Best Places to Eat in NYC
Wondering where to eat in NYC? I’ve eaten at over 500 places in the city during my time living in Manhattan, and this list is what I consider to be the very best places to eat in NYC. I cover all price ranges, from cheap to very expensive (we’ve spent $800 on dinner a few times), and covering bakeries, ice cream, fancy dinners, sushi, and everything in between.
[Burrata Soft Serve with Balsamic Caramel and Micro Basil from Dominique Ansel Kitchen]
Incredible food is undoubtedly one of the best parts about living in or visiting NYC. Some of the best food spots in the United States, and even in the world live in this city, and the competition for creativity and food innovation is fierce.
There are plenty of bad restaurants in this city too, but if you stick with the recommendations here, you’ll be in for some dang good food. More than you can probably get to! There’s no excuse for getting hot dogs from those sidewalk carts, as there’s always something good around.
Why should you trust my opinion? I realize that some people reading this might know me, while others might not. So I will say this: if you’ve ever been to a restaurant that had good Yelp reviews, but the food wasn’t very good, then there’s a good chance you’ve got some pretty high food expectations. So do I.
All the restaurants and eateries in this post are the places that were exceptional and noteworthy enough that I returned to them again and again. Given that there are an estimated 24,000 places to eat in NYC, it says something that I’d go back to a place again instead of trying something new.
In other words: There are many NYC restaurants I’ve been to that were good, but aren’t listed on this map or in this blog post, because “good” isn’t good enough.
I have eaten at almost all of the two and three Michelin star restaurants in New York City, and most of the one Michelin star restaurants as well, and not all of them are worthy of a return trip.
For example, places like Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, and Uncle Boons were pretty good, but we don’t feel inclined to go back.
Ditto for Katz’s delicatessen, Artichoke Basille’s pizza, and halal guys.
Is it worth doing once? Sure. But it’s not on my list here because it’s a place I wouldn’t plan to return to.
First, I recommend bookmarking or saving this post to reference from your phone during your trip to NYC. If you find yourself hungry while you’re out in a particular part of town, you can use this to see what’s closest, and I have found myself doing this too instead of trying to remember all the places nearby that I like.
Below I share a short description of each place with favorite dishes, organized by category.
I thought about including photos in this post but decided it would make it too long. Honestly, Yelp is a better place to look at photos of the food, since you can see a lot at once. Sometimes I do this before deciding whether or not to go to a new place, to get a sense of the food. Plating can say a lot!
Also, you’ll notice that all of my food places are in Manhattan. I’ve eaten at some places in Brooklyn, Long Island City, and Queens, but not a ton. Yes, I’m biased toward Manhattan (this is true of a lot of new yorkers), but that’s because that’s where I’ve lived, and if you visit NYC, that’s where you are most likely to spend your time too. There are already way more restaurants on this island than I will be able to get to.
If you need a short list, here are my top 10 favorite food places of all:
- Pizza Loves Emily – The Emmy Burger is the best burger I’ve ever eaten, and I also recommend any of the Grandma style pizzas (West Village)
- Supermoon Bakehouse – Just take one quick look at their Instagram and you’ll see they are making baked goods at an untouchable level. Get any of the croissants, but the chocolate and apple pie are my favorites. (LES)
- Nur – It’s so hard to get a reservation, but try! They make the most incredible Israeli food I’ve ever had. We stuffed ourselves to oblivion and everything we ordered was amazing. Get the Smoked Eggplant Carpaccio and Octopus (Flatiron)
- The Modern Bar Room – One of Danny Meyer’s restaurants, this is one of my absolute favorite spots in NYC. The food is spectacular, and they have really great cocktails too if you’d just like a drink. The ambiance feels simultaneously classy and vibrant, and the service is as good as I could ask for: attentive, kind, and professional. Basically they do everything really well (Midtown by MOMA)
- Daily Provisions – Next to Union Square Cafe, get a cruller and the Kouign Amann, and go before 11am or else they might sell out. They’re two of the best baked goods I’ve ever had. They also carry legendary Salt & Straw ice cream from Portland (Union Square)
- Num Pang Sandwich Shop – I recommend the five-spice pork belly or pulled pork sandwich. They also have noodle bowls and salads, but the sandwiches are the best (and their bread is amazing) (Multiple locations around the city)
- Doughnut Plant – These guys are doing doughnuts at a level that no one else is. My favorite doughnuts in NYC, I always go inside intending to limit myself to only 2-3 doughnuts, then always walk out with a whole box. Ugh so good. I recommend the Tres Leches, Brooklyn Blackout, Carrot Cake, and Coconut Cream doughnuts. (Chelsea and LES)
- Dominique Ansel Bakery OR Kitchen – You can’t come to NYC and not visit Dominique Ansel. Honestly, don’t bother lining up in the morning for the cronut. Get his other desserts, either the made-to-order ones or the fancy tarts in the glass case. The flavors are incredible (SOHO and Greenwich Village)
- Patisserie Chanson – Totally next level desserts here. Incredibly creative, beautiful, but most importantly, delicious and fresh. The Black Sesame Kouign Amann is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten (Flatiron)
- Aux Merveilleux de Fred – It’s a tiny shop that makes Merveilleux, a delicate dessert with crisp meringue and cream. It’s dreamy and light, and I had never tasted something like that before (Greenwich Village)
(BONUS!) Chelsea Market, Eataly, Urbanspace Vanderbilt, or other food halls – These are not individual food places, but rather foods halls and markets that have TONS of food options. Make sure to visit at least one food hall or market in NYC (see my full list below). I think Chelsea Market and Eataly are the most interesting for tourists, and they’re the biggest too.
Now let’s dive in to all the places on my food map.
Here are the 7 categories I cover below:
- Relatively Cheap Eats
- Medium Expensive Restaurants
- Very Expensive but Amazing Restaurants
- Great Bakeries & Dessert Places
- Food Halls and Markets
- Favorite Bars
- Favorite Coffee
Relatively Cheap Places:
These are in no particular order, just how my Google Map lists them. Also, nothing in NYC is actually cheap, so by “relatively cheap” I mean it’s the cheapest category of all my restaurants in this post. Check menus for pricing if you have a particular budget.
- Ippudo Westside – Incredible ramen and buns. If you don’t go right when they open or during off peak times, be prepared for a potential 2 hour wait. You MUST try the buns, either the pork buns or eggplant & erringi mushroom buns (Multiple Locations through the City)
- Los Tacos No. 1 – Located inside Chelsea Market, these are the best tacos I’ve had in the city. There’s no seating for the actual restaurant, just around Chelsea Market, so be prepared for that. If it’s nice outside, there’s a park to sit at that’s across the street on the west side of 10th (Chelsea)
- Num Pang Sandwich Shop – I recommend the five-spice pork belly or pulled pork sandwich. The sandwiches are my favorite item on their menu, though they have salads and noodle bowls too (Multiple locations around the city)
- Korilla BBQ – A super popular food truck that turned into a brick and mortar location. Get the bulgogi or gochujang pork burrito (Multiple Locations through the City)
- Danji – Really well-done Korean tapas, this was one of my favorite restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen. You can pair it very easily with a show (Theater District)
- Xi-an Famous Foods – The Pork Zha Jiang hand-pulled noodles are AMAZING. A warning: this place is very no frills, but the line out the door should tell you something. It’s good (Multiple locations throughout the city)
- Taim – My favorite falafel spot in the city, and they have multiple different flavors that are all good (West Village and Nolita)
- Forager’s Table – The Orange Blossom Ricotta Pancakes are life-changing. Their other brunch items are delicious too (Chelsea)
- Jacob’s Pickles – This place has a cult following for their fried chicken biscuit sandwiches and pickles. It’s VERY heavy (as you might expect), so I recommend sharing dishes (UWS)
- Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop – I used to go to the location in Gotham West Market, but it has now closed. They have a location in the Lower East Side right off Houston. The Spicy Red Chili Ramen is my favorite, but beware, it really is spicy. They have great buns too (LES)
- Koko Wings – HOLY MOLY the Korean Fried Chicken here is ungodly delicious. This one is a trek uptown just beyond the upper west side, but it really is worth it. A light and crispy shell encases juicy pieces of fried chicken, coated in a sticky sweet and savory sauce (UWS)
- Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa – I first had Sugarfish in Santa Monica, CA, and was so excited when he opened a place in NYC. This is very reasonably priced for sushi standards, and the fish is incredibly fresh, and little touches like warm rice make everything melt in your mouth. Go during off peak times, or else your wait might be as long as 2 hours (Flatiron)
- Russ & Daughters – This is one of those classic NYC institutions, kind of like Katz’s (and it’s right by Katz’s), and I got a smoked salmon bagel that was truly one of the best I’ve ever had. Worth trying once (LES)
Medium Expensive Places:
These are in no particular order, just how my Google Map lists them. Here’s what I mean by “Medium Expensive:” These are all nice places to eat, and places you should probably dress up somewhat nicely at, and dinner will be pricy, but not the $200-$300/head that some NYC restaurants are in the next category.
- Bar Boulud – One of world famous Chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurants, this was one of my regular spots. The food and service are always solid, and in the summer you can sit outside with a nice view of Lincoln Center. Their menu changes seasonally and often, but the burger is a mainstay that I love (Lincoln Center)
- Boulud Sud – Right next to the above Bar Boulud is Chef Daniel Boulud’s take on Mediterranean. I like it a little better than Bar Boulud, as the food is more exotic. All of the housemade pastas are amazing, plus the Chicken tagine, and any of the “for the table” starters. Dessert is always excellent too (Lincoln Center)
- Marta – Yet another example that Danny Meyer does everything right when it comes to his restaurants, Marta specializes in pizza. You can’t go wrong with anything you order here (NoMad)
- Momofuku Ssam Bar – One of David Chang’s famed restaurants, what you want to do here is get a group together of 6-10 and special order a Bo Ssam in advance. The entire feast is $250 for the whole party, but it really does feed a group. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten (East Village)
- Buddakan – This place is a bit touristy, so it’s shocking how good the food is, but I’ve dined here several times and the food is always incredible. Gorgeous interior decor and space, and a bit expensive, but it’s fun and delicious. Get some dumplings, the Peking duck salad, and the Shrimp & Lobster Chow Fun with XO sauce (Chelsea)
- ABC Cocina – I love everything about the ABC restaurants, as they nail beautiful interior and decor, great food, and good service. I recommend the shaved fluke, either of the fritters, and any of the tacos (Flatiron)
- ABC Kitchen – The very last night before going to the hospital to deliver James, I went here for one final meal before becoming a mom. AKA it’s one of my favorite places. It has a beautiful atmosphere, and really great food. I often see celebrities dining here. I recommend the Crab toast, calamari, any of the housemade pastas, the cheeseburger, and the famed sundae or chocolate cake for dessert (Flatiron)
- Cafe China – With one Michelin star, I had high hopes that this place would be good, as honestly I think most Chinese food in NYC is terrible. Cafe China did not disappoint and every time I go, I’m left thinking that I want to get back there again soon (Midtown)
- Indian Accent – Another Michelin star restaurant, this is my favorite Indian restaurant in the city. Really interesting flavors and unique food, and incredible service (Midtown)
- Union Square Cafe – One of Danny Meyer’s restaurants, this is one of my most frequented spots in NYC. They have really great cocktails, appetizers, house made pastas, and meat and seafood dishes. And dessert too. Basically they do everything really well (Union Square)
- Nur – It’s hard to get a reservation, but try anyway. They make incredible Israeli food. Get the Smoked Eggplant Carpaccio and Octopus (Union Square)
- Emily – Also called Pizza Loves Emily, they make my favorite burger in the city, the Emmy Burger. The pizzas are fantastic too (West Village and Brooklyn, but I’ve only been to West Village location)
- Gramercy Tavern – It feels very “New York” to eat here, and it’s another quintessential Danny Meyer restaurant experience. The staff is incredible and puts a lot of effort into making the meal feel special, and the food is innovative and delicious. Great cocktails and craft beers too (Flatiron)
- Lincoln Ristorante – A Michelin Star restaurant, this place has my favorite Italian food in the city, specializing in Northern Italian food. Their semifreddo is in my top 5 favorite desserts in NYC, and the cocktails are excellent too. But it’s all the perfectly done house made pasta though that has brought me back several times (Lincoln Center)
Expensive but Amazing Restaurants:
These are in no particular order, just how my Google Map lists them. Some of these are very expensive, but are worth trying once if you want a really memorable meal that’s more than just food, but an experience.
- Per Se – One of five restaurants in NYC with Three Michelin Stars, this is one of Thomas Keller’s famed restaurants. It’s quite expensive but worth trying once for a special occasion if you really want to be wowed. The meal takes several hours, and truly feels like a show (Columbus Circle)
- Jungsik – With Two Michelin Stars, I shouldn’t have been surprised that is one of my favorite ever restaurants. I was initially quite curious about this place, as I had heard it was like a blend of high-end Korean food with refined French techniques, and it was amazing. Pete literally fell over when he tasted the lobster, it was so good (Tribeca)
- The Modern – Another restaurant with Two Michelin Stars, this is one of Danny Meyer’s restaurants. Everything about it is incredible: the food, service, and ambiance. The Bar Room is also great if you can’t get a reservation at the restaurant (Midtown)
- Marea – If you want a light but extravagant meal, go here. A Two Michelin Star restaurant, this is my favorite place for seafood. Chef Michael White’s dishes are elegant, light, and flavorful (Columbus Circle)
- NoMad – One of my most memorable meals in NYC ever, with outstanding food and service. The place is very dark and feels romantic, FYI. (NoMad)
- Daniel – One of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants, they have two well deserved Michelin Stars. The innovation of food is one of the best, and the service is impeccable. The ambiance is not as nice as other restaurants like Per Se or Eleven Madison Park, but the food is great (UES)
- Momofuku Ko – Another Two Michelin Star restaurant, and owned by famous chef David Chang, dinner will cost several hundred dollars and reservations are hard to get, but eating here is truly an experience (Bowery)
The Best Bakeries & Dessert:
These are in no particular order, just how my Google Map lists them. I’ve tried a lot of sweets in NYC, many of which had two hour lines that I feel weren’t deserved (like that cookie dough place…sorry, but no) and these are the absolute best in my opinion.
- Gabriel Kreuther Chocolates – Every time I walk in here it takes so much restraint to not spend like $80, and if you go, you’ll see why. The macarons are particularly incredible, as are the chocolate and pastries (Bryant Park)
- Lady M Cake Boutique – Absolutely incredible high end cakes, sold by the slice, including their famous Crepe cake. I also recommend the Strawberry Shortcake and Banana Mille Feuille, but all the cakes are amazing (Multiple Locations throughout the City)
- Dominique Ansel Bakery – Don’t bother lining up in the morning for the cronut unless you really must try one. He has plenty of other desserts that I think are better. Get any of the made-to-order desserts or the fancy tarts in the glass case. You can also go to his other location, Dominique Ansel Kitchen, which has different items, but all very good too. In the summer, go there for his soft serve burrata ice cream (SOHO)
- Dough Doughnuts – Big and fluffy yeast risen doughnuts glazed in many different flavors. My favorites are the Passion Fruit & Cacao Nib, Lemon Meringue, Cafe au Lait, and Hibiscus Flower. (Flatiron)
- Big Gay Ice Cream Shop – It started as a food truck and has expanded to brick and mortar. They do soft serve ice cream, and the Salty Pimp is my favorite (West Village)
- Levain – Huge and warm chocolate chip cookies is what they do best. My favorite is the Dark Chocolate Cookie with Peanut Butter Chips (UWS)
- Laduree – Originally from Paris, they’re known for their macarons, but the fancy tarts and desserts they make are even more incredible (UES and Soho. Soho location is bigger)
- Milk Bar – Christina Tosi’s empire, this place has lots of whimsical desserts that are worth trying once. I like the Cereal Milk Soft Serve with Cornflake Crunch, any of the cake truffles, the crack pie (warning: VERY sweet), and the corn cookies (Multiple locations across the city)
- Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream – A very good ice cream shop with inspired flavors, and my favorite is the Honeycomb (West Village and East Village)
- Stick with Me Sweets – Run by the former chocolatier of Per Se, this place is very expensive but has incredible chocolates, caramels, and confections. With fresh and intense flavors, I really think it’s worth it. I recommend the Kalamansi Meringue Pie and Passion Fruit bon bons (Nolita)
- Doughnut Plant – My FAVORITE doughnuts of all, they are setting the standard in doughnuts! They do both cake and yeast, and my favorites are Tres Leches, Brooklyn Blackout, Carrot Cake, and Coconut Cream doughnuts (Chelsea and LES)
- Amorino – The most incredible gelato I’ve ever had, truly. My favorite flavors are the Black Cherry, Stracciatella, and L’Inimitable, but try as many flavors as you want. Instead of scoops, they serve the gelato in petals, so you can add many different flavors (Multiple Locations through the City)
- Breads Bakery – This place is most well known for their Chocolate Babka and their Cinnamon Roll, which involves no frosting at all. The breads are fluffy, flaky, and light (Union Square and Lincoln Center)
- Sprinkles Cupcakes – So, I actually think the cupcakes are fairly average, but the Red Velvet Ice Cream in a Red Velvet Cone is one of my favorite desserts I’ve ever had, and I don’t even like Red Velvet that much (UES)
- Aux Merveilleux de Fred – A very small shop selling delicate and delicious Merveilleux, a dessert involving meringue, cream, and other flavors. I had never tasted or seen this dessert, but you can see them here (West Village)
- Empire Cake – There are a million cupcake places in the city, but I thought these were really good. They have nostalgic desserts too (Chelsea)
- Patisserie Chanson – Totally next level desserts here. Incredibly creative, beautiful, but most importantly, delicious and fresh. The Black Sesame Kouign Amann is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten (Flatiron)
- Bibble & Sip – Really great coffee spot with incredible desserts too. I love the Lavender Latte, the Matcha White Chocolate Cream Puff and the Pistachio Cake (Theater District)
- Daily Provisions – Next to Union Square Cafe. Get a cruller and the Kouign Amann, which are some of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted. They sell out, so go before 11am. They also carry legendary Salt & Straw ice cream from Portland (Union Square)
- Ample Hills Creamery – The best ice cream in the city, and many would agree with me. My favorite flavors are the Munchies, Snap Mallow Pop, and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (Chelsea, Midtown West, plus other locations)
Food Halls and Markets:
NYC has SO many incredible food halls and markets of varying sizes, stuffed with high end casual eateries and food spots. If you like food, then visiting a few of these during a visit is a must.
- Chelsea Market – This one is my favorite, and includes lots of food eateries and shops that will keep you busy for at least an hour or two. My favorite food places are Los Tacos No.1, Mokbar, and The Seafood Place. The lobster roll at The Seafood Place is SO fresh (Chelsea)
- Gansevoort Market – If you go to Chelsea Market, you may as well go to Gansevoort too since it’s so close. There are more unique food stands in here (Chelsea)
- Eataly – You have to go to Eataly! Even if I don’t plan to eat there, I always take visiting friends to at least walk around, because it’s truly a spectacle (Flatiron)
- Hudson Eats – If you go to the World Trade Center Museum or anywhere downtown, this is a great food hall with tons of choices. My favorites are Num Pang, Umami Burger, and Sprinkles for some red velvet ice cream. And, make sure to go downstairs to… (World Trade Center)
- Le District – Located below Hudson Eats, this is a big French food hall that also has great food spots and shopping (World Trade Center)
- The Plaza Food Hall – Beneath the plaza hotel right on the Southeast corner of central park, there are some fantastic food spots down here, but at the very least take 15 minutes to walk around and see all the different food spots. My favorites are the Todd English pastrami sandwich, Le Maison du Chocolat, and Lady M Cake Boutique. Get a crepe cake slice from Lady M! (Midtown)
- Gotham West Market – I wouldn’t recommend going out of the way for it, but it’s a great spot if you’re on the far west side of midtown, which is home to the Intrepid museum, and beautiful views of the Hudson and Midtown. I love Ample Hills, the Corner Slice, and El Colmado (Midtown West)
- Urbanspace Vanderbilt – A big upscale food court located in Grand Central Station, there are a good 15 or so food options here. I recommend some famed Roberta’s pizza, Takumi Taco, Korilla, Kuro-Obi, Dough, and Ovenly (Midtown East)
I’m partial to innovative cocktails, and Pete likes craft beer, so that’s most of what’s listed here.
- The Modern Bar Room – This place is beautiful and the cocktails are innovative and so well-balanced. You can sit or stand at the bar, or at comfortable little tables with wait service (Midtown)
- Angel’s Share – Many say this is the best speakeasy in the city, and they really do have incredible cocktails. The “smoke in your eyes” cocktail is my favorite. It’s inside of a Japanese BBQ place that’s decent too (East Village)
- As Is – The favorite beer bar of all of Pete’s beer judge friends. Great beer, slightly snobby (Hell’s Kitchen)
- Hellcat Annie’s – Very reasonable happy hour pricing with a good selection of very fresh craft beer (Hell’s Kitchen)
- Refinery Rooftop – Great cocktails with a great view, with some decent snacks to go with the drinks (Bryant Park)
- The Pony Bar – Always an awesome rotation of craft beers (UES)
Favorite Coffee Spots:
I’ve told you before that my husband Pete roasts his own green coffee, and knows pretty much everything there is to know around different brewing methods, grinding, varietals, and more. So, it goes without saying that he’s pretty snobby about his coffee. Here are some of his go-to spots in the city:
- Ninth Street Espresso – We went here after reading that Alton Brown says they have the best latte in the city, and yes, he is correct (Multiple Locations throughout the City)
- Coffee Project – Incredible coffee, plus a wide variety of different ways to experience the coffee, like coffee flights and paired tastings (East Village)
- FIKA – This is more of a Joanne place than a Pete place, but it’s a Swedish coffee shop with great coffee, unique Swedish desserts, and chocolates (Multiple Locations throughout the City)
- Rex – Very good pourover, plus good sandwiches (Hell’s Kitchen)
- Third Rail – A wider selection of pourover, with unique beans (Greenwich Village)
- Joe – There are tons of these around the city, and the coffee is always solid. They also have great pastries selected for sale (Multiple Locations throughout the City)
Phew! That was a long post. If you have any questions about any of these places in particular, leave a comment below and I will reply.
Update: A few of my favorite restaurants have closed due to the change in world circumstances in 2020 and 2021, so I’ve removed them from the list above and pasted them below. Who knows, maybe they will reopen again in the future:
- Bar Sardine – The Fedora burger here used to be my favorite ever burger until Emmy dethroned it, but dang, it’s still crazy good. I send friends there and they always thank me profusely for the recommendation. Make sure to get the burger with a side of fries (West Village)
- Fuku+ – One of David Chang’s places, the fried chicken sandwich is very tasty. There aren’t a lot of great food spots in this part of town, so this was one of my go-tos. They also have a Milk Bar there so you can get some sweets if you desire (Midtown)
- BEC – Standing for Bacon Egg Cheese, this is one of the more interesting places to get a breakfast sandwich (Chelsea)
- Pig Bleecker – If you’re not a meat fan, don’t go here, but if you are, HOLY MOLY this place is good. Get the wings (seriously, do it), and I also recommend the crab jalapeno spaghetti, smoked duck lasagna, and the burger (Greenwich Village)
- Gato – I was so ready to be judgmental of this place, since it’s owned by Bobby Flay and let’s be honest, many of the Food Network celebrity restaurants aren’t known to be good. But the food is INCREDIBLE! Bobby Flay really knows his flavors. I’ve eaten here multiple times just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, and they knock it out of the park every time (NoHo)
- Made Nice – They sell savory food which is so so, but their Milk & Honey Dessert is out of this world, so go for that (Nomad)
Eleven Madison Park – One of the five restaurants in NYC with Three Michelin Stars, this is also a unique several hour experience that feels like a show. If you can’t afford it or get a reservation, then go to Chef Daniel Humm’s other restaurant, NoMad (Flatiron)This restaurant is still open, but is now a vegan establishment. OddFellows Ice Cream Co – Another really great ice cream place with unusual flavors. Flavors change often, but they have things like Carrot Cake, Thai Iced Tea, Pecan Pie, and more (LES)They are still open but no longer in the LES. I believe you have to go to Brooklyn.