119 E. 18th St., Gramercy
Tex-Mex isn’t a type of cuisine you’d normally associate with New York City, but after a meal at this cheerful spot in Gramercy (a few blocks north of Union Square), you might rethink that idea. Grab some friends and order the traditional queso (yellow cheese tomatillos, serrano peppers, pico de gallo) and a round of prickly pear margaritas before diving into your entree. The chile relleno is reliably tasty, as are the grilled shrimp tacos, topped with salsa cruda, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, and cilantro. The central location makes it a great group dinner spot, but there’s also a second location on the Upper East Side..
125 E. 17th St., Gramercy
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
442 Third Ave., Gramercy
This hangout for Australians (for real) offers an insanely delicious burger, along with meal-worthy salads, making it a great pit-stop for a quick bite. Due to its popularity, the original location in Nolita has doubled in size (expanding into next door’s space) since opening in 2003. This is actually their second location.
2 Lexington Ave., Gramercy
Maialino is NYC restauranteur Danny Meyer's trattoria outpost at Gramercy Park Hotel. The kitchen is helmed by Nick Anderer, who previously had stints at kitchens in Rome and Milan and Italian ones Stateside, like Mario Batali's Babbo. (Anderer is also still a big part of the pizza joint, Marta, too.) The dinner menu is very well done, and they have a nice, separate space for private parties. But less expected is that this is also an ideal spot to grab a cup of coffee or stay and sit for a bit if you find yourself in Gramercy during the afternoon.
125 E. 17th St., Gramercy
Mario Batali and Andy Nusser's tiny tapas spot opened over a decade ago, but the vibe and food is still just as great—particularly on those days when you're really missing Spain. The menu leans pretty heavily on proteins, but the more veggie-driven dishes (asparagus with octopus, spring leeks vinaigrette) hold their own, too. Meanwhile, Mono's sister property next door, Bar Jamón, is great for a post-dinner nightcap. Both spaces can accommodate full buyouts for private parties.
381 Park Ave. S, Gramercy
Sarabeth’s started out as a bakery in Chelsea Market in the 80s, where owner Sarabeth Levine perfected cookies, scones, and cakes (with unabashed amounts of sugar, flour, and butter). After she became legendary, she opened Sarabeth’s and basically launched the craze that is weekend Brunch. Years later, it’s still hard to get a breakfast reservation at any of her roomy, all-American, restaurants, but it’s so worth it for luscious pancakes and french toast, not to mention ideal omelettes. There are additional locations in the Upper East Side, Midtown, Upper West Side, and Tribeca.
12 E. 31st St., Murray Hill
Though it's located in the busy, midtown Hotel Chandler (you'll walk past people rolling their suitcases to check out on your way to the bathroom), the dining room is spacious and, like the menu, elegant. Chef Hergatt manages to create beautifully presented and originally prepared dishes that still feel earthy and very much connected to the ingredient: The salmon is cured with beets, creating a beautiful color on the outside that gently fades in the middle, while parsnips are steeped in coffee and served with espresso ice cream. It's not surprising that he's earned a Michelin star.
42 E. 20th St., Gramercy
For over 20 years, this venerable Danny Meyer restaurant has been continually packed, thanks to the delicious, seasonal, and local American cuisine, a movement that’s currently stewarded by chef Michael Anthony, of Blue Hill fame. The woodsy dining room, complete with Robert Kushner’s vegetable mural, is so comforting. Their private room is a great classic spot for a private event.