Best Restaurants in New York
February 22, 2011
Per Se, New York City
Having triumphed in California, Thomas Keller returned to New York with this elegant dining room overlooking Central Park in the Time-Warner Center. Per Se upholds the standards set by The French Laundry, and — despite the defection of longtime chef Jonathan Benno to open his own place (Lincoln) — it remains one of the outstanding dining experiences in the city.
Le Bernardin, New York City
Think Le Bernardin and you think accolades: Michelin, The New York Times, James Beard. Is it a little stuffy? Sure. But if cooking fish well is an art, then Chef Eric Ripert is a master. His contemporary French touch has led some to call his creations the world's best seafood.
Daniel, New York City
Daniel. This very grown-up restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side maintains standards of service and cuisine — French haute cuisine, very much an endangered species today — that hark back to an earlier era… But the cooking is up-to-date and really, really good.
Blue Hill Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY
High-profile organo-loca-sustainavore Dan Barber has found the perfect home at Blue Hill Stone Barns, a beautiful restaurant in a bucolic but hard-working setting on a year-round farm and educational center. Most of what you eat here will be grown, raised, and/or processed on the property, and Barber’s modern American food is full of color and flavor.
Jean Georges, New York City
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the few chefs in New York City with the distinction of four stars from The New York Times. At his eponymous restaurant in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, his classic French technique bridges old and new worlds, eschews heavy sauces, and embraces the spice and flavors of Asian cuisine.
Masa, New York City
When Frank Bruni described his friend's reaction at biting into one of Masa's toro-stuffed maki rolls in his 2004 review in The New York Times — twitching lips and rolling eyes were involved — and awarded the restaurant four stars, he instantly put the restaurant on the map as the sushi spot in New York, if not the U.S. as a whole. The swanky Time-Warner Center setting and elaborate omakase-only menu is accompanied by a high bar for entry: the price. At $450 per person before tip, you're looking at a bill that can easily total more than $1,000 for two.
Peter Luger, Brooklyn, NY
To say Peter Luger Steakhouse is a New York institution is an understatement. It has been doing steak since 1887. The menu is simple. Single steak, steak for two, steak for three, or steak for four. In other words, how many people are you going with? Okay, so there's a little more selection than that, but the point here is high-quality, expertly-prepared steak, along with the famous house sauce, sliced tomato and onion salad, and of course, the celebrated thick-cut bacon appetizer. Many imitators, one original.
Katz's Delicatessen, New York City
"Send a salami to your boy in the army!" This Jewish kosher deli has been making converts with its salami — and pastrami and hot dogs and more since 1888. You go in, get a taste at the counter from one of the expert slicers like Eddie, and marvel at how great it is that a place like this exists. Then you dive into pickles and a huge pastrami sandwich with mustard and a big pricetag. It's worth it — it really is one of the only deli sandwiches a person needs in life. And the pastrami and eggs "made like the boss likes it," with eggs cooked on the hot dog grill to get that greasiness? Not many things better for breakfast. Just don't lose your ticket. You don't want to know what happens.
wd-50, New York City
Say what you will about so-called molecular gastronomy, but you have to give it up to a restaurant that takes an iconic dish like eggs Benedict and reintroduces it to the plate as egg yolk cylinders with crispy cubes of molten hollandaise with dehydrated bacon. And it's so pretty that you almost don't want to attack it with your fork — almost. At the helm here is Wylie Dufresne, one of the modern food world's founding culinary wizards. To dine at wd-50 is a promise of the unexpected, which is no small feat in this hard-to-impress town.
Babbo, New York City
What can you say about this place that hasn't already been said? The pasta! That pork chop! Mario Batali is a genius! Rock music in a fine dining restaurant? Brilliant! At this longtime darling of the critics, after more than 12 years, you're still at the mercy of the reservation gods if you want to get in — buona fortuna.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York
You hate to tell the cool kid that he's cool, but if you've eaten at Momofuku Ssäm Bar then you know — David Chang really is a culinary badass. Meals at this East Village hotspot wowed former New York Times critic Frank Bruni into a praise-filled three-star review in 2008, and no wonder. Chang's food offers bold, Asian-inspired flavors with rockstar attitude and everyone wants in on the action. The sweet, sweet porky action.
Del Posto, New York City
Having earned a coveted four-star rating in The New York Times (the first Italian restaurant to do so since 1974), Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali's temple of contemporary Italian fine dining ranks in a class of its own. In a space that is both luxurious and remarkably comfortable, executive chef Mark Ladner, with the help of pastry chef Brooks Headley, serves dishes that build on the classics with a true innovative spirit.
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, New York City
Multi-Michelin-starred Chef Joël Robuchon’s swanky restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel offers a peaceful solace from the noise and bustle of midtown Manhattan. A sleek, minimalist interior is the backdrop for executive chef Xavier Boyer’s classical French-inspired menu (the beef and foie gras burgers with caramelized bell peppers are a must).
Casa Mono, New York City
Inspired by the Boqueria market in Barcelona (slightly before most of their compatriots had ever heard of the place), Mario Batali — who went to school in Spain and has a great love for the country’s cooking — and Chef Andy Nusser created this casual but superbly run Spanish and Spanish-ish establishment, bringing cod cheeks pil pil, tripe with chickpeas and blood sausage, squid with pork meatballs, and the like to a hip Manhattan clientele.
The Four Seasons, New York City
A New York original, with a stunning interior designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, a faithful clientele of Gothamite high-rollers, and an American menu that offers few surprises but usually manages to satisfy everyone’s tastes. This is the place to order things like assorted cold seafood, smoked salmon carved tableside, grilled Dover sole, pheasant coq au vin, or crisp farmhouse duck, then sit back and dine like a grownup.
Marea, New York City
One of the most original and consistently wonderful upscale Manhattan restaurant newcomers in recent memory, this very handsome restaurant on the site of the old San Domenico, specializes in exquisitely fresh fish and shellfish in Italian-inspired preparations (crostini with lardo and sea urchin!) by skilled chef Michael White.
Grand Sichuan International (9th Avenue), New York City
Chinese cooking in New York City was better and more diverse 25 years ago than it is today (many of the great older chefs who emigrated to America during the Cold War have retired, and the demand is too high in China itself today to encourage anyone to leave). That said, chef/restaurateur Xiaotu "John" Zhang's Grand Sichuan restaurants — of which the 9th Avenue branch is considered the best — are a bright spot on the local food scene. The cooking holds true to ancient roots but embraces the evolution of modern cuisine, redefining the familiar "take-out" that New Yorkers have come to love (and depend on) while suggesting a more vibrant future for Chinese food in America.
SriPraPhai, Queens, NY
Consistently lauded by critics and Yelpers alike as the most authentic Thai restaurant in New York, SriPraPhai boasts a menu as large as its reputation. Feeling overwhelmed by the spread? Ask one of the friendly and knowlegable waitstaff for a recommendation, and be forewarned: things may get spicy.
'21' Club, New York City
Okay, it’s not about the food. It’s about style, tradition, history, and the general feeling of well-being this ledendary, clubby establishment can engender. Classics like the chilled Senegalese soup, creamy chicken hash, “speakeasy” steak tartare and even the “21” burger (on a toasted Parker House roll) are dependably good.
Bar Masa, New York City
The casual counterpart to the restaurant at #11 on our list, Bar Masa is sushi master Masa Takayama’s slightly more economical spot next door. Unlike at Masa, where the only option is the omakase menu, the offerings at Bar Masa are à la carte, including a variety of upscale sushi and modern twists on Japanese street food. The “bar” in Bar Masa, incidentally, refers not to the sushi bar, but to the vast selection of sakes and cocktails available.