Home cooking is what I do best. And yet, the most frequent e-mail request I get from readers, friends and family is – “Where should we eat when we come to New York?” So, after years of wracking my brain for recommendations, I decided to create a list here of the places I go. But let me be clear – I am not a restaurant connoisseur. I’m just a New Yorker who knows what she likes. Your tastes may differ and you might get better advice from one of the sources I’ve listed in the sidebar. And if you have a fave you’d like to recommend, do tell us in the comments.
- Po – Love the place and the neighborhood, near Murrays cheese shop and Booknook bookstore. Small, intimate, special. Here’s my review.
- Blue Hill – Very special. Farm to table. Their upstate location is supposed to be even better. The Obama’s ate there for their anniversary. Expensive but worth it. Here’s my review
- Mamoun’s Falafel – A literal hole-in-the-wall on MacDougal St. serving up delicious Middle Eastern Fare. Baba Ganoush is best I’ve eaten. Only 3 tables, so get take out and eat in Washington Square. If you want to sit down, try their St Mark’s place location.
- Prune – Tiny, expensive, amazing. Marrow bone appetizer, need I say more? Nice staff. Need reservations for sure. 54 East 1st St.
- Anyway Café –Russian. Not haute cuisine by any stretch of the imagination, but probably authentic Russian, great atmosphere. The infused vodka drinks are great as is the gravlax. The beef stew taste like my mom’s. Flamingo guitar player on Sat nights, international crowd.
- S’Mac – Mac and cheese. That’s it. Every variation you can imagine, served broiled and topped with bread crumbs in little cast iron skillets.
Pre-Theater / Hell’s Kitchen
- Aureole – One of Charlie Palmer’s restaurants, a fave of the business lunch crowd. Progressive American cuisine in a modern, open space. For a cheaper meal eat a la carte in the bar room and share. Or do the prefixe pre-theater menu for $55. Absolutely fabulous salads and burgers, great service. Right on 42nd st between 6th and Broadway.
- Maze – Gordon Ramsay’s less expensive restaurant at the London. Fabulous food at very reasonable prices.
- Lattanzi – Italian. OMG- Roman artichokes (Not available pre-theater). Rest of menu is also great.
- Barbetta – Italian. Very old world feel, indoors a bit too stuffy for my taste, but the backyard patio in summer feels like Rome.
- John’s Pizza – Fabulous brick oven pizza, reasonable priced. Nice for a quick pre-theater light meal.
- Kashkaval – casual Mediterranean, cheeses, fondue, charcuterie. Noisy, crowded, big communal tables. Fun.
- Gazala Place – Tiny, cheap, great Israeli food. The kitchen has rules like you have to order everything before they bring anything to the table, but that’s part of the charm.
- Serge – Madison near 33rd. Small, local, French. My book club often meets there. I like the salmon tartare appetizer
- Bryant Park Grille – Feels very NY 1950’s, like Ricky Ricardo is at the next table. Food is good, too. I love it there.
- Cafe Centro – Fabulous French grand cafe at the back of Grand Central in the Met Life Building at 45th and Park/Vanderbuilt Ave. Fresh baguettes for the table, salads to die for, I’ve never had a more perfect omelet. Great place for a business lunch.
- La Bonne Soup – French-American bistro. 48 W 55th st. Great bread. Good for lunch or a casual supper.
- The Bar Room at The Modern at MOMA. Expensive (but cheaper and more casual than the main dining room, which serves a $98 pre fixe) .
- Trattoria Del Arte – One of my fave restaurants in the city. 7th near 57th.
- Europa Café – 57th & 7thCasual café cattycorner form Carnegie Hall. Reminds me of Paris. This was their first restaurant, they have several others in the city. This is the only one I go to, I can’t speak for the others.
Upper East Side
- Café Sabarsky in the Neue gallery. VERY European. Expensive but worth it. 5th ave & 86th St
- Bistro 61– 61st St & 1st ave . French bar and café. Great food and atmosphere. Casual. Menus are old record albums.
- Marche De Sud – French gourmet market, charcuterie and café. Fabulous charcuterie and cheese plates. Little French pizzas and pastries are great. Skip the Mergez sausages, though. Probably an acquired French taste. Menus are French Magazines. Lovely backyard patio.
- Hospada – Eastern European upscale, they do flights of beer. Special place. 321 E 73rdst.
- John’s Pizza – The Upper East side location of this local NYC chain. Our local pizza joint.
- Jubilee – French, great food, lovely atmosphere. Never disappoints.
Near Lincoln Center
- Le Bote un Bois – Classic French, basement, Upper West Side. Very New York place.
- Le Pain Quoitidian – An international chain restaurant and bakery, 60 W 65th and all over the city. Very casual, large communal tables, fabulous food, organic. I’d eat there every day.
- A Voce Columbus – High-end Italian with a killer wine list. Noisy, bustling, great views of the Park at Columbus Circle. Unusual renderings of regional Italian dishes. Get the pork belly appetizer.
- Bistro Cassis – Classic casual French bistro that does the French bistro classics well. Fabulous hamburgers, Frites, Mussels, crab cakes, desserts. I imagine brunch would be fabulous as well. The bread basket is served with a butter and wonderfully light pate. FYI – They don’t take reservations for parties less than 5.
- Rosa Mexicano – A NYC institution, now with restaurants in most major cities, but still fabulous. Always packed. They make your guacamole table side. Best fish tacos you’ll ever eat.
Upper West Side
- French Roast – My favorite brunch place in the city. They also have a West Village location.
- Barney Greengrass – A NYC institution. Smoked fish, bagels, old guys behind the formica-topped glass cases displaying every kind of smoke fish you may ever need. The place to go for a breakfast of nova and eggs, a great bagel, cheese blintz, a tongue sandwich or a jar of caviar. There’s always a line on the weekends so go early.
- Kasbah Bar & Grille – Kosher Meat restaurant. (FYI that means they are closed on Saturday.) Best Israeli style pita this gal has ever had. The babaganoush and hummus are to die for. When I try the rest, I’ll post it here.
- SriPraPhai – Amazing Thai. Our fave welcome home stop on the way home from Laguardia Airport. Take a number, join the crowd waiting outside. While you wait, check out the Himalayan Mini-Mart across the street. If the weather is warm, try to get a table in the back garden. Neighbors in curlers may be leaning out and watching from windows above. This is quintessential Queens. 6413 39th Ave, Woodside.
- Bangkok Cuisine – One of Mr TBTAM’s fave place to eat after tennis at Forest Hills. 107-18 70th Rd., Forest Hills Queens; 718-261-4005
- Bun-Ker – In the middle of nowhere and the center of my universe. Best Vietnamese in NYC. Here’s my review.
- Trattoria L’incontro – Fabulous Italian food in Astoria, recommended by native Italians we know as their favorite restaurant in New York City. Large and bustling yet still homey and neighborhoody. The recitation of the daily specials is alone worth the trip on the 7 train from Manhattan. Go at sunset to enjoy the skyline views as the train heads above street level. If it’s in season, you must get the kale salad.