People often ask us where to take their parents to dinner, and the list of needs is usually pretty specific. Somewhere with great food, but where the seats won't be 8 inches wide made out of rickety rusted metal. Where you can hear each other and not just the N.W.A. soundtrack that every other restaurant plays on repeat. But without being stuffy!
Because you people apparently eat dinner with your parents a lot, we've updated our guide with even more comfortable restaurants that'll keep everyone happy. Lots of round tables and big booths ahead.
When people ask us where to take the people who birthed them for a meal in Manhattan, Maialino is often top of the list. It's between uptown and downtown, the service is always good, and the pasta is even better.
All of a sudden, your parents want to go to Williamsburg. Why? Because they heard about Lilia. This Italian restaurant in a former auto body shop is easily the most grown up restaurant in Williamsburg, and also one of the very, very best. The whole thing is the brain child of Missy Robbins, who is known as the former chef of A Voce and as the Obamas' favorite chef. One of those things is definitely going to make your mom want to come here - and you should definitely make that happen.
Consider the following: Untitled is in the Meatpacking District, but it's also IN AN ART MUSEUM. The new Danny Meyer spot in the base of the Whitney Museum is big, bright, and delicious. And you'll be culturally enriched just for entering the building.
One great thing about New York is that you can also get cultured without going to a museum. (Go to museums though, they're good). In places where you get to eat breakfast for dinner. Russ & Daughters is emblematic of the Jewish Lower East Side, and even though the cafe isn't the original location, it still feels historical. The cafe, which is open until 10pm every night, makes for a fun break-in-the-routine dinner.
So, your mom wants to order a "nice piece of fish." Your dad would be happy with a steak. (Or vice versa!). Your brother is now a vegetarian. Your sister would prefer not to stray too far from the East Village. Good news: there's something for all of them at Narcissa. The food, service, and overall environment here are all always a hit.
If your parents keep reading about farm-to-table Brooklyn restaurants in the New York Times Styles section, but you're hesitating about taking them to a spot with repurposed wheelbarrows for seats, head to The Finch in Clinton Hill. It's in a beautiful townhouse, and the food is excellent.
The service: kind of rude. The form of payment: cash. But the overall experience: worth it, and one every carnivorous, steak-enjoying New Yorker should have.
Everyone loves Upland, and we think it's probably the best new restaurant of the past two years. Not because of some gimmick or nonsense innovation, just because it's REALLY GOOD. The food is excellent (even the Caesar salad is insane) and the space is exceptional. Show your folks what's good.
Would you look at those round tables and big green booths? They also make brisket tater tots here.
Would your family like to eat steak? In a huge, comfortable room, in a place that definitely takes credit cards? Skip the Midtown steakhouses for American Cut in Tribeca. This is the kind of place you also can eat a huge carrot instead of stale creamed spinach.
Do your parents hate coming to visit you in the loud, dirty city? Take them to Houseman, located in an extremely quiet and serene corner of far west Soho. The restaurant itself is also very non-stressful (yes, you'll be able to hear each other talk), and the constantly changing menu can feature everything from housemade sausages to interesting vegetables to simple roast chicken.
Think about how you've matured over the past 22 years. Things have probably changed a lot since 1994, right? But not at Il Buco. Il Buco has been going strong all these years, serving excellent food in one of the homiest, loveliest environments in the city. Though everything else in the neighborhood has changed, Il Buco manages to never feel outdated - it actually feels as fresh as ever.
Prospect is the neighborhood restaurant you wish was in your neighborhood. If you happen to live in Fort Greene, it is. If you don't, Prospect is worth the trip - it's warm and comfortable, with truly delicious food.
Sophisticated but understated, Cassette is just like the high school girlfriend your parents keep reminding you you should never have broken up with. The wine list is also great, and the space is big enough that it never gets too loud or crowded, making it our top pick for showing the parents around Greenpoint.