NYCGuide

Where To Have Dinner With Clients

14 places to take clients when you need something impressive.
Where To Have Dinner With Clients image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Clients are like plants, except instead of watering them and placing them in direct sunlight, you need to take them to dinner sometimes. But you can’t just take them to any restaurant. You need a place that’s nice but not awkwardly formal, and it should also be somewhat trendy while still being quiet enough for a conversation. Good food is another big plus, and you don't want to have to sit inches from strangers who might put all your corporate secrets on Reddit. Here are some spots that meet all of these criteria.

THE SPOTS

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American

Union Square

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysBrunchBusiness MealsClassic EstablishmentCorporate CardsDinner with the Parents
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Union Square Cafe is a classic establishment, and it’s pretty much the Tom Hanks of restaurants. It’s been around for a while, it’s just the right amount of classy, and most people like it. Anyone can find something to eat here, whether it’s a burger or a piece of fish, and the restaurant itself is nice without being too formal or stuffy. There are high ceilings and big round tables, the bi-level space doesn’t get too noisy, and the New American food is great. Just be sure to reserve a few weeks in advance, or you might wind up eating at 10pm.

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsImpressing Out of TownersPrivate Dining

You’re charming and impressive, but you’re not as charming and impressive as a whole Peking duck. So take your clients to Hwa Yuan, sit at a big round table, and get yourself a duck, which—in addition to the cold peanut noodles—is the house specialty. This multi-story Chinatown restaurant has plenty of room for groups, stays reasonably quiet, and is sleek enough for a board meeting or a night out with your boss’s boss. Reservations are also easy to get, so keep this place in mind for any last-minute scenarios.

Another high-end spot where you can easily land a reservation, The Grill is perfect for a pricey meal with an important client who watched a lot of Mad Men and now has a skewed vision of what business dinners are supposed to look like. Every meal at this mid-century-themed restaurant with ceilings as high as a convention center should begin with a round of house martinis. Next, listen to your tuxedo-sporting server explain the daily specials, then enjoy an extravagant procession of old-school American food while listening to hits from the 1960s.

A classic French bistro in Soho, Raoul’s is the perfect middle ground between a fancy white-tablecloth restaurant and a trendy downtown spot where people go to be seen. The servers wear ties and the walls are hung with various oil paintings, but this place isn’t uptight in the slightest. You can wear a T-shirt if you want, and you don’t have to keep your voice down. Open since 1975, Raoul’s still serves fantastic escargots and one of the city’s top burgers. The only downside? It can be tough to get a reservation. So plan ahead.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

Sofreh is just a few blocks from Barclays Center, so if you're taking some clients to see Springsteen or the New York Liberty (because they're officially the least disappointing Brooklyn basketball team), book a dinner here. The Persian food is fantastic, and the minimalist space with tall white brick walls is both chic and reasonably casual. Reservations can be tough, so try to snag a table a few weeks in advance—and don't leave without eating the fall-apart tender lamb shank.

Bar Tulix is, above all, a useful place. This Soho restaurant doesn’t serve the absolute best Mexican food in the city, but it’s attractive and easy to get into, and you’ll like everything that you eat. From the team behind Lure Fishbar (another good client-dinner option), this is a semi-luxe place with dark lighting, leather banquettes, and a seafood-focused menu. Enjoy some clam toast and shrimp cocktail tostadas while you try to convince your clients that you’re worth whatever they’re paying.

Located at Rockefeller Center in the shadow of the Comcast Building, Le Rock should be the client-dinner default for anyone who works within a 10-block radius. The Art Deco-inspired dining room is the ideal place to eat with someone who has representation at CAA, and, while you won’t have to worry about a dress code, most diners tend to look like they just left work. The sister restaurant of Estela and Corner Bar, Le Rock serves satisfying French food like roast chicken, escargots, and some good, crispy fries.

Comodo is a bit of an outlier. It’s a hotel restaurant that actually serves interesting food, and it’s also a cool place that isn’t impossible to get into. You can get a table here tonight, and you can just tell your clients that it was hard to do so. Located in the bottom of the Freehand Hotel in Flatiron, this restaurant serves an inventive Latin American menu with everything from pão de queijo lamb sliders to poblano pepper pasta. The dining room has big windows, tiled walls, and lots of dark wood, and, despite the 70-seat size, feels pretty intimate.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

Looking for a good last-minute spot where you eat a solid meal without spending half your department’s quarterly budget? Try Motel Morris. You can always get a reservation at this little Chelsea restaurant, which looks like it should be in the lobby of a cool downtown hotel. The room has deep-blue walls and velvet banquettes, and the broadly American menu is full of dishes like grilled trout, white lasagna, and octopus with chimichurri. This is a very pleasant place for a nice-yet-casual meal, and your clients will appreciate the Pepto Bismol-pink bathroom. 

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

Ayada doesn't just serve some of the top Thai food in NYC. It's also great for groups. So bring those people you're billing by the hour for a meal that everyone will talk about through at least the next fiscal quarter. Start with the som tum and raw shrimp salad, and don't forget to order the drunken noodles (the best in the city) and the crispy duck panang curry. There's a location in Chelsea Market, but we prefer the original in Elmhurst, where they can easily accommodate big groups.

Upland is great for dates, birthdays, meals with friends, and dinners with aunts and uncles who only call you when they’re in town to see Wicked for the tenth time. But more than anything else, Upland is great for client dinners. With its checkered tablecloths and jars of preserved lemons, the high-ceilinged dining room has a wholesome Americana feel, and the California-inspired menu is full of classics. Have some pizza, cacio e pepe, or seared salmon with barley risotto. The food is reliably good, and a meal here always feels like a big night out.

If you need an upscale option in Tribeca and you’d rather not mingle with C-list celebrities at Mr. Chow, try Tamarind. This restaurant, which has been open for over a decade, has a palatial interior with multiple levels and floor-to-ceiling windows, and it’s where you’ll find some of the best Indian food in NYC. Expect white tablecloths and people in suits, and keep in mind the fact that they don’t allow children under the age of eight. If you’re trying to sign the next big Disney Channel star, you may have to go elsewhere.

Your clients from LA mentioned that it’d be nice to have dinner near the water. Instead of taking them to a clubstaurant or asking why they need to see water when they live next to the ocean, go to Celestine. This Mediterranean spot in Dumbo has great views of the East River and Manhattan, with floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor patio that gets a nice breeze. Unlike other waterfront spots in the neighborhood, Celestine actually feels pretty casual, so it’s a good place to impress clients without making a big deal about it.

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The interior of Celestine with floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the water.
7.9

Celestine

Celestine feels pretty casual, but this Mediterranean spot is on the water in Dumbo and has excellent views.

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