Where To Eat When You're Visiting NYC

Coming to New York is exciting and intimidating. Let us take some of the pressure off by suggesting where to eat.
Where To Eat When You're Visiting NYC image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

You’re visiting New York, and you’ve packed your appetite. 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.


photo credit: Noah Devereaux



$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunchCoffee & A Light BiteImpressing Out of TownersKidsLunch
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Sadelle’s, from the team behind the impossible to get into Carbone and Torrisi, is not a classic New York bagel shop. It’s more like a big-budget simulation of one, and it’s a great time. If you’re planning an afternoon in Soho, start with brunch here. Get a tower of smoked fish, try the French toast, and keep an eye out for B-list celebrities. Reservations are helpful, but you can also just stop by and put your name in for a table. The wait shouldn’t be more than an hour.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Barney Greengrass is nothing short of a smoked fish institution. The crowned Sturgeon King of the Upper West Side is a little pricey, but their smoked sturgeon, lox, and whitefish salad are some of the best in the city. Grab a combo platter of all three fishes for $65, which comes with two bagels (or bialys). The bagel won’t blow you away, but the fish will, as will the jokes and small talk from your waiter. Once you’re done, buy a babka, some rugelach, or another Jewish baked good of your choice, and enjoy it in nearby Central Park. 

Don’t expect watery eggs or cold hash browns at this always-crowded, diner-style spot in Two Bridges. Instead, the narrow restaurant has perfectly quartered club sandwiches stuffed with purple cabbage and chicken katsu, crunchy salads topped with things like chili crisp and spiced peanuts, and one of the best burgers in town, dripping with mushroom gochujang and pickles. The food is inventive and comforting, and it feels like NYC on a plate. You can—and should—get the pancakes. They’re huge and served with maple honey butter, but add on the berry compote for extra juiciness. Make a reservation to avoid a line, especially on weekends.

For dim sum in Chinatown, many will tell you to go to Jing Fong. That’s not a bad recommendation, but for a (slightly) less hectic experience with a shorter wait and more locals enjoying shrimp rice rolls, head to House of Joy. The carpeted room is sprawling and lit by enormous chandeliers, and the durian pastries are eternally flaky. Put your name with the host at the door, then loiter near the entrance until your number is called. Even if the place is swamped, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 30 minutes or so.

When a diner has been open for almost 100 years, there’s a good chance that it’s worth a stop. A short walk from The Met, Lexington Candy Shop on the Upper East Side is one of the only places in New York that still mixes sodas just like they did when they opened in 1925. Sit up at the counter, grab some pancakes or an excellent tuna melt, and watch the waiters pump cola syrup into seltzer, mix egg creams, and pour coffee from a percolator that still uses a gas burner. 


Thai food isn’t usually at the top of Only-In-New York eating lists, but Thai Diner isn’t your typical Thai restaurant. True to its name, this place looks like a diner dressed up for a rave in Chiang Mai, with big booths and bamboo walls that sparkle in the Nolita sunlight. You can still get a killer pad thai here, but first-timers should go for the flashier stuff—the sai oua sausage roti, Thai tea babka French toast, and basil ribeye cheesesteaks that make any time spent waiting for a table absolutely worth it. This is one of NYC’s best restaurants.  

Sylvia’s opened in the 1960s, and it’s been New York’s most beloved soul food restaurant ever since. It’s evolved and expanded over the years—it now takes up the entire block between 126th and 127th on Malcolm X Blvd.—and the number of people waiting outside for a table make it feel like an impromptu block party. You’ll find a mix of world travelers and neighborhood regulars inside, and the walls are covered with photographs of the many famous people who’ve dined on fried catfish, chicken and waffles, and mac ‘n cheese within them. The food doesn’t compare to what you’d get down south, but it’s an iconic Harlem institution. Come on a Sunday for the gospel brunch.

photo credit: Miachel Breton

When a New York City restaurant inspires lines down the block, it’s usually because of a stunt dish or a hyperbolic video floating around the internet. But all Via Carota does is serve perfect green salads, immaculately engineered cacio e pepe, and other Italian food that’s more delicious than it is flashy. This West Village restaurant—one of the city’s best—has been inspiring lines for the better part of a decade, and it’s extremely hard to get in for dinner, but if you swing by for lunch, you should be eating tonnarelli within a few minutes.

Williamsburg has every kind of lunch (or brunch) situation you could possibly want, and depending on how many times you got lost in the subway today, that might just send your brain into overdrive. Make it easy on yourself and go to Gertie. This sunny, Jewish American spot has the laid-back, cheerful disposition of a restaurant that’s done its inner child work. Friendly waiters float through the pastel-colored space, handing out house-made bagels, extra thick latkes, and corned beef hash like they’re serving up snacks at adult daycare. Get a strong dill pickle martini before you face the chaos of Bedford Avenue. 

photo credit: Emily Schindler

$$$$Perfect For:Lunch

On your first few trips to the city, you’re going to spend an inappropriate amount of time in Midtown. (Hit Broadway, skip the M&M's store.) For a quick lunch within walking distance of Times Square and the Theater District, snag yourself a stool at Lovely’s Old Fashioned. The 10-seat burger joint has a retro ’50s theme à la Johnny Rockets, but this place isn’t a gimmick. Sit at the counter, watch a cook in a white paper hat work a crowded griddle, and enjoy one of the best sub-$10 burgers you’ll find on the Eastern Seaboard.


New York has a handful of steakhouses that have been around since the 1800s, but Keens feels the most like a museum, due in large part to the 45,000 churchwarden pipes strapped to the ceiling. The Midtown institution was once a private pipe club, with a roster of members like Einstein and Babe Ruth, and you too can channel greatness with a perfect, dry-aged Porterhouse and creamy hash browns. Just make sure to leave room for their legendary mutton chop. It’s an old-school chophouse favorite that you won’t find many places in the city, and you can get it as an appetizer or a main.

When you get off the Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo, options that aren’t mediocre $30 sandwiches are limited, unless you’re in the market for a hot dog cart visit. But just a few blocks away, in Brooklyn Heights, you’ll find Ingas Bar, a dressed-up tavern where neighborhood folks drink Negronis and eat double-patty burgers by candlelight. Ingas Bar isn’t filled with out-of-towners looking to get their hands on some aesthetically pleasing small plates just to tell everyone at home about it. It’s the sort of place you should come when you want to pretend like you live here, and eat mortadella covered in shaved brown butter at least once a week. 

When you picture New York City, what do you see? Folks wearing Celine and Balenciaga? A room with Art Deco accents and hazy yellow lighting that lends itself to martini consumption? That image is, mostly, a fantasy. Although it does exist at Frenchette, one of our top French restaurants. At this Tribeca bistro, you can eat crisp duck frites and a plate of buttery scrambled eggs, topped with escargot, while you try to figure out whether the people seated across from you are famous or merely immensely wealthy.

It would be a shame to visit New York without catching a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline. It would also be a shame to go somewhere to enjoy the ten-million-dollar view, only to have your evening meal fall short. At Laser Wolf, on the roof of the Hoxton Hotel in Williamsburg, both the view and the meal are guaranteed to be great. Almost everything at the Israeli restaurant comes hot off of a charcoal grill, and the date-harissa wings are a must-order. The unlimited salatim also make it a great spot for groups. 

To get a table at Emilio’s Ballato, the celebrity hotspot in Nolita, you will have to wait in a line. You cannot make a reservation, and you cannot put your name in and go get a drink elsewhere. But you’re on vacation, so hopefully you’ve got time, because when you reach the end of the line you’re going to encounter some of the very best Italian food NYC has to offer. Come early, bring a group, and cover your table in caesar salad, baked clams, and the off-menu Vitello Antonio, which is like a veal parm all dressed up in vodka sauce. You might see someone famous eating bolognese, but that’s beside the point. 


If you’re here to see the sights, you should know about Pebble Bar. Located in a townhouse tucked into the side of Rockefeller Center, it’s a semi-secret cocktail bar where you can avoid the crowds of Midtown. When you need a break from dodging crowds of tourists who traveled thousands of miles in the hopes of smelling Jimmy Fallon, pop in for an Old Fashioned. There’s also a dining room on the upper floor, in case you want to sit down for some oysters and steak tartare.

You can’t do much better than Parcelle for a glass of wine in a cool downtown setting. The Dimes Square wine bar has two spaces: an upstairs lounge with velvet seating in shades of Wicked Witch green, and a dark basement area that looks like the scene of the trendiest house party in Dazed and Confused, with vintage couches, and disco playing over the speakers. Grab some snacks, like scallop and brown butter crudo, or some deviled eggs, or their crunchy fried chicken sandwich for something more filling. It’s a great spot to start a Lower East Side bar crawl

Bob Dylan and Patti Smith used to hang out at Hotel Chelsea. That was over half a century ago, and the hotel has been significantly renovated since, although it still maintains some old-timey charm. On the ground floor, you’ll find the appropriately named Lobby Bar, filled with mismatched rugs, enormous chandeliers, and couches you sink into as your blood’s gin content climbs steadily upward. (Be careful with the martinis here.)

The party version of yourself will fit right in with the rest of the crowd at this East Village bar, not to mention with Superbueno’s staff, who always seem to be celebrating something. This high energy spot with tiny luchador masks and neon lighting has fantastic (occasionally neon) drinks, featuring things like mole-washed mezcal, birria broth, and chili de arbol. The Mexican snacks are great too: don’t skip the fish tostada.

You could make a compelling argument that Marie’s Crisis is the best bar in NYC. The drinks are cheap (around $7), the divey basement space is full of history (Thomas Paine lived on site), and a pianist plays non-stop show tunes every night. Brush up on your Chicago and A Chorus Line lyrics before stopping by, and feel free to sing along to every song you recognize. Crowd participation is highly encouraged here. Just be sure to bring cash, and keep in mind that there’s usually a wait to get in on weekend nights.


The competition for the city’s best pizza is fierce, but the version at L’Industrie is the evolved, apex predator form of what a New York slice can be. At both the original Williamsburg spot and the West Village location, you’ll find crispy-on-the-bottom, puffy crust, and super high quality Italian toppings. It’s the perfect hand-held meal before, during, or after a jaunt down Bleecker Street. Refuel with an oozing burrata slice, or spicy salami—and if you’re visiting  during the week, they offer sandwich specials on Wednesdays.

Are you tired of eating slices on the sidewalk while our city’s pigeons demand their rightful share? Grab a table at Rubirosa in Nolita. This sit-down pizza spot serves thin-crust, Staten Island-style pies, in addition to pasta, mozzarella sticks, and chicken parm—all of which can be made gluten free. The dark, narrow room is always packed, and there’s usually at least a 30 minute wait for a table, so put your name in, then get a drink at Mother’s Ruin.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

$$$$Perfect For:Quick Eats

This tiny pizza window on the Upper West Side makes a mighty square slice. It’s crunchy on the bottom and crispy around the edges, with a sweet and garlicky sauce under what may at first seem like an excessive amount of melted mozzarella. We’re a little bit obsessed with their Poached Pear, with gorgonzola and hot honey, but we’d never say no to the slice covered in thick little pieces of pepperoni, reaching toward the sky as if thanking the pizza gods for making them so delicious. They also do a great regular triangle slice, and have a slightly bigger location in the West Village.

photo credit: Willa Moore

$$$$Perfect For:LunchQuick Eats

If an afternoon in Soho is on your itinerary, you’re going to need a snack between blindly swiping your credit card at fancy stores. Pizza is NYC’s best walking snack, and in Soho, snack time is best spent at Lucia. This is the Manhattan outpost of a South Brooklyn pizza shop, so you know it's legit, and they’ve got one of the best spinach slices in the game. Things move quickly inside this perpetually mobbed, pocket-sized spot, but they still take a moment to sprinkle parmesan, drizzle olive oil, and tear fresh basil onto each hot, crispy slice.

Joe’s is touristy. It’s in guidebooks, it’s a stop on pizza tours, and it now has several locations around town, including one in Times Square. But locals like this place too. It’s a great representation of the sort of classic, straightforward, supremely foldable NY-style pizza often imitated in malls and airports. The slices are big and floppy, the sauce is sweet, and the cheese is abundant and greasy.

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