The New York City Foodie Guide
Oh New York, home to way-too-many gastronomic pleasures—whether you want to learn how to make canapé, or just eat your heart out, we’ve rounded up our favorite foodie destinations.
Azabu428 Greenwich St., Tribeca | 212.274.0428
When the beloved owner behind Mercer Street’s Honmura An moved back to Japan, and closed his restaurant in Soho, many a foodie’s heart was broken. But the soba noodles at Azabu (formerly known as Azabu) might be just as authentic and exquisite. Beyond the noodles, which are shepherded to perfection by Soba master Shuichi Kotani, they also specialize in small plates and sushi. The uni soba is insane, as is, weirdly, the California Roll. Go for lunch, as they have a great special.
Bar Jamón125 E. 17th St., Gramercy | 212.253.2773
Tucked into a tiny (very tiny) space next door to Casa Mono, this U-shaped tapas bar by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich has been around for more than a decade. The crowd is typically neighborhood types grabbing quick drinks, lots of (stylish) first dates, or those swinging by for a nightcap post dinner next door. The pared-down menu, which is scrawled on the mirror behind the bar, includes pan con tomate, tortila, and jamon iberico—in addition to, obviously, great reds. Food Photos: Kate Previte; Exterior Photo: Kelly Campbell
Blanca261 Moore St., Bushwick | 347.799.2807
Roberta's splashy little sister, which lives in a sleek warehouse right on the restaurant's grounds, is where chef Carlo Mierarchi gets to flex his culinary muscles. He serves a tasting menu of varied origins: The meal might kick off with Omakase-style Japanese appetizers, followed by pasta, and then an excellent cut of lamb or beef. There are only 12 seats, which face a massive open kitchen—while it’s a steep $195 a seat, the food is fantastic, the vibe is great, and it’s a wonderful experience. Reservations are a must.
Brooklyn Fare200 Schermerhorn St., Boerum Hill | 718.243.0050
This place is a foodie's dream: In addition to stocking every gourmet ingredient you could think of, the 18-seat Chef's Table, run by Cesar Ramirez, churns out exceptional (and expensive) Japanese-French small plates. Reservations are very hard to come by, which makes sense as it's Brooklyn’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars.
Cosme35 E. 21st St., Flatiron | 212.913.9659
So NYC has never really gotten snaps for its Mexican food, but Cosme is said to break the trend. It's probably because it's from chef Enrique Olvera, of Mexico City Pujol fame—trust us when we say he’s legit. The PDR is just as sleek and modern as the rest of the restaurant, and while it'll cost you, a prix-fixe private meal here is an incredibly special experience.
Decoy529 ½ Hudson St., West Village | 212.691.9700
This Peking Duck-dedicated spot—tucked away in a converted laundromat beneath RedFarm—has the sort of exquisite Chinese food that you’d expect from Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng. While the Peking Duck was excellent (you have to reserve one in advance), we were most blown away by the uni noodle and octopus salad and the crab fried rice.
Eleven Madison Park11 Madison Ave., Flatiron | 212.889.0905
A meal here is a total treat. This Michelin-starred, Art Deco-esque restaurant is also an investment, both in time and money. But it’s absolutely worth it, as the kitchen, which is now under the direction of chef Daniel Humm, sends forth molecular gastronomy-inflected dishes that are pristine and precise. On the tasting menu, you’ll choose the main ingredient—the rest is up to the kitchen, meaning that each dish is a wonderful surprise.
Esca402 W. 43rd St., Hell's Kitchen | 212.564.7272
Esca (the name means "bait" in Italian) is Mario Batali and Dave Pasternack's take on classic Italian seafood; the menu is full of inventive and unusual crudos and amazing shrimp and shellfish pasta dishes. Smack in the middle of the theatre district, it’s an excellent choice before a show; there are plenty of light fish entrees that won't send you to sleep before intermission.
Estela47 E. Houston St., Nolita | 212.219.7693
We were thrilled when Igancio Mattos (formerly of Chez Panisse, Il Buco, and Isa) opened this spot on East Houston (he now has Café Altro Paradiso nearby on Spring Street). The dishes are of a Mediterranean slant, and while they’re unfamiliar and unexpected, he never sacrifices taste or pleasure for innovation. There are many swoon moments on the menu: egg salad on matzo, raw scallops with yuzu, beef tartare with sunchoke (the texture of this was incredible), and ricotta dumplings. It’s a small spot with rustic accents that never threaten to overshadow the food. It can get quite loud, and tables can be hard to come by, but if you can get one, go.
Fairfax234 W. 4th St., West Village | 212.933.1824
Restaurateur Gabriel Stulman (of Happy Cooking Hospitality) recently re-concepted his West Village Italian restaurant, Perla, into Fairfax, a Mediterranean eatery with a straightforward menu of inventive dishes you'll want order over and over, oh and a great wine list. Part of the swap was changing out formal dining room tables for more casual living room furniture and communal tables (many of the pieces taken from the Stulman's own home), making it super comfortable, but more of a personality-filled drinks-and-small plates place than a full dinner destination. If you come before 6:30, you can get a glass of wine and a plate for $20. It's also a great place to host a party.
Gotham West Market600 11th Ave., Hell's Kitchen | 212.582.7940
This new development in the formerly sleepy and overlooked West 40's gathers some of the city's top food purveyors like Blue Bottle Coffee, Ample Hills Creamery, and Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, under one roof, with a stand and bar-seating at each. It's worth trekking to this desolate part of town purely for Chef Seamus Mullen's tapas concept, El Colmado.
Günter Seeger641 Hudson St., West Village | 646.657.0045
Chef Günter Seeger made a name for himself in Atlanta (Seeger’s was one of the best restaurants there for many years), but he got his start as a bartender, so his restaurants have always been known for their great wine lists. His first NYC restaurant is a formal prix-fixe, and the menu changes every day.
Ippudo321 W. 51st St., Hell's Kitchen | 212.974.2500
The NYC Ippudo locations are the only branches in the United States. The noodles are hand-pulled on-site and cooked perfectly al dente. They're known for the super-flavorful tomkotso version, but we love the Miso Ramen and pork-free Wasabi Shoyu. They have some more contemporary restaurant-style dishes here, but the traditional ramen bowls are really where it's at. Prices are low, and it's first come, first sit, so be prepared to wait. The other location is in the East Village.
Ivan Ramen600 11th Ave, Hell's Kitchen | 212.582.7942
As its name would suggest, when it comes to ramen, Ivan and company know what they are doing (Ivan is actually a Jewish kid from Long Island who is obsessed with Japanese cooking). The Red-Hot Cold Mazemen is delicious, while the cold spicy sesame noodles topped with prawns are a great alternative on hotter days. If you go for dinner, they’re most famous for Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazeman and Four Cheese Mazeman, which they only serve at night—the Tokyo Shio Ramen, loaded with egg, pork chashu and roast tomato is a bit lighter. If you’re not into noodles, the pork meatballs, garnished with bonito flakes, chinese broccoli prepared in a sweet soy and garlic sauce, and the Tofu Coney Island, which is essentially an Asian spin on chili cheese fries are all insanely good. Heavy, but delicious. The original is on the Lower East Side.
Jungsik2 Harrison St., Tribeca | 212.219.0900
Jungsik will take any preconceived ideas about traditional Korean food and squash them. Case in point: Chef Jung Sik Yim’s version of Bibimbap is crafted from foie gras and fresh black truffles, while meat and seafood gets the molecular gastronomy treatment rather than the open fire in the middle of the table. All the fireworks aside, the home-y, yet surprisingly refined rice dishes are still the go-tos in our eyes.
Katz’s Deli205 E Houston St., Lower East Side | 212.254.2246
A legendary Jewish deli, Katz’s originally opened in 1888 under a different name, and across the street from its current location on Houston and Ludlow. It was an institution long before the iconic orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally, although it didn’t hurt. Most people come for either the hot pastrami or corned beef sandwich, or the Reuben version, which adds Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. Katz’s credits its slow curing method, which can last up to a month, for the meat’s superior taste. (You’ll also find matzo ball soup on the menu, along with everything else you’d expect/want, as well as less traditional offerings for a Jewish deli, like NY-style cheesecake.) For those outside of the city, note that Katz’s ships across the States.
Kura130 St. Marks Pl., East Village | 212.228.1010
Frill-free and well-priced for omakase (there's a 12-piece option for $85), everything here is dressed and plated by the 70-year-old chef Ishizuka (grab a spot at the 12-seat bar to watch him work). You won't find wasabi or soy sauce—only ginger, as it's traditional to the max: In fact, it’s only marked outside by a white wall with a blue curtain, that's bedecked with a small white bow. Highlights: Belt fish, squid, red snapper, and seared salmon. Photo: Jebb
Le Coq Rico30 E. 20th St., Flatiron | 212.267.7426
The name—try saying it three times fast—translates to “The Bistro of Beautiful Birds,” and is an offshoot of three-star Michelin chef Antoine Westermann’s original poultry-focussed restaurant on Rue Lepic in Paris. Before opening, Chef Westermann spent more than a year traveling through Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania, meeting with local farmers to learn their farming practices and philosophies. (As a result, all the birds come from small family farms.) Come for the slow-cooked egg and Plymouth barred rock chicken, and don’t hesitate to order the quarter rotisserie chicken or the macaroni au gratin. There’s an entire section devoted to dishes featuring pasture-raised eggs, too. Photos: Asia Coladner
Momofuku Ssam Bar207 2nd Ave., East Village | 212.254.3500
Ssam Bar, which is attached to Milk Bar, offers a wider range of options than its siblings (Ko and Noodle Bar). Chang, who is now legendary, does pretty revolutionary food, whether it’s noodle or pork buns, meaning that if there’s just one must-try foodie experience downtown, one of this restaurants would probably be it.
Pasquale Jones187 Mulberry St., Nolita
Everyone in New York has their own best-of list, but the wood-fired pizza at Pasquale Jones, from the same folks behind Charlie Bird, is a solid contender. The littleneck clam and spicy coppa (kale, garlic, smoked caciocavallo) pies are standouts, and a nice match to their wine list, which has some great reasonably priced bottles. The action here centers around an open kitchen and two wood-burning stoves; the booths—though limited—are roomy and good if you’re dining with littles in tow. Reservations are hard to come by, so walking in is your best bet, though be prepared to take several spins around the block while you wait. (Worth it, still.) Food Photos: Will Engelmann; Interior Photo: Robyn Lehr
Pearl Oyster Bar18 Cornelia St., West Village | 212.691.8211
While this may be the oyster bar that started the casual seaside dining trend in the city, it hasn’t been overshadowed by its younger competitors. It remains a firm favorite, and we come back time and again for the seaside shack fare which they do so well, including oysters, of course, and huge, mayo-laden lobster rolls. Their hot fudge sundae is pretty insane, too.
Per Se10 Columbus Circle, Upper West Side | 212.823.9335
Napa's French Laundry may have put Thomas Keller on the map, but Per Se, which is perched above Central Park, confirms his legendary status. Chef Eli Kaimeh's menu changes daily, and the meal itself can last for hours as you advance from seasonal course to course, but it's all superb. Having one of the best meals in New York City comes at a price, though, as the set dinner menu starts at $325 (you can now order á la carte). The private room also happens to have one of the best views in town.
Pok Pok NY117 Columbia St., Red Hook | 718.923.9322
People are crazy for this Thai via Portland import: Andy Ricker’s fresh takes on Thai classics are seriously good (and run on the hot side), from the signature charcoal roasted hen with lemongrass to the sweet, spicy salads. There’s also an awesome Thai-inspired cocktail menu (the Pok Pok Bloody Mary with Thai chilies is a serious kick in the ass) which you can explore on depth from the comfort of a seat at the bar.
Roberta’s261 Moore St., Bushwick | 718.417.1118
Roberta’s has been warmly flourishing for years. Camouflaged by an industrial, kind of uninviting exterior, this gem of a spot offers a succinct menu includes a few wonderful pizzas, plus seasonal veggies and pasta dishes. There’s an indoor, primarily communal seating area where you can watch the pizza-making go down in the open kitchen. The vibe is casual and the ambiance always lively, as it routinely draws big crowds. While you can expect to wait, it’s a good place to have a drink.
Sushi Nakazawa23 Commerce St., West Village | 212.924.2212
A two-month wait for a seat at Nakazawa’s bar, a chef whose claim to fame is having worked under Jiro, is not unheard of. Pedigree aside, the wait for the restaurant makes total sense: You’ll get 20 perfect pieces of perfect nigiri. The cuts are gorgeous, and it’s dressed up ever so slightly with just an ingredient or two (yuzu paste, lemon, salt).