You’re in New York for the first time ever. You’ve got 72 hours and an appetite for everything. Where do you start?
That’s a question we get asked a lot, and it’s a hard one to answer. But we’re gonna try so that you don’t return home having only sampled our finest mozzarella sticks from some pub in Times Square.
This isn’t meant to be a definitive list of the city’s best restaurants – it’s just what we’d do if we were in your shoes. Speaking of shoes – hopefully you brought something comfortable. You've got a lot of ground to cover.
for breakfast, brunch, & Lunch
The perfect place to see some of our coolest looking people while eating a practical breakfast. Just don’t expect them to be up before 11.
If you haven’t been to NY in a hot second, you might be wondering: why is everyone eating guacamole on top of bread, and why is every new cafe staffed exclusively by attractive Australians? Not sure exactly, but we welcome avocado toast and friendly Aussies, both of which you’ll find in spades at Two Hands. This is probably the most popular place right now to drink fancy coffee, eat a healthy-ish breakfast or lunch, and document the whole thing on Instagram. Being at Two Hands is kind of like watching the Animal Planet of young people in New York City.
If you have only one opportunity to have breakfast or brunch while you're here, do it at Sadelle’s. This new temple of Jewish appetizing is over-the-top in every way, and pulls it off entirely: the lox comes on towers, the waiters yell “HOT BAGELS!” whenever there’s a fresh batch out of the oven, the breakfast sandwich costs $17 (it's worth it, almost), and the french toast is one of the best things you can eat in NYC.
Eating kind of healthy is the way everyone wants to eat right now, and By CHLOE - the vegan spot in Greenwich village - is at the center of the whole thing. People like to point out that between the veggie burgers, fries, and pasta, by CHLOE’s food isn’t even all that healthy, but that’s entirely besides the point. This is the restaurant that made vegan food something not-vegan people are willing to wait in very long lines for. And there’s a reason - the food here is really good.
You’re probably going to be at a museum, and you’re probably going to get hungry. Via Quadronno is your spot for excellent sandwiches and other light lunch options. Just make sure to bring a bag of money with you.
A sit-down restaurant from the people behind the legendary smoked fish counter up the street. Eating something from Russ & Daughters is a must, and unlike the original store front, here you can have your lox at a table.
Behind a red velvet curtain in a high end hotel lobby lies one of New York City’s best burgers. You have to eat one of these before we can let you leave Midtown.
Lunch or brunch are both appropriate. Cookshop is one of our best, and it’s right by The High Line.
Here’s the move – start on a Saturday at about 4pm, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Dumbo, continue on to Vinegar Hill House, eat delicious food, send us a thank you email for planning the greatest day ever.
We’re more likely to tell out-of-towners to go to Rubirosa any other restaurant in this entire city. The vibes are excellent, the Italian-American comfort food is consistently perfect, and the vodka pizza is life-affirming. You can only make reservations for parties of six or more - and you should absolutely expect a long wait - but it will absolutely be worth it. Get a drink a few blocks away at Mother’s Ruin to kill the time.
So you want to go to the kind of restaurant where you won’t find any other tourists? How original. Lucky for you, NYC is filled with outstanding places where we can guarantee you won’t see dads in cargo shorts. One such place is Uncle Boons, which feels like a tiny underground clubhouse, serves some of the best Thai food we’ve ever eaten, and is consistently filled with people who look like they know their sh*t.
New York has plenty of traditional steakhouses. We’re not going to send you to any of them here. We are, however, going to send you to the least-stuffy steakhouse in the city - St. Anselm in Williamsburg. Unless you arrive right when they open, you should expect a wait (they don’t take reservations) - but it’s all part of the experience. Because once you sit down and are served the most perfect $23 steak you’ve ever eaten, you’ll get it.
The uptown location of our favorite Japanese restaurant import. Eat all the ramen you can possibly stand.
Looking to drink interesting wine and share some small plates? You can't do better than Wildair, which feels like a casual modern Parisian wine bar, only it's located on the Lower East Side. The food is funky and totally excellent - if your ears perk up at the suggestion of eating a crispy potato with uni or beef tartare with smoked cheddar cheese, you're going to love Wildair.
Modern Korean food. All you need to know is two words: bulgogi sliders.
A legendary Brooklyn diner for “hipsters” except it’s really mostly just full of “people.” Either way, everything here is excellent – especially the burger.
If you leave without getting a slice from Joe’s, we can’t allow you back. It’s in our charter.
Show up, sit at the bar, eat pasta, eat olive oil cake, repeat. L’Artusi has excellent food and the best vibe ever. We eat here all the time.
You want to see a celebrity chef? Mario isn’t gonna be at Babbo. Bobby might be at Gato, and the food is incredible.
Yeah, you probably aren't going to Greenpoint. But if you did, this is where we’d tell you to eat. Paulie Gee’s has some of the best and most creative pizzas in the city, and Paulie himself will be walking around talking to customers. At the very least you can tell your friends that you’ve heard of it. That’s pretty cool too.
The newest entrant onto this list, Babu Ji is one of the most fun and creative restaurants in the entire city. Think modern Indian street food with a self serve beer fridge and Bollywood movies playing on the wall. Then again, don’t even think about it. Just do it.
If we were going to tell you to have one meal on your first trip to New York City, this would be it. We’d also tell you to have it at 2am. Blue Ribbon is open until 4.
Another classic that we still have in heavy rotation, even after all these years. David Chang’s Korean food empire started here, and it’s still putting out amazing food. It’s also open late, in case you’ve been out at the theater/drinking alone.
Not only is this one of our best restaurants, it’s one of our best hangs. Put your name in with the host and head up to the bar on the second floor for some drinks and action until your table is ready. Or maybe just skip eating all together and see where the night takes you.