You’ve seen my list of things to do. Now for part 2 of my NYC list for visitors, here are a few restaurant ideas – though I’m always happy to provide more recommendations if you need.
These are all pretty accessible menus and nothing too crazy where you’d be eating game meat from around the world (though there are places for that if that’s your thing!). I often get asked about Little Italy and Chinatown specifically, so a few go-to visitor places below. Let me know if you want more though.
Next and final post will be on my personal NYC favorites!
Some restaurant favorites (most places you can make online reservations on Open Table):
- Tapas – Casa Mono in Gramercy, Pipa near Union Square [now closed :(], Alta in West Village/near Washington Square Park
- Vegetarian (that is approved by yours truly who is very much a carnivore) – Dirt Candy in East Village (reserve early because place is tiny)
- American – ABC Kitchen in Gramercy, Little Owl in West Village (can be hard to get reservations because so small), Westville Chelsea (has 20 different vegetable side dishes; sometimes I just order a platter of 4 of them as my meal; great for brunch as well), Cookshop in Chelsea, Mesa Grill in Chelsea/Gramercy area (southwest food, owned by Bobby Flay, great brunch), The Smith in Midtown is a good basic
- Breakfast/brunch (brunch is HUGE in NYC) – Penelope in Murray Hill area (no reservations, wait can be long if arrive after 12pm), Prune in East Village (no reservations, wait can be long if arrive 12pm)
- Higher end – Daniel on Upper East Side, Babbo in West Village, Morimoto in Chelsea, 11 Madison Park in Flatiron, Le Bernardin in Midtown, Quality Meats for a “modern” steakhouse
- Lombardi’s (located in Little Italy – Spring Street between Mott St and Mulberry St) – it’s the oldest pizzeria in the country! It’s a coal oven pizzeria versus wood or brick oven. There’s usually quite a line to get a table. Cash only. My go-to order is a meatball and roasted red pepper pie. The meatballs are awesome at Lombardi’s. Though I have to admit my favorite pizza spot is a place in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn called Lucali.
- Ferrara’s – after eating at Lombardi’s walk down two blocks and have Italian dessert (Grand Street between Mott St and Mulberry St). They have gelato and all your traditional Italian desserts. Ferrara’s is delicious, but the service is famous for being slow and not friendly. This isn’t necessarily the best dessert place in town, but it’s an institution and a quick walk from Lombardi’s.
- For some tasty eats (technically in Nolita – north of Little Italy) – try the meatball or eggplant parmasean sandwiches at Parm, part of the Torrisi group of restaurants.
- Joe’s Shanghai – famous for its soup dumplings
- Chinatown Ice Cream Factory – stop by and try some unique flavors like red bean, taro, black sesame, etc.
- Thai son – on Baxter Street is where I go for decent pho, though Vietnamese in Manhattan is unfortunately not great
- ChikaLicious – in the East Village. Has a full dessert restaurant with dessert tasting menu, but I go across the street to the “dessert club” take-away counter. Favorite thing to get is their strawberry shortcake parfait, which is essentially a piece of delicious cake mixed into frozen yogurt. Their eclair ice cream cone is well-known and tasty, but messy to eat – though that just separates the men from the boys. Try the green tea cake with yuzu for something interesting.
- Serendipity 3 (made famous by the movie Serendipity; the 3 in the name indicates the founders, not that there are three locations) – very cute, and amazing desserts; known for the frozen hot chocolate (very generous portions, so watch out); the wait is ridiculously long (up to 2+ hours) if you don’t have a reservation (no reservations for dessert only) – so put your name in, then go shopping nearby
- Dylan’s Candy Bar – a giant candy shop around the corner from Serendipity
- Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man (has a couple locations in the city – main one is Union Square)
DRINKS (way too many places for me to name, but here are a few ideas)
- In Midtown – Royalton Hotel bar/lounge area that didn’t feel like it is in a hotel, PJ Clarke’s (an institution)
- Cocktails – NoMad Hotel (voted a 2012 best bar in America by Esquire magazine), Death & Co. in East Village (speakeasy), PDT in East Village (speakeasy), Public in SoHo (love their guava red chili margarita)
- McSoreley’s in the East Village is an institution. Only have two types of beer – dark and light. You have to go because it’s the oldest bar in the city, but FYI the entire place smells like a bathroom.
- Cheap drinks – Grassroots in East Village. $3 pints all the time.
WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN (Adventurous enough to try another borough? Head over to Williamsburg for some great eats)
- Diner – amazing foodie brunch. The idea of adding some pickled egg to a fried chicken sandwich initially sounds horrifying, but it was SO good and helped cut the richness of the dish. Can’t complain about the accompanying sweet potato chips either. Menu changes daily.
- Pies ‘N Thighs – get. the. chicken. biscuit. sandwich.
- Smorgasburg – if you’re visiting during warmer weather (open April-October-ish), try Smorgasburg for “A Brooklyn Flea Food Market.” Tons of food vendors and types of cuisines – American, Vietnamese, Korean, Italian, etc. Think food truck gathering, but most people just have a tent. Best part about enjoying your food finds at this waterfront food flea market is that you have a million-dollar view of the NYC skyline.