The Best Restaurants At The South Street SeaportWhere to go when you realize staring at the East River won't fill your stomach.
When the weather’s nice, the South Street Seaport gets as busy as Rockefeller Center in December. Apparently, New Yorkers are pre-programmed to head to water once the temperature hits 65. In the past, the Seaport wasn’t much more than a terrible mall on a pier with a view of Brooklyn, but now you can hear live music, casually bump into an ESPN personality, and eat lots of actually great food here.
From a seafood-centric Mexican spot and a Brazilian bakery, to all the best places in Jean-Georges’ Tin Building, here are our favorite restaurants located around a bunch of old ships that never go anywhere.
You’ll feel like a kid again at this outpost of Mister Dips. It looks like a fast food joint with bright, school bus yellow decor, but delivers on burgers and ice cream that are as good as what you’d find at some more expensive spots. Our favorite combo is the bacon hatch chili burger with a bouquet of waffle fries drenched in queso. Always end your meal with a dairy dip: soft serve on an old-school cake cone with a little holder to catch all the drips.
Fish Market is a sports bar, but also so much more. Its huge menu includes American bar snacks, vaguely Italian pasta plates, and Chinese and Malaysian dishes. While the traditional bar food is good, we’d recommend that last section, which includes things like ginger chicken wings, curried chicken, and a pork belly sandwich. Share with friends who like loud places and don’t mind being surrounded by alcohol-themed birthday parties.
There’s nothing subtle about The Fulton. Like the Tin Building, Jean-Georges is behind this massive two-floor restaurant with a giant sea monster mural and huge windows with clear views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, this place is a bit of a tourist trap, but the seafood also happens to be some of the best in the city. Start with any of their crudos, which are all made with high-quality fish, then try the braised octopus with fresh mozzarella and the longevity noodles with a boatload of lobster. Speaking of which, they have one of the best lobster rolls in town, but it’s only available for brunch and lunch.
We miss the old Ssäm Bar in the East Village, but the current iteration of this David Chang spot is no slouch. This place is really two restaurants in one. Downstairs, there’s bar seating, a patio with limited views of the East River, and a few Momofuku classics like pork belly bao. Upstairs, there’s a more protein-heavy menu designed around tabletop grills. We recommend the $110 set menu, which comes with a ton of food. The non-meat dishes, like rapini and prawns with ‘nduja butter, are surprising standouts, but you’ll still enjoy the short rib and pork shoulder.
Casa Tulum is a Mexican spot with a space that makes you feel like you’re steps away from sand and ocean. The hanging greenery and nautical touches like white shiplap, portholes, and sconces wouldn’t be out of place on a boat. Appropriately, your primary focus should be the seafood dishes. The aguachile with slivers of octopus and meaty Maine clams is simultaneously acidic and spicy—we love it. Add the governador tacos with perfectly grilled shrimp and steak in flour tortillas. Ending your meal with some piping hot churros filled with pudding-like caramel custard is an absolute must.
More than just a restaurant with views of the Brooklyn Bridge, this spot also serves reliably good food. Despite the name, Paris Cafe has some Italian and American dishes (like the unskippable double smash burger with onion jam), in addition to French staples like steak frites and niçoise salad. The front room has a classic pub atmosphere with TVs. In the back, the space is converted to a lounge with a DJ every Friday and Saturday night, so head here when you can’t be bothered to find another place to party after dinner.
You get to this hidden Chinese-inspired spot in the Tin Building by going through a curtain at the back of Asian goods store Mercantile East. The dining room has lantern-like light fixtures and a huge mural of scenes from a Chinese village—design choices that feel extremely cheesy at best. Still, House of the Red Pearl has our favorite food at the Tin Building. Their top dish is a take on Peking duck with crispy skin that we can’t stop thinking about. The experience leans upscale, and the room is relatively quiet, so it’s also a good place to take parents.
Note: This restaurant has been rebranded as the second location of its sister restaurant, AbcV.
Seeds & Weeds isn’t the most appetizing name for a restaurant, but this place does indeed serve flavorful vegetarian and vegan food. Start with a green juice in a wine glass, then try the blue corn sourdough bread with hazelnut butter, and the sweet, spicy, tomato broth with corn-and-shiitake-stuffed wontons (our favorite thing here). This second floor restaurant has a bunch of potted plants, light wood furniture, and pastel green seating, and it’s the only place to eat in the Tin Building where you can get a view of the East River—so try to get a table next to a window.
The original Di Fara in Midwood is famous for its slow-moving lines. But now you can head to this spacious South Street Seaport location for their legendary pizza with no wait. We stick to the plain slice with lots of bright tomato sauce and a mostly crispy, dense crust that has a distinct sweet flavor. But they have about eight different varieties (including square slices with very crunchy bottoms), as well as rolls and calzones in two sizes. Don’t order the ridiculously large calzone unless you’re sharing it with an elephant.
Fulton Fish Co. will put you in the mood for seafood with its selection of things from the ocean, all laid out on a massive amount of crushed ice. The razor clams with a yuzu vinaigrette and sea salt are a must-order, and if you’ve been searching for someone to talk about bivalves with, you and your server can nerd out about all the different oysters available that day. Start with several raw bar items, then get something greasy like fish and chips, or a great salad with fried clams and shrimp over iceberg lettuce.
Since one of the world’s most famous French chefs is behind the Tin Building, you'll probably want to check out the French restaurant there. Start with the escargots, which are more herbaceous than garlicky. Then, if it’s the right time of year, get the salad with several different varieties of juicy heirloom tomatoes. The signature burger comes on a puff pastry bun, which sounds like a great idea on paper, but ends up being a bit too much. With black floors and emerald green tiled walls, T. Brasserie’s café setting works well for a nice lunch or a casual dinner date.
The owner of Café Patoro opened this spot because she missed the pão de queijo she ate as a child in Brazil. These chewy little cheese balls draw long lines at this daytime, counter-service café. You’ll get the most baked-cheese flavor from the plain version, but our favorite is the ham and cheese with little chunks of crispy pork. Fill up mostly on those, but save a little room for dessert. The gooey brigadeiro cake is a chocolate lover’s dream.
Osteria Del Porto is like a lot of rustic, charming spots in the city. The only thing missing is a fireplace. It's a perfect spot for a casual date night after a long day at work when you want satisfying Italian food and a few glasses of red. We like the fried baby artichokes in a crispy basket made out of parm, and the massive, fall-off-the-bone lamb shank with polenta is a solid shareable choice. If you want a more lively setting, sit downstairs where the bar is, or ask for a table upstairs for a quieter meal.
Appropriately for a seaport, this two-story restaurant looks like the dining area on a cruise ship, all warm wood paneling, leather seating, and a grand staircase. The signature $135 gorgonzola-cured Wagyu striploin is one of the best steaks we’ve ever had. We only wish it was bigger–think of it as the beef equivalent of Beluga caviar. We’re also fans of their free milk bread and the spicy crab lettuce cups, but the rest of the food is a mixed bag.