There are three things I love to do in any city I visit: (1) eat my way around town, trying as many different spots as I possibly can (2) absorb as much of the culture the city has to offer (3) find really good, hole-in-the-wall stores to visit.
My friends often ask me for recommendations whenever they’re traveling or whenever they have someone visiting them in NYC. I started by writing a weekly newsletter sharing my dining adventures in the city, but later expanded it to include weekly cultural activities and events. I started doing the same for cities I planned to visit and over time, even friends who live in the cities I have visited started turning to me for recommendations. All of this ultimately led to these city guides.
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coffee, tea & small bites
This is a cute little spot in Nolita. There's not a lot of room to sit inside, but they have a bench outside in the summer. There's a large skylight inside, exposed brick walls, etc etc.
west~bourne was my latest NYC discovery and perhaps my favorite one. So much so that I went here almost every day of the week, to the point of making excuses to go there and read over a cup of coffee. This is a California-inspired cafe with a healthy (yet delicious) menu and great coffee. Everything from their interiors to their cutlery, napkins, and plates are handpicked and present reasons to stay as long as possible.
This is an adorable bakery and coffeeshop that has two locations; one in Williamsburg, another in Greenpoint. All of their pastries are gluten-free and everything is made in-house, which means that you walk into a gushing wind of butter, chocolate, flour and sugar smell. Their tiny cookies are all I had as I tried to control myself, and they were magnificent. They serve all their beverages in china cups (though I must say that their coffee was not the best). There isn't a lot of room to sit, but it's definitely worth the visit.
Little Canal is a little coffee shop on Canal Street, with a very succinct, fitting name. There's enough seating perhaps for 15 people, but it's a perfect spot to spend a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning if you're lucky enough to find a seat.
Even though the space is quite small and there's a little kitchen in the back, they've somehow nailed their ventilation system, which I really appreciate. In most other, similar spots, you end up leaving smelling like the food you just had, but that's absolutely not the case with Little Canal.
This is a recent discovery of mine (thanks to one of my friends who lives and works in the neighborhood), and it's already one of my favorites.
This coffee shop is run by Aussies who truly "made it" in New York. Unfortunately, the Internet (or more specifically, Instagram) made them so cool that they are packed all the time and have trouble getting orders out in a timely manner.
The ambiance: imagine white brick walls, lots of natural light, magazines racks and photos on the walls.
Note: No decaf option, only lactose-free dairy option is Almond Milk.
Chalait is one of those places that Instagram made famous. I've been seeing a lot of photos posted from this place on social media so I decided to give it a try, and I'm very glad that I did because both of the items I've tried were yummy. One thing to keep in mind is that they don't have a lot of seating available so either expect to wait a while (especially on weekends) or get your matcha to go.
Side note: very friendly staff :)
This place looks like a minimalistic apparel boutique from the outside with white walls and white wooden floors and a minimalistic seating area by the front windows. It's actually a Greek yogurt / coffee shop. The staff is super friendly and there's a lot of seating available. I actually ended up sitting here for about an hour. The next time I'm there, I'm going to try their butter coffee (that's right, BUTTER coffee).
This is a tiny, but very cute Australian coffee shop owned by Hugh Jackman. The staff is extremely friendly and a pleasure to talk to. I had an almond milk latte and it was one of the best I've had in New York. There's also a great outdoor sitting area right outside the shop, which is great in the spring for reading and people watching.
This is a pretty big, but always bustling bakery near Flatiron. Especially on the weekends, there are long lines of tourists waiting to get a taste of their famous hot chocolate with a marshmallow in it that starts to melt after a few minutes. If you ask me, it's definitely worth trying, but almost impossible to drink more than a small shot-glass of it. They have different flavors each day if you want to try something different.
This is a Colombian coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It's in a huge space and everything looks extremely "Pinterestable" (imagine exposed brick walls, a huge kitchen, transparent coffee making room). and yet manageable to get some work done and/or meet up with friends over coffee. I'd also suggest coming here during the day as the ceiling is made out of glass for the most part, which provides some pretty good natural lighting.
This place is great for meeting a friend over coffee or tea. Plus it's a wine bar. They dim the lights in the evening, which creates a great ambiance. You can't use your laptop on the entrance floor, but there's a section in the basement where you can access their WiFi and get some work done. That said, the basement is a little claustrophobic.
Spreadshop looks like a quiet nightclub meets a retail boutique with purple and blue neon lights near the entrance and white walls. When you walk in, however, you're pleasantly surprised. There are swinging chairs hanging from the ceiling, a large farm table where people work on their computers, a huge bar that serves coffee as well as alcohol (the place is open until midnight). Overall, it's a huge, spacious place. Bonus points for playing great 80s funk music.
This is a great spot that's part coffeeshop, part retail store for a women's collection. It's beautifully decorated, has a huge wooden community table with high (but comfortable) bar seats, free Wi-Fi, delicious candles burning, along with some great music and friendly staff. It's pretty under the radar, so doesn't have the buzz that most coffeeshops in the neighborhood have received. Plus, coffee is pretty good and they made me a flat white even though it wasn't on the menu.
A Williamsburg classic with cute and hot Aussies who play their Aussiness to the extreme as a marketing technique that works like a charm. This little spot in Williamsburg has amazing coffee, friendly staff, outlets (on the ceiling!), Wi-Fi, good music (most of the time), some yummy breakfast snacks, and is especially breezy in the summer as all the windows are opened up.
This spot gained a huge amount of popularity in Nolita and now has a store located in TriBeca. It's owned and run by a handsome French guy, who is at the Nolita venue most of the time himself. Staff are very friendly and there's a small, yet very cute space to sit down and relax at the back with string lights and exposed white brick walls.
Also make sure to check out the bathroom when you're there:)
This is a clean, laid-back coffeeshop with a tiny porch in the back that's big enough to hold just one table. There's good music, they have hemp milk (my favorite), high ceilings, lots of sunlight, and just an overall clean vibe.
This is an adorable coffee shop that's below ground level, located a few blocks south of Gramercy Park. The coffee's great, and they have a lot of gluten-free snack options (the pumpkin and sunflower seed granola bar is highly recommended!).
Very quiet, homy coffee shop. Good for getting some work done, but can be a little too quiet as its in a residential neighborhood.
This is a very adorable cafe on the Upper West Side. The tables are all very close to each other, but the staff is very friendly and their desserts are AMAZING. It's especially enjoyable in the winter when they put Christmas lights up:)
Note: This is the cafe where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks were supposed to meet in the movie You've Got Mail.
Note II: Lalo is also good for brunch.
This is a great place to rest if you want to relax after a long day of walking around or shopping in SoHo. The decoration inside is beautiful, and their chocolatey products are more than enough to get you energised.
This is also a great place if you want to buy someone a gift (chocolate, tea, coffee) that comes in a fancy tin box.
The Elk is a quaint little coffee shop in the West Village, with five tables that are almost always occupied. It's a great place to station for a long while and their food/snack options are quite rich and somewhat extraordinary for a coffee shop; their tomato soup is one of the best I've had in the city.
The space is clearly created with design principles in mind and it feels like you're working from an architectural design firm's waiting lounge instead of a coffee shop.
Saturdays is a part surf, part clothing, part coffee shop. There are two locations in New York; this specific review is for their SoHo store, which also has a small, but welcoming backyard, which is illuminated by string lights that hang above you.
Their coffee's pretty good, but I will say that some of their staff members are stereotypically coffee-snob Aussies, which can (from time to time) limit the pleasantness of your experience.
Boba Guys is a tiny little bubble tea spot in the Lower East Side, with a bold claim to be "serving the highest quality bubble milk tea in the world". Their first store was in the Mission District of San Francisco, and currently have four in total, with this one in New York being their only on the East Coast. The Horchata is an obvious go-to option, but I tried the Lychee Green Tea with almond milk and zero sweetness (and no boba!), and it was absolutely delicious, not to mention a great pick-me-up on a hot and humid New York summer day.
This Stumptown is located inside the Ace Hotel in Flatiron. It's a beautifully decorated coffee shop, but there's nowhere to sit so you either have to try and find a spot in the famous Ace Hotel lobby or take it to go. If you're here during the day on a weekday, you probably won't have any trouble doing so, but if you're here after 5pm or on the weekends, doing so might be a bit of a trouble.
This is an adorable little spot on the Lower East Side that serves coffee, tea, and a few light bites. Seating is not the most comfortable as you have to sit on bar stools at high tables next to and behind other people, but it's a great spot for a quick pick-me-up if you don't spend a lot of time here.
There are a few La Colombes in the city. The one in NoHo is much larger, more spacious, but still quite challenging to find a spot to sit and get some work done or catch up with someone over a cup of coffee. The one in SoHo is much smaller and usually busy with long lines on the weekends. Their coffee's great, but neither of the locations are great for hanging out.
Third Rail is a tiny little coffee shop in Greenwich Village / Washington Square Park. I stumbled upon it after leaving the IFC Center and looking for a little pick-me-up. I personally think it's too small and somewhat uncomfortable-looking to work out of, but their espresso was delicious.
Located inside the Highline Hotel in Chelsea, Intelligentsia is a little hidden haven amidst the touristic chaos of 10th Avenue. The Highline Hotel itself looks like a building out of Hogwarts, and there is a quite spacious back "yard" that's only accessible from inside the hotel, where you can enjoy your coffee outside on days when the weather allows for it. They also are currently the exclusive servers of oatmilk, which, I might have to admit is the best non-dairy milk I've ever had.
Ludlow Coffee Supply is more a hangout space than a get-in, get-out coffee shop. Separated (or joined, depending on how you look at it) from a barber shop in the back, this small, vibrant, and bright little venue is a great spot to catch up with a friend or sit down and work on some writing or drawing. It's not the ideal place to meet with a large group (especially on the weekends when there's hardly enough room to stand), but perfect if you're alone or with one or two others. The beautifully designed barber shop in the back also provides additional seating if you'd like to spend more time there. Their coffee's pretty good, but their baked good/snack game is not the strongest.
The Good Sort is located just a couple of doors down Nom Wah Tea Parlor on Doyers Street, and unless you were actively looking for it, you would easily walk by it and never know it was there.
This is a tiny vegan coffee/tea shop that opened very recently in the heart of Chinatown, with maneki-nekos, flowers, powder pink countertops, and colorful teapots and mugs. They have some of the most intriguing items on their drinks menu (beet, turmeric, and charcoal lattes, among other things) and while I only tried their cortado, it's safe to say that I'll be returning here on a day when I feel more adventurous.
This place is always full. So either go when you're not starving so that you can put your name down and walk around the Village while waiting to get a call, or don't go here for brunch on the weekend. The menu isn't that authentic, but the food is tasty and the crowd is always very trendy and good-looking. (PS: Celebrity sightings are highly probable.)
This is an adorable bistro in Greenpoint that usually has a very long wait on the weekends. The seats outside are ideal, but the wait for them was much longer when me and my friend went on Friday, so we asked to be seated inside, which turned out perfectly well. Everything on the menu sounds deliciously fresh (the house-made ricotta was my personal favorite), service is great, music is great, and there's an overall neighborhoody feeling that's very welcome. I definitely want to return to try their dinner menu.
Some dishes to try from their lunch/brunch menus are the house made ricotta, steel-cut oats, truffle fries, ricotta pancakes, and the Five Leaves burger.
Dimes is the perfect spot for a breakfast, lunch or afternoon bite alone, or with one or two other friends. Located in the Chinatown/LES border, its menu boasts many healthy items (think acai bowls, salads, and green juices). They also have a smaller, on-the-go spot attached to their own grocery a few blocks away, called Dimes Deli, which I love.
This is a farm-to-table restaurant and you can actually taste the freshness in everything you eat. Service is very fast, and they bring a complimentary apple-cinnamon bread mid-brunch, which is a nice surprise. Their orange juice is super pulpy, sweet, and fresh, so definitely worth the try. If going in for brunch, try to get there before 11 AM because the line can get out of control after that.
Some items to try off their breakfast menu are the assortment of breads (lemon, zucchini, chocolate chip), the healthy omelet, pumpkin pancake, and their orange juice.
Banter is a cute little Aussie cafe in SoHo. The menu is nothing crazy, but it’s a nice place for a quick breakfast or coffee meeting.
Sunday in Brooklyn opened last year on the northern edge of Williamsburg. It’s a spacey, beautifully designed restaurant that’s great for breakfast/brunch, as well as for an afternoon bite. They have a curated selection of goods you can purchase such as plates, candles, and other home goods.
This is a true Italian restaurant. It's dimly lit with almost no natural lighting. The staff are one of the most friendly I've ever seen in New York, and the food is so good that it almost made me cry.
If you go for breakfast/brunch, make sure to try their bruschetta (one of the best things I've eaten in New York) and the poached eggs on butternut squash.
Re.Union lies between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and is a cute little neighbourhood coffeeshop/ breakfast/ lunch spot. The ambiance is quite casual, the staff is extremely friendly and the food is delicious. It's very Instagram and Pinterest-friendly with an adorably decorated wall with a bookshelf with old radios and accessories, service is fast and pleasant; definitely worth the visit!
A few items to try here are the avocado toast, their iced Matcha latte, and the yogurt & granola bowl.
This is your typical American brunch venue. The space is pretty big, but gets very crowded on the weekends so it makes sense to make reservations or be prepared to wait at the bar for 15-20 minutes while you drink an orange juice on weekends.
he strawberry and banana oats, as well as the buttermilk pancakes are delicious.
This is another traditional American brunch venue. Again, reservations are definitely necessary if you're trying to come here on a weekend. They have 2 other locations in upper Manhattan.
Their Sicilian baked eggs & egg white omelette are some good breakfast items off their menu.
This is sort of like the Starbucks for bagels. It's constantly busy, but is managed so efficiently that you don't have to wait in line for more than 10 minutes (in & out). As someone who loves bread and cheese, but is intolerant to both gluten and lactose, I always walk past one of the best bagel shops in the city, which tends to be a block away from my apartment. So when I finally found Bagel Pub, a bagel shop that has gluten-free and vegan cheese options, I think I became their most devoted customers. The vegan cream cheese, lox & avocado bagel I had was simply amazing. Plus, the staff here is incredibly sweet and helpful.
Cookshop is one of those brunch spots that's always busy on the weekends in Chelsea. The menu is pretty typical Contemporary American fare, with a few twists here and there, but everything is delicious.
Anything under the "Eggs" section of the menu, as well as the French Toast come highly recommended.
This is also a great spot for larger groups, so ordering multiple things and sharing is a good option too if you want to try a lot of different dishes off the menu.
Gardenia is in an off-the-grid location right on the cusp of Greenwich Village and W Village. I went here for a small group brunch and the space is unusually white and bright for a New York brunch spot (feels like it should be somewhere in LA), and provides a pleasant dining experience. Everything we had was delicious, but the menu doesn't really match the design aesthetic, which unfortunately makes the restaurant, overall, not very memorable.
That said, a few great items to try are the Gardenia guacamole, tuna tacos, and the lavender margaritas.
I came to Hotel Americano on Saturday for brunch and it was pretty crowded, though the space is not that large in the winter when the only seating available is indoors. The portions are great as you don't feel stuffed at the end of your meal, but rather quite satisfied, with room for some coffee. There's live jazz music, which adds a lot of character and warmth to the atmosphere.
The Coffee Shop is a diner-style restaurant right on Union Square. The setting and the food are both very casual, non-pretentious, but very tasty and pleasant.
They have a fantastic juice bar attached to the outside of the restaurant, which serves amazing freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.
The menu is typical breakfast food, so quite self-explanatory and no need to give suggestions from:)
Little Park is a quiet restaurant (literally quiet; we went for Saturday brunch, and even though the room was full, there was an interesting silence) by James Beard Award-wining chef Andrew Carmellini, on the cusp of Tribeca and Financial District. I tried this spot for brunch, but the dinner menu looks just as good, if not better. Each dish is simple, yet elevated (though they can do a little work on plating). Some items to try off the brunch menu are the kohirabi, garden herb omelette, and the heirloom grain porridge with hen of the woods, poached eggs, and pine nuts (I also added some hot sauce to mine). If you want to end on a sweet note, the grapefruit sorbet is a delicious and light bite.
Bluestone has a few locations in the city, but this review is specifically for the Greenwich Village one. I've been here multiple times and have loved each experience and every single dish I've tried. It can be a bit of a scene on the weekends, but it's still less crowded than the West Village one. I'd recommend the avo smash (I had mine with gluten-free bread), granola, and the Aussie iced chocolate.
It took a long time for me to try Fat Radish after having heard of it for the first time. I came here for brunch on Saturday, which, as you can imagine, is the busiest possible time I could've picked. We were seated in a corner table that made me feel like I was being punished and sent there by my parents after being scolded. Service was fine, but nothing great and I have to say the same thing about the food. All in all, I think this place might have been overhyped.
This is another one of those places I tried after having seen it all over my Instagram. I will have admit that it is quite adorably decorated (hence its popularity on Instagram) and even the dishes look colorfully beautiful. That said, service is below sub-par, which detracts from the overall experience quite significantly. I tried the dragon bowl, which was delicious, but there are so many of such cafes opening up in this area and Nolita/Soho, that at the end of the day, I'd have to say that the food is not memorable either.
I visited SISTERS Bklyn for my friend's birthday brunch and I can say with confidence that it's one of the most beautifully designed restaurants I've visited in the city. There's a lot of natural light thanks to the large skylight and all in all, it's a very spacious spot. The menu is quite standard for brunch, and even though I didn't try the Bloody Mary, my friend did and it looked absolutely delicious.
I only stumbled into Marm Cafe because the actual place I wanted to try for brunch happened to be closed. This is a very unassuming cafe from the outside, and extremely humbly designed on the inside. The menu is vey simple and straightforward (and seriously inexpensive), but everything is seasoned perfectly and tastes delicious. I don't know if I would ever venture here for breakfast especially, but if I happen to be in the neighborhood, I would most likely prioritize it over some other, more sceney venues.
Jeffrey's is an American restaurant with a special focus on oysters & raw bar. Even though they serve brunch and dinner, I've heard from several different sources that brunch is the more delicious option. I had the crab & avocado toast, and they were able to substitute the bread with Papas Rellenas instead. The ambiance is very authentic and has a truly local and "New York" feel to it.
I stumbled upon Max when my mom and I got hungry walking around in Tribeca. I went back two days later and then once more after that. Their Pizza Tartufata is the best pizza I've had in New York, and their spaghettis are equally delicious. It is definitely a must-try + it's on my favorite block in Manhattan (Duane Street). A few items I'd recommend off their menu are, obviously, the pizza Tartufata, spaghetti del marinaio, and the spaghetti alla chitarra.
This is a Scandinavian restaurant with an interesting menu. The reason I dined here is because my friend used to be a chef here, and I tried some items on the menu that I would not have normally ordered myself and am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
The ambiance is pretty hip and happening and always busy, even on weekdays. I'd recommend the chicken & eggs (I used to eat meat back in the day), lamb tartare, and the mushroom mousse & cherry sorbet.
I'm not going to say much about this gem of restaurant in Tribeca that's owned by Robert De Niro. Please go here. Just go and do yourself a favor. Make sure you try the sheep's milk ricotta when you do because it tastes delightful. Other delicious items on the menu are the roasted beets, squid ink linguini, and pretty much anything else you'll pick.
This is a young and casual Mediterranean restaurant that's always fully packed. It's good for brunch, lunch, AND dinner. They don't take reservations, so be prepared to put down your name and walk around while you wait. A few items off the menu that I'd recommend trying are the Mediterranean breakfast, halloumi, yogurt & grapefruit, vegetable curry bowl, spiced beet dip, salt & pepper eggplant, and the tuna salad.
This is a cute little place that sort of, kind of, recently opened up in Nolita, close to China Town. Their dishes are pretty small, but everything is delicious. If you want to taste a few items off the menu, sharing may be a good idea (I recommend the Spandex, and the buttermilk biscuit with honey butter). They don't take reservations so you can expect a line outside the door, especially on weekends.
This is a somewhat large restaurant on the cusp of Greenwich Village and SoHo. The space is nice too but nothing too memorable. Everything I've tasted here is pretty delicious; their chips and guac + margaritas are must-tries (the mushroom & brussel sprout tacos are very yummy too).
This is a great Italian restaurant and this specific branch is in Brooklyn. They have a huge bar with tasty cocktails and all of their dishes are delicious; the tagliolini cacio e pepe, and lo zuccotto in particular.
This is the best Middle Eastern restaurant I've been to in New York. Everything on your plate has been put there for a purpose, and I can still taste the flavors of all the dishes when I close my eyes. The atmosphere's very warm and cozy, with dim lights and a brick oven in the main dining area during dinner. I don't think you can go wrong with anything, but the hummus, branzino, lamb chop, and banana bread pudding were absolutely incredible.
This is a small spot in Nolita that's always packed, but with a short waiting time. It's actually a juice bar so the menu has an extensive list of juices that all sound amazing, but I've only tried the green, which is why it's the only one I'm able to recommend. Seating is not the most comfortable, but if you're on the prowl for a healthy meal, this is a great spot to hit. The watermelon salad, black bean burger, and avocado toast are all solid choices.
This is a chill, cute, and most important of all, tasty little place in Brooklyn. Don't be fooled by this photo, as the menu is made up of fried chicken, biscuits, beans, AND pies. I've tried 6 pies in one sitting and they were all amazing. The biscuit comes with a side of honey butter for which I would crawl my way back there.
This is a yummy Italian restaurant in Meatpacking. It's a huge location with tall ceilings, very tastefully decorated interiors, and friendly staff. At the back of the restaurant, there's a section where they make their own pasta, and then they put it on display for your drooling needs.
Some dishes I'd recommend are the scallops, crispy cauliflower, truffle mushroom ravioli, the beef tartare, as well as the charcuterie plate.
Side note: Their bread may be better than any of their dishes so make sure to try it.
This is a cute little BYO with yummy food, so feel free to bring your own wine if you're planning on drinking (there's a bodega nearby too, so if you want to go for a last-minute purchase, you can also do that). Also, I'd recommend going when it's warm outside so that you can sit outdoors because the inside is a little tightly packed. The salmon, artichoke gratin, and onion tart are pretty good options.
This is an upscale restaurant with a small but tasteful menu. I don't have much to say about it, besides the fun side-note that I bumped into Gwyneth Paltrow here once.
Fig & Olive has a few locations in Manhattan, and this one in Midtown is pretty spacious and nicely decorated. It's quite busy on the weekends (I waited for 30 minutes after putting my name down), but definitely worth the wait. The fig tart and South of France eggs & salmon come highly recommended.
This is one of the many small restaurants on Mott Street. It's tightly packed, but with interesting looking people. The staff is not that friendly, but the food is tasty. They have live music on some nights. I'd recommend trying any pasta they have, as well as the fried eggs with Proscuitto.
If you're looking for a fancy Chinese restaurant, this is NOT the place to go. If you're looking for a TRUE Chinese dining experience, then look no further. This is an under-the radar restaurant that's also under-the-ground, but has been around for a very long time. My friend's parents brought us here because they've been going for the past 36 years and have enjoyed it every single time. The staff is all-Chinese, and they value creating a rapid turnover, which affects the way they treat you. They tend to come off as a little rude, but remember to not take it personally.
A few items to try are the crab, vegetable fried rice, snails, and flounder. The more you share, the merrier the experience.
This is an extremely healthy restaurant with all organic ingredients. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, as everything is hearty, woody, and cozy (weird, but accurate word choice). They also make their own fresh juices there, which are definitely worth trying. Of all the things I've tried on my multiple visits to this restaurant, I'd recommend the Brussel sprouts with walnuts and sweet potatoes, salmon, zucchini soup, and roasted cauliflower.
I would normally not put this restaurant on my list because it's among the list of the mainstream touristy expensive ones, so obviously delicious restaurants that I don't want to make a part of my list, but it ended up here for two reasons: 1. their bison tartare 2. their terrace, which is open for service in the summer.
This is the restaurant on the entrance floor of the Bowery Hotel. The tables are placed very close to each other so you end up hearing your neighbors' conversations, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Their burrata, shakshuka, truffle fries, beet salad, and branzino are all delicious, which probably means that anything you order from the menu will be just as yummy. The couple on the table next to me were sharing a pizza and it looked really good.
This is an AMAZING restaurant. As you've probably realised from my list so far, I have a huge weakness for Mediterranean food. I came here with a huge group so had the chance of trying a lot of the items on their menu. I can say with confidence that I would go back to eat everything I didn't have a chance to eat during my first visit.
The first floor has an open kitchen with a large dining area. Upstairs, there are more tables for smaller groups and couples, plus a huge room for group dinners with access to their wine cellar.
They make their own butter and bread here. Definitely worth trying. A few other things worth trying are the beef tartare, cheese plate, salmon, and pasta with mushroom ragu & ricotta salsa (they also have gluten-free dough).
Finally, the chocolate sea salt cookies are like little pieces of heaven in your mouth. So save some room for them in your belly during the meal.
This is, hands down, the best Israeli restaurant I've tried. There are only a handful of tables, which means that you end up waiting for a long time in line in order to sit down, but I would advise strongly against not waiting. Eat anything and everything you want to, you can't go wrong, but if I had to recommend a few dishes, I'd suggest the shakshuka, hummus, vegetarian couscous, and roasted beets.
Maison Kayser has a huge bakery with rows of eclairs and macarons lined up on the entrance. If you can get past this section without making a purchase, hats off to you. The items on the menu are very basic, yet taste beautiful. If you're around Union Square and feeling hungry for a fancyish meal, give this place a try. The salade d'endives and spinach ravioli are pretty good.
This is a typical Greek/Turkish restaurant with an extremely strong Aegean vibe. As someone who spends her time by the Aegean sea every summer, I felt like I was back home in Turkey, eating at one of the local restaurants. The food is amazing and they also have Raki (Uzo) if you want to enjoy a drink or two with your dinner. Sometimes, they also have live music, which adds to the overall ambiance of the space. The tzatziki, hummus, Greek fries, and lamb chops are v delicious.
This is a gigantic restaurant in Meatpacking with two floors that almost make you feel like you can get lost if you do not follow the hostess. The item looks very rich, but you might struggle finding something that sparks your interest if you do not like heavily-spiced foods. It's also a little cold inside, which is unexpected because the venue is decorated using warm colors and has a welcoming vibe overall.
A few items that are worth trying are the salmon, vegetables in green curry, and coconut sticky rice.
Another great Italian restaurant on my list. Acqua's right next to the Brooklyn Bridge (great view of it for touristic purposes), and everything I've tried was amazing-tasting. Even the stuff I personally didn't eat, but watched the people sitting next to me eat looked mouth-watering. I'd recommend trying the Linguine alle vongole e gamberi, conchiglie al pomodorini secchi e caprino, pizze Diavola, and pizze Bianca al Prosciutto.
If you go in the fall, it's quite pleasant to sit outside as well.
This is another mainstream upscale restaurant on the Upper East Side. It's on the list because I have great memories here and the food tastes great in each of those memories, but there's nothing too special in terms of ambiance and menu composition. Some dishes I tried and enjoyed were the Carpaccio di Manzo, Prosciutto e Carciofi, Chitarucci ai Profumo di Limone con Gamberi, Linguine alle Vongole, and the Soufflé di Cioccolato if you feel like ending on a sweet note.
This is a very casual venue, a diner set-up to be precise, (this specific one is in Brooklyn's Williamsburg), and one that you can just walk into when you are hungry or craving chips, guac and margarita. Eat all you want, no one is going to judge you. :)
I went here for Restaurant Week, so didn't get the chance to try the entire menu like I usually do. However, everything me and my friends had was simply delicious. The plating was extremely purposeful as well. It's a pretty small restaurant with not much decoration, but it's simple and on-point if you're looking for some good Italian food.
I'd recommend trying the carrot appetizer, mussels, garganelli, and the olive oil cake to satisfy your sweet tooth, if you happen to have it.
This is a hidden gem in the West Village. Portions are quite small, so sharing may be a good option as everything on their menu is tasty (I'm lucky to have been with a great group of friends who love to eat, when I stumbled upon Gottino). If you don't like sharing, then I'd suggest ordering an appetizer along with your entree. The decoration and ambiance inside isn't anything fancy, but the food is well worth the visit.
A few must-tries are the fig, ricotta & roasted almonds bruschetta, pesto & goat cheese bruschetta, Brussel sprout salad, scrambled eggs with Proscuitto, and of course, Nutella crepes.
Hu Kitchen is a health-conscious venue that has several different stations where you can choose from a wide variety of food options (they have a hot bar, a bowl bar, a cold bar, smoothie/juice/coffee bar, and dessert bar). In addition, they have pre-prepared snacks and items, which you can purchase for your home. Portions are very reasonable and you can taste the health in each bite:) You can either get it to-go or eat on the upper floor.
My go-to choices are the quinoa bowl, Hu Chocolates (for later, when I crave sweets at home-- the fig & puffed quinoa & almond butter are my favorites).
Kiki’s is a Greek restaurant in the LES that has incredibly delicious food, unmatched cozy atmosphere, and is home to some of the most enjoyable dinners and conversations I’ve had in NYC. There’s almost always a 30+ minutes wait, so make sure you head there earlier than you intend to eat, so that you can put your name on the list.
This is a tapas-styled Spanish restaurant that's below ground-level and dimly lit. That said, I went late on a Friday night and it was still bustling. There's quite a bit of noise, not disturbing at all, but rather quite lively. The waiters are extremely friendly (ours was particularly entertaining), and all of the dishes taste great. Their sangrias are huge, so keep that in mind while ordering if you intend to drink.
Some tasty dishes off the dinner menu are the almonds, bacon wrapped dates with olives, fried goat cheese with lavender honey, beef tartare, gnocchi, and the sticky toffee pudding.
Cervo’s is a little gem located on the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. It’s great for a small, intimate dinner as the restaurant is quite small. Dining at the bar is a great option, as is sitting right in front of the open kitchen and stove oven.
Freemans is one of those places that have been put on my radar thanks to Instagram. It's at the end of a narrow alley in Nolita, with string lights hung outside it's painted blue doors. It's a very adorable little place, on the inside and out, but the food isn't anything mind-blowing. If you're the type of person who's OK with eating some good (not great) food because of a great atmosphere, then you should definitely check this place out. Make sure you make a reservation before you go because if you're seated in the back, it's really dark, you're out of sight of the waiters, and don't get to really enjoy the adorable setting.
I tried the grilled trout with sea salt & lemon (make sure you ask them to remove the head if you're like me and can't eat the fish if you see it as a whole), and it was just fine. My friend had the cheeseburger, which looked great, but the fries on the side were really greasy.
Mercer Kitchen is located at the Mercer Hotel in SoHo. It's kind of an upscale venue, but you don't need to dress up or anything if you're going there during the day on weekdays, or for brunch/lunch on the weekends. The crowd is usually international, but not touristy. I'm honestly not a big fan of the crowd here, but the food is great. If you can sit at the library inside the hotel lobby, it's perfect because the ambiance is much warmer and cozier. The turkey burger with gluten free bread is delicious, as are the Mercer burger, shrimp & avocado arugula salad, butterscotch pudding, and cheesecake.
I walked into Obica with a friend on a windy Sunday evening because (1) we were really hungry, (2) it said "Pizza" on the windows, (3) it looked cozy, (4) it was right in front of us. In other words, we had no expectations walking in. Let me tell you that this place looks tiny from the outside, but actually extends like 200 blocks inwards when you walk in. It's all black interiors with warm yellow lighting. There were a lot of families with kids dining, and the whole place smelled of truffles. I didn't get to try their pizzas because they don't have gluten-free options, but every table had a pizza on it, and every single one looked great. All the dishes we tried (squash soup, insalate Soncino, parmigiani di melanzane, and branzino) were amazingly tasty too, and the staff are Italian from Italy. Very friendly, warm, and helpful. Overall, great experience. Definitely going back here.
PS: They have a mozzarella bar so you can try some of the different types of mozarella that they have to offer.
I'll start by saying that what RedFarm looks like on the outside has nothing to do with what it is on the inside. Staring in from the street, me and my friend were under the impression that it was a farm-to-table restaurant with organic foods and items like avocado toast or scrambled eggs on their brunch menu. Turns out, it's an Asian restaurant known for their dumplings.
There's a large communal table in the center of the room so you get to sit pretty snugly with the people next you. There are exposed brick walls and small flower pots hanging from the ceiling above the table, so it's a cute little space.
The mango & arugula salad, BBQ’d duck omelette with tomato rice & mushrooms, steamed lobster dumplings (gluten free), and chicken dumpling with truffle oil are worth trying. That said, the omelette takes some time to make and is HUGE, so I wouldn't suggest placing another order if you're giving that one a try. The couple next to us were trying some other items on the menu and EVERYTHING looked amazing so, by all means, eat as your heart desires:)
Ruby's is a small, cozy, but bustling Italian restaurant run by Aussies (as are a few other venues in Nolita). The wait can be long on the weekends, and it doesn't look like much from the outside, but every single dish I tried was salivatingly amazing. They are famous for the Whaleys burger, which has pineapples, beets, and a fried egg in it, as well as their Tuscan kale salad (pictured here).
The mushroom Fusilli is gluten free and I think they change the flavors each season. The Brussel sprouts have a very acidic (in the best way possible) dressing made of balsamic, lemon, and thyme.
Anyways, these are all the dishes I tried, but do yourself a favor and visit Ruby's. You won't regret it.
Rosa Mexicano is an amazingly delicious and underrated restaurant. I honestly don't think you can go wrong with anything off the menu, but some dishes are tastier than others. You must try the table-side guacamole and chips because that's what they are famous for. The fish tacos with corn on the cob are delicious as well. I went in on a Sunday evening, and it was still pretty packed, so I would suggest making reservations before going in.
Tacombi is an extremely adorable, very casual, but cozy and warm restaurant in the heart of Nolita. There's a small Volkswagen food truck right inside the restaurant, and the entire interior is lit with small string lights. The walls and floors are bare cement, which adds to the casual, industrial feel of the place. It actually reminded me a lot of the movie "Chef" :) The food is pretty yummy, and all their tacos are gluten-free, which made me especially happy. Good vibes all around, definitely worth a visit.
This is, as the name suggests, a tiny restaurant in Tribeca. It has a dark and cozy interior, and even though the service was a little slow on a Friday, the food was very delicious. I personally didn't try the burger, but the girl sitting next to me was eating it and I almost drooled all over it because it looked SO amazing. From the dishes I did try, I can recommend the kale salad, burrata, and the gnocchi.
One of the things that I miss most about home is the food. There are a lot of Turkish restaurants in the city, but none of them come even close to what I'm used to eating when I'm home. That's why I was so happy to find out about Taverna Kyclades in the East Village. Upon walking in, I felt like I was at a seafood restaurant back home with the fish that were displayed on ice, the hospitality of the restaurant staff, and all the items on the menu. One thing you must do is not order everything at once. The great thing about eating mezze is ordering a couple at a time, taking it slow, and enjoying every bite. I would also highly recommend accompanying your food with raki (or Uzo, as it's called in Greek), the traditional Turkish drink. Some items I would certainly vouch for are the vegetarian chips, piperies (roasted peppers), saganaki, Greek salad, beet salad, eggplant salad, and the grilled octopus.
I've been meaning to try Tipsy Parson ever since I saw the documentary "Seymour: An Introduction". It's a warm, cute little spot in Meatpacking with small plates hung on the walls and dim lighting. The staff is very friendly and accommodating, which fits in perfectly with the overall atmosphere of the venue. When I told them I was vegetarian, they were very sweet as the chef offered to make a vegetarian entree for me, which tasted delicious! Since my first visit, I've been back twice more to try as many items off the menu as possible and I'd recommend the charred Brussel sprouts, gluten-free/vegan biscuits, and the mint & chocolate gelato.
Rosemary’s is a place that took me a while to try after having heard of it for the first time, due to the long wait times I was faced with each time I attempted to walk in. So, when I saw no one waiting outside at 10pm on a Saturday a few months ago, I decided to give it a try. I'm a sucker for design when it comes to restaurants, and believe that a restaurant with beautiful interiors is also likely to serve beautiful food. This is certainly true for Rosemary's; an Italian eatery with exposed brick walls, string lights, an open kitchen, and a rooftop garden used to grow vegetables and plants--a true urban “farm”-to-table experience. I'll admit that even though the food was delicious, it was not extremely memorable. That said, I would return here just for the experience of dining at such a beautiful and pleasant restaurant.
Lighthouse isn't the first place you'd think of eating in Williamsburg. It's located slightly awkwardly next to the highway and doesn't have much going on immediately around it. However, the large windows that open up during the summer to let a nice and cool afternoon breeze in, the friendly staff, and the delicious food definitely make it one of the best I've been to in Williamsburg. Their ceviche is one of the most delicious I've had in a while, and most of the dishes are for sharing, which is great if you're indecisive and hungry for e v e r y t h i n g just like me. You won't regret trying the masabacha, grilled octopus, the ceviche (one of the best I've had in the city), cracked potato, and roasted heirloom carrots.
Little Beet Table is located less than a block from my office and that's why I haven't eaten there until now; I didn't want to be reminded of work during my time off. However, I'm very glad that I decided to give it a try. First thing you should know about Little Beet is that every item on the menu is gluten-free, which is great if you're intolerant like me (or just health conscious). All of the ingredients are fresh, organic, and treated with respect. They taste exactly like they're supposed to, and all of the items on the menu do justice to the ingredients. Nothing is overdone and everything is on the plate for a reason. It kind of reminded me of the episode of the Netflix documentary series "Chef's Table" with Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann. The atmosphere is very warm, as are the staff. Overall, very highly recommended!
A few recommendations from the menu:
Roasted Carrots, whipped ricotta, sumac & pistachios
Roasted Sweet Potatoes, smoked sea salt & olive oil
Grilled Beets, greek yogurt & pumpkin seed-almond granola
Organic Almonds, roasted & spiced
Slow Cooked Salmon, avocado caponata, pistachio & black olive oil
The first time I tried Santina, it served as the most beautiful hanger solution after a few hours of walking around at the new Whitney Museum. In fact, I can go so far as to say that this may be my new favorite restaurant in New York. Every single dish was exploding with flavour; I could taste each ingredient separately, yet they all worked perfectly together. Everything on the plate was put there for a reason and I was extremely happy, perfectly full, and in high spirits after our meal was over. The Southern Italian Mediterranean culture is visible not just in the dishes themselves, but also in the way in which they are presented; colourful plates that mix and match and a colorful decoration to complete the picture.
Some must-try dishes are the avocado trapanese Cecina, artichoke & grapes, kale sunchoke salad, spicy potatoes, and grilled mushrooms.
PS: If it's your cup of tea, make sure you try all of their hot sauces too.
I've been meaning to try The Place since last summer, when I walked past it on my way to meeting a friend. It's an extremely adorable little spot with outdoor seating just below ground level right next to the sidewalk on W 4th Street. To be completely honest, I felt that the dishes were good but not great, but the atmosphere was well worth the experience of eating there, not to mention the great service provided both by the maitre d, as well as our lovely server.
Ever since I saw a photo of Cafe Clover's Quinoa Tagliatelle on Instagram, I'd been meaning to eat there. When I finally got a chance to try it, I was happy to say that it met my expectations. Everything we ordered (including cocktails) was delicious, but nothing stood out enough for me to want to go back as soon as possible. That said, it's definitely worth trying for someone who hasn't dined there at all. Ask to be seated outside if/when the weather is nice as the ambiance on the street is quite pleasant.
I'd recommend trying the tomato heirloom, organic Scottish salmon, poached halibut, steamed broccoli, blistered shishitos from the dinner menu, and anything with eggs and the waffles from the brunch menu.
I've been here at least 10 times in the last year. This is a very casual, summery seafood spot on Wythe, just a block away from the water, which adds to the beachy vibes that I assume they're shooting for. Every single dish I've had here has been absolutely delicious every single time, and the service is always great too (very friendly and helpful servers!). I'll admit that I had 5 of their margaritas in one sitting because they were SO incredibly delicious (this is coming from a very picky drinker and a huge margarita fan). 2 different experiences if you sit outside versus inside; both really enjoyable because they usually have good music playing indoors. Everything on the menu is delicious, but I'd especially recommend the pescado, langosta, sake, huitlacoche tacos, as well as the Peruvian ceviche. Not to mention that you should start the meal with guac & chips.
This Japanese restaurant is pretty tightly packed, but not claustrophobic. Service is great, staff very friendly. The dishes are pretty small (unless you get one of the rice bowls) and everything tastes delicious. I'd especially suggest trying the kabocha to shiitake, shrimp shumai, sake yuan yaki, and the tuna avocado don.
This is a huge restaurant near Union Square. I went on a Thursday and it was packed. Plating was beautifully executed and all of the dishes tasted great. The portions are on the European side, so you don't feel like going to sleep after your meal, which is always great.
This is by far the most authentic, adorable restaurant I've been to lately. For a few hours, I felt like I was back home somewhere along the Mediterranean, in my grandmother's backyard (with tens of other people also there), enjoying a delicious, homemade meal. I had the zuppa di pesce and would've licked the bowl if there weren't people around me. The cocktails were also delicious. This is a great place to take your parents, someone on a date, or just a couple of good friends. (PS It's not ideal for large groups)
A few dishes worth trying are the Cavolfiore Palma, Orecchiette alla Checca, and the Zuppa di Pesce.
Westville as like a healthy fast-food restaurant. It's the kind of place you can just go by yourself, order takeout from, or grab a quick bite with your friend while also sticking to your diet. They have lots of vegetarian options and even though it's the most mind blowingly delicious meal of your life, it's quite tasty, very affordable, and quick.
I'd been meaning to try Cafe Cluny for a long time now as it's on one of my favorite streets in the city. It's located on a corner and is elegant in the way that it doesn't try to stand out from the crowd. That said, if you're from here, there's no way you haven't heard of it. Inside, it's dimly lit and tables are cozily placed right next to one another. Everything we tried was delicious; our waiter was very helpful and sweet. All in all, great experience.
Seamore's was all the haze last summer when it first opened its doors at its fancy corner spot in Nolita. Especially on the weekends, there was always a wait at the door, which made me curious as to what all the fuss was about in regards to a casual seafood restaurant. So I finally decide to meet a friend over an early dinner on a Tuesday, where there were more than enough empty tables. Even though my dish was quite tasty, I will say that social media certainly had a lot to do with its success. That is not to say that I won't eat there again, but I'd rather go to a proper taco place rather than Seamore's for my shrimp or lobster tacos and chips & guac in the future.
Cookshop is a trendy, "hip", and buzzing spot that's very "in" nowadays. It's in the heart of Chelsea and on the weekends, is packed with people who look like they would hang out in Chelsea. It's a pretty large restaurant that has less and less lighting as you move further away from the entrance. That said, all of the items on the menu are delicious, and you can't really go wrong with your order, regardless of what you decide to get. I'd especially recommend the almond toast, the breakfast bowl, and the shakshuka.
This is a sneaky place in Williamsburg that's easy to walk past if you're not paying attention. The menu is highly extensive, but if you're vegetarian, limits things quite significantly (and that's not a bad thing as it makes it easier to make up your mind). The lemongrass soup was absolutely delicious and comes highly recommended!
From the team that brought you Kiki's and Forgtmenot comes Monroe, tucked under the Manhattan bridge, amidst plants so densely planted and tall that you feel like you've escaped the city. Marketing (even word of mouth) for Monroe has been so low-key (they don't even have a website) that if you weren't aware of its existence or know people who are, you would probably never find out.
In their review of it, The New Yorker referred to Monroe as "unfussy", which I think is a perfect way to describe the overall mood and feel of the space. Upon entering, you immediately find yourself in an urban jungle; as if one of the garden/plant stores in Chinatown took over the restaurant and allowed them, as a favor, to place some tables amidst their curated indoor forest. The ceilings are quite high, which allows for noise levels to distribute evenly throughout and creates a very airy and spacious feel, even on a bustling Friday night.
We were dining as a group of eight (very) hungry humans, which led to a lot of sharing of some delicious, sub-Mediterranean delights like mussels, ratatouille, patatas bravas, garlic shrimp, burrata, and an incredibly delicious seafood paella. Everything was absolutely delectable and service was equally great.
I ended up staying late and joining another group of friends for drinks after dinner, and the mood shifted into one that was much "chiller" and reminded me of late night summer dinners by the beach back home.
This is a cute little restaurant located in Clinton Hill. During the summer, they wind open their windows, so it feels like you're sitting outside even if you're indoors. All of the ingredients are fresh, which makes the dishes feel very light and hearty at the same time. Side note that they have the most adorable wall decorations.
Upland is located a block away from my office, but I hadn't been there for almost the first year since I started working at my current job. Even though it's a huge restaurant, they've successfully managed to maintain a great overall feeling of unpretentiousness and "personable"ness. All of the dishes are extremely tasty, plating is beautiful, and the staff is extremely friendly. Overall, it's a great experience that makes you want to return for more.
A few items to try are the heirloom tomatoes, Norwich Meadows baby carrots, busiate with Maine lobster, and the cacio e pepe.
This is a dimly lit, buzzing restaurant with lots of amazing options on the menu, which are great for sharing. I went here for a friend's birthday party and since it was the 15 of us, we got to order almost everything on the menu. I had to skip all of the non-seafood meat dishes, but every single thing I tried was delicious. One little criticism I will share is that the menu didn't have a lot of personality, in that it was eclectic in a way that didn't make a lot of sense. However, everything was delicious nevertheless.
I'd recommend trying the following:
Wok charred edamame, potato & goat cheese perogies, asparagus & snap pea salad, French onion soup dumplings, Hamachi tartare, red snapper tacos, pan seared scallops
This is a cute spot that has happy hour with oysters, which is exactly what I was looking for when I walked in. I enjoyed the East Coast oysters significantly more over the West Coast ones, but the sweet potato fries were to die for, and their cocktails were yummy. Nothing extremely memorable in terms of atmosphere and interiors, but the dishes were quite tasty.
This is an adorable spot in Williamsburg, especially in the summer when you can sit outside on the patio for hours in the shade, which is what I did. I was extremely full when I went here, but the person I was meeting with was having a full meal, and everything looked delicious (and according to her, tasted delicious too). I had their matcha tea latte with almond milk, which was perfectly refreshing and not too sweet. Overall, pretty good experience. A little warning to have some cash with you when you go here as they either don't accept cards at all, or have a minimum requirement.
This is a cozy spot located right by the water in Williamsburg. Its huge interiors are decorated with an open kitchen with a huge brick oven lining up the wall of the entire restaurant. The overall vibe is very "Williamsburg": chic enough to have dining there be an occasion, but relaxed enough so that you can go here with workout clothes on a Sunday evening and no one will care. All of the dishes I tried were tasty (roasted brussel sprouts, De Puy lentils with basil), although the mussels could have used a little bit more seasoning.
Rintintin is a cute little neighborhood spot in Nolita that serves Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food. There's always a really good-looking crowd here, but it never feels sceney. Depending on where you're seated, the tables might feel too close to one another, but I've never had an unpleasant experience dining here. While none of the items on the menu sound too unique, every single thing I've tried here has tasted exquisite.
Grey Dog looks like a sweaty Irish pub from the outside, which is why I avoided it for a really long time. Then, one day, while on the prowl for a casual place to eat a somewhat healthy dinner, me and my friend decided to give Grey Dog a try. And I'm so happy we did.
When you walk in, one of the waiters asks you how big your party is, and depending on availability, places a flag or a piece of cloth on a table to reserve it for your group. Then, you wait in line to place your order and pay, and once that's done, you can go and sit down. While the self-service component doesn't sound like the ideal experience, it actually is quite nice at the end when you don't have to worry about paying and can hang out and enjoy your bottle of wine.
A few items I'd recommend trying are the potato-kale salad, tuna salad, hummus, and the broccoli. Sometimes, they also have a green soup that tastes incredible, but I'm not sure if it's always on the menu.
Wildair is a newish restaurant that's quite small and popular. I went here before going home for the winter holidays, and there was absolutely no wiggle room in the entire restaurant. Even though every single dish I tried was unbelievably delicious and unique-tasting, I was highly bothered by the photographers who were there, as I found out later by a photo of myself taken that night and circulated online, to generate marketing material. If it weren't for the flashes in my eyes all night long, I would have had a near perfect experience. I would highly recommend trying the little gem lettuces, cauliflower, white shrimp, black cod, and the poached tuna.
I'd been to El Vez during my Philly years and loved it. It goes without saying that since guac & chips and margaritas are perhaps my favorite non-Turkish food combo, I walked into El Vez with a positive bias. I'm happy to say that El Vez did not disappoint. I, of course, had a bucketful of guac & chips, the crab & shrimp ceviche, grilled fish tacos, and swallowed it all down with a few classical margaritas. All in all, fun night (we were celebrating my friend's birthday) and I left full, but not disgusting. All in all, pretty good experience.
Dudley's is another cute neighborhood location that has a low-key menu with delicious items. I'd recommend trying the butternut squash, as well as the Brussel sprouts and burrata.
Fiat Cafe is a tiny SoHo restaurant that's somewhat of a hidden gem because of the limited number of chairs available, as well as the cash-only policy. It's known for its extensive pasta menu, which made it very difficult for me to hold myself back and remind myself of my gluten intolerance. My friend had one of their pastas (I think it was a version of cacio e pepe with some cheese and bacon), while I tried the salmon carpaccio. This would be a cute date spot, especially in the winter, or a one-on-one dinner with a parent who's a pasta enthusiast, just like my dad.
Public is one of three venues owned by the same group. It's located at the heart of Nolita, right across the street from Elizabeth Street Park. It's a large restaurant, which is not necessarily my preference most of the time, but every thing I tried (salmon tartare, oysters, sweet potatoes, and charred carrots) was absolutely delicious, so I would still recommend it at the end of the day.
I tried Louie and Chan for a reunion dinner with four of my closest girl friends from school on a Friday night. Since we were a group of 5 looking to eat somewhere downtown on a Friday night, it significantly limited the number of restaurants that had available reservations. Overall, the dining experience was far from pleasant as one of the staff members came over to sush us when we had a moment of laughter. The dishes I think were fine, but honestly, the experience was so unpleasant that it overshadowed the food.
Timna is exquisite. I've been here twice; once for dinner, once for Sunday brunch. Every single dish I've tasted is pure genius; simple yet complex, and beautifully plated. The restaurant itself is dimly lit as there are no windows inside-- not a problem for dinner as it's also dark outside, but can be a bit claustrophobic during the day, especially if it's summertime and it's so beautiful outside.
If you're here for brunch, I'd recommend getting the brunch special, which ends up being a lot of food plus mimosas plus coffee. For dinner, I would suggest the Mediterranean sashimi, cauliflower, and the beet & lentil.
This is a laid-back spot in Williamsburg that's great for brunch, but could probably get over-crowded really easily on the weekends. I went here for an early breakfast around 9:30 on a Sunday morning and there were maybe just one or two more tables. From what I can remember, the food was quite tasty, but nothing outstanding or too memorable. Overall, cute spot and may be a good option if you're trying to avoid the lines at some of the other trendier spots.
Boulud Sud is one of Chef Daniel Boulud's many restaurants in the city. I met chef Boulud when he came for a talk that I helped organized where I work, and he invited me and my friend to dine there. So, of course, we took him up on his offer and picked Boulud Sud to dine on a Wednesday evening.
Even though we picked only a few items off the menu, we were sent almost everything else as chef's compliments. It goes without saying that everything was absolutely delicious and the service was amazing, but I'm just going to list a few of my recommendations here for reference: Mediterranean mezze, octopus a la plancha, Lebanese sea bass, olive oil poached king salmon, broccoli rabe, olive oil cracked potatoes, grapefruit givre, and chocolate hazelnut torte.
Lucky Bee is a new spot that opened up on the Lower East Side that has a quirky decor and tongue-in-cheek dish names. It serves some of the best Thai food I've had in the city, not to mention some great cocktails. I was here on a Thursday evening and it was packed. Seating is really tight, which can be quite bothersome with servers walking past you and hitting you on the head each time they do. Overall, however, the food was absolutely delicious and I would certainly return here.
A few dishes I'd definitely recommend are the papaya salad, tuna tartare, the green curry of vegetables, and the local oysters if it's your cup of tea.
Tribeca's my favorite neighborhood in the city and I've walked past this spot multiple times before trying it for the first time. It's such a tiny spot that it's almost hard to fit 15 people inside. The service is a little slow and even though everything tasted good at the time, nothing was too memorable, but I might go back here for drinks at night. If you ever do decide to go here, I'd suggest you visit the bathroom as you're in for a little surprise.
This is another one of those locations I'd been dying to try for a long time, and finally had a chance to do so when my friend invited me here for her birthday dinner. All in all, this is a beautiful restaurant; the design, the food, the service; everything. We dined in the downstairs wine cellar because we were a large group, so I got to see all parts of the restaurant. A few dishes I'd recommend, though I'm sure you can't go wrong with anything, are the carrot & ginger soup, grilled salmon, and side of crispy Brussel sprouts and potatoes.
I tried Txikito when my friend's mom was visiting her in the city and wanted to take us out to dinner. They're Spanish and her mom is a great cook and follows the food scene in the city very closely, and she wanted to try Txikito because they just published a recipe book that looks amazing. We were in good hands while ordering and tried pretty much everything on the menu. I would recommend the croketas, piperrak, esparragos, laminas de setas, rusa, gambas plantxa, and the pil pil.
Lovely Day is an incredible restaurant that would go unnoticed if you didn't know it was there because it has almost no signage outside and nothing that screams for attention. It's tiny and the inside looks like a low-key diner, but overall provides a pleasant experience. I would especially recommend the pineapple fried rice and the carrot cake, but the other items on the menu lack seasoning.
Also, note that if you're planning on paying with card, they only accept AmEx.
I was made aware of Nix by the COO where I work, who's the biggest foodie I know, so much so that she travels around the world just to eat at different restaurants from the San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best. She told me about Nix when we were talking about restaurants in the city that I should try since I'm pescetarian and I'm so glad she did because every single dish was delicious (though a few of them were too salty). I'd recommend the poached avocado, lentil bread & eggplant dip, cucumber salad, mango appetizer (not on the normal menu, but you should ask for it), tofu pouch, and the shiitake cacio e pepe.
They also have delicious cocktails.
This is a Japanese restaurant with a special focus on curry. The ambiance is very relaxed and casual, with picnic-styled group tables and unadorned glasses, plates, and silverware. The food is quite delicious for a good price (especially considering it's mid-Nolita location), and service is quite speedy.
If you've watched Friends enough times, this photo will be very familiar, as it was used as the exterior of the building that Monica, Rachel, Chandler & Joey live in. It also happens to be home to The Little Owl, a cute little Italian eatery. All of the items on the menu are quite small & shareable. Everything is delicious, but nothing is incredibly memorable. The space inside is definitely not big enough to accommodate all the tables & chairs that were placed, which makes it feel quite cramped in there, but there's a sweet waiting area placed above the dining area, and accessible by steps, which makes the waiting experience slightly more entertaining.
Momofuku Nishi is David Chang's new(ish) restaurant that approaches Italian cuisine through Korean & other Asian cooking styles. The decor is minimalistic and somewhat futuristically cold. All dishes come in small portions, so sharing is the best option, especially if you want to try multiple items off the menu. Some of the most delicious items (and I tried almost everything on the menu) were the butter noodle, chilled Shanghai noodle, chili squid, and ocean trout. There are only two dessert items, and both are definitely worth the try.
Sauvage is the newest project by the team that brought you Maison Premiere. Located on the edge between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Sauvage's decor with black and white tiles and small, embroidered white linen curtains on copper rods, combined with warm orange lights create a welcoming atmosphere. The first and only time I visited was the second week after their opening, so service was not the best, but everyone was certainly friendly. I ordered the vegetable pot, which came with bread on the side of the pan, but contrary to general logic, it was attached to the lid of the pot, and was therefore removed when the waiter lifted the lid and took it away. I might return here soon to see if service has improved.
This is an amazing ice cream parlour near Park Slope in Brooklyn. They have a changing selection of flavors all the time, so I'll leave it up to you to pick which one you want to try.
Run by two Swedish friends, Bon Bon is like a candy store from a Wes Anderson movie. Colorful, aesthetically curated, with quirky owners and incredibly delicious candy from around the world. I “stopped by” when Bon Bon first opened and ended up staying for 30 minutes, trying everything they had to offer (the guys are incredibly generous) and leaving with way more candy than I could ever need.
I found out about Chloe's a few days ago and it was the best food related discovery I made in a very long time. If you like froyo, you'll love Chloe's because it's fruit served as froyo. They take whatever fruit (their selection changes daily), add some water, a very small amount of organic cane sugar, and put all of them through a food processor, which gives it a froyo-like consistency and texture. You get to add any toppings you want so you can make it as dessert-y or as healthy as you'd like! Everything is gluten, dairy, and fat free.
Dominique Ansel is the home of the cronut, which I haven't tried. It's not a great place to sit down and eat, but I definitely recommend getting their goodies to go. The s'mores is out of this world good (there's ice cream INSIDE the melted marshmallow). Other items to try on the menu are the chocolate chip cookies and their famous cookie shot (a shot of milk in a shot-glass shaped chocolate chip cookie).
o be honest, I think this place is overrated. It's gotten very popular recently, and as someone having tried their ice cream, a cake, 2 different cookies, and their coffee, I can say with honesty that the only thing I would go back there for is their cornflakes flavored soft serve. That is all. I tried their cookies, but it's nothing too special at all.
Sant Ambroeus has three locations in Manhattan, all of which are equally fancy. If you aren't in the mood to treat yourself to a fancy lunch or dinner (which may be a good idea because their pasta looked amazing as well), definitely come here for desserts. All of their cookies are amazingly delicious, but the vanilla ice cream with hot fudge poured all over it is something else. I'll just leave it at that.
Ovenly's an incredibly adorable coffee shop/dessert haven in Greenpoint. Most of their desserts are gluten-free, which makes it a very bad idea for me to walk in there, as I end up purchasing one of every thing they have on display, to share with whomever I'm with. They also have great coffee and some seating if you want to take a brief stop and rest in this cute little spot.
Go where your heart takes you in terms of picking your flavors. I don't think you can go wrong.
You may think it's weird that the first two out of the three items listed below are not desserts since the restaurant itself is listed under "for dessert". However, both of those dishes were so good that I simply couldn't not include them on here. What's cool about this place is that they have a whole page of their menu dedicated to matching cupcakes with wines and other drinks. So, definitely come here with an appetite for dessert because they have almost hundreds of options to choose from. Bonus points for the extremely friendly staff!
Here are some options worth trying:
Truffle mac & cheese
Soup of the day: spicy tomato
I stumbled upon Van Leeuwen while searching for a cute place to get some coffee late on a Saturday evening. They were playing Billie Holliday on a record player in the back of the store and the staff was extremely friendly. They have lots of flavors and they let you taste as many of them as you like:) Everything was yummy (personal favourites are banana & walnut, and peanut butter- both vegan). As a dairy-free ice-cream lover, it's hard for me to find an ice-cream that doesn't taste fake, so I'm very glad for its existence.
This is a sort of under-the radar speakeasy (it's quite popular, but you wouldn't know it was a speakeasy if you walked past it on the street [you would also probably not walk past it under normal circumstances]).
Their mixologists wear white coats and the bar actually looks like an apothecary. The drinks are not my favorite in the city, but they're pretty good regardless.
I would suggest coming here with a larger group, and on the earlier side of the evening if possible, to avoid long lines.
This is actually a restaurant, but I only joined my friends for drinks at the end of their meal. All the cocktails we had were great. I forget the name of the one I tried, but it was with lime, jalapeno, and basil and it's definitely worth trying, so take a look at the menu to see if you can find it:)
You can trust Beauty & Essex to never disappoint in terms of the crowd. There's good drinks & music. Tends to get really loud upstairs.
This is a Mexican restaurant / bar. The drinks are delicious and they have great music at night. The Llano en Llamas cocktail is incredibly tasty (and spicy).
This bar is inside the James Hotel in SoHo. It has a very nice terrace, which is open when it's warm out. There's an outdoor pool + nice music + typical NYC skyline view.
This is a great little spot in Williamsburg to visit either during the day on the weekend, or potentially in the evening during weekdays (even though I haven't tried that myself yet). I came here on a late Saturday afternoon once, and then on Saturday evenings a few times after that, and it was quite busy (in a nice way though) during all three times. They have a very extensive list of delicious cocktails, as well as wines by the glass, bottle, and some other drinks and bar snacks.
This is a popular venue for people in their 20s. There's always a long line at the door and to be honest, I find it really overwhelming. That said, the rooftop terrace has an amazing view, and their drinks are delicious AND they have a crepe bar with a huge collection of ENORMOUS Nutella jars, though they also serve savory crepes.
Important to note that I think the lower level that's indoors should be avoided at all costs.
This is a Brazilian restaurant that's famous with its long brunches on Saturdays (I was once there for 6 hours). They have live music and after a certain point, everyone gets up and starts dancing. It's really fun if you go with a big group.
PS: Their margaritas are superb.
This is a cute little place to grab drinks and eat some bar snacks if you enjoy them as much as I do. Their French fries are A-MAZING.
This is a "Russian-inspired" basement speakeasy in SoHo/Nolita. Very spacious, so people aren't on top of each other. You have the option to sit at the bar or at one of the many tables (especially if you want to have dinner). All of their cocktails are tasty' I'd highly recommend the Cucumber Margarita as a light, summery option, or The Nolita if you're in the mood for something sweeter.
This is a tiny spot in Williamsburg with a tiny back yard that has string lights and flowers hanging from the ceiling. They have live music most nights (which can get a little too loud if you're sitting inside), which is fun to listen to if you're sitting outside and can actually have a conversation at the same time. Their cocktails are pretty strong, and their staff are very friendly.
This is a hidden gem in Williamsburg. The restaurant itself looks cute (although a little dark), but the back yard where you can't get any food service is spectacular. It's a huge back yard surrounded with tall brick walls, lots of trees, leaves on the grass floor below your feet, string lights, and some chairs and tables to sit on and around. My friend and I grabbed a bottle of wine from inside and spent hours just chatting outside, enjoying the beautiful weather.
This is a hole-in-the-wall spot in Nolita that you would not even know existed if you walked past it every single day. You have to go down a very steep and long set of stairs the minute you walk in, but once you're down there, its quite spacious and airy. Their drinks are some of the best I've had lately in New York, and they have some snacky foods you can order if you're really hungry. I have this Turkish habit of wanting to eat nuts with my drink, which is surprisingly hard to find in this country, but they entertained my request by bringing me a shot-glass of crushed peanuts, which I gladly ate.
This is a fun speakeasy in Chelsea Market. Their cocktails are tasty and the music isn't deafening so you can actually hear the person next to you if you're trying to have a conversation.
few drinks worth trying are their Moscow Mule, Booty Collins, Chelsea Smash, and the Birthday Shot (only if you're into shots--I'm not-- and this one's almost like a liquid dessert).
This is the rooftop at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. You should go here for the following reasons:
- Beautifully decorated interior
- Amazing view of Manhattan skyline
- Generally speaking, pretty good music
I stumbled into Home with a friend when we were looking for a spot to discuss a documentary that we had just seen about women's rights and abuse in Turkey. It was a cold winter New York evening and we had just left the IFC Center, looking for a small, casual, and close-by place serving alcohol.
Home proved to be just the perfect spot with a cozily cushioned seating area in the windowsill. We ended up staying for a long time and chatting, while enjoying our glasses of wine.
Lois is a tiny wine bar in the East Village that does the trick perfectly with great red, white, and rose wine on tap. You can either get it by the glass or a carafe, which serves 3 glasses. Seating is quite tight inside, but it's not a bother. If you have an appetite, the avocado & polenta snack and the bar mix are absolutely delicious.
To be honest, I would have never visited Papatzul if I wasn't invited here for a friend's birthday party because it looks a little hectic and worn-down from the outside. I came here late on a Friday night and it was pretty much empty besides my friend's friends who were there for the party. It's a fun spot that serves great chips & guac and delicious margaritas, but I have no comments to make about their food or service.
168 Ludlow St
53 Howard St
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403 Broome St
170 Ludlow St
255 Centre St
337 E 9th St
269 Elizabeth St
123 Norfolk St
52 Prince St
76 N 4th St, Brooklyn
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50 W 8th St
224 Wythe Ave
232 Elizabeth St
176 Stanton St
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68 N 3rd St
245 Broome St
181 Mott St