What can we say about Gramercy? It has a park we’re not allowed to enter, and we’re not really sure what the boundaries of it are. Other than that, its defining feature is that it seems to be a place a lot of you find yourselves, likely due to the fact that it borders the East Village, Flatiron, and Murray Hill, and the fact that it’s a sort of compromise meeting spot between uptown and downtown.
With that in mind, here are the best places to eat when you’re in the area. Speaking of borders, we’re defining Gramercy here, perhaps somewhat arbitrarily, as below 28th Street and East of Park Avenue.
Maialino is permanently closed
Maialino is the first restaurant many people think of when it comes to Gramercy, and that’s probably because it’s in the Gramercy Park Hotel, and looks out onto Gramercy Park. We may not be able to get into the park, but we can (if we book in advance) get into Maialino, and we’re pretty sure that’s a lot better. Eating the pastas here is a great way to spend a special evening, and breakfast and brunch are pretty fantastic here too.
Upland is kind of like your class president: good at everything, objectively attractive, universally well-liked. Probably got into Yale early decision. Upland opening on 26th and Park is the best thing to happen to this neighborhood since pretty much ever.
We send people in Text Rex to L’Express all the time - not because it’s the best restaurant, but because it’s one of the most regularly useful. It’s not outrageously priced, it’s suitable for everything from a business lunch to a casual dinner, it’s conveniently located, you can always get a table, and the French food is solid. L’Express is not class president, but that kid who threw a party a few times and everyone said, “Yeah, he’s cool”? Totally.
People often ask us about tapas, as if New York is littered with amazing Spanish restaurants on every corner. In reality, there are only a few greats, and Casa Mono is the best of them. The menu is a mix of traditional and more creative small plates, and pretty much all of them are good. The Ensalada Mono, octopus, bone marrow, and skirt steak should definitely be part of your order.
Want to go to Casa Mono, but don’t have a reservation? Bar Jamón is basically Casa Mono’s waiting room, a crowded little space that serves wine and snacks. You can use it while you wait it out for a table, but it’s also useful when you need a place to meet someone for an after-work drink. If it’s one of those times where you’re not looking for a full-on dinner, but also know you’ll faint if you don’t get some food in you, Bar Jamón is perfect.
The Little Beet Table
Little Beet Table is a place your coworker just tried and thinks is “super cute.” She had the scallops! And brussels sprouts! Little Beet isn’t the most innovative restaurant around, and it kind of feels like it could be a farm-to-table place in Scottsdale, Arizona, but it’s healthy, reliable, and everything is tasty.
If you spend any time in Gramercy/Lower Murray Hill, your life will change significantly for the better once Lamazou becomes a part of it. This tiny little shop has a fantastic selection of cheeses and cured meats, and we all know what happens when you put those things together on bread. There’s no seating here, so this is strictly a grab-a-sandwich-and-go situation.
Yama Japanese Restaurant
Yama is Gramercy’s slightly more traditional, though still casual and reasonably priced sushi spot. The sushi is quality enough that you can get away with ordering simple sashimi or nigiri, and the space is nice enough to be suitable for an easy date night. The sushi bar is also a good spot to dine solo,
Murray Hill is known as Curry Hill, and we’re making an exception regarding the borders of this neighborhood to tell you about two Indian spots that are located just above 27th Street. Dhaba’s menu is fairly big, with tons of options from chaats to curries to daals to a bunch of tandoor items. This place is no secret - it gets crowded at dinnertime, as well as at lunch when they serve a popular and highly affordable buffet.
Owned by the same people as Dhaba, Chote Nawab (for some reason) tends to be far less crowded. Chote Nawab focuses on meat dishes from around India, including a ton of chicken and lamb dishes, all served in a modern, friendly environment.
Irving Farm Coffee Roasters
Irving Farm locations are now located all over the city, but the one on Irving Place is the original. It’s a fairly large space, and a good place to post up, meet someone for coffee, or grab some light food.
Lantern Thai Kitchen
Your neighborhood Thai standby. All the standards are good here, and the space is pretty as well. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s not a complete hole in the wall either.
A simple, pleasant spot, Posto makes reliable, crispy thin crust pizza and is a good option for a small group that’s like, “Uhhh... anyone know somewhere easy and inexpensive the four of us can go right now?” If you’re familiar with Vezzo, Gruppo, or Spunto in surrounding neighborhoods, Posto is owned by the same people, and is pretty much the same deal as the others.
Simply put, Molly’s is an old school Irish pub with a great burger. It’s a big, fat, beefy thing you find in a lot of pubs, except better than most. Drinking heavily is also part of the deal here.
No, Joe Junior is not the name of Joe Biden’s new children’s programming network, though we would entirely back that if the VP wanted to start such a thing. Joe Junior is a diner that’s as classic and old school as they come. You can come here for eggs and pancakes, but Joe is particularly known for its very good burger.
Most people only think to visit Rolf’s around Christmas, which makes sense because this is a restaurant that is decorated like an insane Christmas tree. The insane Christmas tree situation actually lasts a couple months, and you can also stop by for a vaguely autumnal theme in the fall. The schnitzel here is fine, but coming here is more about the event of it. And the drinking.