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16 restaurants that scream “New York City”

A photo of Red logo
by Ameena Walker and Marion Brewer
Updated April 07, 2023

New York is undoubtedly a restaurant city. In a place where most people live in small apartments with even tinier kitchens, the best restaurants aren’t just a convenience—they stand in for New Yorkers’ living rooms and backyards, giving residents spaces to gather outside their homes.

While there are restaurants on every block, some make such an impact on the city’s culture that it’s hard to imagine New York without them. A storied oyster bar is synonymous with Grand Central Station. An inventive Nigerian spot expands the restaurant landscape in Bed-Stuy. An acclaimed soul food spot is a Harlem landmark.

These are the qualities that make up The Greats: 16 restaurants, ranging from laidback to dressed up, that define what it means to eat, live, and love in New York City.

A photo of Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare restaurant
4.6
4.6 (514)
$50 and over
French / Japanese
Midtown West
About the restaurant

This tasting menu restaurant launched in a space attached to the grocery store with which it still shares a name (Brooklyn Fare) on Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn. Its unorthodox location, combined with chef César Ramirez’s luxurious, truffle-laden menu at a fittingly high price point, forced recognition that the borough could finally compete with Manhattan’s fine dining restaurants, earning it three MICHELIN stars. It has since relocated to Manhattan, but the experience is the same—an expensive ticket that pays off in plates of uni, lobster, and a front-row seat to watch the chef at work.


Top review
JessicaC
Dined on Feb 25, 2024
Such an incredible experience!!! The food was amazing, the ambiance and staff were so impressive. Would definitely recommend!
A photo of Grand Central Oyster Bar restaurant
4.2
4.2 (7549)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Midtown East
About the restaurant

There are few restaurants more iconic than Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York’s equally iconic Grand Central Station, sharing the building’s glorious scale and dramatic vaulted tile ceiling. With U-shaped lunch counters spanning end to end in part of the room and red-checked tablecloths covering wooden tables in the dining room, the place feels like it did when it opened in 1913. And while the clientele might dress differently now, all come for the reasons people have for a century: a quick bowl of chowder before exploring the city, or a dozen oysters and a cocktail before catching a train home.


Top review
Marmadukescarlett
Dined on Apr 1, 2024
Fantastic oyster and fish restaurant. The food was delicious
A photo of TAO Downtown - New York restaurant
4.6
4.6 (6716)
$31 to $50
Fusion / Eclectic
Chelsea
About the restaurant

TAO Downtown resembles a Vegas nightclub to many. But it might be more accurate to say that many Vegas nightclubs actually resemble TAO—the hybrid club and restaurant pioneered the genre and exported it all over the world. TAO is now the place to have an epic night, whether it’s for bachelorette and bachelor parties, birthdays, or other celebrations. The restaurant is equal parts show and service, with tables tiered into steps on one end of the dining room so diners can survey the scene below them while enjoying pork potstickers and Peking duck. Those who want to continue the night can head to the nightclub, hidden in the same building, where hopes of celebrity-spotting and high-priced bottle service have helped TAO become one of the highest grossing restaurants in New York.


Top review
MatthewC
Dined 1 day ago
Good was excellent!! The ambience was even better. I would highly recommend.
A photo of The Odeon restaurant
4.8
4.8 (3448)
$31 to $50
French
TriBeCa
About the restaurant

The Odeon has been an anchor for Lower Manhattan since it opened in 1980, long before Tribeca was trendy. The restaurant has weathered the ups and downs of several recessions, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and now a global pandemic, all while remaining a symbol of downtown cool that counts celebrities as regulars. Its French bistro-esque interiors influenced restaurant design for decades. The Odeon is still a go-to for the city’s most comforting classics such as frisée salad and roast chicken, best paired with some of Manhattan’s best people watching.


Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 4 days ago
The manager made our lunch even more special as we had just got married and come from city hall !!! It was too much fun, but also felt like home at the same time. Best feeling. Thank you.
A photo of Casa Mono restaurant
4.7
4.7 (2583)
$31 to $50
Spanish
Union Square
About the restaurant

Casa Mono has turned out consistently superb tapas since 2003, with rave New York Times reviews and a MICHELIN star to prove it. The kitchen is led by longtime chef-owner Andy Nusser and whips up classic small plates that will transport you to Spain—think pan con tomate, bacalao croquetas, razor clams a la plancha, and top-notch jamón iberíco. Larger plates are equally delightful, be it something more traditional such as fideos with chorizo and clams or unique combos like bone marrow served with smoked trout roe, horseradish, and everything bagel spice. End on a sweet note with the crème brulée-like crema Catalana con buñuelos, a rich caramelized vanilla custard trimmed with deep-fried bay leaves.


Top review
DJMXXvip
Dined 6 days ago
We absolutely loved every dish (too numerous to list so I assume everything is at the same high level). The service was friendly and was at the perfect level of attentiveness. The ambiance is casual and relaxed. We ate outside on a cool night and were quite comfortable. The wines were well served by the very knowledgeable sommelier. I can’t recommend Casa Mono enough and look forward to returning in the nearest future.
A photo of Kappo Masa restaurant
4.6
4.6 (594)
$50 and over
Japanese
Upper East Side
About the restaurant

Celebrated chef Masayoshi Takayama’s fifth fine-dining destination, opened in collaboration with art world kingpin Larry Gagosian, is suited for special occasions. Let the kitchen choose for you with the splurgy six-course chef’s tasting menu or sushi omakase, which comes with 15-18 pieces. Or choose your own adventure by going a la carte, starting with the menu’s chilled section, opting for toro wasabi ceviche or deep sea snapper ponzu, and warmer picks such as spicy dancing shrimp or roasted uni custard served on the half shell. For the main event, mix and match from the meat-focused hibachi grill section, various fried rice dishes, and sushi. For a taste of the Masa mini-empire on a (relative) budget, there’s the two-course bento box lunch.


Top review
Wharfinger314
Dined on Apr 1, 2024
Best Japanese food in New York. Delicious, fresh, memorable.
A photo of The River Cafe restaurant
4.8
4.8 (8893)
$50 and over
American
DUMBO
About the restaurant

When owner Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe opened The River Café in 1977, DUMBO was a desolate neighborhood, full of underutilized waterfront warehouses. But O’Keeffe saw potential in the sweeping views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. In many ways, the restaurant has always been ahead of its time, with chefs—among them Larry Forgione, Charlie Palmer, and David Burke—basing fine-dining menus off locally sourced and foraged ingredients. The MICHELIN-starred restaurant has kept up with the growing neighborhood around it and remains a special-occasion destination for elegant dishes such as pan-roasted venison served with chestnut spaetzle, braised red cabbage, and fall root vegetables.


Top review
JohnSvip
Dined 2 days ago
River Cafe is a very special experience. We had a great dinner, food, service and ambience. Certainly all well worth the drive to Brooklyn!
A photo of Fonda Chelsea restaurant
4.7
4.7 (994)
$31 to $50
Mexican
Chelsea
About the restaurant

Chef and owner Roberto Santibañez, who hails from Mexico City and trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, dishes up the city’s finest regional Mexican comfort food at Fonda. The restaurant’s three locations serve up a crowd-pleasing mix of familiar and lesser-seen dishes alongside tasty margaritas. Crunchy, cheesy appetizers such as queso fundido, flautas, and taquitos are perfect for sharing (and kid-friendly, too). Pescatarians will appreciate picks including ceviche or crab croquettes served with a trio of sauces: avocado serrano, pickled jalapeño mayo, and habanero roasted tomato. For something lighter, there’s a strong salad selection starring ingredients such as jicama, mango, and green apple plus hearty sharable mains with a strong Oaxacan bent.


Top review
Beth
Dined 6 days ago
The food is yummy; drinks are just right; the staff is friendly and professional. The fresh guacamole and crispy chips are A+. If you're in the mood for Mexican food in NYC, definitely try Fonda.
A photo of Casa Ora restaurant
4.7
4.7 (572)
$31 to $50
Venezuelan
Williamsburg
About the restaurant

At this MICHELIN-recognized East Williamsburg spot, the creative Venezuelan menu comes courtesy of chef Isbelis Diaz, while the unique cocktails are devised by her son, Ivo Diaz, a former mixologist at The Nomad and Eleven Madison Park. Dishes include pork tamale with chickpea, potato, raisins, and olives (available in vegan form) and mains such as lobster, squid, and octopus paella. Don’t miss whimsical drinks such as the Purple Banana, made with tequila, dry vermouth, blue pea tea, sweet plantain, lemon, and egg white. In addition to celebrating their homeland’s cuisine, the mother-son duo supports Venezuela by donating a portion of Casa Ora’s revenue to families forced to seek asylum from the country due to insufficient access to food, clean water, and government protection.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Great food and service. The place has a great atmosphere. The only thing to improve would maybe put larger tables away from smaller tables. The noise level from large tables is insane. Loved the sauces
A photo of Faun restaurant
4.6
4.6 (30)
$31 to $50
Italian
Prospect Heights
About the restaurant

Tuck into creative Italian-leaning fare in a charming setting at MICHELIN-recommended Faun. The seasonally driven spot is one of the best dinner destinations near popular area attractions such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Museum. Vinegar Hill House alum Brian Leth created its rotating menu, which showcases solid pastas such as pappardelle with braised ossobuco ragú and spaghetti neri with Jonah crab and shishito peppers. Rest assured there are lighter options, too, including seared scallops and roasted beets with feta, walnuts, and burrata. You can’t go wrong whether seated indoors or outdoors at Faun. At the former, there’s a handsome lengthy bar and cozy interiors. And when you’re craving an alfresco setting, Faun’s lush garden patio delivers one of the most magical backdrops in Brooklyn.


Top review
Jcjf
Dined on Mar 26, 2024
Nice simple dishes. Portion are not big so don't understand the small plate big plate difference.
A photo of Mario's Restaurant - Arthur Ave. restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1058)
$31 to $50
Italian
Belmont
About the restaurant

Owned by the Migliucci family for five generations, Mario’s is a deeply personal restaurant. The interior is decorated with Italian landscapes painted by a distant relative, and until his passing in April 2020, diners could expect to be greeted by patriarch Joseph Migliucci when they arrived. Which explains why for more than 100 years, neighbors and regulars from all over the tri-state area have flocked to the restaurant for hearty portions of Italian classics such as chicken parmigiana and homemade lasagna. Now in the care of Migliucci’s daughter, Regina, very little has changed except for one menu dish: the restaurant’s pizza, long a well-known, off menu-item, has finally found its place in print.


Top review
TheDon
Dined 7 days ago
Outstanding dinner as always. Ive been bringing my family here since 2000. Holiday dinners and post Yankee game dinners. The hostess and owner Regina is fantastic. You enter as a customer and you leave a member of the family. Try it and prove me wrong- i dare you!!!!
A photo of Melba's restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1394)
$50 and over
American
Harlem
About the restaurant

Dig into one of Harlem’s best casual meals at this soul food institution. Chef Melba Wilson’s chicken and waffles shot to fame after winning an episode of Food Network’s Throwdown! With Bobby Flay in 2008. Melba’s adored version comes with strawberry butter, maple syrup, and can be topped with wings or catfish. Wilson began her career at her aunt’s Harlem staple, Sylvia’s, and can often be found greeting guests with warm hugs. The restaurant’s Southern comforts are so legendary that even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stopped by on a 2021 visit.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on Apr 2, 2024
Had a great time with my family and that was in part to the staff. From the host that sat us , to the singing server, the barkeep, and others. Food was excellent. We went with a Tapas or strictly appetizer selection. Food was great tasting and eye opening. To my peaked curiosity, the reimagined Spring Rolls were Southern Comfort Food in crispy, fried Southern meets East , bites. The Calamari was fresh, not rubbery, wings on point and the handful was of catfish strip so hot and flavourful we ordered them twice.
A photo of Strip House restaurant
4.7
4.7 (3301)
$50 and over
Steak
Greenwich Village
About the restaurant

In a town where so many residents claim a favorite steakhouse, Strip House stands out. The interiors are far from staid, livened up by bordello-inspired accents and burlesque photos on the walls. But Strip House doesn’t mess around in the beef department. The pitch-perfect steaks are accompanied by decadent European-style sides including truffled creamed spinach and goose-fat fried potatoes. Come extra hungry and order the beloved New York strip, along with several martinis to wash it down. Don’t skip the 24-layer chocolate cake (intended for 8-10 people) if you’re here with a group.


Top review
CorkDinnyvip
Dined 1 day ago
I consider this one of my favorite steak houses in Manhattan. Food is great without the cookie cutter ambience of Mortons or Palm genre. If some one from out of town wants a great NY steak this is the place. Food is always just right and the manager Patrick is heads up on keeping everyone happy.
A photo of Zou Zou's restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1181)
$31 to $50
Mediterranean
Hell's Kitchen
About the restaurant

Everything is over-the-top at Zou Zou’s, a dazzling new Eastern Mediterranean restaurant that opened in 2022 and has quickly embedded itself as a must-try in the city’s restaurant scene. Chef Madeline Sperling (of Gramercy Tavern fame) turns out dramatic plates such as duck borek, a hypnotizing pastry spiral glazed with tangy orange sauce and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. The dinner theater continues with dishes including Kasseri cheese, set aflame at the table. Though the intricate kataifi cheesecake, a phyllo-layered marvel that channels both the Middle East and New York City, may be the ultimate showstopper. Feast on it all in a blue-tiled expanse, decked with plants, velour banquettes, and mirrored walls.


Top review
MaggieCvip
Dined 1 day ago
Love this place 10/10 every time, and Marty is the sweetest
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