945 Madison Ave., Midtown
On the ground floor of the still-buzzy Met Breuer (the contemporary art annex of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, several blocks away from the main building), Flora Bar is the latest project from the team behind downtown favorites Estela and Café Altro Paradiso. But here’s the real reason it’s great: Flora Bar is the opposite from the sterile, often mediocre restaurants that are typical at many of the big museums. The space itself is striking: soaring ceilings, huge windows that overlook the expansive outdoor seating area and the modest garden. The menu is a mix of Japanese- and Spanish-influenced tapas, like scallop crudo with Asian pear and ramps, snow crab with miso mayonnaise, and lamb ribs with yogurt and mojo verde (a mixture of garlic, cumin, cilantro, and olive oil).
99 E. 52nd St., Midtown
When Mario Carbone and his team took over the Four Seasons space, they divided it into two separate restaurants–a high-end steakhouse (The Grill) and this modern-feeling seafood spot. The space still has a beautiful interior (including all of the notable historical details, which are landmarked by the city), and in addition to Carbone's ambitious take on seafood–think Dungeness crab rice, charred octopus with onion blossoms, and Block Island monkfish with an "ocean emulsion"–there's a deep focus on cocktails, incorporating flavors from whole fruits like bananas, strawberries, and oranges. If you're feeling flush, the surf and turf is a worthy splurge.
245 E. 44th St., Midtown
This new Japanese spot is named for Toshiro Mifune, a Japanese actor who starred in films like the Seven Samurai in the '50s. Exemplifying Japanese fine dining, the feel of the place is very white-tablecloth-special-occasion, with dishes to match–we've heard great things about the miso cod with parmesan foam and the (stunningly plated) butterfish with radishes. For a really special occasion, make an omakase reservation at sushi AMANE downstairs–Chef Shion Uino comes from Sushi Saito, a Tokyo restaurant with three Michelin stars where it's nearly impossible to get a table.
99 E. 52nd St., Midtown
The opening of The Grill was a little bittersweet for some New Yorkers (given the location's previous identity as the legendary Four Seasons, which re-opens a few blocks away later this year), but as major fans of Mario Carbone, we were supportive of this changing of the guard. Nostalgics will find comfort in the fact that the interior is relatively unchanged (many elements, including the famous Lippold sculptures over the bar, are relevant to the history of the Mies Van der Rohe-designed Seagram building and landmarked by the city) and that the overall vibe honors the expense-account, power-player reputation of its past. So does Carbone's menu, which leans on old-school items like oysters, crabcakes, a ridiculously good Crab Louie salad, and steaks that you can literally choose from the waiter's tray. The classic cocktail list reads like something out of The Great Gatsby–new regulars order the gin martini, a Manhattan, or a feminine, delicate grasshopper.
Salvation Burger (Closed)
230 E. 51st St., Midtown
April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman know a thing or two about burgers—if you’ve been to The Spotted Pig, their first venture, you know what we mean. For their newest, a restaurant inside the Pod 51 Hotel in Midtown East, they bet big on the classic, but the best version is veggie: It’s served with carrots and topped with a spicy masala. Heaven. The not-for-the-faint-of-heart menu has chili cheese fries, poutine, popcorn, beef jerky, and four types of pie—it’s kind of like fancy fast food, except that everything—mustard included—is made from scratch. Photos: Danielle Adams
1 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown
If you're hoping to experience some of Thomas Keller's Napa magic but don’t have the time or the budget for a full meal in Yountville, this isn't a bad choice, as you can get all the baked goods for which he's famous (it's perfect for breakfast on the go). There are outposts in New York (Columbus Circle and Rockefeller Plaza), LA (Beverly Hills) and Vegas (The Venetian). Don't leave without a big box of the famous macarons.
915 Third Ave., Midtown
The P.J. Clarke’s on 55th Street and Third Avenue—it’s been there since the 1880’s—is one of those classic NYC institutions where everyone who grew up on their burgers can think of nothing better. That sensibility translates to the downtown outpost, which seems to play particularly well with bankers who are thrilled to have a burger and a beer to wrap up the day. The Lincoln Square location is a hit with kids walking home from Central Park.
40 W. 55 St., Midtown
Dig Inn’s philosophy is “farm to counter,” which means that they serve sustainably sourced, usually local food in a casual setting and in a price range that makes it a reasonable option for everyday lunch. The salads and the market plates are easy to take back to the office (or home for dinner), and the menu changes with the seasons, so you won't ever be bored with the offerings. There are locations in Morningside Heights, Union Square, Tribeca, and in Midtown on 52nd, Madison, and 55th, in Lower Manhattan on Pine, Liberty, and Broad St., in Nomad, and off Madison Square Park.
570 Lexington Ave., Midtown
Goop HQ will enthusiastically vouch for the fact that Schnippers (the original outpost is conveniently located on the first floor of the New York Times building) has the best chicken fingers in the city. While kids go wild for their fries and milkshakes, it’s a pretty great indulgence if you’re working late and need a convenient sugar bomb. They also have locations in Flatiron, Midtown, and in the Financial District.
155 W. 43rd St., Times Square
Considering the neon-covered exterior and old-school name, the atmosphere inside Brooklyn Diner is surprisingly fancy—after all, it's helmed by the award-winning Chef de Oliveira. That said, classic meals are definitely the standouts: The chicken soup, macaroni & cheese, and giant lunch salads are reliably great, and you’ll have to arrive early in the day if you want to have the chicken pot pie (they almost always run out). Expect a short wait if you forget to make a reservation. There are two locations in Midtown, on 57th and 43rd.
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