NYCGuide

The 25 Best Restaurants In NYC

Meet our 25 highest-rated restaurants.
A big spread of Italian dishes, including duck, fennel salad, pasta, and prosciutto.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Have you ever woken up and thought, “Gosh, I’d love to eat at a second-best restaurant today?” Of course you haven’t. Whether you’ve lived here your entire life or are visiting for the first time, it’s human nature to want to experience the best of the best. And that’s exactly why we wrote this guide.

These are the highest-rated restaurants in New York City—the ones we seek out on days off. Food and experience are both taken into consideration, and any type of dining establishment is fair game. On this list you’ll find fancy spots, casual hangouts, food trucks, and even a few diners with more than just burgers and pancakes. Every city has its classics and its hot new places (check out our guide to the best new restaurants of 2023), but these are restaurants where greatness is always guaranteed. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: David A. Lee

American

Upper West Side

$$$$Perfect For:Special OccasionsDate NightImpressing Out of TownersBirthdays

Like a '90s nightclub plopped into the middle of Lincoln Center, Tatiana glows blue and chain-link gold, blasts Lauryn Hill and Biggie, and serves the most exciting food we've tasted at a fancy restaurant, ever. You’ll have just as much fun clocking tracks on the throwback playlist as you will dissecting all the menu’s references to NYC classics, from Afro-Caribbean hot bars to Chinese take-out. You’ll even find a nod to the Cosmic brownies at corner bodegas. We're especially fond of the absurdly tender short rib pastrami suya, served with caraway coco bread, inviting you to build sliders. Tatiana is one of the hardest reservations in town, but for a restaurant that feels like a paradigm shift in New York fine dining, it’s well worth it. Ask about the jello shots.

photo credit: David A. Lee

You could make the argument that old-school fine dining is boring and antiquated. And that would be a pretty compelling argument, if it weren’t for Le Bernardin. This Midtown institution, which has been open for over 30 years now, is a well-oiled machine that’s been fine-tuned to perfection. The service here skews north of impeccable, and the sprawling dining room's soft spotlights hit exactly where your plate goes. But the actual glamor of this restaurant—and the main reason why it's still an amazing place to eat after some three decades—comes via the seafood. Geoduck chawanmushi with uni and soft-crunchy sea beans in pork dashi, langoustine and buttery leeks in uni sauce americaine that tastes like New Orleans, slightly smoked sea trout tartare—you book a reservation at Le Bernardin primarily to get your hands on these.

We loved our meals at Uncle Boons over the years, but we can’t help but think of Thai Diner (from the same owners) as the restaurant Uncle Boons always aspired to be. The inside of this place sparkles like a disco ball, with golden Nolita light hitting its bamboo-weaved walls and bakery case of cakes and pastries. Big booths come equipped with coat hangers, bar stools are fastened to the floor, and servers bust through swinging doors holding diner concoctions we thought were only possible with the help of psychedelics at a sleepover in Bushwick. Most importantly, every section on Thai Diner’s menu has undeniable “f*ck yeah″ energy, from brunch through dinner. Order the disco fries smothered with massaman curry, the cabbage rolls stuffed with turkey and jasmine rice, and the sai oua breakfast roti whose blend of textures would win Project Runway.

The new quintessential New York slice is neither traditional nor made by someone who was born in New York. L’Industrie’s owner, a native of Tuscany, subjects his dough to a three-day cold fermentation, resulting in a crust that’s airy, crisp, thin as a saltine, and stiff enough to support dots of ricotta and strips of bacon. Whether you visit the original Williamsburg or newer West Village location—which has a bit more indoor seating—there’s going to be a line, but it’ll move fast. Place your order at the counter, then watch as they finish your hot slice with olive oil, parm, and torn basil leaves. Every single pizza they make is essential, but start your journey with the namesake one, topped with burrata and prosciutto. Always get the rotating gelato as well. Like its savory counterparts, it’s accessorized with olive oil.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Penny entered the small plates scene fully formed, but don’t call just it another wine bar (though they do have exactly 1,000 bottles on their full list). The seafood at this East Village restaurant is exceptional—from the moment we tasted the sweet, red Argentine shrimp in their signature Ice Box, we were on board. The menu is short, but full of delightful surprises, like plump oysters hiding under a cap of puff pastry, or an ice cream sandwich that actually looks like miniature sandwich. Watch from your seat at their long, white marble counter as chefs pluck raw shellfish off ice, pull hot brioche out of the oven, and wrangle live lobsters. In keeping with Penny's breezy, Summer Friday spirit, most seats are reserved for walk-ins, so the earlier you skip out of work to arrive, the better.

photo credit: David A. Lee

The best tacos in the city are in Greenpoint, and if you disagree, you better have a specific place in mind that you think is better. That way, we can tell you, “We’ve been there, and you’re wrong.”  When you get to Taqueria Ramirez, there'll be a choricera and comal (both custom made in Mexico City), colorful plates, and a long line. Don’t worry, the line moves quickly. Get the suadero—which is stewed in lard and spices for three hours and served in a fat-soaked corn tortilla—or order our favorite taco, the tripa. The beef intestines have the consistency of bone marrow and are blowtorched seconds before they arrive in your hands. Every taco costs $5, and, after you stop by, you’ll forever view every $20 bill as an opportunity to get a four-course dinner here.

Out of all the French restaurants in this city, why does Frenchette stand out as one of the very best? The answer is (mostly) butter. The chefs at this Tribeca spot love to use it, and we frankly love to eat it. A couple of Balthazar vets opened Frenchette in 2018 and decided to create a menu of almost exclusively rich and decadent dishes, like duck frites and escargots over creamy scrambled eggs. The dishes here change daily, and it’s always worth stopping by to see if there’s anything new, but we’d have the same compulsion to eat at Frenchette even if the menu stayed the same. This place has one of the top natural wine lists in town, it feels buzzy and frenetic in a way all New York City restaurants should, and a table for two in the sepia-toned dining room is one of the best date-night moves you can make.

In New York City, standing in line for pizza is one of the most ridiculous things you could do. It’s like waiting for sand in the middle of the Sahara. But not only will we show up to Lucali before the restaurant even opens in order to secure a table—we’ll wait several hours at a bar nearby until that table is ready. Lucali makes us do irrational things, because Lucali serves some of the best pizza in the city. Their crust is thin, crispy, and just a little bit chewy, and it maintains immaculate posture while supporting velvety tomato sauce and three types of cheese. This is simple pizza made exceedingly well, and it’s greater than the sum of its parts. (The fresh basil is key.) Show up early, stand in line, and be grateful that you have the opportunity to wait for a table at this candlelit Carroll Gardens institution. Once you put your name in, pick up a bottle of wine. This place is BYOB, which is yet another reason why we’ll do foolish things to eat here.

The Fujianese, cash-only Shu Jiao Fu Zhou has a gravitational pull that attracts tourists, locals, and anyone looking for an experience so pure it feels like a pilgrimage. At the revered Chinatown spot, the floors are industrial sheet metal, the tables are communal, and the pork dumplings with chewy, vivid chives are smooth as silk and bursting with flavor. Get six for $3 or 12 for $4.50, and add some soup with wispy, delicate wontons or a plate of the elegantly plain and creamy peanut noodles for a few dollars more. Meals here rarely exceed $10, and yet, even if you’re a regular, they always exceed all expectations.

photo credit: Miachel Breton

Sometimes, we’re wrong. It’s rare, but it happens. Our initial review of Via Carota, for example, was pretty lukewarm. But that was back in 2015, a confusing time when bone broth was the beverage du jour and electric hoverboards were catching on fire. With its perfect mix of casual, buzzy atmosphere and impressive, unfussy food, this West Village restaurant has grown on us immensely over the years. It’s currently our favorite Italian spot in Manhattan, slightly edging out the latest iteration of sister restaurant I Sodi, so swing by for some world-class cacio e pepe and a crisp, towering salad. Just be sure to arrive before 6pm. Via Carota is essentially walk-in only, with limited reservations, and we aren’t the only ones who love this place.

photo credit: David A. Lee

Between Dhamaka, Adda, and the fast-casual fried chicken depot Rowdy Rooster, the team behind Semma has opened more great restaurants than most of us deserve. We’re fans of every single one, but this is the crown jewel. This restaurant serves South Indian regional specialties typically made in rural home settings, and they do so in a narrow space with quintessential West Village charm. Highlights include the crunchy Mangalorean cauliflower and a masala-potato-filled gunpowder dosa that tastes like cheese even though there’s none present. No meal at Semma would be quite right, however, without a few of the meaty dishes that are harder to find in NYC. Try the lamb topped with fried curry leaves, and don’t miss the Goanese oxtail. If you want to go big, pre-order the whole dungeness crab.

There are certain food-related rites of passage that come with living in New York City, and making the journey to Gravesend for L&B Spumoni Gardens is one of them. This south Brooklyn staple, which has been around since 1935, is known for its pizza and frozen desserts—and their square slice is the best in the five boroughs, with a layer of molten cheese welded to a focaccia-like crust, and tangy-sweet sauce baked on top. Lots of people come here to crowd around the outdoor tables eating pizza and spumoni, but it’s worth eating in the rococo fever dream of the indoor dining room at least once.

We could, and have, argued about the best steakhouses in New York until it turned into an episode of Family Feud. Emotional attachments to lore, legacy, or particularly idiosyncratic servers usually have a lot to do with it. Keens has a storied history of its own—this former pipe club in Midtown has been around for more than 130 years, and hosted everyone from Einstein to Babe Ruth—but we’re especially attached to the mutton chop, served with crisp bits of fat and a jar of mint jelly. With 40,000 antique pipes on the ceiling (and the playbill Lincoln was holding when he got shot, allegedly), it essentially doubles as a museum, where the main attraction is still the meat on your plate. Their best cut is the porterhouse, which is dry-aged, and funkier than most.

We don’t love Le French Diner just because their tender duck confit, garlicky escargots, and spicy grilled octopus are pretty close to perfect. We also love this Lower East Side restaurant because it feels like an underground dining club, and it doesn’t seem interested in being anything other than what it already is. Do they take reservations? Do they have a website? Can you find their current menu online? Could you fit an entire basketball team in their dining room? The answer to all of those questions is "no." Despite all these obstacles, this is still one of the first places we think of when we want a solo dinner at a bar or a late meal with a friend after a show at Bowery Ballroom. Similar to a sibling who you might not even be friends with if you two weren’t related, we love this place unconditionally.

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

By the end of a meal at Ayada, your group may start debating which dishes are the best. Was it the raw shrimp with the perfect amount of garlic, chili, and lime? Or maybe the crispy catfish salad with mango? Someone else might argue that one of the curries or the fried whole fish were the winners. Picking favorites at this Thai restaurant in Elmhurst is like picking a favorite Beatles song: it’s too hard, and it won’t do you any good. Bring as many people as possible, and order enough food that you’ll have to go all Tetris on the table to fit everything. The drunken noodles are the best in the city, and the prik king with sirloin steak is something you both want on your table and burned into your memory forever.

Every year, we think to ourselves, “Maybe this is when Lilia will become easier to get into.” And every year, we wind up disappointed. Lilia remains one of the toughest tables in town, and people still plan visits to this Williamsburg restaurant the way art dealers collect Basquiats or crypto-bros accumulate NFTs. Coming here grants you access to a special society: those who have eaten at the city’s most exclusive Italian restaurants. But the main reason to fuss over getting a table at this restaurant is the simple, perfect pasta. The rigatoni diavola arrives with just enough mildly spicy tomato sauce to fully coat the ribbed housemade noodles, and the agnolotti stuffed with sheep's milk cheese come perfectly al dente and painted with a honey-saffron butter sauce. At the end of your meal, order the gelato with olive oil, and enjoy it as you devise an elaborate scheme to get another reservation here.

On paper, Dame, an English seafood spot in Greenwich Village, might look like a Super Serious Restaurant. Two chefs stand behind a sleek white bar and cook the highest-quality seafood for miles. Grilled oysters are blanketed by green Chartreuse hollandaise, a bottle of $425 Champagne readily stands by, and, as soon as you finish one dish, several more will appear to take their position. Despite being a seriously high-caliber restaurant, this English seafood restaurant avoids taking itself too seriously. Disco blasts inside and out at a confident-party-host volume, and fish and chips take the metaphorical center stage on a menu that also includes things like cured trout, squid skewers, and butter beans with peekytoe crab and ‘nduja ragu. Go heavy on the small plates, and try the aforementioned fish and chips at least once.

Sometimes, you want to go somewhere big and flashy, where you can wear something that oversells the strength of your closet and see someone who recently did a guest appearance on SNL. It’s a natural instinct. Don’t fight it. When it’s that kind of night, your best option is Torrisi. From the people behind Carbone and The Grill, this Nolita restaurant is a big-budget production with precariously high ceilings, crushed velvet booths, and servers dressed for a wedding in Southampton. It’s the sort of place where you’d expect food to be an afterthought, but every section of the Italian-ish menu is filled with highlights. Start with the fennel salad that’s infinitely more exciting than it sounds, and follow that up with the prawn raviolini and rotisserie lamb.

photo credit: Kate Previte

$$$$Perfect For:Special Occasions

POWERED BY

Tock logo

Access exclusive reservations with your sapphire reserve card

Sapphire Reserve

With just 12 seats around a U-shaped counter in the basement of a Nomad townhouse, this modern Korean restaurant provides a level of care and attention that other fine dining spots can only aspire to. It’s nearly impossible for any meal to justify a $395 check for one, but Atomix recognizes the challenge and rises to the occasion. Wine is inspected for specks of cork, fresh napkins are delivered with tongs, and each of the 10 or so courses is accompanied by a notecard with an in-depth description. Expect things like grilled langoustine with silky foie gras custard, and a little buckwheat waffle topped with king crab salad and a disc of blood orange gelée.

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner

This Carroll Gardens restaurant is one place that we can truly say is better than ever. Plan a dinner here with a large group—because you’re going to want to taste as many things as possible. In an ideal scenario, you’ll eat a gigantic vegetable platter with a salted mackerel dip, a whole fried (and perfectly cooked) sea bream with crackly skin, and some creamy blue crab hor mok in banana leaf with coconut custard. Standout dishes aside, the service at Ugly Baby continues to be excellent, the wine and beer list is surprisingly big (with options from local brewers like Talea and Other Half), and everybody in the colorful, casual dining room will be having a sweaty, fun time when you stop by.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

When it comes to “eating like a New Yorker,” it’s always pizza this, pastrami that. Everyone has different criteria for what makes something a New York food staple, but we’d like to nominate kari laksa. Specifically, the Singapore kari laksa at Taste Good. New York's sizable Malaysian community has been well-represented by this Elmhurst mainstay for more than three decades. In the small, narrow space—seemingly untouched since they opened in the '90s—you’ll sit perched on a wooden bench, elbow-to-elbow during the dinner rush, eating that creamy coconut laksa, or sizzling bean curd, or Hainanese chicken, or anything else that calls to you from the wall of food photos. Follow your heart, and know that they more than deliver on the promise of their name. It’s all going to Taste Amazing.

photo credit: Adam Friedlander

It’s often hard to pinpoint exactly where a dining trend began. But we can confidently say that this food truck in Jackson Heights is the reason why you can now find birria in almost every corner of New York City. Birria Landia certainly didn’t invent birria, and it definitely wasn’t the first NYC place serving it—but this place gave birria the headliner status it always deserved. The menu is tight, focused, and flawless. Order a few of the tacos on broth-dipped tortillas, and dunk a mozzarella-stuffed mulita into a cup of the mysteriously rich consome. For roughly $20, everything on the menu can (and should) be yours.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

With the crispest fish tacos and the sauciest shrimp, Ensenada is not only one of our top Mexican restaurants, it’s also one of the most accessible (at least for now). Walk in to this seafood oasis in Williamsburg on a Tuesday, to find birthday-ready mezcal margaritas and hot-date-worthy raw fish, without a side of reservation angst. With Happy Hours, corkage-free Wednesdays, and fish doodles on the wall, it all feels very casual and low-key—that is, until three types of aguachile, velvety tuna tostadas, and their extremely slather-able pineapple butter arrive at your table, and you proceed to eat more fish than you have in several years. Did we mention there’s a nightclub underneath? Ensenada is so easy to love.

If you ever hear someone in New York City say, “I don’t care where we go for bagels,” kindly ask them what city they’re from and how long they’re visiting. No one who has to pay taxes here would have such a casual attitude about bagels. If that person asks us where to go, we’d send them straight to Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side. Each springy globe of dough here comes with a blistered, slightly crunchy bottom with a sweet, chewy, and soft interior. You can get all the expected additions like eggs, nova, etc., but we prefer their bagels untoasted with scallion cream cheese. However many bagels you think you want from this place, add three or four more.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

We initially found Plaza Ortega on a Bushwick taco crawl (something we highly recommend) and fell in love with their birria. There are a few tables outside and a few in the back of this place, along with stools at a long bar that faces a wall-sized mirror offering a glimpse into the kitchen. Everything you get here is going to be excellent, whether it’s birria ramen made with Cup Noodles, fish tacos, or a mangonada. The ready availability of Modelo tallboys, the cozy, homelike atmosphere, the TV playing Banda music videos on loop, and the endless supply of good food make this an ideal spot for a long catch-up with people you really love.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading

a scallop crudo served on the half shell with ikura and uni

The Hit List: New NYC Restaurants To Try Right Now

We checked out these new restaurants—and loved them.

a full pie of pizza

The top 21 pizzas in NYC, according to us.

an everything bagel with lox and cream cheese

It’s easy to find a good bagel in NYC. But a great one? You’ll find those in this guide.

Infatuation Logo

Cities

2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

FIND PLACES ON OUR APP

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store