The best places to eat in New York City
One of New York’s delights is its food scene, but with thousands of eateries on offer, choosing where to go could get stressful. This guide includes tried and tested recommendations to suit all tastes, budgets, and situations.
1. The Counter
Recommended for: Quick lunch and families
Address: 7 Times Square, New York, NY 10036
Opens: Sunday-Wednesday 11am-11pm, Thursday 11am-12am, Friday-Saturday 11am-1am
The Counter is the perfect refuel for the whole family, since you build your burger from scratch. The bread and filling choices are delicious, and both cater to allergies, vegetarians, and vegans. And if you love cheese, this is right up your street with over ten types.
After sorting the basics, you can make the burger your own by choosing toppings and sauces. Go wild by adding multiple ingredients from each list, but beware the price varies depending on how much you add. Before placing your order, ensure you select one of the delicious sides to compliment your burger.
2. The River Café
Recommended for: Romantic evening or special occasion
Address: 1 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Opens: Monday-Friday 8:30am-11:30am and 5:30pm-11pm, Saturday-Sunday 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-11pm
Set aside a few hours to bask in the glory of this Michelin star restaurant. The River Café is globally famous as a beautiful spot to try stunning food, situated underneath Brooklyn Bridge with views across Manhattan. I was lucky to try the chef’s tasting menu, a 6-course medley of dishes chosen by the chef himself. The individual menus are equally tempting, focusing on fish but also offering meat and vegetarian options.
Ensure you book far in advance, and take note that the dress code is jackets and preferably ties for men after 4pm, and never anything too casual. For stunning views, visit at night to watch the sun set and see lights sparkle across the skyline.
3. Smorgasburg market
Recommended for: Cheap treats and local produce
Address: Saturday – East River State Park, Kent Avenue and North 7 Street on Williamsburg Waterfront, Sunday – Prospect Park at Breeze Hill
Opens: 11am-6pm Saturday and Sunday between April and November. Check website for opening and closing weekends.
Live like a local and visit the Smorgasburg market at a weekend to try tasty packaged and prepared foods from vendors across New York City and the region. Produce is fresh and unique, offering everything from hot foods, soups, and sandwiches, as well as desserts, popcorn, and drinks.
If you are travelling during the months that Smorgasburg is closed but still fancy a market, check out the Chinese markets on Canal Street and Hester Street, which sell a range of Chinese vegetables, fruits, and dried foods.
4. Serendipity 3
Recommended for: Anyone with a sweet tooth
Address: 225 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022
Opens: Sunday-Thursday 11:30am-12am, Friday-Saturday 11:30am-1am
Serendipity is defined as “the art of making happy discoveries, or finding the unexpectedly pleasant by chance or sagacity”, and this is true of this unique café. You can eat a meal, but if you want a truly special experience, I recommend just going for dessert. The puddings are world famous, having attracted the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Cary Grant. Choose from cakes, mousses, and pies, or try one of the outrageous sundaes which are about ten times the size of ordinary ones. The frozen hot chocolate is unmissable, and constitutes a dessert in itself unless you are a sugar-fiend.
5. Salaam Bombay
Recommended for: Cheap lunch or delicious dinner
Address: 319 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013,
Opens: 11:30am-11pm every day
This top Indian restaurant is perfect both for an impressive evening meal, and a quick lunch. For a midday re-fuel, opt for the Lunch Box to Go which could be shared between two and costs $12.00. Or you may prefer to choose from the selection of Bombay street foods, appetizers, soups, or salads.
For a relaxing dinner, the menu offers familiar favourites, such as tikka, korma, and vindaloo, but also authentic dishes and South Indian classics. The Two Course Meal special is an excellent deal, including naan or roti, daal of the day, rice, raita, chutney and dessert of the day, and costing $20.00 or $18.00 for the vegetarian option. The menu caters for vegetarians and vegans.
6. Union Square Café
Recommended for: Treating yourself
Address: 101 East 19th Street, New York, NY 10003
Opens: Check website for details as opening times differ dependent on the meal you want and the day you go http://www.unionsquarecafe.com/locations/
You might have heard of Danny Meyer’s modern American cuisine delight already, but I could not miss it out of my must-visit list. Having won numerous awards and attracted globally-famous chefs, it is not cheap, but it is doable if you fancy treating yourself. For instance, the menu includes pasta dishes for an average of $20, or brunch options like the French toast for $19. Main courses are significantly more but offer a tempting selection of meats and fishes.
Booking in advance is sensible due to the popularity of the restaurant, and check individual menus for exact time that food is served, www.unionsquarecafe.com
Recommended for: Italian dining/evening meal
Address: 665 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025
Opens: Monday-Thursday 5:00pm-10:30pm, Friday-Saturday 5:00pm-11pm
A cosy Italian café on Upper West Side, Gennaro serves stunning food with excellent service and fair pricing to match. As soon as you find yourself fancy Italian, head straight here! There is a delicious selection of antipasti, secondi piatti, and dolci. I personally loved the panzanella to start, petto di pollo con provolone e zucchini for main, and tiramisu to finish. Note the menu caters well for vegetarians, but the restaurant only accepts cash payments and does not take reservations.
8. Fraunces Tavern
Recommended for: Brunch, lunch, and dinner
Address: 54 Pearl Street, New York, NY1004,
Opens: 11am-2am every day. Happy Hour is 4pm-7pm
I stopped at this Colonial American tavern after lots of walking, hungry, thirsty, and tired. It was perfect for a leisurely lunch with delicious food and an impressive selection of drinks, including craft beers and over 200 whiskeys.
The lunch menu had a mouth-watering selection of starters and mains from traditional American cuisine, including steaks, sandwiches, pies and burgers. There are equally exciting options on the brunch and dinner menus.
The setting is part of this experience. The tavern is the oldest standing structure in the City of New York, and THE George Washington was a patron. The restaurant itself is furnished traditionally, and there is also a museum on site to explore.
9. Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant
Recommended for: Seafood-lovers
Address: Grand Central Terminal, 89 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017
Opens: Monday-Saturday 11:30am-9:30pm (closed Sundays)
This iconic restaurant ends my list, but you must not end your New York stay without visiting. If you love oysters then this is your restaurant, with fresh oysters brought in every day and usually between 25 and 30 varieties to choose from. The remainder of the menu is equally tempting, offering chowders, fish stews, a cold buffet, smokehouse, shellfish, and lobster. There are a huge selection of daily specials and a ‘Today’s Catch’ list.
*This article was originally published in Travioor, but the company closed down in 2017.