New York’s West Village is shorthand for chic. The cobblestone, tree-lined streets and colonial brownstones evoke a Manhattan movie set. And it’s no surprise the area was once known for its bohemian residents and alternative culture scene. Naturally, a neighborhood of this caliber is packed with avant-garde restaurants. Whether you’re craving an exquisite salad, elegant Japanese, rustic Italian, or beyond, the West Village—and the nearby Meatpacking District—have the meals and dining experiences for you. Book a table at one of these 12 outstanding spots for a taste of this charming pocket of Manhattan.
EN Japanese (West Village)
This brasserie-esque Japanese restaurant stands for opulence and precision. The sleek and dark space, decorated with rustic branches and traditional paintings, is the brainchild of acclaimed restaurateur Reika Alexander. Settle in for a choose-your-own-adventure kaiseki menu or an a la carte selection of sashimi, seafood, and decadent cooked dishes such as truffle chawanmushi, A5 wagyu imported from Japan, and a special wagyu nigiri with daikon soy sauce—and don’t be shy to ask about the chef’s specials.
Les Trois Chevaux (West Village)
Chef Angie Mar’s highly lauded follow up to The Beatrice Inn, the West Village steakhouse that put her on the map, is completely different from anything else in the city. Melding French techniques and high-end ingredients with an omakase philosophy—plus plenty of talent and creativity—the set menu here will leave you talking for weeks. The menu changes seasonally, but expect artful dishes such as poached white asparagus with blood orange and accompaniments like black truffle soup chestnut, légumes, and vermouth.
Jack’s Wife Freda – Carmine Street (West Village)
Meet a New York-born classic that can now be spotted throughout the city. The Carmine Street location of this Mediterranean-style restaurant is a standard-setter for all-day dining, any day of the week. Peri peri wings, green tomatillo-based shakshuka, and matzo ball soup are menu staples, but branch out with the whole fish or mustard crusted tofu with spaghetti squash to taste the full breadth of what this creative eatery has to offer. Riffs on classic cocktails such as a Pimm’s cup with homemade lemonade and ginger are also served.
The Little Owl (West Village)
Fun fact: If you look up outside this restaurant, you may recognize a very famous facade—it’s the exterior of the building from the television show, Friends. This may also explain the crowds of tourists cycling this corner on any given weekend. Sit indoors or outside and feast on expertly executed American classics, such as an excellent bacon cheeseburger and more refined plates, like broiled Nova Scotia halibut with corn, peas, and a pesto vinaigrette.
Semma (West Village)
This South Indian food destination, from the creators of New York’s esteemed Dhamaka and Adda, is perfect for group dinners or date night. Be prepared to share a feast of small dishes that take cues from states including Tamil Nadu, where the chef hails from. There’s plenty of seasonal uttappam—a fermented rice and lentil batter pancake—and lesser-seen proteins such as venison, goat, oxtail, spring chicken and more, all studded with savory and red-hot spices. For a special treat, pre-order the Kanyakumari nandu masala, a $125 Dungeness crab, parotta (layered flatbread), and coconut rice plate to share.
The Mary Lane (West Village)
Tucked under the treetops on an idyllic West Village corner, this New American restaurant is a versatile spot offering brunch, lunch, and dinner. The friendly service, sunlit atmosphere adorned with colorful artwork, and approachable menu are practically made for returning diners. So taste your way through the greatest hits such as a stellar grilled shrimp Caesar, seasonal fish, chicken, and pasta dishes before deciding on your regular order.
Via Carota (West Village)
This sceny, Tuscan-style haunt—often singled out by food pros and celebs—lives up to the hype. The big green salad and cacio e pepe are the stars here, but ask about specials and go for some wildcard items (you can’t go wrong with seasonal veg) to round out the meal. If you have to wait for a table, check out the owners’ other spot across the street, Bar Pisellino, for a negroni before your pasta fest.
RH Rooftop Restaurant New York (Meatpacking)
One of the city’s most stylish rooftops is, of course, helmed by interiors and furniture brand RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware). Under the glow of luxe chandeliers at this lavish indoor-outdoor establishment, you can order from a European-inflected American menu with dishes such as shaved ribeye on charred garlic bread, a signature lobster roll, a seasonal fruit, cheese and prosciutto board, and more.
Old Homestead – New York City (Meatpacking)
Dating back to 1868 when the Meatpacking District truly lived up to its name, this historic steakhouse lets diners take a step back in time while still serving contemporary New York classics. Both lunch and dinner are dished out here. Start with selections from a hefty menu of seafood-focused appetizers—such as baked clams and a raw bar—plus enormous salads, burgers, steaks, and chops to pair with decadent sides like lobster mac and cheese, buttermilk onion rings and much more. Pack your leftovers and walk it off on the nearby High Line, where it’s totally acceptable to snack from your doggy bag.
This affordable Neaopolitan pizzeria gets bragging rights for the fact that almost all of its pies are $11 and under—a great value for excellent pizza, especially in this location. Go for the “tre gusti”, a rectangular pie topped with a trio of Simo’s best sellers: margherita, cacio e pepe, and pesto e pecorino. For the bambinos, there are bunny and heart-shaped pies.
Philippe Chow – Downtown (Meatpacking)
This elegant Chinese food emporium is named for its executive chef and his luxe take on Beijing-style cuisine. Book a large party (9-20 people) experience for $125/person to indulge in a family style banquet of soups, satays, dumplings, peking duck, prawns and so much more. You don’t need a whole crew to dine, though—groups of six can indulge in the chef’s tasting menu at $95/person; smaller parties can go a la carte with luxe interpretations of Chinese fare such as lobster fried rice, wok-seared branzino, and stir fries prepared for one or two people, like the infallible filet mignon and snap pea combo.
At this Meatpacking brasserie—a famed relic of the Sex and the City era—you’ll find traditional French fare in a contemporary and cavernous space, built for all-day dining on plats du jour plus cheese plates, steak frites, meal-sized salads, omelets, croques, and beyond. It’s the setting for a celebratory dinner or a long, leisurely lunch with a few glasses of Sancerre.
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner is a writer based in Brooklyn, where she lives with her wife and rescue dog. You can follow her on Instagram @melissabethk and Twitter @melissabethk