Let’s face it guys, New York is the city that never sleeps, and as such there are thousands and thousands of options for food across the island of Manhattan, let alone further afield into the outskirts of the city. Whilst this is no ‘definitive guide’- I’ve visited NYC a few times, but by no means enough to call myself an expert- the places on this list are the places that I would 100% recommend to anyone and everyone who ever ask me for a recommendation- and would have had no idea that they even existed had it not been for the knowledge of my local NYC pals. So, read on dear pals, and prepare for your mouth to water profusely with ten places you have to eat at in New York City.
Tavern on the Green, Central Park West
I was so impressed with Tavern on the Green that I wrote an entire post on it, but I will reiterate it here- if you’re looking for a really beautiful restaurant in NYC with delicious, classic dishes on the menu- Tavern on the Green is a great choice. And, this restaurant is actually located within Central Park. Which I think is rather an awesome setting for a sit down meal, know what I’m saying?
Once upon a time, this was the location of a sheepfold for the residents of Central Park’s Sheep Meadow (I.e. the sheep themselves), but since the early days of the 20th Century this has been the place to be seen for New York high society, and all manner of famous names and faces have sat down to eat here. The atmosphere inside is warm and elegant, and the food is insanely delicious. Prices are fairly high but well worth it for the experience.
Tavern on the Green, Central Park, West 67th Street.
Ippudo, Hell’s Kitchen
GET THE DUMPLINGS. I REPEAT. GET. THE. DUMPLINGS.
Sweet mother of Pearl!! I cannot bang on enough about how ragingly delicious those dumplings were. Ippudo is a slick and stylish New York ramen restaurant, which serves up utterly DELICIOUS DUMPLINGS alongside their utterly delicious- and ginormous- bowls of steaming hot ramen. The signature dish is the tonkotsu ramen, although you can’t go wrong with basically anything on the menu, and they also have a fairly extensive list of sake to go alongside it all if you fancy.
We went to the Ippudo Westside in Hell’s Kitchen, although there are also restaurants in the East Village and on 5th Avenue.
Ippudo, 321 West 51st Street.
El Porton, Morningside Heights
For the best Mexican food in the Morningside Heights/Harlem area, El Porton is a classic cantina which serves up some beaut dishes- and it’s way off of the tourist grid. It doesn’t look like the flashiest of places and is more of a cozy-traditional-family kind of a restaurant which basically puts all of their effort into making scrumptious food. But before I even sampled the meals at this place, me and my pals had actually visited El Porton to drink frozen margaritas (especially the passion fruit margarita, that gets my vote for sure), and eat bowls and bowls of nachos and salsa. And I must say I was truly appreciative of how accommodating the owners were in literally just letting us eat nachos and salsa and cocktails. Good on them.
El Porton, 3151 Broadway.
Chelsea Market, Chelsea
There are several options for food inside this old warehouse near The Highline, as well as a ginormous selection of boutique-style shops and market stalls. Chelsea Market was once occupied by the National Biscuit Company, and had the claim to fame of being the place where Oreos were invented. And who doesn’t love an Oreo, for goodness sake!? You could almost eat your way around the world under the entire city-block-encompassing roof, sampling cuisine from Jamaican jerk chicken to Israeli pitas, freshly-caught whole local lobsters and Chinese noodle soup. The world is your oyster. Or at least, the Chelsea Market is, anyway.
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue.
Aunt Jake’s, Little Italy
Oh my giddy aunt (Jake). If you’re looking for a place to eat great food in Little Italy, Aunt Jake’s is your best bet. My pal Mark is the king of finding interesting eateries selling THE BEST FOOD, and Aunt Jake’s takes the prize in my opinion. Every day the team at this light and airy little restaurant on Mulberry Street make their own fresh pasta from scratch, and come lunch-or-dinner-time you can select which pasta-and-sauce combo you want from the menu to be consumed with all the zest and enthusiasm that it deserves. I went for a puttanesca, and Mark went for something involving short rib which was possibly Sunday Sauce…all I’m saying is they were both utterly 100% amazing.
Aunt Jake’s, 149 Mulberry Street
In a similar vein to Chelsea Market, next to Columbus Circle is a secret underground hideaway filled with an entire city block full of restaurants. And USA city blocks are generally on the large side, so be prepared for a LOT of choice. Although I only managed to get a coffee in the region of the Turnsyle Market, I’d head back in the blink of an eye if I could, just to check out one place in particular: Bolivian Llama Party. I’ve never been to Bolivia, nor have I ever sampled Bolivian food; and I was certainly not expecting to stumble across a Bolivian restaurant in NYC, no doubt about that.
Turnstyle Market, 1000 8th Avenue.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, Chelsea
Knowing that I would be heading towards that area, my pal suggested that if I got hungry, the best place to grab a bite to eat near the High Line was Artichoke Basille’s pizza. The first Artichoke Basille’s opened just over ten years ago in the East Village, and was so successful that the owners opened several other restaurants across the city. This is classic New York pizza, which is in no way, shape or form anything like it’s original Italian predecessor. Other than the fact that both styles of pizza are round, of course. (You have been warned).
I got a slice of artichoke pizza which was delicious but completely impossible to finish, partly because the base is three times as thick and dense as an Italian pizza, and partly because the slice was roughly three times the size of my actual face.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, 114 10th Avenue. Open daily until 5am.
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ, Times Square
I’ve done some casual steak-on-a-stone type situations before, but eating at Gyu-Kaku was my first experience of a Japanese barbecue restaurant, and I was LOVING LIFE. Each table has its own mini barbecue grill installed, onto which you can throw as much or as little steak as you see fit to eat. Quite honestly, I had a lot. Because it is delicious. Especially the Harami skirt steak in the miso marinade; that is a beaut.
This is quite a casual kind of an eatery- you don’t need to wear anything fabulous to come here, although obviously fabulous dressing is your prerogative, pals- and prices are very much friendly on the purse strings.
There are actually now several Gyu-Kaku sites across the city- we went to the one near Birdland on W 44th Street, and if you’re looking for somewhere to eat near Times Square then I fully recommend checking this place out.
Gyu-Kaku, 321 West 44th Street.
Caffé Palermo, Little Italy
Caffé Palermo is THE PLACE to get cannoli in New York City. I can tell this for two reasons: firstly, because it is the home of THE CANNOLI KING, and secondly because they have a celebrity gallery featuring pictures of anyone rich and even slightly famous who has eaten in this old school cafe. I’m a true fan of its 1970s decor and vibe; and although Caffé Palermo is clearly something of a tourist institution these days, it clearly also has a significantly ginormous number of local fans as well, and is fully worth a visit. We ordered an entire selection of desserts, from the classic cannoli and cheesecake options, to a frozen peach sorbet inside a frozen peach, a stalwart of the 1970s diner dessert menu. Apparently the chef is named Baby John, which in my opinion is just absolutely blooming fantastic; and if you have trouble locating the place, just keep your eyes peeled for the giant plastic cannoli hanging off the side of a building in the style of the Star of Nazareth marking the location of Baby JC.
Caffé Palermo, 148 Mulberry Street.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Times Square
This is the only restaurant on the list that I haven’t actually been to. But it’s also the only place that countless numbers of people have said to me: ‘Why have you not been to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, if you’ve been to New York!?’
If Caffé Palermo is a tourist institution, Ellen’s is off the scale of tourist hotspots. However…it does look really, really fun. So I do kind of want to go…however, that’ll probs be an occasion reserved for when I have someone to attend with me. Aside from the fact that this is a 1950s themed American diner, what makes Ellen’s extra specially stardusty is the fact that the waitstaff are all singing, all dancing, and regularly burst into song. Now that is my kind of location.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner, 1650 Broadway. (Corner of 51st Street and Broadway)