Union Square Cafe is the epitome of the Classic NYC Establishment. For almost 30 years, it's been an anchor of New York's perpetually changing dining landscape. Danny Meyer's first restaurant has managed to stay relevant, current, and delicious all these years.
As it most definitely is for many, the space in between the walls of Union Square Cafe is filled with personal history. My family ate here after I graduated high school, and again for one of my parents' 50th birthdays. USC has always been a happy, celebratory place - a restaurant with soul. It's a great spot for family functions and big groups, but it shouldn't be pigeonholed as just that. Union Square Cafe is "Perfect For" a myriad of things, and thanks to a subtle revamp of their classic Italian menu and bar, there's a unique energy and a diverse crowd that's just as happy to be eating here now as they were when the place first opened.
After a five-year hiatus, we recently came back to Union Square Cafe to see how things are holding up. And it turns out everything is holding up quite well. This is still an amazing restaurant. They class up the classics, and everything is absolutely delicious.
It's easy to get caught up in the New York City hot spot of the moment, but restaurants like this prove that you shouldn't sleep on the standards. Next time you're heading out for a special night on the town, give Union Square Cafe heavy consideration. Even if you've got nothing to celebrate.
Food RundownCara Cara Orange Salad
A nice, light salad to start, made with Cara Cara oranges, which are amazing. They're a bit like a blood orange, but a little bit sweeter, and taste great with the crunchy pine nuts, and ricotta salata on the plate.Cockle Pan Stew
Our favorite item on the menu. Super sweet clams sit in a garlicky broth with spicy salami and chilies. You'll need some extra bread for dunking.Grilled Pork Belly-Polenta Skewer
A big hunk of glistening pork belly on a stick, atop a bed of polenta and apple puree. You need this.Ricotta Gnocchi
Pillowy, fluffy, and perfect. This is about as good as gnocchi gets. Make sure to spend a lot of time in the pasta section. That's where the good stuff is.Spaghettini Siciliano with Swordfish Meatballs
Spaghettini in a delicious red sauce, accompanied by hearty meatballs made of swordfish and breadcrumbs. The Meatball Shop dudes would be impressed.Butternut Squash Tortelli
An incredible ravioli with a potent butternut squash flavor, complimented by cranberries, balsamic, and brown butter. Another pasta home run.Rainbow Trout
The entrée section of the menu is full of classic, simple dishes. Trout, monkfish, snapper, chicken, lamb, and steak are all present. You know the drill. The trout is very good, but we probably wouldn't order it again.Prime New York Strip Steak
For $35, that's a nice sized steak. It comes cooked to perfection, with a zesty radish salad and AMAZING marrow mashed potatoes. You really can't ask for anything better if you're in the mood for meat.Dessert
Order dessert. Apple Crumb Tart and Peanut Butter Sundae, if you can.