Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Best Restaurants in New York City

by Samantha Sayers

The following restaurants are a partial listing of
those available in The Big Apple.

21 Club
21 W. 52nd St. (between 5th & 6th Avenues)

An American institution (even considered a landmark) that has been renewed and rejuvenated to great reviews. Expensive traditional American fare but excellent people-watching, as ever.

Alain Ducasse
155 West 58th Street (between 6th & 7th Avenues)

When someone known as the best chef in the world opens a restaurant in New York City, the pressure is on, and Ducasse has been subjected to the extremely detailed criticism and
analysis that only someone in his position can or should expect. He runs Michelin 3-star restaurants in both Monte Carlo and Paris, and this is probably the most expensive restaurant
in New York. Pre-selected menus are $150, $175 and $225; there is only one seating per night and at lunch on Wednesday and Thursday only, so you can take your time. And count
on waiting a month
or two for a reservation.

Asia De Cuba

237 Madison Ave. (between 37th & 38th Streets)

A wild party scene is what you might find at the communal table and wild Asian/Latin food in the very hip Morgans Hotel, this is not for the faint of heart or the anti-chic. However, it does seem to work for most of the people there, and some of the more successful and inventive dishes are truly remarkable. Philippe Starck did the all-white interior, complete with a 45-foot hologram of a waterfall. Think Pan-Asian, Pacific Rim and South American food.


110 Waverly Place

This 2 level townhouse in the West Village serves Italian food--think Mario Batali.



80 Spring St. (Soho, between Crosby & Broadway)

Cool, hip, trendy and a magnet for models and rock stars, this is one of NYC's coolest and most popular restaurants, which also happens to resemble a Parisian brasserie. Waiters are not always full of good cheer, though. Owners have a sister restaurant just south of 14th Street in the soon-to-be-former meat-packing district, PASTIS (9 9th Avenue, 929-4844 or the above number.) Think classic bistro standards including breakfast weekdays from 7-11:30.

BLT Prime
111 E. 22nd St. (between Lexington & Park)

A relative newcomer to the Flatiron district located near some of the country's top model agencies, this casual steakhouse is open for dinner only. The bi-level space includes a dry-aging room. The killer BLT sandwich includes skirt steak and foie gras.


Blue Water Grill
31 Union Square West (at 16th Street)

Great for brunch, lunch or dinner and right on Union Square; fun atmosphere. Voted 7th Most Popular Restaurant in New York in the 2006 Zagat Survey and applauded as a restaurant
that is “perfect for dates” and “never disappoints,” Blue Water Grill is a dining destination. Loyal guests and curious visitors are drawn to the former Metropolitan Bank space that features sexy, dimly-lit red chandeliers illuminating the intimate dining room, a spacious people-watching outdoor café and a cozy subterranean lounge featuring live jazz music. In the midst of the marble and majestic urban setting, Executive Chef Luis Nieto's menu highlights a variety of seafood delicacies, from the Sushi Bar to the Oyster Bar.



Bouley Bakery & Market
130 W. Broadway

Superstar chef David Bouley offers baking, cooking and dining under one roof. Bakery by day with sandwiches and salads, the 2nd floor upstairs offers dinner at night.


100 East 53rd Street


This famous classic features a lively scene (augmented by the descending "arrival" staircase) and futuristic decor. The menu still includes French onion soup and updated but still essentially homey food. The big change is that it closes at 1AM, though you can come back for breakfast at 6:30AM. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.



Café Boulud
20 E. 76th Street (between 5th and Madison Avenues)

In the former home of his classic French restaurant, Daniel, now removed to 65th and Park (see listing below), Daniel Boulud has created a cool, less formal, modern restaurant that is still frequented by the formal, traditional crowd that packed his restaurant before (he calls it "casual chic"). Rated three stars by The New York Times from its opening in the fall of 1998, its fun and casual trappings (shirtsleeved waiters, a crowded and sometimes noisy dining room, for example) are perfect for the inventive, experimental approach to dishes. The "travel" section
of the menu changes monthly, and the other three sections, traditional, seasonal, and vegetarian, feature daily specials. One of NYC's treasures.

Price: Expensive


2 Harrison Street (at Hudson Street)

For over twenty five years now, this beautiful, elegant TriBeCa restaurant has inspired much appreciation for its warmth and intimacy as well as its French haute cuisine. Opulent, traditional sauces share the menu with some more experimental, lighter dishes. Some say the peanut brittle dessert is a "life-changing experience."



60 East 65th Street (just west of Park Avenue)

New York's longest-reigning 4-star chef Daniel Boulud has returned to his French country roots in the former Mayfair Hotel, ironically the location of his first major success, Le Cirque
(the building has been converted to condos, and the landmarked lobby is now the entrance and bar area). The decor, resembling an Italian renaissance palazzo competes with the complex dishes to astound in beauty and luxury, a ten million dollar gamble centered on an enormous and expensive kitchen. The large space accommodates tableside service. Specialties feature contrasting flavors and textures in 5 & 8 course tasting menus. 600 wines are on the list (including a vertical selection of Chateau Latour from 1945 to 1990), and reservations are essential.

Price: Very expensive

30 Hudson Street (at Duane Street)

Chef David Bouley's restaurant pays dreamy homage to 19th century Austria. It is like dining in a Klimpt painting. Fancy and flamboyant Austrian classic food goes right with the decor.


Da Silvano Cucina Toscana
260 6th Avenue

Very good Italian food lunch and dinner; great people watching. Pastas, meats, and fish are well prepared here.



Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue

Overlooking beautiful Madison Square Park is Danny Meyer's Metlife Building restaurant. You'll enjoy French-inspired seasonal American food including updated classics such as
Sweet Pea Flan, Tuna Cru, Prime-Aged Roast Beef for Two, Maine Lobster Pot au Feu, Terrine of Beef Shank and Foie Gras, Artic Char with Pea Shoots and Vinaigrette, and
Seared Loin and Almond Crusted Shank of Lamb with Basquaise Peppers. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner; brunch on the weekends.



Estiatorio Milos
125 W. 55th St.(between 6th & 7th Avenues)

Some people might feel that this is a classic Greek restaurant dressed up in designer city clothes (in this case, a white suit). The spirit is there, the waitstaff full of energy and joy, and
the range of menu is delightful, though it features fish almost exclusively. The fish is sold by the pound, and though some complex dishes may disappoint, the typical experience is
extraordinary. Good for crowds.

Four Seasons
99 E 52nd Street (between Park & Lexington)

No restaurant is a better symbol of New York than The Four Seasons (not to be confused with the hotel chain of the same name). The restaurant, designed by Phillip Johnson, is a modern classic that has been redefining American cuisine since 1959.



Frankie and Johnnie's Steakhouse
269 W. 45th Street

Located in the theatre district, Frankie and Johnnie's offers classic New York food at both lunch and dinner. Casual attire.



Gotham Bar & Grill
12 E. 12th St. (between 5th Ave. & University Place)

One of the city's best, most glamorous spots, with gorgeously presented dishes and an excellent staff. Innovative New American cuisine. Worth the trip downtown (it's not a foreign
country, you know).

'inoteca Vino e Cucina
98 Rivington Street (at Ludlow)

An extension of 'ino on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, `inoteca offers classic wine bar cuisine with an extensive selection of regional Italian wines. The menu features selections of seasonal insalati, antipasti, fritto, salumi, formaggi, pane and piatti's. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner 12pm - 3am and brunch (Saturday & Sunday) 10am - 4pm.



Jean Georges
One Central Park West (at Columbus Circle and 60th Street)

The latest in a long line of triumphs (Jo-Jo, Vong, etc.) by chef-owner Jean-Georges Vongericten, designed by Adam Tihany, this restaurant has collected stars from the start, including
four from The New York Times, as well as awards from The James Beard Foundation (Best New Restaurant) and Esquire Magazine (Chef of the Year). Mr. V. got his first set of four
stars in 1986 at age 29, when he ran Lafayette in the Drake Hotel, and hasn't looked back. Here, in his dramatic but minimalist dining rooms (one formal, one, Nougatine, more casual),
he emphasizes unusual aromas and flavors especially from rare wild herbs and spices released in tableside completion. Some critics call it subtly revolutionary. Try the young garlic soup
with sautéed frog's legs, arctic char with potatoes and horseradish cream, and lobster tartine.

Price: One of the most expensive restaurants in New York.

Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st St. (between 6th & 7th Avenues)

A firmly entrenched favorite top French restaurant, this is the place for seafood. Elegant atmosphere and smooth, classic service support chef Eric Ripert's efforts on both modern and traditional items. Menu specials match the season and the catch.


Le Colonial
149 East 57th Street

Set in the backdrop of the bustling Upper East Side on 57th Street, Le Colonial transports you to another place in time. The ambiance of French Colonial Vietnam has been successfully recreated by interior designer Greg Jordan, whose translation of this bygone era is revived by black and white period photos, ceiling fans, graceful palms, colorful antique armoires and wooden screens, in this two-story townhouse. The main dining room provides a formal setting for lunches and dinner while the lounge and bar on the second floor provides a more casual scene for the after hours crowd seeking a place to celebrate.



Le Perigord
405 East 52nd Street (between FDR Drive and 1st Avenue)

The classic French dining experience was made better, with a renovation to this 35 year-old restaurant. One of New York's traditional bests is now a little warmer and in better shape. Sumptuous servings and service with class are hallmarks; so are Sunday hours. Specialties of Perigord tend to include foie gras, such as the warm duck foie gras and apples appetizer
with Port wine sauce, but traditional French dishes, including soufflés, make up the bulk of the menu.

Price: Expensive

Les Halles
411 Park Avenue South (between 28th & 29th Streets)

A combination butcher shop and bistro, the menu is traditional French and the tables are filled. A fall game menu is very popular, as are snails and mussels. Chef Anthony Bourdain of Kitchen Confidential fame makes this one of the most festive spots in town.


Lucy Latin Kitchen
35 E. 18th Street (at Broadway)

A big party scene, this small plate/tapas restaurant has a slight Latin American flavor to it. Excellent fish selection.


Lupa Osteria Romana
170 Thompson Street (between Houston Street and Bleeker Street)

Great Italian food; intimate; lunch and dinner; Mario Batali is one of the owners; think reasonable prices for quality Italian food.


405 E. 58th St. (between 1st Ave. & Sutton Place)

One of the more unusual of the city's top supper clubs, Chef Wayne Nish features wine and creative Asian-accented cuisine in showcase tasting menus. A unique and romantic spot, way, way, over on the Upper East side.

One of the most expensive restaurants in New York.

Mercer Kitchen
99 Prince Street
212- 966-5454

Experience Jean-Georges Vongerichten's eclectic American Provencal menu in Soho in the trendy Mercer Hotel. The 200 seat restaurant is on 2 levels. Communal dining tables and an
open kitchen make dining informal and casual.


Michael Jordan's Steakhouse
Grand Central Terminal
23 Vanderbilt Avenue

In the NW balcony of Grand Central Terminal is this 7000 square foot steakhouse that especially appeals to the masculine among us. Chicken, Hamburgers, and Seafood are also available. Other features are: Bar, Business Lunches, Delivery, Light Menu, and Takeout.


239 W. Broadway (between Walker & White Streets, Tribeca)

The first and possibly the best of famed restaurateur Drew Nieporent's realm, this remains one of the most popular restaurants in the city. Tops in both wine and cuisine, the interior is
actually reminiscent of a French bistro. Inexpensive lunch menus are a good bet, too. Expect casual, non-traditional French food.

105 Hudson Street

Nobu New York, the flagship restaurant of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, has been a pioneer for Japanese cuisine since its opening in 1994.This is new Japanese food including Yellowtail with Jalapeno, Tiradito Nobu Style, Lobster with Wasabi Pepper Sauce, and Black Cod with Miso. Reservations a must for this VERY popular spot.

Look for Next Door Nobu, with its no-reservation policy, for those who need that Nobu fix but didn't plan ahead.

55 E. 54th St. (between Madison & Park Avenues)

One of New York's most popular seafood restaurants, this bi-level townhouse features two distinct environments. The ground floor is soft and elegant while upstairs is more masculine. A low-priced lunch menu is also available.

18 Ninth Avenue (at 13th Street)

New, trendy Jeffrey Chodorow Japanese spot in the Meatpacking district. Enjoy sushi and fun people watching at Hotel Ganesvoort. Order as you go and share everything. Open
7-11 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. for the evening.


Park Bistro
414 Park Avenue South

Entirely classic in decor and menu, this popular small French restaurant offers bistro fare. Located on the East Side's restaurant row, Park Bistro's glass-enclosed kitchen turns out
re-invented classics.


9 Ninth Avenue (corner of Little West 12th Street)

Pastis is a French bistro in the heart of Manhattan's meatpacking district open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and supper. There is a communal table for large parties that seats up
to 20 people and an outdoor summer cafe. Pastis' menu offers a mixture of Provencal fare with traditional British and bistro classics.



Payard Patisserie and Bistro
1032 Lexington Ave. ( at 73rd Street)

This Upper East side belle-epoque pastry shop with a very noisy restaurant in back is a surprise in its Upper Eastside location. A joint venture of Daniel Boulud, the chef and owner of
Daniel, and his former pastry chef, Francois Payard, the place has a warm, welcoming atmosphere, with bistro fare expertly prepared and served with aplomb. Bouillabaisse, confit of
duck, garlic mashed potatoes, steak frites, sweetbreads, and even Croque Monsieurs can all be found on the traditional menu. But don't miss dessert, especially the hot chocolate soufflé.

Peacock Alley
301 Park Ave. (In the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel)

New American and French food is what Chef Cedric Tovar offers in one of New York's classic dining experiences. A recent 4 year, 5.5 million dollar renovation to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel makes Peacock Alley special. The service, indeed the whole experience, is absolutely tops.


Per Se
10 Columbus Circle (at 60th Street)
4th Floor

In the spring of 2004, PER SE opened in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in New York. With it, Thomas Keller brought his distinctive hands-on approach from Napa Valley's THE FRENCH LAUNDRY to New York, reflecting his intense focus on detail that extends to cuisine, presentation, mood and surroundings.



35 W. 64th St. (between Broadway & Central Park West)

Chef/owner Terrance Brennan features top-ranked Mediterranean cuisine as well as a well-loved cheese cart in this Upper West side spot. One of the city's more popular places, it still
has a low-cost lunch menu. Private wine room available for parties.

54 E 1st Street ( between 1st Avenue & 2nd Avenues)

New American is what you will find across the street from a small East Village park; eclectic; dinner only during the week; brunch and dinner on the weekends.



Rene Pujol
321 W. 51st. St. (between 8th & 9th Avenues)

A traditional, dependable, classic, lovely French restaurant in the theater district that has maintained it popularity for over a generation. They really know what they are doing, and it is a genuine, really French operation. It is also quite reasonably priced.


River Cafe
1 Water Street (Brooklyn)

Sitting at the bar or most of the tables, you can gaze at what must be absolutely one of the most exciting panoramas in the world, thanks to the judicious use of a very stable barge moored permanently at the foot of the Brooklyn side of that borough's famous bridge and surrounded by lush landscaping. The romantic, celebratory atmosphere is irresistible to most and a terrific way to introduce a foreign visitor to the city. Top-ranked, traditional American cuisine (with an emphasis on fish) keeps this one of the most popular spots in the city; fine for drinks or
dessert only, too.

Ruby Foo's Times Square
1626 Broadway (at 49th Street)

Open seven days a week for both pre- and post-theatre options. Enjoy Shanghai-style banquet setting for Ruby Foo's signature Pan-Asian cuisine. This 300 seat spot offers choices. For
a lighter bite and a piece of the action, score a front row seat at the 20-seat Sushi Bar where sushi chefs put on a show, producing fresh maki rolls and sushi from the daily arrivals of the
sea. For a more well-rounded experience, score a Broadway window table and share Pan-Asian dishes on their Lazy Susans.


Ruby Foo's Uptown

2182 Broadway (at 77th Street)

Take your palate to the Far East at Ruby Foo's Uptown. This 10,000 square-foot, tri-level, 400-seat David Rockwell designed den boasts a two-story high sushi bar. Whether you're
dining for lunch, dinner or just because, Ruby's offers some of the city's freshest sushi. The Crunchy Florida Roll delivers bite-sized bursts of Snow Crab, Sweet Shrimp and Avocado.
Tickle your taste buds with the exquisite Tempura Shrimp Maki Roll or the finger-licking Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs. Try the Filet Mignon Beef Chow Fun or the popular Pad Thai -
and those are just a few of the must-haves.



70 Prince Street (between Broadway and Lafayette)

Their American food recipes are made from the very best ingredients from farmers they know. This is a small, quaint spot for lunch and dinner or enjoy their cafe menu from 3-6 p.m.
Highly recommended with great food.



Spark's Steakhouse
210 E. 46th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)

Venerable is the word that comes to mind for this icon of NY City steakhouses. Count on long waits and wonderful lobster and wines in addition to the aged steaks. One of the city's great places. Open lunch and dinner.

11 Madison Avenue
(212) 889-0667

Established in 1998, Tabla is a groundbreaking restaurant in the Flatiron District serving Executive Chef Floyd Cardoz's signature New Indian cuisine. The Chef mixes the flavors and spices of India with western cooking techniques and uses the finest, seasonal, local ingredients. The bi-level dining rooms include the Main Dining Room and the Bread Bar.


The Modern
The Museum of Modern Art
9 West 53rd Street (between 5th & 6th Avenues)

Located at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Modern serves Chef Gabriel Kreuther's Alsatian-inspired French American cuisine in a spectacular setting overlooking the sculpture garden. Open for lunch during the week, dinner nightly and closed on Sundays. Extensive wine list includes over 900 selections with a focus on Alsace.



43 East 20th Street (between Broadway and Park Avenue South)

This top-rated, ultra-modern, Flatiron restaurant features the most amazing wine list anywhere, both for its size (1300 wines) and prices. Opened by two major wine collectors who
wanted to share their treasures, the idea of featuring wine to this extent is relatively rare. Chef Scott Bryan shows his background of working with some of the top chefs in the city
when he infuses surprising flavors into simple New American dishes that stand up well to the superb wines, and by including unusual fish dishes. The room is smallish and a bit crowded.
Note that their wine list is online.

Price: Expensive


344 West 11th Street (at Washington Street in Greenwich Village)


A relaxed, traditional Austrian restaurant with classic dishes done particularly well. Deserts are excellent. Everything about this place is comfortable, especially its collection of contemporary art.



50 Clinton Street (between Rivington and Stanton)

New American cuisine, dinner 7 nights a week; there is a $105.00 nine course tasting menu and wine pairing is available for an additional $45.00 (awarded "Best Bang for the Buck"
in New York Magazine, 1.9.2006). Trendy, small (67 seats and 7 at the bar), quiet restaurant.



90 Prince St. (Soho, between Broadway & Mercer Streets)

Smack dab in the middle of the Soho art scene, the New American cuisine here has a loyal local following along with visitors from afar. The innovative menu from the open kitchen changes seasonally and includes a low-priced lunch. The wine list is extensive and the staff is especially accommodating and friendly. Open for lunch, dinner & for a top-notch weekend brunch.

Samantha Sayers has lived and eaten in New York City.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

Share this article with a friend:

Free eNewsletter SignUp

Sally's Place on Facebook    Sally Bernstein on Instagram    Sally Bernstein at Linked In

Global Resources

Handmade Chocolates, Lillie Belle Farms

Food411 Food Directory