Top 10 restaurants in New York
With thousands upon thousands of restaurants competing against each other in New York City, finding somewhere to eat which offers amazing food and excellent service in a great atmosphere isn’t too difficult. However, there are a few of the seemingly endless string of restaurants which shine more brightly than the rest. So you don’t waste time and money on a mediocre dining experience the next time you’re in the Big Apple, here are the top 10 restaurants in New York City.
Gotham Bar and Grill
Where: This multi-award-winning dining venue is located at 12 East 12th Street, in between Fifth Avenue & University Place.
The scene: Combining timeless elegance with modern design, Gotham Bar and Grill is set out on a huge a multi-level loft space inside a former warehouse. Neck-achingly tall ceilings adorned with contemporary wooden beams, dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows which bathe the lunchtime crowd in warm daylight and understated classic table settings make it the perfect place for everything from a formal business lunch to a cosy romantic dinner. The unique and frequently updated art collection created by the restaurant’s very own curator is a fantastic touch. Gotham Bar and Grill’s stylish yet rustic décor is mirrored in their New American menu which may not push any boundaries, but does excel when it comes to execution.
Signature dish: You’ve got to try their Yellowfin tuna tartare: a perfect round of marinated tuna tartare placed in the centre of a Japanese cucumber and shiso leaf salad dressed in a sweet miso Asian ginger vinaigrette, all decorated with a crunchy, golden brown wedge of baguette.
Where: Gramercy Tavern can be found at 42 East 20th Street, in between Park Avenue South and Broadway.
The scene: The perfect blend of top end lavishness and casual comfort, Gramercy Tavern boasts two distinct dining areas. The sophisticated yet not at all stuffy Dining Room is lavishly decorated with fresh flowers and offers both fixed-price and tasting menus, with the addition of an a la carte option at lunch. The more casual Tavern welcomes walk-in diners and provides a more reasonably-priced four-course tasting dinner menu updated every evening. Each individual dining venue specialises in New American cuisine, with the routinely refreshed tasting menus adding a touch of freshness to each visit.
Signature dish: Try the seasonal tasting menu in the main dining room for lunch or dinner. These innovative and exciting menus showcase the restaurant’s close connection with local farms and purveyors, with a low-key elegant dishes created out of rustic ingredients.
Eleven Madison Park
Where: This spectacular eponymous restaurant is housed at 11 Madison Avenue, close to Madison Park.
The scene: Yet another stunning restaurant which specialises in New American cuisine, Eleven Madison Park’s atmosphere is just as inviting and inspiring as its food. A soaring art décor space with deluxe black leather seats and crisp white tablecloths, at a first glance Eleven Madison Park looks like any other fine dining restaurant in NYC. But the towering floor-to-ceiling windows highlight the somewhat unusual botanical dining room decorations you could easily overlook. From small trees covered in green moss to topiary balls wrapped with fairy lights, these carefully chosen outdoors-inspired adornments highlight the importance of the fresh, natural and seasonal ingredients found liberally throughout the menu.
Signature dish: The trouble with ever-changing seasonal menus is that you never have one outstanding signature dish. However, the 7-9 course tasting menus which are changed to coincide with ingredients when they’re at their peak of deliciousness are guaranteed to wow.
Where: This opulent French eatery is located at 3 East 52nd Street.
The scene: One step into La Grenouille and you’re instantly transported back in time and space to a grand dining room from the French Renaissance. Dark wooden seats with plump red cushions, low shadow-casting romantic lighting and impressive floral bouquets everywhere you turn are emblematic of the classic French cuisine and refined faultless service you can expect. It may not be the best choice of place for a casual lunch with a friend, but if your goal is to impress that special someone by treating them to the finest French fare they’ve ever had in their lives, La Grenouille is the place to do so.
Signature dish: For dessert try any of the soufflés. One of the few dishes which make even the biggest celebrity chefs quake in their boots, the soufflés at La Grenouille are perfectly executed and taste sublime. Whether you opt for the pistachio rosemary, espresso, passionfruit or Calvados soufflé, neither you nor your taste buds will be disappointed.
Peter Luger Steakhouse
Where: The original Peter Luger Steakhouse is at 178 Broadway.
The scene: Not much has changed at Peter Luger Steakhouse since it opened its doors to the public in 1887, but that’s a good thing. The vintage wooden furnishings, wood-panelled walls and friendly-faced servers create a charming German beer hall feel, but the rather upmarket price tags mean that you won’t find any drunken singalongs here. Named as Zagat’s number one steakhouse in New York City 32 times in a row, the Peter Luger Steakhouse certainly has a lot to live up to, but somehow manages to exceed even the highest of expectations, from its famous over-sized cocktails and surprisingly affordable 1/2lb lunchtime gourmet burger to its hand-cut chips and perfectly dry aged steaks.
Signature dish: The daily-available USDA prime rib is incredible and comes without any unnecessary sauces which would only mask the amazing dry aged flavour. Out of the small selection of sides, the creamed spinach for two is an absolute must.
Where: Per Se can be found at 10 Columbus Circle, close to Central Park.
The scene: Similar to Gramercy Tavern, Per Se offers two individual dining areas which each award a unique experience. The main dining room boasts ultra plush city décor, with the focal point being the large windows which framing the breath taking views of Central Park below. There are two French-American themed nine-course tasting menus presented each day, one with a selection of meat and fish plates and one with vegetarian-only dishes. But for less strain on the belt as well as the wallet, you can opt for the a la carte version of the chef’s tasting menu and choose one or two dishes at the smaller, more casual Salon dining setting. Just reading the list of ingredients and flavours for each menu item will leave your head spinning, but be rest assured for the head chef knows his stuff.
Signature dish: The use of seasonal tasting menus make it impossible for Per Se to have a signature dish, but if you’re searching for an exemplary dining experience, sample their five-course tasting dessert menu only available at The Salon.
Where: The extraordinary Jean Georges restaurant is situated at 1 Central Park West, within the Trump Tower.
The scene: Being declared a four-star restaurant by the New York Times and possessing three Michelin stars for several years, Jean Georges is everything you’d expect from such a highly acclaimed restaurant and even more. The chef’s flagship restaurant features a New French menu served up in a light and airy atmosphere distinctly different to any other restaurant on this list. Although dinner jackets are obligatory, the artsy monochrome interior décor with starched white tablecloths and off-white armchairs brought to life by the colourful foliage seen through the almost wall-size windows create a more casual and friendly vibe than you might envision from a top notch French restaurant.
Signature dish: There isn’t one signature dish, there are 12. Divided between two six-course tasting menus, these signature dishes are the chef’s pride and joy, composed of freshly-selected seasonal produce and updated accordingly.
Where: The widely acclaimed Le Bernardin is situated at 155 West 51st Street, between 6th and 7th Avenue.
The scene: Combining the technical genius of Japanese fish handling and preparation with classic French flair, Le Bernardin is luxury seafood at its very finest. The bright and modern dining room has a noticeable Asian influence, with stylish wooden panelled walls, dramatic wall-covering artwork and giant vases of white orchids. But it’s the servers who really add that extra little touch of class, with their almost mind-reading talents of being able to tell exactly when you want service and when you want to be left to enjoy your opulent dishes and perfectly paired wines. As well as in the sophisticated dining room, guests can also sample incredible cocktails and innovative bar snacks, such as scallop ceviche or raw kanpachi with wasabi tobiko, for a cheaper alternative to the prix fixe menu.
Signature dish: The black bass surf ‘n’ turf is unlike any dish you’ll find anywhere else in NYC: a crispy black sea bass served alongside a braised veal cheek and accompanied with a parsnip emulsion and ginger five spice reduction.
Where: The incomparable Daniel can be found at 60 East 65th Street at Park Avenue.
The scene: Arguably NYC’s most refined fine dining establishment, Daniel serves up award-winning contemporary French cuisine inspired by the changing seasons and the produce that peaks with them. The simple white walls, modern wrought iron candlesticks and focal point bookshelf dotted with colourful glass vases and other interesting trinkets give the sprawling dining room a modern day feeling which ties in perfectly with the avant-garde presentation of the food. Keep an eye out for the chef who makes his rounds on most nights, charming new diners and sending extravagant extras to special guests. For a more relaxed version of the white glove service and jacket required dress code, the bar area offers the prix fixe menu on an a la carte basis.
Signature dish: Black truffle and scallops in puff pastry. Although the seasonally changing menu means dishes come and go, this signature speciality has appeared on the menu since it was first introduced in 1987 and continues to be a popular classic.
Where: The icon of fine dining that is Bouley is situated at 163 Duane Street.
The scene: One word springs to mind upon entering Bouley: excess. From the wall full of aromatic apples which greet you at the entrance and the golden vaulted ceilings which tower above diners to the stone floor imported directly from a Parisian quarry and colossal velvet-framed Provence artwork hanging on the walls, every inch of Bouley points to exuberance. The theme of indulgence carries on into the rich French cuisine served a la carte or as a tasting menu for lunch and as a prix fixe or a tasting menu for dinner. If you’re visiting for a romantic meal, you’ll get extra points if you can sway the host to seat you at one of the cosy candelabra-lit tables with a view of the fireplace.
Signature dish: Any lobster main course. Even though the menu at Bouley changes according to the season, lobster always features at least once and when you order it, you can be sure of the sweetest, most melt-in-the-mouth butter-poached lobster you’ve ever had.
More things to explore in New York
New York Travel Guides
- Useful Facts
- Top 10 things to do in New York
- Top 10 luxury hotels in New York
- Top 10 rooftop bars in New York
- Top 10 restaurants in New York
- A beginner's guide to Central Park
- Top 10 historical hotels in New York
- 72 hours in New York
- Scale the Rockefeller Center
- Eating, Drinking & Nightlife
- Things To Do and Excursions