The 25 Best Restaurants In NYC image


The 25 Best Restaurants In NYC

Meet our 25 highest-rated restaurants.

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. 


photo credit: David A. Lee




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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 big rectangular dining room has soft spotlights that hit exactly where your plate goes. But the actual glamour 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.

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

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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 quite literally 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. 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.

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 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.) So show up early, stand in line, and be grateful that you have the opportunity to wait for a table at this candle-lit 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.

In a hypothetical Restaurant Olympics scenario, we’d nominate Estela to represent New York City. Instead of hurling discs like jumbo Ancient Grecians, the restaurant would show off raw scallops over flattened dates with a dab of uni in between. Rather than landing a double layout dismount with two twists on the uneven bars, Estela would turn an endive salad into food fit for a last meal on earth. And they’d do it all with seductive ease, since that’s exactly the way dinner happens in their dining room above Houston Street. Even after a decade of operation, Estela is one of the best restaurants New York has. Most of the dishes at this compact spot on Houston Street accentuate whatever is in season, which means you might find celeriac and cuttlefish in warm beurre blanc, or dried shrimp on top of Cara Cara orange wedges. Always order the beef tartare and the (world’s most glamorous) endive salad, and don’t be afraid to try any newer additions to the menu. The food here never misses.

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, you’ll see 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 around $4, and, after you stop by, you’ll forever view every $20 bill as an opportunity to get a four or five-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.

photo credit: David A. Lee


If a night out in Lincoln Center isn’t at the top of your list for a cool date night, you might want to rethink that stance. Chef Kwame Onwuachi, who you might remember from his run on Top Chef, has single-handedly made this little corner of the Upper West Side cool again. The menu at Tatiana in David Geffen Hall is an Afro-Caribbean love letter to New York City, heavily influenced by the chef’s Bronx upbringing, filled with fun mashups like pastrami suya and egusi dumplings. The restaurant seems to exist to show that New York has always been a study in contradictions, and that’s not changing any time soon. Nineties hip hop classics provide the backing track, and even though you’re literally sitting in a building dedicated to classic music, this feels correct.

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 regularly 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.

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 tender venison drenched in a dark brown gravy that tastes like clove and smoke, 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.

You might think that an old-timey steakhouse smack in the middle of Times Square couldn’t possibly be good, but Gallaghers is our favorite place to eat a slab of beef with a side of creamed spinach in New York City. Steakhouses should be an experience, and we’re pretty sure the threshold of Gallagher’s is actually a time machine that plops you directly into 1940s Manhattan. Order the classics, all of them: a wedge salad, a plate of clams casino, the city’s best porterhouse, and end with a cheesecake that every other New York-style cheesecake wishes it could be. 

This Lower East Side iteration of Una Pizza Napoletana is the sixth version of this restaurant, and we know exactly why this place won’t die. It’s serving the best Neapolitan pies in NYC—and possibly the rest of the world, the Twittersphere, the Metaverse, and any other vaguely habitable place. With fewer than 10 items (plus any daily specials), the menu here is a tight, focused playlist without any skips. You should always have at least one margherita pizza on your table, but since all the pies here have the same otherworldly crust, you really can’t go wrong. The dough rises for around 48 hours, and the owner never stops messing with the mixtures of flour to try to make the crust lighter. He should just sit back and take the win. It’s hard to imagine the pizza here getting any better.

Hwa Yuan was one of Chinatown’s most popular restaurants until it closed in the 1980s, and it’s credited with introducing New York to cold sesame noodles. The reboot, which opened in 2017, is located in the original space on East Broadway, and everything in the massive two-floor space feels brand new. The whole Peking duck—featuring picture-perfect crispy skin—is a bucket-list NYC dish, and it’s worth a trip on its own. Another must-order, the famous cold sesame noodles have just the slightest kick of spice, and you should absolutely get the soup dumplings. They're impeccably constructed, with thin, delicate skin. Bring a big group, sit at a big round table, and order food until you can no longer see that table.

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.

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 skate kebabs and a whole dover sole. Go heavy on the small plates like the cucumber salad with mussels and smoked dill, and get the aforementioned fish and chips.

When you eat at Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, you'll notice that every table has one thing in common: stacks of sel roti. The kitchen fries these sweet and salty dough crowns to order using soda bottles to pour rings of batter into hot oil, and if you don’t want to bite into one after watching steam waft from its center, we suggest you look inward for answers. This restaurant lives right by the Roosevelt Avenue Subway station in Jackson Heights, which happens to be a neighborhood that has no shortage of delicious Nepali food. But we consistently send people to Nepali Bhanchha Ghar first for a sit-down meal. Make sure to order their jhol momo, a big bowl of spicy sesame-and-tomato broth with momos floating in it.

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.

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 cooked 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.

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.

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 $15, everything on the menu can (and should) be yours.

If we had a guide to NYC's Grain Bowl Restaurants That Won't Suck Out Part Of Your Soul, Teranga would top the list. No such guide exists, unfortunately—but take our statement as a sign to ignore most other fast-casual places in favor of this overachieving cafe in The Africa Center in East Harlem. Teranga’s bowl components range from Nigerian beef suya to Moroccan chermoula and ancient grains eaten all over West Africa. Nothing on the menu costs more than $18, and there are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. We love this restaurant for a quick solo meal or a relaxed business meeting uptown, and we inevitably wind up here whenever we find ourselves within walking distance. The next time you’re planning a picnic in Central Park (which happens to be located across the street), this is where you should grab your food.

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.

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.

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photo credit: David A. Lee

The 25 Best Restaurants In NYC image