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  3. The best New York City restaurants, according to hospitality visionary Will Guidara

The best New York City restaurants, according to hospitality visionary Will Guidara

A photo of Red logo
by Stefanie Tuder
Updated April 11, 2024

Hospitality and Will Guidara are synonymous. The Unreasonable Hospitality author and OpenTable advisory board member built his career on crafting a signature style of over-the-top, surprise-and-delight hospitality that drove Eleven Madison Park to the top spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2017.

He’s since left EMP to spread his trademark hospitality to more restaurants and even other industries. When he’s not busy upping industry standards, here’s where he loves to eat in his hometown of New York City.

OpenTable advisory board members are compensated for their time and expertise, but all the restaurant selections are their own.

A photo of Shun Lee Palace restaurant
4.2
4.2 (1653)
$31 to $50
Chinese
Midtown East
About the restaurant

Shun Lee Palace has been an NYC all-star since 1971, pioneering a style of Chinese fine dining that has spread across cuisines since then. Today, the institution still serves up moo shu chicken, spare ribs, and other beloved classics.

Why Will loves it: “I remember the owner of Shun Lee Palace came into EMP early days. He must have had an amazing meal, because within a few days, he sent down family meal for our entire team. And so after that, I went to Shun Lee Palace for the first time. It’s one of the most delicious ways to step back in time and always reminds me of a moment where someone just showed some pretty incredible hospitality to every single person on my team. The orange beef at Shun Lee Palace is amazing.”


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on May 12, 2024
The food was outstanding and fresh, and the service was impeccable.
A photo of Hawksmoor NYC restaurant
4.6
4.6 (2258)
$50 and over
American
Gramercy Park
About the restaurant

Top-notch charcoal-grilled beef and a stunning dining room distinguish this popular new-school steakhouse imported from England.

Why Will loves it: “Some audacity—these British guys came to New York to open a steakhouse, and they knocked the cover off the ball. They restored this beautiful architectural gem, and they did it with incredible responsibility, because the room is just spectacular. The beef-fat fries are delicious. And their sourdough and cultured butter—I love the idea that a restaurant brought really, really good butter into a steakhouse environment, which normally doesn’t go hand in hand.”


Top review
signeh
Dined 4 days ago
Service was great, I have a severe gluten intolerance and alcohol allergy and they went out of their way to accommodate me and walk me through the menu. Food was delicious, especially the beet salad, cremini mushroom sides and obviously the steaks.
A photo of Craft restaurant
4.7
4.7 (6824)
$50 and over
American
Gramercy Park
About the restaurant

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s greenmarket-driven American fine-dining restaurant has racked up awards since 2001—including a James Beard Award and three stars from The New York Times.

Why Will loves it: “Craft is my favorite date-night spot. Whenever my wife and I want to go and just have an hour and a half of just the two of us reconnecting, that is our go-to spot. We sit at the corner of the bar and order roast chicken, arugula salad, pomme purée, and hen of the woods mushrooms with a nice bottle of Burgundy. There are few places that are as consistently magical and transportive and delicious as that meal in those two seats at that restaurant.”


Top review
TiffanyL
Dined 3 days ago
Honestly the service was stellar but the food was meh and the restaurant was too cold and dark inside. The porterhouse steak unfortunately was fatty and nothing was super memorable.
A photo of Zou Zou's restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1239)
$31 to $50
Mediterranean
Hell's Kitchen
About the restaurant

Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food gets a large, colorful home in Manhattan West at Zou Zou’s, full of red banquettes, hanging plants, and a lively bar.

Why Will loves it: “There are few greater pleasures than walking over the High Line and sitting down with a group of people and losing yourself in community and conversation over their delicious food. The Moroccan fried chicken for two is so good. The number of delicious things that require people literally and metaphorically reaching into the middle of the table—it brings me so much pride that it’s run by so many people I used to work with at The NoMad.”


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 3 days ago
Great food may be a little too loud to conduct business
A photo of The Dutch restaurant
4.6
4.6 (3101)
$31 to $50
American
SoHo
About the restaurant

Andrew Carmellini—the award-winning chef behind spots like Locanda Verde and Lafayette—brings his expert touch to American comfort food such as fried chicken and a cheddar-topped burger in a chic SoHo space.

Why Will loves it: “The Dutch is [Andrew] Carmellini opening a great, humble, simple restaurant, but doing what he always does—doing simple well is so incredibly hard. It’s one of those restaurants that no matter who you go with, everyone will have something they’re very excited to eat. He created this little escape right in the middle of the Village that is always so freaking good and reliable and reminds me of the New York I came up in.”


Top review
MotivatedModernMom
Dined on Apr 29, 2024
Cooper s d Chef Dwight are outstanding. Staff overall are outstanding and provide fast and efficient service. Love the scallion corn bread!
A photo of Bad Roman restaurant
4.5
4.5 (1643)
$31 to $50
Italian
Upper West Side
About the restaurant

Maximalism and Italian American food meet at Bad Roman, resulting in over-the-top dishes like cheesy raviolo-crowned filet mignon in a luxurious, gilded space.

Why Will loves it: “Michael Stillman was an intern for me when I worked at Tabla way back in the day. If you want a big night out and you want to eat food you’ll still be craving in the morning, Bad Roman crushes it. You walk in there and it’s all of the over-the-top ridiculousness that sometimes Italian American restaurants want to be and are not very often. Subtlety is such a beautiful thing, but sometimes it’s nice to not be subtle at all.”


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
We loved Bad Roman! It was a cute lil date night for a couple of people pretending to be fancy. The decor is sooo kitschy, but v tasteful and beautiful. Most of all our server Marisol was so nice! Some of our dishes came out very late and she went out of her way to make it up to us, which wasn't even necessary, but appreciated nonetheless :) We tipped her accordingly but wanted to give her a good review. Marisol u deserve a raise!!!!
A photo of Lil' Frankie's restaurant
4.5
4.5 (781)
$30 and under
Italian
East Village
About the restaurant

East Village Italian kingmaker Frank Prisinzano opened Lil’ Frankie’s in 2002 and has been serving up homey Italian classics to the neighborhood ever since.

Why Will loves it: “When you know you just want some simple beautiful Italian food, Lil’ Frankies is just so good. They have this rigatoni with meatballs, and it’s just amazing. There's something about the simple pleasures and a little Italian restaurant in the East Village that so consistently pumps out awesome food, and when you go there no one cares who you are, but they take care of everyone.”


Top review
MichaelH
Dined 4 days ago
Always tasty… been going for 25 years! Pasta limone is a fav…
A photo of Grand Central Oyster Bar restaurant
4.2
4.2 (7616)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Midtown East
About the restaurant

A New York institution since 1913, Grand Central Oyster Bar’s seafood-focused menu and pitch-perfect martinis are made all the better by the grand, iconic space.

Why Will loves it: “I love how New York is always changing. There’s this great quote by Ed Koch: ‘New York is the city where the future comes to rehearse.’ But what makes New York New York is that some things will always stay the same—introducing the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Sometimes you just need to be reminded that New York is and has always been awesome, and some of the greatest parts of the city are those that never change.”


Top review
Wizegourmandvip
Dined 4 days ago
One of the great New York experiences. The selection is overwhelming and the food never disappoints. The service was lousy yesterday despite a quiet lunchtime visit. But you still can’t beat it.
A photo of Indian Accent restaurant
4.7
4.7 (3231)
$50 and over
Indian
Midtown West
About the restaurant

Image caption: Indian Accent stands out for its exquisite tasting menu. | Credit: Indian Accent

Alt text: Burrata chaat with crispy lotus root and mustard-tomato jam at Indian Accent in New York City

With locations in New Delhi and Mumbai, Indian Accent spotlights the most inventive in Indian cuisine via a special-occasion-worthy tasting menu.

Why Will loves it: “Tabla was my first real restaurant job in New York City under the late chef Floyd Cardoz. One of the things that was so amazing about Tabla was that it showed New York that Indian food can be refined and beautiful and thoughtful. Indian Accent is carrying that torch. I can't even quote a dish because they change the menu all the time, but every single bite of food there seriously puts the world on pause. Everything goes into slow motion for a second.”


Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 2 days ago
This should be a Michelin starred restaurant! Creative, delicious, great service.
A photo of Emmy Squared Pizza - Williamsburg restaurant
3.9
3.9 (29)
$30 and under
Pizzeria
Williamsburg
About the restaurant

This Williamsburg-born mini-chain is beloved for its casual Detroit-style pizzas and burgers.

Why Will loves it: “I love going to Joe’s Pizza and getting a slice, but, man, the pepperoni square at Emmy Squared is one of life’s great pleasures. That burger on a pretzel bun, ugh, it’s good. Pizza, burgers—all of these simple foods that I love so much, they do every one of them a little differently. When you crave Emmy Squared, nothing else will do.”


Top review
SSJoseph
Dined 6 days ago
Tasty gluten-free pizza and an amazing brussel sprouts salad. A bit too loud for the grandparents but they had a fabulous time at dinner.
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