Where To Find The Best Food in New York Cityfeatured

While We Travel We Eat is very much a travel-centric site, it only felt right to include the city I am most often eating in. I am a big explorer of the world but I am also a big explorer in the city in which I live, and I am constantly trying new places and revisiting my favorite older ones, too.

Creating a compact restaurant list in New York City is a challenge. This list here is honed down as much as I could manage, but there are still at least a dozen others that I easily could have put into the mix. In a concerted effort though to keep it tight, the following is a solid representation.

January 21, 2017, updated list (to be updated below, too):
Mary’s Fish Camp, Spotted Pig, Jeffrey’s Grocery, L’Artusi, Locanda Verde, Rockaway Taco, Roberta’s, Lucali, Mile End, Marlow & Sons, Cafe Habana, Momofuku Noodle, Emily West Village, Minetta Tavern, Pasquale Jones, Carbone, Sushi Yasuda, Sushi Nakasawa, Cosme, Four Horsemen, Sushi Nakasawa, Contra, Abcv

Supper, Faro, Speedy Romeo, Sugarfish, The Modern, Lilia, Frankie’s 457, Jacks Wife Frida, Union Square Cafe, Two Hands, Marta, Upland, John Dory Oyster Bar, Kiki’s, Estela, Llama Inn, Motorino, Russ and Daughters, Taverna Kyclades



Momofuku Ssam
Part of the Momofuku enterprise, Ssam is my personal favorite. Located in a somewhat scarce, non-descript space in East Village, everything produced here is anything but that. The menu is broken down into raw bar, small dishes, vegetables, fish and meats. Always make sure the infamous buns are in rotation, too.

New York City, Manhattan, East Village.

Sushi Nakasawa
An experience like none other, this is by far the best omakase session I have had. Every single piece of the twenty-course meal is drastically different from the last, making each bite an exciting, delicious, and unforgettable adventure.

New York City, Manhattan, West Village.

Cafe Habana
Somewhat of a New York staple, Cafe Habana is a casual yet vibrant Cuban restaurant on a busy corner of Nolita. Always crowded, Habana serves incredible cojita and chili covered corn, tacos, salads, and more.

New York City, Manhattan, Nolita.

If asked what my favorite Italian is in New York City, L’Artusi is probably number one. Spacious yet charming, the atmosphere has a inviting and vibrant vibe, at the same time feeling very much resemblant of a restaurant you’d find in Rome.  The crudo dishes are always stellar, the mushrooms with ricotta and egg are unprecedented, and the pastas, specifically the spaghetti with breadcrumbs and chilli, are tough to match.  I love it here and will always rely on it as an excellent go-to for all occasions.

New York City, Manhattan, West Village.

Perla is dark and seductive. Perla is rich with atmosphere and high on quality. It’s a great spot for a variety of occasions; date nights, friend nights, parent nights and any other excuse you can think of to indulge in an Italian centric meal. Pastas are in fact the highlights, but other dishes like the octopus that rests on a butter-infused slice of bread and the panzanella, aren’t to be overlooked, either.

New York City. Manhattan. West Village.

Send anyone to Roberta’s, local New Yorkers or otherwise, and they will sing their praises endlessly.  I have yet to come across someone that doesn’t fall in love with this wondrous pizza joint that is just that, but also so much more.  The space, the fun vibes, the bar you undoubtedly will hang in for a significant amount of time as you wait for a table but somehow you won’t mind, the music, the creative veggie place, the crazy good stracciatella cheese starter, the genius pizzas; it really doesn’t get much better than this.

New York City, Brooklyn, Bushwick.

Five Leaves
In 2008, Five Leaves opened in the then mostly untouched and seldom visited Greenpoint, on a corner most had never previously ventured. Jokes on us. Five Leaves is now a bustling cafe, American with an Australian flair, that has a line out the door most hours, most days. Whether you typically frequent this area or not, you should put this on your list.

New York City, Brooklyn, Greenpoint.

Locanda Verde
Locanda Verde is one of those New York City establishments that somehow looks exactly like it sounds. Very spacious, dark furnishings, high ceilings, a prominently displayed liquor shelf, it’s a very solid outpost. The whipped ricotta appetizer is pretty much to die for and the homemade pastas are among the best. Locanda is also good for any sort of occasion – dinner with parents, dinner with friends, brunches, client lunches and on – do it for any but just make sure it does get done.

New York City, Manhattan, Tribeca.

Mile End
I’ve had several different experiences at the Canadian inspired Mile End. I’ve enjoyed their sandwiches and poutines and egg/tuna/chicken salad variations in Noho. I’ve eaten “a traditional Jewish Christmas” lunch in Boerum Hill. And I’ve freaked out with delight about their absurdly amazing take on a greek yogurt and granola dish, offered in both locations but with a slightly different approach in each. Every experience has been exceptional and pretty memorable, too.

New York City, Brooklyn, Boerum Hill.

Taverna Kyclades
I love Greek food.  I eat hummus by the spoonful, literally.  At Taverna Kyclades, tzatziki is more their thing and there, that’s completely fine with me.  The cucumber infused chunky yogurt based dip is an awesome way to start your meal.  Surround that with the fried cheese, huge fresh feta salads and grilled octopus and you’re already more than halfway to an unforgettable meal.  The durado entree too is pretty incredible, and a nice way to keep on eating even when we all know, you’re already pretty stuffed but don’t want to stop just yet.

New York City, Queens, Astoria.

Paulie Gee’s
The menu reads salad option 1, salad option 2, soup 1, soup 2, pizza options 1-20. And then another 6 pizza choices that are vegan. You can see where this is headed. Go to Greenpoint, go to Paulie Gee’s, enter the dark cavernous looking space, get ready to wait, and then get ready to do some serious pizza eating.

New York City, Brooklyn, Greenpoint.

Spotted Pig
This is a classic New York City establishment. It’s popularity has held strong over the years, and the caliber of food has, too. Whichever way you’re looking for your night to go, putting Spotted Pig in the mix is never a bad idea. The vibe comes with a bit of mystery, a bit of fun, and an always palpable energy on both levels. The burger is probably the most well-known food item, but everything I’ve ever had here, from the buratta to the mind-numbing ricotta gnudi, is not to be forgotten.

New York City. Manhattan. West Village.

Mary’s Fish Camp
Oh, how I love this place. Beachy, nautical, casual and every other type of feel that reminds one of summer, I would eat here on a daily basis if I could. Though multiple dishes like the fish tacos and the tuna burger are well done and worth trying, the lobster roll is hard to stay away from. It’s mayonnaise-y, chunky, pricey, and worth it.

New York City, Manhattan, West Village.

Café Mogador
I have loved Cafe Mogador since 2003. Always did, always will. I’m faithful to it’s original location, on the down and dirty St Mark’s Place in the East Village, but will also admit it’s new edition in Williamsburg is really quite lovely, too. Whichever location you choose to dine in, the Middle Eastern eggs dish is kick-ass, and the tagines are forever winners also.

New York City, Manhattan/Brooklyn, East Village/Williamsburg.

Lucali means heaven in Italian.  Or if it doesn’t, it should.  The competition is fierce, so this sentence is hard to say, but Lucali is my most favorite pizza in all of New York City.

New York City. Brooklyn. Carroll Gardens.

ABC Kitchen
I know it’s relatively old at this point and I know it’s no longer a super hot spot like it once was, but ABC Kitchen does continue to serve up some seriously solid food in an exceptionally lovely setting.  The space here is breathtaking, and immaculately designed as everything is from the adjoining extravagant design store next door, ABC Carpet & Home. Food wise, the crab toast with lemon aioli is still one of the best dishes out there, and everything is served with a varied uniqueness and flavoring.  I’d say to veer comfortably off the cool path for a meal at this one.

New York City. Manhattan. Union Square.

Carbone will knock your socks off, make you feel like you’re back in the roaring 60s (or at least what my fantasy thinks that would be), and stuff you to the point of no return. The third establishment from the Carbone/Torrisi powerhouse is epic. Going here pretty much guarantees high energy and an extremely good time, and that coupled with outstanding food really make for the ultimate combination. The meatballs, veal for two, spicy rigatoni vodka and the caesar salad are what it’s most known for. The caprese, the sea bass and the carrot cake are stand out as well. Go there, go hard and enjoy.

New York City. Manhattan. West Village.

La Vara
La Vara was one that I knew I needed to go to with the right person.  It had to be someone who didn’t need a traditional menu, would have an appreciation for the background of the food itself, and that I thought would get passionate alongside me if it all turned out to be as great as my expectations were deeming it to be.  Well the food, and my friend that I first went with years ago, did not fail.  It was a full on blizzard the evening we braved it to go there, and the clear glass window allowed a gorgeous view of snow coated Clinton Street.  We opted for a cozy spot right at the counter, listened intently to the multiple specials, and made some decisions.  Jump to our reaction – pretty mind-blowing, and now years later, always consistent.  The eggplant with honey, cheese and nigella seeds is excellent, the chickpeas are a bowl of perfectly flavored warmth and crispiness, and the escalivada among other things, never fails.  I’d go as soon as you can – and I’d go with someone who you believe will fully appreciate it.

New York City. Brooklyn. Cobble Hill.

Rockaway Beach Surf Club
Rockaway Beach Surf Club may not be in everyone’s immediate peripheral vision, but it’s worth the visit nonetheless. Located a few blocks from Rockaway Beach on 87th Street in Queens, these may just be the best fish tacos in greater New York City.

New York City, Queens, Rockaway Beach.

Il Buco Alimentari
Il Buco is one of those NYC restaurants that everyone knows is good. What they might not know though is that it’s really, really good. Each time I’ve eaten here I’m impressed a little bit more than the last. The vibes are of a casual, rustic Italian dining room that you want to eat every meal at. The food too is impressive; the lightly fried and perfectly seasoned artichokes should start off every meal, the egg tarts are awesome, and the kale stracciatella sandwich will leave you breathless. And even better yet, you can somehow pretty easily score a table in here, both for dinner and for lunch or brunch. Guess that goes back to the part about how somehow no one knows just how awesome Il Buco Alimentari always is.

New York City. Manhattan. Noho.

About the author


Visitor of 52 countries & counting. Ex-London expat, current Brooklyn resider. Trip planning lover. Explorer of cities around the world through food.

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