From bright lights and stunning sights to magnificent skyscrapers, and tough-as-nails vibes, NYC is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. But did you know that the City That Never Sleeps is also a foodie paradise? You’ll find cheap restaurants in Times Square, the best NYC bars for singles, and cuisine from just about every culture around every corner. And one of the best things about NYC restaurants is that they serve authentic dishes that set them apart. Be it Italian, Asian, Vegan, when it comes to food in NYC, your greatest challenge will be deciding on which restaurant you like best!
Best Restaurants in NYC
If you’re searching for the best spots to gather and break bread, keep reading this complete guide to the 51 best NYC restaurants to try!
1. Fradei. This tiny spot with just a few tables inside, but it’s definitely worth squeezing into - if only for the thrill of it. They serve a secretive five-course menu that you only get to see once it arrives at your dinner table. All you know beforehand is that the dishes are seasonal and use local ingredients. And we’d be remiss not to mention the excellent dining playlist and selection of wines available.
2. Rezdôra | Before founding Rezdôra, Chef Stefano Secchi worked at Osteria Francescana ranked number 1 in the world in 2018. Inspired by the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, Rezdôra serves a grand selection of pasta complemented by local vegetables, traditionally prepared protein and Northern Italian wines.
3. Francie. One of the younger restaurants on this list, opened less than a year ago by chef Christopher Cipollone and owner-operator John Winterman. Inspired by European flavors, you’d be mistaken to think that Francie is one of those uptight fine dining restaurants. Sure, the prices are a bit steep but the place has a pretty relaxed vibe where you can just drop in for a few drinks and snacks.
4. Roberta’s has been christened the “most important pizza in New York,” so this list wouldn’t be complete without it. I’m sure you’ve already seen their frozen pizzas in your supermarket but believe us that you need to try their freshly made pizza. Roberta’s menu is full of creative pizzas, so you really can’t go wrong with any choice.
5. Joe’s Pizza. Joe from Joe’s Pizza originally hails from Italy, the birthplace of pizza itself. And at 75 years, he’s still running the place (it’s been over 50 years at this point). Talk about passion. Joe’s Pizza is a regular mention in pretty much every top 10 New York City restaurants article for a reason. It’s just got enough grease, a sweet sauce on top, and the mozzarella is goey in the best way.
6. Empellon Al Pastor. Home-made tortilla tacos, snacks like chalupa and pork fried rice, and cocktails aplenty. All served in a super casual environment. What’s not to like?
7. Los Tacos No. 1. So for the longest time, the West Coast has us beat when it comes to Mexican food. But lucky for us, three friends from Mexico and California joined forces to bring that authentic Mexican flavor to the East Coast.
8. Gran Eléctrica. Inspired by their travels abroad, three owners came together to create an authentic dining experience inspired by Mexican street fare. To keep their menu rooted in authentic Mexican cooking, Gran Eléctrica proudly emphasizes hand-made ingredients on-site and a Mexican flavored beverage program.
9. Cosme. Cosme is Mexico City chef Enrique Olvera’s baby. This restaurant serves contemporary cuisine inspired by Mexican flavors and traditions. But aside from the food, a few things set Cosme apart on the surface. One, this Mexican spot is not filled with your typical Mexican decorations like sombreros. Two, it’s situated in a former strip joint. Don’t let that put you off though, the crowd of New Yorkers that pack the place every night certainly aren’t.
10. Ruta Oaxaca Mexican Cuisine. You can get plenty of classic Mexican dishes at Ruta Oaxaca, such as tacos, but what they truly shine in is moles. You can get them in many varieties, each a different color like yellow, dark brown or green. And on the beverage side, Ruta Oaxaca specializes in mezcal cocktails.
11. Rangoon. Rangoon was founded by Chef Myo Moe, and serves traditional Burmese dishes from recipes that were passed onto her from multiple generations. And in terms of presentation, Rangoon takes inspiration from the idea of a bistro, a small restaurant where everyone can afford to come and enjoy simple meals.
12. Sushi Noz. Inspired by childhood memories of extraordinary fish from his grandfather's seafood company in Hokkaido, Sushi Noz is Chef Nozomo Abe’s attempt to transport you from New York City to Japan. The restaurant itself is designed to resemble an ancient Kyoto temple and the sushi counter is meant to act as a stage where Abe can perform his art.
13. Gentle Perch. Gentle Perch has a relatively simple formula: Korean flavors mixed with Southern barbecue. And we can attest that it’s a match made in heaven.
14. XI’AN FAMOUS FOODS. If you're craving some Chinese noodles on a budget, look no further than Xi'an Famous Foods. It started out as a small restaurant in Flushing, New York by an immigrant from Xi'an, China, who simply wanted to share his hometown food with others. Today, XFF has become so popular that they have multiple locations in New York and even sell cookbooks, meal kits and chili oil.
15. Shu Jiao Fu Zhou Cuisine. Shu Jiao Fu Zhou might just have the best dumplings in Manhattan. They succeed on several levels: they’re soft and visually appealing, steamed, not fried, inexpensive and taste great even without any sauce (though the sauce does elevate it). What more could you want?
16. Blue Willow. Most of the Chinese restaurants in Midtown are focused on Cantonese cuisine. But Blue Willow sets itself apart by serving traditional Hunan & Szechuan dishes. From the moment you walk in, Blue Willow’s aromatic dishes and retro interior transports you back to old China.
17. Golden Palace Gourmet. Golden Palace Gourmet serves meals inspired by the Chinese region of Dongbei. But what’s truly remarkable about this restaurant is that it produces many of its own ingredients - for instance, the blood sausage.
18. Mao Mao Restaurant. Mao Mao restaurant offers an experience like none other in New York City. They brand themselves as an old-school Thai restaurant & bar with a movie theater experience from the seats to the vintage posters and massive projection playing while you eat.
19. Lil Chef Mama. Lil Chef Mama has a huge menu that is perfect for dining with a big group. Here you’ll find everything from burgers and noodle soup to duck curry, frog legs and deep-fried squid.
20. Farida. Farida was founded by the husband-and-wife team of Farida Gabbassova-Ricciardelli and chef Umitjon Kamolov. The focus here is on the cuisines and traditions of Uzbek, Kazakh. And their influences don't stop there, the entire place is decorated with objects that transport you into the Central Asian region, complete with traditionally prepared meats, teas, salads and vegetables.
21. FoHi Ramen. This is a well-known restaurant chain in Japan, and this is its only location in the west. Many of its NYC guests flock here to get their fix after having already tried this soft, chewy ramen once in Japan.
22. Bánh Vietnamese Shop House. Bánh Vietnamese Shop House serves all the classic Vietnamese plates like pho. But it’s the smaller, lesser-known dishes that you should be paying attention to here, like Banh Chung Chien (crispy sticky rice cakes) and Bún Cha Gio (crispy roll noodle salad).
23. Kochi. The brainchild of chef Sunchul Shim, Kochi is a seven-course tasting of skewers inspired by traditional Korean cuisine. Open for just 2 years now, it has already been awarded a Michelin star. And the best part? The seven-course menu has a fixed $85 price, which is among the more affordable options in the same class.
24. Adda. Acclaimed restaurant owner Roni Mazumdar and executive chef Chintan Pandya came together to create Adda, which translates to “a place where people hang out.” True to this name, Adda offers a casual vibe complete with authentic Indian dishes. There’s no modern twists on these meals, they’re made in the traditional manner: in-house with a wealth of spices.
25. Sona. Anyone who’s looking for Indian fine dining in New York City has to give Sona a visit. The restaurant was built to remind guests of a bygone era Indian fare within the heart of New York City. It has an extensive menu with all sorts of Mumbai favorites, and fun fact: Priyanka Chopra is one of the owners.
26. Atithi Indian Cuisine. The word Atithi means guest in ancient Sanskrit. And that's exactly how you're treated from the moment you walk in, as a beloved guest. Serving up rich, spicy Indian cuisines that have been passed down from generations, Atithi is truly a place where you can sit down and feast. With budget-friendly options like the $18 three-course dinner, any guest is guaranteed to walk away stuffed and happy.
27. Dame. Dame is an English restaurant serving a small menu of inventive seafood like macerated strawberries with fish and chips (eton mess), squid and shishito pepper skewers and warm lobster tart with morels & snap peas. Fair warning though, the place is hard to get into. But once you do, it’s happy eating!
28. Luke’s Lobster. When Luke Holden initially started Luke’s Lobster in 2009, he wasn’t able to find the same high-quality Maine lobster he was used to from back home. That’s when he decided to open his own seafood purchasing business in Maine so he could source lobster directly from fishermen he knew and trusted. All that hard work paid off, as Luke’s is one of the best lobster roll shacks in NYC, with locations all over the US, Singapore and Japan.
29. Africa Kine. Africa Kine was founded by Dakar natives Kine and Samba Niang in 1996. It boasts a large menu of classic African dishes, including lunch items like thiebu djen (fish stew) and yassa (sauteed chicken). For dinner, they have items like brochette crevette (grilled shrimp skewers) and dibi (grilled lamb).
30. Hudson Smokehouse. Hudson Smokehouse started in Robin Hudson’s backyard, just cooking barbecue and ribs for friends and family. After word started spreading about Robin’s tasty meat, he decided to go all-in BBQ and open a location. Two decades later, loyal customers flock to Hudson Smokehouse for the well-smoked brisket, ribs, chorizo and pork belly.
31. Jongro BBQ. Jongro BBQ has many characteristics that set it apart from other Korean BBQ joints. Chief among those is their commitment to freshness. To that end, they don’t ever use frozen meat but have their cuts delivered daily and butchered in house. They’ve gone above and beyond, even implementing laser thermometers and overhead smoke lamps at the dining table to increase the food’s freshness.
32. Russ & Daughters. The late Anthony Bourdain said that "Russ & Daughters occupies that rare and tiny place on the mountaintop reserved for those who are not just the oldest and the last — but also the best." We tend to agree. Russ & Daughters is a family-owned business that’s been operating in the same spot for over 100 years, serving New York favorites like: smoked fish, caviar, bagels, bialys, babka, and other traditional baked goods.
33. Clinton Street Baking Company. Every city has a go-to breakfast spot that serves amazing food coupled with a cozy environment. Many would claim that Clinton Street Baking Co. has won that title in New York. Opened in 2001, CSBC initially only served hand-mixed muffins and scones. But as word of mouth spread, they expanded their offerings to include all of your favorite breakfast foods, including what is arguably the best pancake in New York. And yes, they serve it all day and night.
34. The Cookshop. THE best place in New York for huevos rancheros. Enough said.
35. Meadowsweet. In 2014, Meadowsweet was opened in Williamsburg Brooklyn by award-winning chef Polo Dobkin and his wife and director of operations Stephanie Lempert. Named after the meadowsweet herb, this cool space serves Mediterranean-influenced New American dishes & craft cocktails, with fresh vegetables sourced from their own upstate Meadowsweet Farm.
36. Fieldtrip. FIELDTRIP's mantra is "Rice is Culture." Chef JJ Johnson created FIELDTRIP as a celebration of culture told through the medium of rice, a food staple in almost every community around the world. This rich concept even influences the way their rice bowls are made and served -- freshly milled, unbleached, not enriched, paired with ethically sourced veggies and protein.
37. The Halal Guys. The Halal Guys started in 1990 as a humble hot dog stand at the intersection of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue. After they pivoted to serving halaal food to Muslim taxi drivers, word of their exotic platters quickly spread among other New Yorkers, and the rest is history. Visit the Halal guys for street food of all kinds, like pretzels and falafel sandwiches. And you don’t even need to be in New York to get a whiff of this, The Halal Guys has grown into a global franchise with almost 100 locations worldwide.
38. Hangawi. Hangawi is rare among New York City Korean restaurants in that it is one of the few all-vegan ones. Hangawi was founded to introduce balanced vegetarian dishes from Korean cuisine to the western world. Aside from the meals, the traditional teas, folk and zen music and decor at Hangawi all come together to promote a harmony of body and mind.
39. Superiority Burger. Superiority Burger is widely regarded as one of the best vegan restaurants in New York City, a place where even the vegetables don’t taste boring. And speaking of boring, Superiority Burger changes its specials on the daily, so there’s always something new to explore.
40. Peacefood. Peacefood serves a variety of delicious vegan meals that prove that you don’t necessarily have to eat meat to feel full and satiated. But what really sets them apart is their unforgettable sides and pastries.
41. J.G. Melon. New Yorkers don’t really want anything new or trendy when it comes to their burger joints. All they want is a juicy patty topped by soft buns with crispy fries on the side. J.G. Melon plays their role to perfection, serving a classic burger that isn’t going out of style anytime soon.
42. Shake Shack. Shake Shack was originally a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park that was such a raging success that they decided to open up a permanent establishment. Today, it's one of the most iconic restaurants in New York City and a classic American success story.
43. Tudor City Tavern. This guide cannot be complete without a mention of one of the best local taverns around town, Tudor City Tavern in the historic Tudor City neighborhood of NYC. The cozy tavern inside Westgate Grand Central Resort is the perfect spot to relax and catch with friends. The menu offers seasonal soups and salads, delicious sandwiches, Starbucks coffee and a fully stocked bar with cocktails, spirits, beer and wine pairings.
44. Tompkins Square Bagels. Christopher Pugliese got his start at Bake City Bagel where he learned to pay extreme attention to detail during the bagel making process. He then went on to apply those same lessons to Tomkins Square Bagels, which he credits with its success. TSB’s specialty is the warm, soft and creamy breakfast bagel.
45. Gray’s Papaya. I know the movies make it seem like there’s a hotdog stand on every corner of New York City, but they’re mostly just concentrated in the most tourist-heavy areas and vary in quality. If you’re looking for the archetypical New York hot dog though, look no further than Gray’s Papaya.
46. Blue Sky Deli. Previously called Hajji’s, Blue Sky Deli’s is the creator of the famous chopped cheese sandwich. Once upon a time ago, this sandwich was only known to a select few NYC foodies, but over the last decade, it has grown increasingly popular, touted as a classic comparable to the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.
47. Dough. Dough was founded just two years ago in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and expanded into Manhattan as it quickly grew in popularity. What sets Dough apart from other doughnut shops is its oversized donuts, unique flavors and doughnut-making philosophy. They take pride in the fact that their doughnuts are handmade in small batches throughout the day so that customers always enjoy them fresh.
48. Black Seed Bagels. Unsurprisingly, New York City is home to some of the best bagels in the world. You’ve got your fair share of good options here, but Black Seed Bagels is in a league of its own. This artisan bagel shop prides itself on using high-quality ingredients and unconventional baking techniques. Each bagel is hand-rolled and boiled in honey water, after which they are baked until lightly browned and cooled.
49. Katz’s Delicatessen. Katz's Delicatessen is a family business with a long and storied history that goes back over 100 years. Founded by Willy Katz and his cousin Benny, Katz's became like a second home to millions of immigrants in the early 1900s and throughout World War II. The restaurant has since attracted all types and tastebuds and was even part of a memorable scene in “When Harry Met Sally.” Katz’s corned beef and pastrami are the stuff of legends, cured using a famously slow method that takes up to 1 month!
50. Magnolia Bakery. Magnolia Bakery first opened its door in 1996 in New York City’s West Village. In the 20-odd years since then, it’s become a well-known and beloved bakery with locations worldwide.
51. Dacha 46. Dascha 46 is the creation of Jessica and Trina Quinn started from their apartment in Bed Stuy Brooklyn in 2020. The couple are both chefs who have put in their hours at restaurants like Rezdora and Red Hook Tavern before teaming up to start their own thing. Dascha 46 specializes in Banya Brunch, serving all sorts of warm meals and baked goods inspired by Ukrainian culture.
Last Thoughts on NYC Restaurants
Now that we’ve broken down the best restaurants in NYC into bite-sized pieces for you to try, start planning your own foodilicious experience in the Big Apple!