The Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway’s flashy signs around Times Square, and the rumbling 24-hour subway are all unmistakable landmarks of New York City — but just as essential to the Big Apple’s DNA are its restaurants and bars. Whether it’s a month-out reservation in downtown Manhattan or a late-night taco truck in Queens, there are endless options for dining in the Big Apple right now. Here’s where to start.
Welcome to New York
Cross an avenue, bridge, or park, and there’s a different neighborhood at every turn. Within each of the five boroughs are never-ending culinary options. Ordering a taco, whether from a trendy birria truck or a counter that’s barely the size of a studio apartment, can mean enduring the same waits as Michelin-starred establishments. There’s a wide range of dining to do between the most affordable and the blowout meals in this city — and there’s a quality option at every price, which is part of what sets New York apart. Breakfast can take place at a nostalgic diner or at a cart in Chinatown serving steaming rice rolls. Lunch options are just as varied, with classic steakhouses and pizza joints equally popular. Dinner can be a family-style portion of pea shoots at Wu’s Wonton King in Manhattan Chinatown or a Nigerian tasting menu served around a communal table in Bed-Stuy. New York’s restaurant scene, complex and varied as it is, caters to basically every kind of diner.
Where to Start on Eater New York’s Top Maps
Eater publishes countless maps to keep you on top of the city’s restaurant and bar scene. Here are the ones readers are likely to return to the most.
Keeping up with the trendiest restaurants is like playing Whac-A-Mole: There are no shortages of openings in NYC and each month, and beyond the Eater 38 — our guide to the city’s essential restaurants — there are heatmaps tracking the hottest tables in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens right now.
For diners more interested in crossing a timeless hit off the bucket list, this is the guide to bookmark. Dining at one of the city’s classic restaurants is like stepping back in time, and in one of the oldest dining cities in the country, legendary steakhouses and gritty taverns all feel like quintessential New York. Here, our critics debate the city’s top places to sit down with a steak right now.
If there’s a meal during the week that feels like an event, it’s brunch. There’s a place for the all-you-can-drink-mimosas crowd or someone looking for a humble plate of runny eggs with bacon and toast. This guide offers ritzy or affordable options at multiple price points.
New York’s most well-known dishes go far beyond pizza and pastrami — though you don’t want to pass those up, either. The most iconic dishes are a study in the city’s diverse culinary scene, including spicy cumin lamb noodles, jerk chicken, and egg creams.
Whether it’s pies thrown in charcoal ovens or ones made with fancy sourdough crusts, there’s a pizza for any occasion in all five boroughs. Before folding up a slice, consult this map of the city’s top pizzerias.
Opinions vary on the city’s finest bagels, but one thing is clear: This is New York’s unofficial favorite food. The big, chewy versions found at Ess-a-Bagel or the dense, bialy-like ones from Shelsky’s Brooklyn Bagels are just two worth seeking out.
The leading sushi restaurants in New York offer a range of experiences. Diners can max out their credit cards with luxe omakases (you don’t have to look too hard to find a $400-per-person seat at a sushi counter) or find quality, umami-rich fish at more affordable prices (the $27 lunch set at Sugarfish is one of a handful of bargain options). Curious who has the best fish in the city? Our critics have thoughts.
From red-sauce favorites to trattorias that look to Tuscany, New York excels at Italian food. In the Bronx’s Little Italy, you can go to Roberto’s for Italian American food, where a chalkboard menu trumpets pasta specials, or head to the West Village for a modern take on classics at the popular Don Angie.
The five boroughs are chock-full of old-school steakhouses like Brooklyn institution Peter Luger or Keens in Midtown, but these days, more casual and affordable options round out the scene, as well. Find a stunning prime rib at Gallaghers or several standout, less pricey cuts from London import Hawksmoor.
Fancy or simple, there are a myriad of perfect desserts to sample in New York. Some are at sit-down restaurant affairs, like this banana rum pudding from Nolita favorite Thai Diner, while others — the seasonal gelato at L’Industrie pizzeria in Williamsburg — can be ordered on the go, usually for just a few dollars.
Old-school parlors, innovative gelato shops, and even vegan options dot our 18 essential ice cream shops map. It’s a list to consult all year round, whether it’s vanilla soft serve with dulce de leche from Big Gay Ice Cream or the masala chai-flavored scoops at Malai in Cobble Hill.
New York’s coffee shop scene is full of cozy neighborhood shops and third-wave options for those who want to geek out over the perfect pour. It’s the city that never sleeps, after all.
A new job. An anniversary. Another birthday. For a blowout meal, splurge on a big event at restaurants ranging from the elegant French seafood temple Le Bernardin to Laser Wolf, an Israeli skewer spot with unparalleled views of the city.
There’s never been a better time to eat outdoors in New York City. The pandemic changed everything as the city started opening up its sidewalks and streets to al fresco dining — from spots that keep diners sheltered in the rain to Michelin-starred establishments with luxe outdoor seating areas.
A Guide to Some of NYC’s Dining Neighborhoods
Nearly 9 million residents are sardine-packed into New York City’s five boroughs. The rent may be too damn high, but a short walk or a subway ride introduces you to a different food scene in every neighborhood.
Williamsburg gets a lot of attention as the hot spot for dining in Brooklyn, but some of the most exciting openings this year have taken place in Bushwick. Falansai reinvented itself as a destination for modern Vietnamese cooking, Sobre Masa Tortilleria rolls out tortillas made from heirloom grains, and Mao Mao offers what it calls Thai “cinema and drinking” food.
New York’s oldest and most well-known Chinatown is a leading destination for fresh rice noodle rolls, dim sum, Peking duck, and so much more. Some favorites include: pork pot stickers still under $2 at Fried Dumpling on Mosco Street, a big menu of comforting noodle soups from Bo Ky, and Spicy Village’s crowd-pleasing big tray spicy chicken.
In many ways, the East Village feels like a microcosm of New York. The diversity of restaurants — types of cuisines, prices, and mix of college students and longtime residents — is hard to beat. Many of the longtime favorites are still going strong: The pierogies at Veselka command a wait, even though the legendary Ukrainian diner is not open 24/7 like it was before the pandemic. Newcomers like Yellow Rose, a spot for reimagined Tex Mex cooking, and Indian fried chicken stand Rowdy Rooster are cementing the area’s reputation as one of the best dining destinations in the city.
New York boasts several Chinatowns, but Flushing is one the most exciting when it comes to new restaurants. It’s as easy to find dumplings doused in chile oil and massive bowls of fish stew as it is to track down regional Chinese fare served in elegant dining rooms and traditional banquet halls for dim sum on the weekends. Taking the Queens-bound 7 train to the last stop is worth it not only for the Chinese food, but also for establishments specializing in Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and Uyghur cuisine.
Brooklyn’s northernmost neighborhood is often thought of as a destination for Polish food, but its restaurant scene has some of the most compelling spots in the city. There’s Modern Vietnamese from Di An Di, line-drawing tacos at Taqueria Ramírez, and Taiwanese American party spot Wenwen.
It may be located just blocks from the heart of Times Square, where New Yorkers would otherwise be hard-pressed to give a restaurant recommendation, but this stretch of Manhattan is home to one of the city’s most affordable and diverse array of cuisines. A section of Ninth Avenue is dotted with Thai, Mexican, Cuban, Afghan, Haitian, and Peruvian restaurants, along with other independently owned places like the 24-hour Empanada Mama.
This Queens neighborhood is often cited as the most diverse zip code in New York City based on the number of languages spoken. A stroll down Roosevelt Avenue, its main artery and where the 7 train rumbles above ground, would prove this point: First-rate momos are at the Nepali Bhanchha Ghar. Birria-Landia, perhaps the city’s leading taco truck, yields lines around the block from the moment it opens late into the night. There’s no shortage of Colombian-owned spots, from diners to roast chicken counters.
This downtown Manhattan neighborhood embraces its historic roots as much as it does the city’s current dining scene. Tourist magnets like Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters are still going strong, and for good reason — the pastrami and lox, respectively, are hard to beat — but new spots have put this neighborhood on the map, too. Dhamaka, a modern Indian restaurant that Eater named one of the best new restaurants in the country in 2021, anchors a corner of Essex Market. For a more casual experience, head to all-day Malaysian cafe Kopitiam, near the East Broadway F train stop.
Sure, there are plenty of tourist traps, but as Broadway reopens, even New Yorkers are flocking back to the Theater District. Our chief food critic Ryan Sutton has lived in neighboring Hell’s Kitchen for years and knows where you can avoid the pitfalls. LumLum is serving exciting Thai food, in an area long-known for the cuisine. Farida serves up a pan-Central Asian menu where plov, the Uzbek national dish of rice pilaf with tender lamb, is a must-order. For an old-school New York experience, Gallaghers is one of the top steakhouses in town.
Slowly but surely, the Upper West Side has shed its image as a sleepy enclave of restaurants. Around Lincoln Center, there are upscale establishments like Lincoln Ristorante, as well as crowd pleasers like Cafe Fiorello — both Italian places. Further uptown, however, find newer restaurants like Bánh Vietnamese Shop House, with its refreshing take on the Southeast Asian country’s classic dishes, or Charles Pan-Fried Chicken from a local celebrity. Long-standing restaurants like Barney Greengrass have remained fixtures in the area even as newer places open their doors.
The brownstones and tree-lined streets of the West Village make it one of the most picturesque — and pricey — areas of New York. Its neighborhood restaurants are no different. Small dining rooms barely larger than some apartments, like the Shaker-inspired Commerce Inn or old-school hangout Corner Bistro, are usually packed with diners. But when there’s a wait, you’ll have no problem finding a cocktail or wine bar nearby to kill time.
If there’s a Brooklyn neighborhood that can go toe-to-toe with Manhattan for the sheer number of trendy restaurants, it’s Williamsburg. Missy Robbins dominates the Italian options with Lilia and Misi, but if you can’t get a reservation at either, Bamonte’s and Frost are classic red sauce joints that still draw a crowd. The Four Horsemen offers a nice selection of natural wines and a menu that feels like a neo-bistro plucked from Europe. For a taste of one of the hottest new spots in the area, head to mariscos spot Ensenada.
A New York Dining Glossary
BEC: Otherwise known as a bacon, egg, and cheese, this is a staple breakfast food in New York. Whether it’s constructed on a roll, bagel, or bialy (see below), the BEC is a cheesy, meaty breakfast sandwich that is often made-to-order at corner bodegas (again, see below).
Bialy: New Yorkers who love to boast that their bagels are the best are the same folks who have opinions on where to get the biggest, freshest, and best-tasting ones. But overlooked in this debate is the bialy, a flat round roll with onions chopped up in the center, originating in the town of Bialystok, Poland. Ask for one of those in a bagel store or deli (or a bialy bakery like Kossar’s), and receive an admiring nod of the head from the proprietor.
Black and white: This archetypal term refers to an ancient kind of cookie characterized by its white frosting on one side and black frosting on the other, with the line separating them perfectly bisecting the circle. It may have originally been created as a tribute to Henry Hudson’s ship the Half Moon.
Bodega: In most parts of the country, it’s called a convenience store, 7-Eleven, or, if you happen to live in San Antonio, an ice house. Here, that type of small corner store (and nearly every block in some parts of the city has one) is called a bodega, which means “little store” in Spanish. It’s where New Yorkers get everything from their morning coffee to beer to toiletries, and their favorite bacon, egg, and cheese. They are also well-known for their cats that keep watch over the stores.
Chopped cheese: Also known as chop cheese, this is a greasy, delightful mixture of ground beef burger chopped up and mixed with onions and slices of American cheese. In New York, one of the best versions of the chopped cheese sandwich has long been found at East Harlem deli Blue Sky, formerly known as Hajii’s, but the concoction has also taken on new life in empanadas, burritos, and sliders.
Hero: In some parts of the U.S., it may be considered a hoagie, sub, or grinder— but in NYC, it’s a hero, an Italian-style sandwich teeming with cold cuts, cheese, or whatever else.
Doubles: This term, which is both singular and plural, refers to a marvelous small sandwich made with a pair of tiny puri stuffed with curried chickpeas (called “channa”), topped with two sauces, one fiery, one fruity. It originated in Trinidad among those of Indian descent, and now is a favorite snack in parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
Egg cream: Oddly, this signature beverage of New York City, which is getting harder to find all the time, contains no eggs and no cream. Rather, it’s a shot of chocolate or vanilla syrup (Fox’s U-Bet is the local brand) mixed with milk and club soda, with the proportion of ingredients and stirring style unique to each maker. Thankfully, a new generation of restaurants is reviving the New York icon at spots like Agi’s Counter in Crown Heights and Old John’s Luncheonette on the Upper West Side.
Natural skinned: New Yorkers love their hot dogs, which some also refer to as frankfurters, wieners, or franks. In New York, they are often made exclusively from beef, and, instead of being skinless franks, have a skin on them, making for a popping sound when you bite into them. The skin is actually the small intestines of a sheep. Get real natural skinned franks from Nathan’s, Katz’s Deli, Gray’s Papaya, and most hot dog carts.
Schmear: When ordering a bagel, asking for a schmear (“just a little”) is the way to get just the right amount of cream cheese.
Slice: In most parts of the country, consumers buy pizza one whole pie at a time. Here, it’s not a pizza place if they don’t sell it by the slice. Your choice is not limited to a cheese slice, either, and many New York pizzerias pride themselves on sumptuous displays of many kinds of slices, sometimes with several types ganged up on a single tray: pepperoni, fried eggplant parm, mushroom, buffalo chicken, and tomato-free white pies.
Reservations to Make in Advance
Follow the Stars
New York is home to a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants — 73 as of the latest awards given out in October. While most of these restaurants aren’t everyday, go-to spots, it’s a good guide to know what’s in-demand for reservations. For the more affordable options, there’s also the Michelin Bib Gourmand list, where the 125 recommendations include some Eater New York favorites like the Park Slope cafe and bakery Winner, chef Myo Moe’s acclaimed Burmese spot Rangoon in Prospect Heights, and the perpetually popular temaki restaurant Nami Nori in Greenwich Village.
Head Out of Town
You could spend a lifetime and never hit every restaurant throughout the five boroughs. For diners with a running bucket list, the challenge to eat at the trendiest restaurants in recent years has expanded the amount of ground you have to cover.
Heavy-hitter NYC chefs have opened establishments everywhere from the North Fork of Long Island to the Hudson Valley. One of the most well-known towns upstate is surely Hudson, easily accessible via Amtrak, where you can spend a full 24 hours in just a few blocks, eating at some of the state’s most-talked-about restaurants. The Catskills region is also another popular weekend trip destination for many New Yorkers. For wine nerds, the Finger Lakes region has emerged as a local and national destination that’s taken as seriously as Napa and Sonoma. And of course, there’s always the Hamptons, where some of the city’s trendiest restaurants often make an appearance with seasonal menus, pop-ups, and one-off events.