New York City Restaurant Guide
My New York City Restaurant Guide is officially here! 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 was one of my favorite ways to explore the city and to spend time with friends. After living in NYC for 4 years (+ visiting about 7 times), I think I have come up with a pretty decent list of my fave spots. That said, the restaurant scene in NYC is ever-changing, so I’ll be sure to update this list each time I visit. I hope you guys enjoy this New York City Restaurant Guide, 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 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.
Brigitte. Lower East Side. This French and Brazilian fusion restaurant has some of the best pancakes I’ve EVER had. I honestly would go back here just to eat them again, but they also have other delicious dishes on their menu for both brunch and dinner. The interiors here are beautiful as well – think white marble counters and lots of plants!
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.
La Mercerie Cafe. SoHo. This cafe is situated inside Roman & Williams Guild, a fancy furniture and household store. While this is a place where you definitely come for the scene, the food is also surprisingly really good (albeit overpriced). I highly recommend the savory buckwheat crepes, and the creme caramel was just perfect. Also, all the beautiful ceramic dishes that your food is served on are available for purchase, although they aren’t cheap. A lovely spot for an afternoon bite while strolling around Soho.
L’estudio. Lower East Side. This 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 🙂
Miss Ada. Fort Greene. If you enjoy Mediterranean cuisine, this place is a dream come true. Think pita with labneh, hummus, baba ganoush… shakshuka, stuffed french toast, ricotta waffles with chocolate tahini…I could go on. Inside is super cozy and has a real neighborhood feel; it’s the perfect spot for brunch on a day exploring the cute Brownstone-lined streets of Fort Greene.
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!
The Osprey. DUMBO. When I think of the perfect way to spend a weekend in NYC, it involves walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, heading for a delicious brunch, exploring the neighborhood, and then having rooftop drinks with views of the Manhattan skyline. The Osprey is located in THE most gorgeous hotel ever, and is the perfect spot to fill your tummies after walking across the bridge! Not only is the space beautiful and the food delicious, but the service here was some of the friendliest I’ve had. After brunch, head on up to the rooftop of the hotel for drinks with a view.
Westbourne. SoHo. If you know me, then you know I am a huge fan of anywhere that serves all-day breakfast. This California-inspired menu is healthy, fully vegetarian, and so, so flavorful. I highly recommend the Sunset Grains and The Bounty. Come with friends so you can share a bunch of dishes!
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.
Greecologies. Nolita. If you’re looking for somewhere to get some work done on a beautiful day, the back garden of Greecologies is a little hidden paradise in Nolita. It’s quiet, peaceful, has WiFi and great food/matcha. Greecologies makes their own Greek yogurt in house, and they offer all sorts of yogurt bowls with unique toppings, as well as more traditional fare like Greek salad. Highly recommend!
Honeybrains. NoHo. I stumbled upon this place while looking for a spot 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!
Maman. Multiple Locations. Fabulous selection of salads, sandwiches, pastries, and caffeinated beverages! Some of the best cookies, banana bread, and matcha in the city. Not to mention the decoration in here is SO cute and feminine (their SoHo location even has a lovely household store, too). Great spot for lunch with a friend or to get some work done!
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. I actually enjoy this spot more than Batali’s fancier Del Posto :).
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!
Don Angie. West Village. While there is no shortage of good Italian restaurants in the West Village, this one was just that much better than your average! The space is lovely, the service was impeccable and so friendly, and the food was to die for. Highly recommend the Chrysanthemum Salad and trying their pastas. While I’m not a meat eater, their lasagna looks insanely good, too. Hard to get a reso here, but I went with a friend around 6:30pm on a weeknight and was seated right away!
Emily. West Village & Clinton Hill. Specializing in Detroit-style pizza, expect these pies to be thicker and closer to deep-dish pizzas than thin crust. Super filling, but sooo good; the way they prepare the crust here is incredible (they’re kinda crispy and honestly taste like there’s garlic baked in them or something). My favorites here are “The Mimi” and the “Emily.” I would advise making a reservation if possible, or else expect a long 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!
Kiki’s. Lower East Side. Kiki’s has no website and is a little hard to find, but if you’re looking for good Greek food at decent prices and a place with a fun vibe, look no further! While the space is big, this spot gets packed and you should expect a wait, but there are plenty of spots to grab a drink nearby. I love their traditional items here – the grilled octopus, Greek salad, saganaki, calamari, pita, etc.
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 and pizza here – everything was perfectly cooked and full of flavor! The atmosphere is warm and inviting, despite the restaurant being of an impressive size (which also makes it easier to get a reso). 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!
Lilia. Williamsburg. While it is near impossible to get a reservation here (not even for a month in advance), if you line up at 4:30pm you should be able to get a table right away. And yes, dining this early is worth it here!! The space is gorgeous, and their pastas are too good! My faves were the Sheep’s Milk Cheese Filled Agnolotti and the Mafaldini. Highly recommend.
Mamo. SoHo. If you go here, please order the raviolini al tartufo (fresh truffles). Just do it. It’s one of the best pastas I’ve ever had (in NYC, Italy, and just ever). I promise. This is definitely a bit of a fancier spot, but perfect for a special occasion. The space is beautiful and has chic southern Europe vibes.
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!
Nur. Flatiron. I wanted to try this Middle Eastern restaurant for so long, and it did not disappoint! If you go, you MUST get the Jerusalem Sesame Bagel – it was INSANE. Also, they brought out complimentary dessert which was this creamy custard with rose water and pistachios – SO good. I have to say, I preferred the appetizers and desserts over the mains, so if I were to go back I would definitely try more appis! Go with a group of friends so you can share a bit of everything!
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 and takeout from their restaurant – I’ve never actually dined there! 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. Expect long waits as this place is veryyy popular!
Rosemary’s Pizza. West Village. This sister restaurant to Rosemary’s just opened in summer 2018, and it is a great new pizza spot in the West Village. While I think the original Rosemary’s is decent for a nice vibe and cheap pasta, I was not expecting these pizzas to be as good as they were! My friend and I got 2 pizzas to share – The Funghi and the seasonal Heirloom Tomato; both were soo flavorful and the crust was just perfect. I love that they emphasize seasonal and local ingredients here – they even have a rooftop farm on top of their original restaurant!
Scarpetta. Chelsea (Meatpacking). I 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.
Shoo Shoo. Nolita. I went to Shoo Shoo twice on my most recent visit to NYC – once for dinner and once for brunch! Both meals were good, but I think dinner was my favourite (which is why it’s in this section). Cuisine is Mediterranean/Israeli and perfect for sharing! I had the falafel latkes, octopus, and branzino…all of which were good, but the dessert is what stole the show. Highly recommend trying the pistachio kanafeh – it was unreal!! Super cute spot to start the evening with friends.
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 is 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!
Wayan. Nolita. Having recently opened in early 2019 and on all the NYC hit lists, I was eager to make a reservation at Wayan for my most recent visit to the city. Indonesian cuisine with a French flair, this was one of the most flavourful meals I’ve had in a while. My favourite dishes were the lobster noodle (SOO good), corn fritters, vegetable spring rolls, and also the dessert (passion fruit custard + the caramelized banana with ube ice cream). HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
Good Italian Restaurants: Charlie Bird. Extra Virgin. GG’s. Il Buco Alimentari. Malaparte. 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).
Jimmy at the James. SoHo. Come here for a gorgeous sunset and beautiful views of the financial district. A bit easier to get into compared to some other popular rooftops, but always a good vibe!
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.
Public Hotel Rooftop. Lower East Side. Loved the chill but sophisticated vibes and absolutely stunning views of this rooftop. The Public Hotel is a very cool addition to the LES and this rooftop does not disappoint. A great spot to start your night, or to hang out with friends if you want a low-key evening.
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.
MATCHA. Matchaful (obsessed with this place). Chelsea Commons. Cha Cha Matcha. Maman. Chalait. Greecologies. Bluestone Lane. Fika. O Cafe.
BAGELS. Brooklyn Bagel (the best bagel I’ve ever eaten). Russ & Daughters. Sadelle’s.
COOKIES. Levain. Maman.
CROISSANTS. Ceci Cela. Maman.
ICE CREAM. Morgenstern’s. OddFellows. Eataly.
VEGAN SOFT SERVE. Chloe’s Fruit. Pressed Juicery.
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