New York City’s 17 most drop-dead gorgeous restaurants

Photo credit: Zou Zou's
The lit bar at Zou Zou's in NYC

Tight New York City spaces mean that escaping to an especially gorgeous restaurant is particularly exciting. And with historic buildings and stunning views, NYC’s restaurants really show out in the design department.

An outrageous beauty in Columbus Circle demonstrates the best of maximalist modern design. On the other end of the spectrum, iconic architecture shines at a century-plus-old institution. And several over-the-top outdoor spaces make dining outside a luxurious treat.

In praise of restaurants that make you reluctant to leave, we present to you this guide to the 17 most beautiful restaurants in New York City.

Buddakan (Meatpacking District)

Chandeliers hanging over a long table in Buddakan's dining room in NYC
Photo credit: Buddakan

Restaurateur Stephen Starr’s stunning modern Chinese restaurant is a fitting beauty for the city’s fashion-forward Meatpacking District. The lavish duplex is anchored by a grand staircase leading down to a dining room with vaulted ceilings, carved dark wood panels, and a row of chandeliers softly lighting sumptuous banquettes and a candle-strewn communal table. It’s a very sexy atmosphere to share dishes like edamame dumplings, chili rock, shrimp, and tea-smoked spare ribs.

Hawksmoor (Gramercy Park)

Photo credit: Hawksmoor

It’s tough to find a more magnificent steakhouse in New York City than Hawksmoor, the British import steps from Gramercy Park in the historic United Charities Building. With its 26-foot soaring ceiling, stained glass windows, and magnificent archways, the restaurant feels cut from stately New York elegance, wrapped in espresso-toned wood with hunter green banquettes. All-natural steaks seared over live-charcoal and (must-have) beef fat fries complete the picture.

Veronika (Gramercy Park)

Photo credit: Alex Staniloff for Veronika

Secreted on the second floor of Fotografiska New York, Veronika embraces a Gilded Age grandeur with arched double-height windows, crushed velvet seating, and brass chandeliers soaring overhead, filling the room with a timeless amber glow. Whether in the low-lit intimate Bar Room or the sun-drenched Dining Room, the European menu matches the glamour of the space, with sumptuous dishes like veal sweetbreads and Dover sole meunière.

Genesis House Restaurant (Meatpacking District)

Credit: Genesis House

It’s easy to lose yourself at Genesis House Restaurant, a serene oasis that boasts a library, a tea salon, and a dining room devoted to royal Korean cuisine in a tasting menu format. From the library to the dining room, every space at Genesis House is artfully designed with harmony and balance as touchstones—tones of sand and stone, rich warming textures, and a dramatic ceiling crafted from sheets of cascading natural wood that almost feels like a canopy of trees.

Zou Zou’s (Hell’s Kitchen)

Photo credit: Melissa Hom

Style spills from the seams of Zou Zou, the eastern Mediterranean brasserie in Manhattan Plaza. Chef Juliana Latif’s open kitchen anchors a dining room wrapped in seafoam green tile, with cherry red banquette seating, polished wood tables, alabaster marble counters, and cafe curtains sweetly hung on street-level windows. Take a seat under brass mid-century globe lighting, and tuck in for a shareable feast of dishes like Moroccan fried chicken and Zou Zou’s signature duck borek.

La Grande Boucherie (Midtown West)

La Grande Boucherie’s outdoor dining setup looks like a Parisian promenade in Midtown. | Photo credit: La Grande Boucherie

This Art Nouveau-styled restaurant occupies an entire city block, a stunning and ample stage for the brasserie detailed with Renaissance sculptures and oil paintings from the turn of the century. There’s no better seat than the glass-enclosed outdoor plaza filled with swaying palm fronds and round café tables lined up under an arched skylight. The effect is transporting, like you’ve just come from shopping on the Champs-Élysées, ready for a bottle of Bordeaux and flawless steak frites.

RH Rooftop (Meatpacking District)

Photo credit: RH Rooftop Restaurant

An all-glass elevator takes you to this penthouse beauty. Named after the fancy furniture store it’s perched on top of, RH Rooftop is peak luxe. The same ornate accents feature here as the floors below, such as a chandelier hanging over every table. But it really shines for nailing the indoor-outdoor vibe with trickling fountains and a massive skylight. Naturally, the menu is just as larger-than-life, featuring Black Forest bacon-topped cheeseburgers and massive banana splits.

Montesacro BK (Williamsburg) 

A retractable glass ceiling and large potted plants at the outdoor dining space at Montesacro BK in New York City
Photo credit: Montesacro

Montesacro’s highly regarded Roman-style pizza gets exceptional ambiance in an enchanting enclosed garden, a sun-filled room cheerfully filled with plants and capped off by a soaring living wall. The garden has a convenient retractable rooftop, making it an oasis of flowers and greenery. It’s ideal for any sort of weather—but on a sunny day munching on crispy pinsa, there’s nothing quite like it.

Temple Court (Financial District)

Photo credit: Temple Court

Located in the magnificent Beekman Hotel in FiDi, Temple Court is a twofer that makes for a special evening. Start with a drink in the dramatic atrium lobby bar with wrought-iron staircases, tufted couches, and oversized armchairs tucked into corners for lingering over perfectly stirred cocktails. Then move to your reservation in chef Tom Colicchio’s highly seasonal New American restaurant, where the sexy dining room is all soft curves and low lighting from striking stained glass.

Grand Central Oyster Bar (Midtown East)

Photo credit: Grand Central Oyster Bar

Designed by Rafael Guastavino and his son, Rafael Guastavino Jr., this absolutely iconic room has changed little since it opened in 1913. The design is classically old-school: wood-paneled walls, vaulted, herringbone-tiled ​​archways, tables covered in red-and-white gingham linen, and a serpentine lunch counter with original swivel stool seating—the best way to dine on the James Beard Award-winning restaurant’s stunning menu of shellfish and, as you might expect, over 30 varieties of oysters.

Tavern on the Green (Midtown West)

Photo credit: Tavern on the Green

Since 1934, Tavern on the Green has been serving a classic American menu in its timeless space on Central Park’s western edge. The restaurant is practically synonymous with “special occasion,” with several different dining rooms. There’s the famed glass-enclosed atrium; a more formal dining room; an A-framed, ski lodge-like space; and an elegant bar. Then there’s the garden, where in the winter a massive Christmas tree is an obligatory seasonal stop.

Bad Roman (Columbus Circle)

Photo credit: Christian Harder

New Yorkers flock to Bad Roman for its vibe: The space is downright outrageous, lined with unapologetically red banquettes and filled with tightly spaced bistro tables flanked by floor-to-ceiling mirrors, glass tiles, stretches of polished wood, and emerald slab marble—all of which gives the space a decidedly maximalist energy and buzz. The vibe marries well with the menu of bold Italian favorites like chicken Milanese, veal chops, and rich short rib pappardelle. 

Cecconi’s (Dumbo)

A black and white awning covers the outdoor seating area at Cecconi’s Dumbo, with views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Photo credit: Cecconi’s

Cecconi’s Dumbo is housed in a converted coffee warehouse and packs a triple punch with an unbeatable Brooklyn Bridge Park address, stunning Manhattan views, and classic Italian food. Whether you’re here for a sunset negroni under the black-and-white-striped awning outside or digging into a squash blossom and truffle pie from a cushy velvet chair inside, there’s no denying the see-and-be-seen vibes at this handsome Soho House destination.

Casa Ora (Williamsburg)

Photo credit: Casa Ora

This MICHELIN-recognized bistro takes an upscale approach to Venezuelan fare—braised short rib asado negro, lobster fosforera—and the setting matches. Rattan lighting casts a golden glow over a room with midnight blue wainscoting, deep banquettes upholstered in soft emerald green velvet, hardwood floors strewn with Moroccan area rugs, and the lush greenery of wandering vines and potted plants. There’s also an enclosable outdoor garden dressed up with string lights for pretty nights al fresco.

Level Restaurant & Bar (Sheepshead Bay)

Photo credit: Level Restaurant & Bar

Sheepshead Bay tends to have more low-key restaurants, so this glamorous restaurant, bar, and dance hall particularly stands out. Chevron-tiled flooring, jewel-toned armchair seating, cool ebony marble tables, chandeliers, and a sleek cocktail bar backed by mirrored shelves and artisan spirits feature throughout the several rooms. An expansive menu includes steak and sushi, but come later, this place becomes a full-on party complete with a DJ and acrobatic dancers.

The Tusk Bar (NoMad)

Photo credit: The Tusk Bar

The Tusk Bar, tucked into the historic Evelyn Hotel, marries effortless glamor with Jazz-age flair. Wildair’s Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske are behind the seafoody small plates and rich desserts, and their famed food is the perfect match for the stunning setting and upscale cocktails. The luxurious room is filled with overstuffed armchairs, antique lamps perched on small carved end tables, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, dark velvet curtains, and the soft glow of an evening of elegance.

Peak Restaurant & Bar (Chelsea)

Photo credit: Peak

It’s obvious that acclaimed architect David Rockwell designed this stunning space, wrapped in glass and offering unparalleled views from the 101st floor of 30 Hudson Yards. Inside, natural earth tones allow the beauty of the city and the Hudson River below to take center stage. Whether you go in for sunset cocktails and caviar, or a more formal dinner, chef Rose Noel’s elevated new American menu hits only high notes.

Known for her pioneering food blog, The Strong Buzz, Andrea Strong has been writing about restaurants, chefs, and life around the table for the past 25 years for publications such as The New York Times, Fast Company, Food & Wine, New York magazine, Eater, and more. She lives, eats, and loads and unloads the dishwasher in Brooklyn. Follow her on Instagram @strongbuzz_.

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