One of my favorite things about living in New York City is the food scene. You can essentially get any type of food you want at any hour. Pierogis at 3 a.m.? Yes, we have that—just head over to Veselka in the East Village for a treat after a night of going out.
With so many food options, though, it can be overwhelming. If you’re visiting the city, it may prove tough picking a restaurant—let alone finding one that isn’t a total tourist trap. These are some of my favorite restaurants to dine at in Manhattan.
Contrary to popular belief, the best Italian food isn’t in Little Italy. Most New Yorkers will actually tell you that the food in the neighborhood is overpriced and extremely disappointing. If you’re looking for truly delicious pasta, head to Il Buco in the East Village. This Italian restaurant serves pasta made in-house at a reasonable price and in a cute setting.
Unlike Little Italy, the Korean food in Koreatown is actually delicious. One of my favorites spots is New Wonjo, which offers both Korean BBQ and regular dining. Sit upstairs and immerse yourself in the full BBQ experience, or dine downstairs and dive into a massive bowl of comforting bibimbap (a traditional dish that’s a mix of rice, meat, vegetables and other add-ins).
One of my favorite neighborhoods to walk around in Manahttan is Chelsea. I love walking the High Line (an elevated trail and park that also features art and dining), and then heading over to Chelsea Market—a nearby food hall. Though there is an abundance of food vendors to choose from in Chelsea Market, Los Tacos No. 1 is a great little joint. Pick your meat and top your tacos how you please. And if you’re not in the mood for tacos, they also offer tostadas and quesadillas, among other options.
This trendy new-American restaurant in the Lower East Side serves a six course tasting menu for $74. I’ve been lucky enough to dine there twice, and both meals were among the top dinners I’ve eaten in my life. Each dish hits about every flavor profile—soft, crunchy, salty, bitter, sweet and sour. The innovative restaurant, which is run by two of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2016, is truly worth checking out.
Boasting the World’s Best Sommelier 2016 as its wine director, this hip Italian-accented New American restaurant is a great choice if you’re in the SoHo area (a neighborhood known for shopping). After checking out some of the high-end stores in the area, head to Charlie Bird for impeccable wine and upscale cuisine in a casual, trendy setting.
New Yorkers love brunch—but then again, who doesn’t love day drinking? Carroll Place in the West Village is one of my favorite go-to spots. The Italian restaurant offers two hours of bottomless mimosas, bloody Marys and/or sangria with any brunch entree for $26. Not only is the price reasonable, but the drinks are strong, the food is delicious and the portions are large. The restaurant also plays great music in a comforting setting, making it a great spot to cheers to the weekend.
This intimate French-American restaurant serves dishes made with local ingredients. Each dish I’ve tried here has been flavorful and satisfying. They pay attention to detail at Gentleman’s Farmer, and it shows in the food’s quality and presentation.
Do you enjoy traditional Japanese food? Are you not offended by porn? If the answer is yes to both questions, then you should check out Kenka. The decor is interesting, to say the least, but the food is tasty and cheap at this late night spot on St. Marks Place. And on your way out, you can make your own cotton candy. Kenka is eclectic, memorable and delicious.
One of my friends from Turkey took me to this restaurant, and it’s the best Turkish food I’ve eaten outside of Turkey. It’s truly authentic, and each dish is packed with flavor.
Another cultural neighborhood worth checking out is Chinatown. There are many great restaurants to chose from, but my favorite is Shanghai Cafe Deluxe. If you go there, I insist you get the soup dumplings—they’re doughy balls filled with comforting and warm soup. Just be careful not to dive in too fast when they come out because they’re very hot. Slurp on eight of these joyous treats for less than $5 in this cash-only establishment.
What good is any meal without dessert? As a bit of a cookie snob, I will say Levain Bakery serves some of the best cookies I’ve eaten in Manhattan. They’re massive and served warm, making them gooey and the oozing chocolate with each bite. Treat yourself to dessert at Levain Bakery after dining at any of these delicious Manhattan restaurants.