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Friday, 10 January 2020

New York Restaurant Guide - The Best Restaurants In New York - Where To Eat In New York

Edited using Ems Presets / jumper online here - Ad affiliate links used throughout 

As most of you will probably know by now, I adore New York. I feel very lucky that I've visited many many times now and actually one day, I would love to call it home for a little while. It would be a dream come true. I feel like I wrote my huge New York city travel guide a while back, then wrote my guide to the best pizza in New York and shortly after followed with the best places for breakfast and brunch in New York. I'm asked about the best places to eat in New York on a daily basis so I thought it only made sense to write an updated blog post with my guide to the best restaurants in New York. If you follow me on Instagram you'll know I take my food very seriously and do A LOT of research and cross checking before I try out any restaurant so you can trust this guide. Remember, you could live in New York for 10 years and still not eat at every single restaurant, it really is the foodie capital of the world, there are so many places I still need to try and add to this list. So here it is, my guide to the best places to eat in New York and all of my favourite restaurants for lunch and dinner. 

Some notes on eating in New York... most places in New York get booked up in advance or don't take reservations. I would highly recommend reserving where you can or head to somewhere an hour before you get hungry and wait in line to avoid disappointment/grumbling tummy. I will write on each restaurant if you can reserve or not and I will also write the areas because we plan our whole itineraries around where we want to eat for the day, that's how seriously I take my restaurants in New York haha, there are so many good ones and I like to fit as many in as possible when I'm back in the city. My favourite areas for food are the more local areas, such as East Village and West Village, I actually find Times Square area the worst for food and prefer to find local hidden gems so I always base my hotel around where I'll be having dinner most nights (usually West Village, Tribeca, East Village!) I like to be able to walk to dinner and back! I've separated this blog post into sections for ease, but remember somewhere that's expensive to one person may be cheap to another and vice versa, most of these restaurants you can make affordable depending on what you order, remember though that in New York they add tip and tax onto the end of the bill which always hikes the price up in restaurants. 

To see these restaurants in motion, check out my New York vlogs on YouTube

[The Best Cheap Eats In New York]

tacombi new york

TACOMBI - Various Locations Throughout New York, I like Elizabeth Street Best - If you’re a taco fan, you will find no shortage of them in NYC and a great place to eat them is in one of the Tacombi restaurants. This Mexican restaurant started it’s life serving tacos out of a VW van in Yucatan and became so successful that the owners decided to open several restaurants. The one we visited was in Elizabeth Street in what looked like a disused albeit Insta-Worthy garage. Inside the atmosphere is really busy and hectic with waitresses and waiters buzzing around all over the place to serve their amazing tacos and quesadillas. The menu I would say it quite limited, it's basically chips and dip (by chips I mean nacho chips), guacamole and tacos so if this is your kinda jam, you'll love it. It's super affordable too and a great sharing place. This is the place to go if you want a fun night out with great food and a great atmosphere.  Takes reservations. 

TIME OUT MARKET - Brooklyn - This is a new addition to New York and one I can very much get on board with, I accidentally stumbled across the Time Out Market when I was walking around the Brooklyn Bridge area and it's basically an indoor market (perfect on colder days) filled with a variety of street food stalls, oh and the best cookie dough you'll ever try. Every vendor in there has been personally taste-tested and approved by local food experts, so they pride themselves on being a market bursting with New York's yummiest bites! It's great if you're after a quick snack or want to keep it a little cheaper than eating at a sit in restaurant. Walk in, no reservation needed. 

CHELSEA MARKET - Meatpacking - Chelsea market is FULL of foodie places, whether you're after street food nibbles, sit down ramen, take away tacos or a full Italian feast. I personally don't have a favourite in here because I usually just walk around, browse and then see what I fancy but there are so many options in here when it comes to food. 

YAMA RAMEN - Times Square - This place is great if you're looking for a hidden, locals only lunch place. If sushi and ramen is your thing, this is for you. No frills, crazy busy, it's all about the food! It's full of locals grabbing their ramen for lunch in-between meetings, I'd say you really feel like a local here! Don't expect good service but expect quick, affordable ramen and great lunch specials.

Shake shack Bryant park
Sunglasses / shirt - Ad affiliate 

SHAKE SHACK - Various locations but my favourite is in Bryant Park - I know we have Shake Shack in London now, but hear me out, there's nothing like having a Shake Shack whilst sat watching dogs in Bryant Park. I love Five Guys and Shake Shack but I've gotta say, you've got to have a Shake Shack burger with cheese fries whilst sat in the park in New York, it's just a must do plus, it's affordable too! 

S'MAC - East Village - I'm the biggest mac and cheese fan and wanted to hunt down the best in New York so I found S'MAC years ago, a mac and cheese bar! I've never seen anything like it and they bake it to absolute perfection. A must if you love cheesy pasta! 

BY CHLOE - Various locations - ByChloe do really good vegan food to take out or quickly eat in, it's a casual vegan restaurant but it's very 'insta' and actually all their dishes are amazing, for meat eaters or vegans. I love their artichoke dip with chips, their Thai salad and their guac burger. This is great if you're in the area and looking for a really quick, affordable but vegan lunch OR, a vegan cookie/cupcake! They have this in London now too but By Chloe New York was the first one I ever went to so it's close to my heart! 

joes pizza new york
Joe's Pizza NYC


This classes as a cheap eat because let's be honest, you can't go wrong with a $2 slice (Joe's & Bleecker Street are your best for cheap eats if it's pizza you're looking for). If you follow me on my social media channels you will no doubt be abundantly aware that pizza is the love of my life (after Matt, my mum and my brother of course!). I literally love pizza and NYC is a great place to get the most fabulous pizza from places with reputations that have been established over years. I fully save myself for New York pizza now as I'm convinced nowhere else in the world does it like NY. The three pizza places I love the most (so far because I will try many more in years to come ha) are Joe’s Pizza, Bleecker Street Pizza and Rubirosa. The most divine bases and toppings using the finest ingredients are available at all 3 and I couldn’t for a minute tell you which is best because I love them all. For more in depth reviews of the best pizza restaurants in New York, I'd recommend reading my guide to the best pizza in New York because ultimately it depends what kind of experience you're after, if it's a dollar slice, a pizza pie, a sit down pizza or all three! That guide has you covered! 

Rubirosa New york
Rubirosa NYC

[The Best Mid-range Eats In New York]

benemon new york

BENEMON - East Village - One thing I absolutely love about when looking for a restaurant is finding one that looks plain and ordinary on the outside but then on trying it I discover that it is out of this world. For me, Benemon falls in to this category. We were staying at an apartment in East Village and it was late but we were SO hungry, Matt did a lot of research and found this highly rated, hidden gem, well, hidden from tourists but the locals LOVE it. Expect to queue and expect to eat like a local. The cuisine is Japanese and it serves a variety of dishes from small plates of yummy things to share through to larger comforting warming dishes through to salads. We ordered loads of dishes and shared them and they were all incredible, even potatoes with anchovies and I hate anchovies, but we ordered two portions because they were so good. It is very ordinary looking on the outside and you will often find you have a long wait so get there early if you don’t like queuing but believe me, even if you do have to wait you will love it. The service is phenomenal and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. I'd say the price range is mid-range here. The clientele are grown up families and friends and it has a really relaxed vibe. Walk in, usually a line, no reservations available. 

IZAKAYA MEW - Midtown - There's a reason this is ranked as one of the best places for Asian food in New York. We did a lot of research on this place and wow, people love it. This is the coolest under-ground asian style tapas restaurant, it's huge inside but you'd only really know about it if you'd done your research! We had SO much sushi and so much nibbly, sharing asian food so yep, it was basically the dream tapas situation but it's much more affordable than many Asian restaurants in New York. Walk in, usually a line, no reservations available.

eatly New York

EATLY - Flatiron and World Trade Centre - On the topic of Italian restaurants, you can't go to New York and not stop via Eatly. Eatly is a HUGE Italian deli/supermarket/restaurant/cafe everything Italian under one roof. You'll see people grabbing foccacia from there, people having a wine and cheese night, people doing their grocery shop or people sitting in for pasta. I would highly recommend going in and sitting down with some wine, cheese and meat OR book in for a proper meal as the restaurant is incredible. It's expensive for wine and cheese because well, it's New York but it's a lovely treat after a day of sightseeing. If you want the Eatly experience without the price tag though, you can always grab something from one of the counters to go. I often just walk in here to use their free restrooms and have a wonder around and look at all the cheeses! I've personally always waited in line to eat but you probably can reserve. 

jacks wife freda

JACK'S WIFE FREDA - Various locations, West Village is my favourite - Really, this is one to be saved for brunch (see the best places for breakfast and brunch in New York) and I personally ALWAYS have my brunch here, BUT, Jacks Wife Freda do an incredible lunch and dinner menu too so I had to mention them on here, I've actually always wanted to try so next time I visit New York, I'll probably swap the brunch out for a lunch or dinner at Jacks Wife Freda instead. JWF is a neighbourhood, local, family run restaurant serving modern twists on old school favourites, think eggs, salads, fresh juices, fried chicken, steak - honestly, they serve SO many things I couldn't even tell you the cuisine but I can tell you, it's one of my favourite restaurants in the world because it's so warm and welcoming! Reservations essential, or you can wait in line. 

the butchers daughter

THE BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER - Various locations - I would say The Butchers Daughter is similar to Jack's Wife Freda in the sense that it's famous for it's epic brunch but I'm including it on this blog post with more lunch/dinner places because honestly, the lunch and dinner menu is also out of this world. I ate at the Butchers Daughter in LA for dinner and always go here for breakfast in New York and I just love it every time. It's a delicious vegan restaurant and perfect if you're wanting wholesome, healthy food. I love their cauliflower pizza and vegan mac and cheese! I've never had to reserve but there's usually a line so better to do so to be on the safe side if you can. 

black tap new york

BLACK TAP - Various locations - I never thought I'd say I'm over the crazy burger hype, but I kind of am as I've eaten so many in my time. The last time I visited NYC though a member of my family was begging for a 'dirty American burger' ha and I knew just the place to take him. If you're after crazy American food, BlackTap is for you. This is actually a really cool place, they do the best chips and guac here and the craziest burgers, plus milkshakes topped with whole pieces of cake on top. It's a crazy place but there's a reason it's always rammed! Oh, the fries are so good too! I've never had to reserve but better to do so to be on the safe side. 

[Expensive/Premium Restaurants In New York]

TAO - Uptown and Downtown - If you’re looking for somewhere really sophisticated with a great atmosphere and excellent food you will be hard pushed to beat TAO. TAO is the boujiest Asian fusion restaurant and I've now eaten at both their NYC locations and their restaurants in Vegas and LA too. Now I'm always a bit funny with chains abroad as I like to eat independent but TAO is a chain you NEED to try if you're into luxurious, Nobu style Asian food. I hate eaten at both TAO Downtown and also TAO Uptown, it really depends who has space. Both are equally as good for different reasons (just take a jacket with you though as the venues are huge and my only bugbear is they can feel a touch cold). It’s fine dining Asian fusion food with a real variety of dishes from sushi to huge familiar sharing dishes such as Pad Thai (which is wonderful by the way). It’s a little on the pricey side but at the same time you can make it reasonable by topping up on the noodle/rice dishes that are huge. My tip? Share everything on the table, grab a rice dish or a noodle dish to fill you up and don't leave without trying their veggies either, insane. Reservations essential on weekends. 

grand central oyster bar

GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR - Grand Central Station - I took my brother here for his birthday because we fancied some champagne and oysters (lol) and walked past this place in Grand Central and couldn't resist it, full of locals, heading onto trains before their commute, usually bankers, if you're lucky you might find a thousand dollar pearl in your oyster (one customer did two weeks after our visit!!!) it's very American, great service and very fresh oysters. 

cecconis dumbo

CECCONIS - Dumbo - It’s very hard to say which is my favourite restaurant in New York because I have really really enjoyed everywhere I’ve eaten. I've always been a bit 'meh' about going to Cecconis when abroad because we have them in London but honestly, every experience in every country is different and the one in Dumbo is the best I've ever been to. Cecconis in Dumbo is located in Brooklyn Park is definitely in my top 10. I think it helps that when we ate here we sat on the outside of the restaurant with a waterfront view of the Manhattan Skyline and an absolutely spectacular view of the Manhattan Bridge. Try and ask for an outdoor seat on your reservation if you can, it's just divine. This restaurant is a modern Italian with amazing hand made pasta, seafood dishes and something to suit all tastes. The atmosphere has a real buzz about it and the staff are really friendly. I'd say this is medium to high price range as the dishes are quite small. Reservations essential. 

*Side note: Apparently Carbonne is meant to be one of the best luxury Italian restaurants in New York, I walked past and major celebrities were stood outside. I've never been able to get a reservation so if you want to go, book now! 

abc kitchen

ABC KITCHEN - Flat Iron - I didn’t know what to expect from this restaurant as I had never eaten there before but was recommended it by a friend. On approaching it’s difficult to see in to the restaurant as it is behind a large solid door. It's like going into Narnia. It has absolutely beautiful decor and the service was amazing - very welcoming and friendly. The restaurant menu varies depending on season and the focus is on food that is organic and naturally sourced from regional farms and fair trade co-operatives so it's very natural and fresh. We had the most delicious pasta, pizzas and chicken, all very well cooked and presented. It's on the pricer side but you are getting top quality food. Reservations essential on weekends. 

TOMMY BAHAMAS - Midtown - Years and years ago, we accidentally stumbled upon this on restaurant on 5th Avenue when desperate for some food and headed in for dinner. A gorgeous venue, above a shop and super laid back but delicious for fish and meat. You wouldn't even know it existed as it just looks like a clothing store but the service was divine, the decor was divine and oh the food and cocktails, out of this world. It's one of the best meals I've had and I always tell people about it! You can probably make a reservation but we didn't have to. 

THE STANDARD GRILL - Meatpacking - This is near the High Line and is one of the most divine dinners I've had. Think big, expensive New York steak restaurant, very Gatsby style, incredible decor, incredible cocktails and even better service. I love places that serve cocktails in rose gold mason jars. The Standard Grill is perfect if you're after a steak. I blogged about dinner at the Standard years ago if you'd like to read more! I'd say this is a luxury American grill. Reservations essential on weekends. 

MERCER KITCHEN - Soho - The dark, hidden in the basement restaurant of the Mercer Hotel is praised by so many celebrities, Karl Lagerfeld's favourite apparently! It's a very 'fashion' restaurant, think oysters to start, fish for main or vegan burger, they do pizzas too of course. I had a divine dinner here, it's a really romantic setting and the service is amazing.  Reservations essential on weekends. 

Black Tap NYC

[Dessert Restaurants/Places In New York]

When we eat out on an evening in NYC we always follow it with a huge walk to both walk off our food and also soak up the atmosphere of NYC by night (because it is simply unreal). Unbelievably we always decided we were hungry again just before bed but because NYC is always awake, that was no problem and we found some amazing dessert type bars rather than those of the alcohol variety! The following are ones you have to visit if you're looking for good dessert in New York plus some day time places if you're looking for a sugar fix in New York too.

max brenner nyc

MAX BRENNER - Flat Iron - Late Night Food - Like chocolate? This is the place for you (and me)! From pancakes and waffles spread with thick chocolate spread to chocolate fondue to chocolate ice cream to choctails or just plain hot chocolate this place has it all! It’s always buzzing with atmosphere and the service is fab. Of course they sell many other things too including desserts without chocolate and also breakfast and lunch savouries but believe me when I say, this place is the one for desserts! It's very basic inside, but it's just worth it for the chocolate alone. I've always been able to just walk straight in. 

rice to riches nyc

RICE TO RICHES - Soho -  Late Night Food - OMG who else loves rice pudding? I do and I can’t even tell you how much I screamed when I saw that an entire shop selling nothing but rice pudding exists in NYC. There is every time of flavour with amazing topping options too. It is such a quirky little place and the walls and tables all have funny messages to read. The rice pudding experience you will get here is like nothing you’ve ever done before! Take out, walk straight in. 

MOMOFUKU MILK BAR - Times Square - We couldn't not grab one of these incredible twisted ice creams, even on a cold day! It's well worth the 15 minute walk up from Times Square. They're famous for their cereal ice creams! 

chip new york

CHIP NYC - West Village - You HAVE to go to CHIP in NYC for the best cookies I have ever tasted. We accidentally stumbled upon them when we walked out of Chelsea Market (they're next door in a market), please, go and eat them all. They've now moved over to the West Village just opposite Bleecker Street Pizza so now you really can have your cake and eat it too! This is just a walk in place, I've never been on an evening but usually go mid-day! 

MAGNOLIA BAKERY - Various locations but I like Bleecker Street the best - Magnolia bakery is famous and honestly, their cupcakes are divine so pretty please make sure you grab one before leaving New York! I love their birthday cake style one and their coconut one, I've had a lot. 

Phew so there we have it, I will continue to update this post every time I visit New York as there are so many new places to try on my list. I hope you enjoy going through my favourite restaurants in New York! Do comment below if you have any favourites I may have missed. 

Lots of love, Em x

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