything wrong with this restaurant. The food is fantastic, the serving sizes are perfect, and your wallet won’t be sad at the end of the night. The menu changes seasonally but when dishes leave the menu you can expect to see even better plates on upcoming menus. Located in the West Village, this restaurant has never had a slow night. Reservations should be made a week in advance. (For more information click here.)
Beauty & Essex: Looking for a place where you can get both a restaurant vibe, lounge vibe, and club vibe? Head to Beauty & Essex located in the LES of Manhattan. This trendy joint can be found in the back of a pawn shop — yes, a pawn shop! Great music, fantastic appetizers, and a hip atmosphere make for a fun night! (For more information click here.)
Kingswood: After eating here numerous times I still can’t get sick of it. This Australian gastropub fuses American cuisine with something exotic — but I would still say the menu is full of sophisticated comfort food. Order the burger and truffle fries, mac and cheese, and corn on the cob (if it’s in season). (For more information click here.)
Gnocco: Looking for a traditional Italian meal? Don’t want to share your food with anyone else? I can’t blame you. Gnocco is my #2 favorite Italian restaurant and it’s a great place to eat up some traditional Italian grub. (For more information click here.)
Perbacco: Looking for more of an Italian-style tappas? This is the perfect restaurant to do that. Perbacco takes the traditional Italian food ingredients and turns them into a more modernized dish. This is by far my FAVORITE Italian restaurant in New York City… okay, in the world! (For more information click here.)
Cafeteria: This trendy Chelsea hot-spot knows how to cook up your favorite comfort foods. The price is very affordable and the never ending crowd continues into the late hours of the night — but I recommend eating either brunch, lunch, or dinner here. (For more information click here.)
Stand4: If you’re in the Village and looking for a great burger at 3 a.m., get over to Stand (they are open until 4 a.m.). Even their vegetarian burgers are delish, but be sure to order their sweet potato fries and dip it into their mayo dip (it’s yellow) for some extra flavor!
Strip House: This classic restaurant is perfect in every way possible. Of course you should order a steak, but their appetizers and side dishes are beyond amazing. This restaurant is more low-key than STK. Personally, it’s a great place to bring parents.
Dylan Prime: Another fabulous steak house. It’s a little out of the way in Tribeca but the food is perfection. Steaks and side dishes are a must. Cocktail attire is a must.
Pepe Rosso: Looking for a speedy dinner down in The Village? This should be your go to spot. Mainly it’s a take-out joint since there is only space for 12 people to sit down to eat. But the food comes out quick and the Italian food will always hit the spot and satisfy your hungry tummy! (For more information click here.)
Morimoto: Everything about this restaurant is interesting. The architecture is fascinating and the food is, well… it’s Morimoto. If you have time to spare, head downstairs in the restaurant to the bar and order one of the martinis — all of the different types are tasty and you can hardly taste the alcohol. (*When I got my current job, my boyfriend took me here for dinner to celebrate!)
Colicchio and Sons: If you’re looking for a big name and high-end dining this is the place to go. Colicchio has already made a name for himself, and yes his food is fabulous!
SD26: Until recently I had no clue that this restaurant even existed. Located right above Madison Square Park is this sophisticated, modernized Italian restaurant that brings a crowd looking for some swanky decor and high-end food. Be sure to try the Uovo… there’s nothing better than an egg yolk with truffle and ravioli!
A Voce: The A Voce in Columbus Circle not only offers an unbelievable fine dining experience, but you also are given magnificent views of New York City’s Columbus Circle. Wine pairing is done extremely well here and the menu changes seasonally.
Abe & Arthur’s: Another great steak house that has amazing appetizers and side dishes, perfect to share with others you are dining with. This steak house is a solid combination of the Strip House and STK — a sophisticated dining experience meshed with a hip, swanky atmosphere. (Not to mention, this is where Bethenny Frankel had her rehearsal dinner.)
Sushi of Gari: If you are looking for an extreme sushi experience in Manhattan, head to the Upper West Side for some of the best sushi you will ever have.
Daniel: This is probably the most luxurious dining I have ever experienced. The food put me in a food coma for 24 hours. There is a proper dress attire you need to be aware of, so be sure to read the website. Jackets are required for all men dining.
Megu: Probably the best Japanese restaurant I have ever been to. The architecture and design is also a reason to go. Imagine eating your dinner in a room that has a gigantic ice Buddha. Be sure to order plenty of appetizers — the tuna tartare is the best I have ever had. (For more information click here.)
Tuck Shop: Since it’s not too far from my apartment I often go to the Tuck Shop stand in the Chelsea Market. This Australian food stand has the best beef meat pies you will ever bite into. (For more information click here.)
Burger Joint: This is the best place in Midtown Manhattan to grab a burger. Inside of the Parker Meridien is this out-of-place-looking burger restaurant that has a line that takes about 45 minutes during lunch time on week days. This burger joint has been recognized by several publications, including Food Network Magazine.
Katz’s Delicatessen: The famous New York institution — it’s where you order your massive pastrami sandwiches. There’s nothing else like this, and both tourists and locals flock here for lunch and dinner. It’s an experience just to stand in line here. (For more information click here.)
Dirty Bird: Don’t expect to get a table here, especially since there are only about 4 tables available. Come here if you want to order take out of if you are eating lunch or dinner with one other person. They have the best fried chicken in town and their mac and cheese is so rich and satisfying. (For more information click here.)
Norma’s: Located inside Le Parker Meridien you will find the perfect brunch spot. With a wide variety of sweet and savory breakfast items to pick from — you will always be served a massive portion of cuisine. Be sure to make a reservation, the wait can get long without one! (For more information click here.)
L’Apicio: To say the least, L’Apicio is the sister restaurant to L’Artusi — they are both set up the same way… Italian in the form of tapas. Not only do the plates have a great portion size, but the price is very reasonable! The ambiance is fantastic and is the perfect date night spot! (For more information click here.)
Melt Shop Grilled Cheese: These are no ordinary grilled cheeses — they are that classic comfort food plus non-traditional ingredients that make up your gourmet sandwich! They have a breakfast menu too that would be great for anyone on the go before work! (For more information click here.)
Cafe Gitane: located in the heart of Soho (where tourists are not wandering around…) you’ll find this intimate cafe overflowing with locals. The menu has a great selection of plates and the chef has mastered several classic Moroccan recipes. (For more information click here.)
Hunter’s: Before I tell you where it is located I promise you it is easy to get to. Hunter’s is located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn right across the street from an F train stop. I swear, their angus burger will blow you away — and it’s price is dirty cheap! It also has a great bar — the most perfect place to catch up with friends on any night of the week. (For more information click here.)
The Grey Dog: located on University Place this perfect lunch spot is just a few blocks away from Union Square and Washington Square Park — far enough away from the tourists and close enough to everything else in The Village. Hit up this spot for lunch, you’ll love their sandwiches and specialty lemonades! (For more information click here.)
The Standard Grill: Everyone needs to head here for dinner, at least once! The menu is packed with raw bar options and plenty of cooked meat options too. Be sure you don’t miss out on dessert! AND, book ahead of time, reservation in advance are a must! (For more information click here.)
Claw: Sometimes you just need one heck of a good lobster roll. Luckily, you’re in NYC and there is a restaurant that specifically has lobster in every dish! Be sure to order lobster rolls AND the lobster mac and cheese! (For more information click here.)
Bar Pitti: Be sure to head to this restaurant in the warmer months — it’s the best spot to sit outside, order your favorite Italian food and watch the people of The Village move about the streets. There are always plenty of specials to choose from too, so don’t limit yourself to the regular menu! (For more information click here.)
Catch: In the mood for seafood — raw or cooked? This is your spot. It not only has a great menu with plenty of delicious options to choose from — but the restaurant is an experience in itself! (For more information click here.)
Locanda Verde: This restaurant changes their menu seasonally and always has some fantastic picks. It’s the perfect place to bring out of towners who want a glimpse into the TriBeCa restaurant scene! (For more information click here.)
The Central Park Boathouse: Usually I would say stay away from anything touristy, but if you have guests that insist on eating lunch (or brunch) at this iconic location do not worry! The food is excellent and you will please both the visitors and the foodies! (For more information click here.)
Lucy’s Whey: Great for a snack while shopping the Chelsea Market, this little cheese shop makes one mean grilled cheese that’s filled with a fig spread and cheddar cheese! (For more information click here.)
The Diner: located literally in the heart of Meatpacking you’ll find this restaurant perfect for breakfast as well as a late night food spot to drop into. They make killer fried mac and cheese that you dip in their melted blend of… cheese! (For more information click here.)
Malatesta Trattoria: I’m sorry to say this but this restaurant doesn’t take reservations and they are cash only — but they can get away with it because the food is so cheap and delicious! Head here for some Italian food in the heart of the West Village where locals will wait an average of 2 hours before being seated on almost any day of the week. (Click here for more information.)
Crispo: Not only is the menu packed with scrumptious choices but it’s also very easy to get a reservation here — but they sure do pack people into the restaurant so don’t be surprised if you can’t find a seat at the bar. (For more information click here.)
The Highliner: This restaurant used to be the original Diner in Chelsea. Now that it is renovated it’s back in business! Their brunch really hits the spot — go for the french toast and the egg in a hole! It’s also a great spot to sit outside while you’re dining — you’ll watch as all of the Chelsea locals go about their day. (For more information click here.)
Vezzo: I swear this is the best pizza in NYC — it’s super thin crust and is a great place for date night. Also be sure to order their salad with apples! By the way — yes, this is a pizza place… but it gets packed so you need to make a reservation! (For more information click here.)
Little Muenster: Another grilled cheese sandwich shop that you need to experience! So what, grilled cheeses are trendy… but they will forever be an amazing comfort food! (For more information click here.)
Empanada Mama: O.M.G you must eat here! It’s open 24/7 in Hell’s Kitchen and the restaurant is the smallest space you’ll ever eat in but their empanadas (duh), guacamole and avocado salad hits the spot whether it’s for lunch, dinner or late night grub! (For more information click here.)
The Doughnut Plant: I know several doughnut lovers, actually they are obsessed — and they are all huge fans of this doughnut shop! Be sure to give the coconut doughnut a try, you will fall in love with it like I have! (For more information click here.)