One of the questions I get asked the most – on Instagram, from friends visiting, even friends of friends – is where to eat in New York City. With 24,000 eating establishments to choose from (yes you read that correctly) it can be hard to narrow down, and it would take a lifetime to try them all!
Although I prepare most of my meals at home, eating out is one of my favorite ways to explore the city and to spend time with friends. After living here for 3 years, I think I have come up with a pretty decent list of my favorite spots. I’ll try to update this every now and then as the scene is ever-changing and my “places to try” list is never-ending. I hope you guys enjoy these recommendations, and I would love to hear your favorites!
BREAKFAST & BRUNCH
ABC Kitchen, Cocina, & ABCV. Flatiron. Located in one of the most beautiful interior stores in the city (be sure to leave time to check out the store – it’s dreamy), all 3 of these restaurants focus on local, organic, and seasonal food from Chef Jean-Georges. The menu is different at each location, and ABCV just opened and is purely vegetarian (although all 3 are very vegetarian friendly). This is definitely a spot for a bit of a fancier brunch (the space is really gorgeous), and dinner is great here also (just be sure to make a reservation).
Bluestone Lane Cafe. Multiple Locations. One of the many Australian brunch places on this list (they just really know how to do brunch right!!), Bluestone Lane is delicious, healthy, and totally gram-worthy. There are few places where I will willingly pay to eat avocado toast, but this is one of them (it’s so good). Also has the best turmeric latte I’ve tried.
Butcher’s Daughter. Nolita & West Village. Ah, this is what I imagine every brunch place in California must be like – the space is so cute, bright, full of plants, and they have lovely outdoor seating in the warmer months. 100% vegetarian, with many vegan and gluten-free options (they call themselves a “vegetable slaughterhouse”). The food and drinks are really fresh, seasonal, and delicious here. Highly recommend.
Cafe Clover. West Village. This West Village spot focuses on seasonal, local, and healthy foods. The space is beautiful, and they have a great patio where you can people watch on 6th Avenue. Go here when you want something fresh and light. Also a great spot for dinner and cocktails.
Cafe Cluny. West Village. One of the coziest brunch spots and one I have come back to since before I even moved here. This is a great place to go on a cold day while exploring the West Village. Highly recommend the eggs benedict and brioche french toast!
Cafe Mogador. East Village & Williamsburg. If you like Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ll love this place. Think lots of delicious hummus and dips, pita bread, etc. Like just about everywhere else on this “brunch” list, this place is also great for dinner!
De Maria. Nolita. A hip, new spot in NYC. Really great interior that is airy and bright. The chefs here use some of the most unique ingredients and flavor combinations (for example, their porridge is topped with either miso butter or rhubarb molasses, and their avocado toast has lavender cured salmon). An interesting spot for those who want to try something different!
Dimes. Chinatown. Another classic healthy eating spot. This place has lots of fruity breakfast bowls, savory grain bowls, and salads. The space is small and has a hip, young interior.
Dudley’s. Lower East Side. Another gram-worthy and delicious Aussie cafe. I am obsessed with the fluffy pancakes here. They are also very generous with how much avocado goes on their avocado toast. Fun spot to sit outside in the LES, but expect a longgg wait if you go at peak hours!
Egg Shop. Nolita & Williamsburg. If you love eggs, this place is for you. Their menu is full of different egg sandwiches and yummy breakfast bowls (topped with eggs, obviously). Their Nolita location is small and cozy, and they very recently just opened a new spot in Williamsburg.
High Street on Hudson. West Village (Meatpacking). I’ve only eaten at this place once, but I remember it being very good. Since they are known for their freshly baked pastries and breads, go here for delicious sandwiches, bagels, and croissants. Located in a bit of a quiet area near meatpacking, this is a great place to go on your way to the High Line!
Jack’s Wife Freda. Soho/Nolita & West Village. If you follow any blogger on Instagram, you have likely seen photos of this place. The wait is always long, but the food is always good. I will say though that the portions can be a bit small, so that’s something to keep in mind! My favorite here is the Mediterranean Breakfast.
L’estudio. Lower East Side. This brand new cafe has a beautiful aesthetic – everything from the ceramics, to the plants, to the plating of the food. Here you’ll find lots of your standard breakfast fare, but with unique ingredients and flavor combinations that make it something different. The pancakes (pictured above) were some of the best I’ve had. I will definitely be returning!
Locanda Verde. Tribeca. This place has been around for a while and it is a favorite for many celebs. I’ve been a few times, but the only thing I ever order is the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes because they are so good; however, I’ve been told that the rest of the menu is also amazing haha! Go here for a fancier Italian brunch 🙂
Ruby’s Cafe. Nolita. Yet another Aussie restaurant! I couldn’t stop thinking about their Bircher muesli here and how I could recreate it at home for about a week after eating it (embarrassing, I know). They have lots of options for brunch here – burgers, sandwiches, pasta, pancakes, eggs, bowls, etc., so there’s something for everyone. Expect a wait here at peak hours.
Sadelle’s. Soho. This is such a fun spot with a beautiful dining room, good people watching, and delicious bagel towers. It can be really hard to get a table here (I’ve been told a 3 hour wait more than once), so try to get a reservation if you can!
Westville. Multiple Locations. Westville is my go-to neighborhood spot. Very vegetarian-friendly, they specialize in simple, fresh ingredients. I love their eggs benedict here, and their market platters (where you select an array of delicious vegetables) are always a good choice. If you live in NYC, they also do delivery and I’m not kidding when I say that it arrives to my apartment in under 20 minutes!
QUICK, HEALTHY LUNCH
Chalait. Nomad, Chelsea & Hudson Square. Best known for their matcha (they serve everything from matcha hot chocolate to matcha cappuccinos), this cute little cafe also offers delicious lunch and breakfast bowls, egg sandwiches, open-faced toasts, and various snacks. Their white marble tables and pretty food are very popular with Instagrammers, but I promise you that it tastes as good as it looks!
Dig Inn. Multiple Locations. Dig Inn prides itself on creating a community with sustainable farmers, and their menu focuses on local, seasonal, and fresh produce. Here you can make your own macro bowls, from their selection of veggies, protein, and grains. I like this place because they prepare food similarly to how I would at home, which makes it great for those busy days or weeks where you just haven’t had time to cook!
Fresh & Co. Multiple Locations. Fresh & Co. sources from local NY farmers and their menu changes seasonally. They have a large selection of salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, and soups. With so many locations in the city, this is a great choice if you’re unsure of where to grab lunch.
Honeybrains. NoHo. I stumbled upon this place while looking for a place to grab lunch around NYU campus. The space is open and bright, and offers plenty of space to get work done. They offer many bowls and sandwiches, as well as an awesome selection of juices and caffeinated beverages. Fun fact: Honeybrains was started by a neurologist who has spent years researching how nutrition affects brain function – how cool!
Inday. Nomad/Flatiron. Located in an area with lots of fast-casual restaurant competition, Inday really stands out from the rest. With Indian-inspired dishes and a menu that changes seasonally, this is a great place to grab a quick, flavorful, and healthy meal. Highly recommend when you want something different to your usual salad or grain bowl.
Lenwich. Multiple Locations. I go here solely for their vegetarian sandwich, which is fully stacked with avocado, lettuce, tomato, carrots, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, cabbage, and sweet peppers. It is a mess to eat but oh-so-good. You can customize any sandwich here, and there’s lots of options for meat eaters too!
Sweetgreen. Multiple Locations. For the first 2 years that I lived in New York, I never went to Sweetgreen. I had the mindset that it was silly to pay for a salad that I could easily make at home. One day I caved, got a salad, and it was surprisingly so good and not too expensive – my mind was changed. I love that they use local and seasonal ingredients, and I often get inspired to recreate their flavorful salads in my own kitchen.
Taboonette. Union Square. This is a great little place by NYU that offers delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. I love their salmon here, and am a big fan of adding tzaziki to everything. Highly recommend this spot!
TAP NYC. Upper West Side. This adorable Brazilian cafe just opened, and it’s a great spot for both healthy and indulgent treats! Come here to work or study, and enjoy everything from tapioca crepes, matcha lattes, acai bowls, cheese bread, and chocolate truffles.
Ok, this section is really hard to narrow down! I’m going to list my ABSOLUTE favorites, and then my “honourable mentions” (i.e. places that are always a good choice, with a fun atmosphere, decent food, and good service).
Aria Wine Bar. West Village. This busy neighbourhood spot is ALWAYS packed, and for good reason. While the food is not out-of-this-world good, it is affordable and consistent (all pastas are $14). What you really come here for is the fun atmosphere! It’s such a cozy little place, packed with people, good music, good wine, and good service. The bar seating is really unique, as are the cozy window nooks that are perfect for a date night. Be sure to come early, or expect a long wait!
Avant Garden. East Village. Personally, I think this is the best vegan food in the city. They serve the type of vegan food that any meat-eater would enjoy. The flavors are incredible, and you would never believe it was all plant-based. This is a really cozy spot for a date or dinner with the girls. It’s a bit pricier, but the price is reflected in the care and quality that goes into the food. Highly recommend.
Babbo. Greenwich Village. This restaurant is a NYC classic from chef Mario Batali, and a wonderful spot to celebrate a special occasion (it’s not cheap). Located in an old 2-storey carriage house a block away from Washington Square Park, Babbo offers an intimate, cozy, and upscale dining experience. The wine list is extensive, the service is impeccable, and the pastas here are amazing.
Barbuto. West Village. It is really hard to choose a favorite Italian restaurant in NYC, but this is one I can’t help but love – especially in the summer months! Barbuto has a real neighbourhood feel that the locals have adored for years. Located in an old garage space occupying the entire corner of the block, when the weather warms up, all the doors (so essentially, the walls to the street) open so you can enjoy a table on the sidewalk. Also, the gnocchi is cooked to PERFECTION here – I get it every. single. time (ingredients change with the seasons)!
Boqueria. Flatiron, Soho & Upper East Side. The first time I tried this tapas restaurant I had no idea what to expect. One of the locations is close to my apartment, and I had noticed it was always packed. When I ate there, I immediately understood why! The flavors here are absolutely delicious and there is a great selection of vegetarian and seafood plates. I had a seasonal paella here and it rivalled the ones I’ve had in Spain! Go here with a group so that you can share everything. Super fun spot – make a reso, or expect a wait!
Flex Mussels. West Village & Upper East Side. If you love mussels, this place is for you. Their menu offers a wide selection of different flavors of broth/stock that your mussels come in (everything from white wine, cream, to tomato-based broths – my favorite are the Thai mussels with curry coconut, lime, ginger, lemongrass, etc.). Be sure to order extra bread to soak up the broth at the end! Also, their parmesan truffle fries are out of this world, and they’re quite famous for their donuts!
L’artusi. West Village. Another classic Italian spot on this list. The atmosphere at L’artusi is elegant and sophisticated, yet casual and comfortable at the same time. Pastas are decently priced for what you get, and they too have an extensive wine list. Slightly more upscale, but not super fancy – this is a great place to take a date or your parents!
Leuca. Williamsburg. Housed in the beautiful William Vale Hotel (be sure to check out their rooftop – see below!), this is a relatively new restaurant from the people behind Locanda Verde. I was VERY impressed by the pasta here – it was perfectly cooked and full of flavor; I will definitely be returning to try more of the menu. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, despite the restaurant being of an impressive size. They also have a gorgeous room in the back (think white marble farm table and hand-painted sky blue walls inspired by the Mediterranean coast) perfect for private events if anyone is looking – I’m just trying to think of a good excuse to host something there!!
Nix. Union Square. This vegan and vegetarian restaurant is modern, stylish, and totally appropriate to bring your meat-eating friends to. Like Avant Garden above, these beautifully-plated dishes are flavorful, unique, and satisfying. A very creative and cool spot!
Ootoya. Flatiron & Greenwich Village. Reading this list, you may be surprised to know that Japanese is tied with Italian as my favorite cuisine. Sadly, I have a very hard time finding Japanese food in NYC (particularly sushi) that is comparable to the Japanese food of my hometown (Vancouver)! Thus, I have yet to put a sushi restaurant on this list; however, Ootoya does warm Japanese dishes beautifully. I love this spot for their Donburi bowls, and everything here is highly flavourful and well-prepared. There is usually a wait, but their restaurants are clean, quiet, cozy, and inviting – I love going here on a cold winter evening.
Palma. West Village. One of the most intimate and romantic Italian restaurants located in the West Village. You truly feel like you’re being transported to Italy when you dine in their backyard. Everything from the ivy-covered walls to the adorable ceramic plates is just perfect. The food and wine is always good, but the highlight here is definitely the atmosphere.
Roberta’s. Bushwick. I’ll be honest, I have only had Roberta’s pizza when they are at Madison Square Eats – I’ve never been to their actual restaurant! I can say, however, that this pizza was one of the best I’ve had in NYC; so good that I had it twice in the same week. It is on my NYC bucket list to make it to their spot in Brooklyn, and I’ll update this once I do! Expect long waits as this place is veryyy popular!
Scarpetta. Chelsea (Meatpacking). I recently visited Scarpetta for a friend’s going away party, and I have to say I was very impressed by the food here! Their creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms was mouth-wateringly good (probably the best I’ve had), and they are famous for their tomato basil spaghetti. Really cool interior, definitely a bit more upscale and sophisticated.
Speedy Romeo. Lower East Side & Clinton Hill. The White Album Pizza is probably my favorite pizza in NYC – you NEED to get this one if you go here!!! Surprisingly, their Kale Apple Salad was really quite good (you know, to balance out all the cheesy pizza). This is a hip, cool spot, and their LES location recently expanded so now you can get in with less of a wait. Really love this place for a pizza and wine night in the summer!
Good Italian Restaurants: Charlie Bird. Extra Virgin. GG’s. Malatesta Trattoria. Perla. Rosemary’s. Rubirosa. Sant Ambroeus. Supper. Via Carota. (All of these are inviting, cozy, have good pizza/pasta, nice crowd/atmosphere, play good music, etc.)
Good Mexican/Cuban: Cafe Habana (tiny little place, get the corn!). La Esquina (fun place to go for drinks/before going out). Rosie’s (great open atmosphere). Tacombi (really affordable, also cool atmosphere).
Other: Bobo (really cool space, nice backyard seating, one of the best risottos I’ve had). Buddakan (Asian fusion cuisine, good for birthdays or before a big night out). Claudette (cute French restaurant, Madeleine pastries are unreal). Lovely Day (really small and cozy, good Thai food). Narcissa (has a really cute garden for drinks). Seamores (for seafood; nice outdoor seating on a fun corner).
Met Rooftop Bar. Upper East Side. Located atop my favorite museum in the city is a beautiful rooftop bar. Each year features a new art installation, and stunning views of central park and the surrounding buildings. There is no view quite like this one! Note that this is only open from Mid-April to October.
Mr Purple. Lower East Side. There are a lot of rooftops to choose from in the LES, and though I haven’t been to them all, I somehow keep coming back to this one at the Hotel Indigo. Both the inside interior and the outdoor views of the city are just stunning. This is a fun spot that gets really busy – be sure to go early on a nice day, or else there’s a chance you won’t even make it upstairs!
Le Bain Rooftop. Meatpacking. Located on top of the iconic Standard Hotel is a fun rooftop bar with breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan. This place gets really busy and entrance can be tricky, but going on a weekday afternoon (for the sunset) can sometimes be a lot easier, especially in the fall and not the peak of summer! To find the rooftop, you must walk through Le Bain nightclub and find a set of stairs at the back. Walk up those stairs, and your jaw will drop at the sweeping views of the city.
Westlight. Williamsburg. On top of the new and incredibly cool William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg, Westlight provides one of the best views of the city you could ever ask for – you can see the entire Manhattan skyline, as well as 360 degree views of Brooklyn. The interior is sleek and sophisticated, and this is the perfect spot to get drinks after exploring Williamsburg, and before heading to Leuca downstairs for a delicious dinner. Tip: make reservations for the rooftop and you can pass the long line downstairs!!
FOOD HALLS, MARKETS, ETC.
Chelsea Market. Meatpacking. Chelsea Market is an indoor marketplace – essentially a giant food hall with tons of delicious retailers. Here you’ll also find flea markets, a bookstore, and some specialty grocery stores. Although it gets very crowded here, it’s a fun spot to poke around and grab a bite before heading to the High Line!
Eataly. Flatiron (flagship) & FiDi (new). This large marketplace is a destination for all things Italian – food and beverage counters, restaurants, groceries, bakeries, etc. Each area of the market specializes in something different – there are counters for gelato, paninis, vegetarian food, pizza, pasta, wine…you name it! Such a fun spot to explore and to indulge. Also a great spot to get rare and beautiful produce. Enjoy eating inside, on their rooftop, or take your food to-go and enjoy in Madison Square Park across the street!
Smorgasburg. Williamsburg (Saturday) & Prospect Park (Sunday). This is the largest weekly open-air food market in America, offering food from 100 local vendors during the summer months (April-October). I’ve only been to the Williamsburg location, which offers a small sandy beach and breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, but I’m sure the Prospect Park location is just as fun! Highly recommend.
Union Square Greenmarket. Union Square. Open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, year-round, this is NYC’s flagship farmer’s market. Here you can find hundreds of varieties of local produce, breads, meats, fish, cheeses, artisanal goods, and flowers. Saturday is usually their busiest day, and visiting the Greenmarket is a great way to take in the vibrant area of Union Square.