NYCGuide

The Best Mediterranean Restaurants In NYC

For when your mood is somewhere between fattoush, kubaneh, and gambas al ajillo.
A big spread of food, including salad, grilled shrimp, and octopus, served in colorful ceramic dishes.

photo credit: Melissa Hom

When it comes to labels, “Mediterranean” is as vague as it gets. The sea stretches between three continents and touches over 20 countries, each with its own distinct culinary identity. And yet, it’s a term you hear every day. The next time a friend tells you that they have Mediterranean on the brain, here are a bunch of spots—with influences that range from Spain to Lebanon—that should fit the bill.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

Palestinian

Bay Ridge

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsCasual Weeknight DinnerDinner with the ParentsSmall PlatesVegetariansBirthdays

Around since 1998, Tanoreen is a New York City staple, serving shareable portions of Palestinian and Middle Eastern food best enjoyed with a group. The baba ganoush is lemony, the fetti with sumac-spiced lamb gets some crunch from almonds and fried pita, and the gooey knafeh is worth every bit of its 20-minute wait. Bring the whole family to this Bay Ridge spot, and enjoy a casual meal at a big round table under a glowing chandelier.

You’d think the rooftop view would be the main selling point of this Philly import atop a Williamsburg hotel. But it’s actually the unlimited platter of salatim that accompanies every meal. Order a main—like the amba-spiced eggplant, or lamb and beef koobideh—and it’ll arrive with a huge platter of vegetable sides arranged around a bowl of garlic-heavy hummus. Try this spot for a fun group dinner with some friends who want to feel a breeze while they eat grilled food, and be sure to book a full three weeks in advance.

photo credit: David A. Lee

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Zou Zou’s, a glitzy restaurant in the Penn Station-adjacent development known as Manhattan West, fully embraces the vagueness of its Mediterranean label. Stop by for some Moroccan fried chicken, a spiral-shaped duck borek, or a skillet of flaming kasseri cheese with Lebanese focaccia on the side. The food isn’t traditional, but it’s fun, inventive, and great for sharing. Try this place for a big night out when you want to drink a turmeric Negroni in a space with sweeping red booths and an excess of globe lights.

photo credit: Jason Varney

Similar to Zou Zou's, Zaytinya is an upscale spot with a menu that bounces all over the place. Located in the bottom of the Ritz-Carlton in Nomad, the José Andrés establishment does Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese items like taramasalata, falafel, and braised lamb shank. There are lots of flatbreads and mezze, so plan on having a two-to-three-small-plates-each sort of experience. The spacious restaurant looks like a seaside resort, and you should, appropriately, focus on the seafood. 

The Chelsea sequel to Shuka is even better than its Soho sibling. Shukette is tough to get into for a variety of reasons, many of which fall into the category bread. Try the charred and fluffy Moroccan-style frena topped with whole cloves of garlic, or the thin, grilled laffa with caraway and lemon. Accessorize your carbs with labneh and whipped feta, then finish things off with some heavily marinated grilled chicken and a bowl of soft serve. The narrow room, with its mile-long bar, is casual enough for a weeknight, but the Middle Eastern food is special occasion-worthy.

photo credit: Melissa Hom

Its soothing sand-colored walls and custom ceramics say “wellness retreat in the Palm Springs area,” but Theodora’s wood-fired food is broadly Mediterranean. This Fort Greene sister restaurant of Miss Ada specializes in dry-aged fish and seafood small plates like sliced toro on lavash and grilled prawns with pineapple pico de gallo. A lot of dishes are pleasantly smoky, and there’s plenty of non-Mediterranean influence going on as well. It can be tough to snag a reservation, but don’t be afraid to put your name in for a seat at the bar. Even a 45-minute wait is worth it.

photo credit: Kate Previte

$$$$Perfect For:Big Groups

In the minuscule, relatively unknown neighborhood that is Hudson Square, there’s not much going on (unless you count all the bridal showers at Maman). There is, however, a non-stop party in Port Sa’id. At this cavernous restaurant, a nightly DJ spins vinyl from a booth flanked by enormous speakers, and a kitchen tucked behind the bar churns out food with ultra-fresh produce. The baked potato with “horseradish snow” is an unexpected highlight, and a simple roast beef sandwich is greater than the sum of its parts.

Part wine bar, part Dimes Square it-spot, Cervo’s is a scene with an abundance of seafood. The menu is Iberian-inspired, the wine list is heavy on tempranillo and xarel-lo, and the dark, narrow room is usually crammed with folks you may recognize from Hinge. Build a meal with small plates like fried shrimp heads, and spicy mussels escabeche, or keep it simple with the $25 lamb burger—and don’t forget to add anchovies. Reservations are highly recommended, although Cervo’s does take walk-ins.

The view from Celestine is so nice it’s almost cheesy. If you snag a table on the outdoor patio, you’ll find yourself practically beneath the Manhattan Bridge, with the East River and downtown Manhattan right in front of you. So if you’re looking to impress a few tourists, this upscale Mediterranean restaurant will get the job done. You might assume that the food is an afterthought, but, fortunately, that’s not the case. Everyone should be happy sharing a $32 mezze platter and some well-cooked branzino.  

Al Badawi’s cheesy flatbreads and big shareable plates of roasted lamb are some of the most reliable big-group dinner items in New York. They have locations in Brooklyn Heights and the Upper East Side, and both are BYOB. The UES edition has a giant fake tree in one corner, and it’s generally pretty easy to walk into with a group. Bring some friends, get a dip sampler, a few flatbreads, and a couple bottles of wine, and expect lots of good conversation while you enjoy a Palestinian feast. 

With two locations in North Brooklyn, Dar 525 is the increasingly rare sort of spot where you can get a quality one-dish meal for around $20. The Williamsburg outpost is casual and homey, with brick walls, hanging lanterns, and antique decor, and it’s perfect for a quick meal on a Wednesday night. Get yourself a plate piled with hummus, rice, and shredded chicken shawarma, and use the stretchy, paper-thin pita on the side to clean up every last bit.

photo credit: Dagon

$$$$Perfect For:BrunchBig Groups
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There’s a decent chance you’ve seen pictures of Dagon’s kubaneh. It’s not just influencer bait. The big pull-apart loaf of bread is moist and fluffy, with peanut dukkah sprinkled in the crevices. Swing by this spacious, plant-filled Upper West Side restaurant, and pair your kubaneh with chicken schnitzel or steak kebabs. This place is great for brunch, especially if you’re looking for something slightly upscale (the servers wear ties), preferably with a pastel color scheme.

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