For many, the eastern stretches of Midtown were a place to commute to for work, or for the occasional business lunch or breakfast; it’s not known for being much of a culinary destination. But a strong roster of dining options do indeed exist in Midtown East, and have managed to survive despite the lack of office crowds during the pandemic. There are historical gems, like La Grenouille’s celebrated haute French fare and the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Some of the city’s iconic steakhouses and burger joints exist here, too, as do excellent options for ramen and Sichuan dishes. Ahead, 17 places well worth a meal in Midtown East.Read More
The Best Restaurants in Midtown East
Fine dining, fast-casual, and a great pub burger are all available in the neighborhood
Hutong New York
Midtown’s Hutong is distinct from many of the dim sum parlors that populate Chinatown and Sunset Park. For one, this Hong Kong-based chain is serving an impressive variety of dishes from Sichuan, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong, each with a modern twist. The yu xiang crispy pork mochi dumplings, for example, are dyed jet black, and Eater senior critic Robert Sietsema heartily recommends the roast Peking duck, served in half or whole portions. And as of last fall, a flaming duck option was added via special reservation. The Art Deco space is grand and quiet, with a glamorous walk-through wine cellar that the restaurant has nicknamed its “champagne runway.”
The focus at this two-Michelin-starred spot is on local and sustainable ingredients, with an emphasis on seafood, but chef Emma Bengtsson’s Arctic Bird’s Nest — a stunningly realistic-looking creation incorporating a honey nest, chocolate twigs, freeze-dried raspberries, brownie dirt, and shredded halvah — is worth the trip on its own. Though it’s possible to splurge with the $275 chef’s tasting, several price points are available, including a $175 tasting menu, an a la carte bar menu, and two-course ($75) or three-course ($85) lunch menus.
Chola has been serving the Midtown East neighborhood for over 20 years, sending out affordable to-go lunches for office workers and nightly feasts of coastal Indian fare. Expect a sprawling, pan-regional menu of meat dishes, vegetarian fare, and vegan items, but notable seafood dishes include crab poriyal, Mumbai fish fry, and prawns koliwada.
A truly iconic stalwart of French haute cuisine, La Grenouille is Manhattan’s last remaining place to sample the fanciest of midcentury Gallic fare. It opened in 1962, and has been serving Dover sole, whitefish quenelles, lobster ravioli, and the laborious classical French dishes ever since.
One of the biggest name-check restaurants at the newly-relaunched Rockefeller Center is Le Rock. The restaurant from the team behind Frenchette, serves Art Deco glamour, steak au poivre, and can’t-miss dessert tours for power meetings at all times of day.
The original outpost of the reliable bar with a signature, standout burger is housed in Midtown East. It’s one of the city’s finest patties; in fact, the cheeseburger at P.J. Clarke’s was once dubbed the “Cadillac of burgers” by Nat King Cole circa the 1950s. The bet seats are at the bar, where counter workers will bring you a half-dozen raw oysters or clams to pair with your ice cold martini.
Fresco by Scotto
The restaurant from matriarch Marion and daughters Elaina Scotto and Rosanna Scotto (the latter also an anchor on Good Day New York on Fox 5 News) serves Italian American classics for lunch and dinner. And while it serves the business community — Mayor Eric Adams has been known to swing by — it’s a fun spot for Midtown, with its lemon trees, outdoor garden area, DJs, and old-school vibe.
Major Food Group’s takeover of the landmark Four Seasons space remains a citywide destination for expensive a la carte fine dining — all in the form of a throwback chophouse. In the stunning midcentury room, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, patrons gather for Dover sole, red meat, and martinis, with the same level of glitz and theatrics as the team’s Carbone.
Grand Sichuan Eastern
This Second Avenue staple remains a fantastically reliable institution for quality Sichuan fare. Expect all the usual players: tender and spicy cumin lamb, silky mapo tofu, meaty dan dan, tingly Sichuan cold noodles, slippery mung bean noodles with chile sauce, and gelatinous beef tendon.
Sure, the $29 hot dog has gotten a ton of press for its price tag (and the fact that it’s probably worth it). But Alex Stupak’s homage to American dining — a departure from his Empellón mini-empire — is good for a lot of dishes, like the chopped salad, deviled eggs, or kasha varnishkes, and of course, the desserts, like the restaurant’s spin on apple pie made with mini sticky buns.
Miami vibes have arrived in Midtown at this new art-deco-inspired restaurant with a pink-hued dining room that has a feel of a cruise ship. Look for a menu of monkfish liver; head-on, New Orleans-style barbecue prawns; and salmon-belly, as well as an of-the-moment Castelfranco salad, or the prime rib carved tableside. It’s an easy place to remain keto, but don’t: Get the savory-sweet onion bread and share it with the table.
This Midtown West ramen joint expanded east in 2014, serving its signature tori paitan chicken broth bowls. The building is a veritable slice of ramen-slurping paradise; above the east side outpost of Totto lies Hide-Chan Ramen. But it’s not a competition between two noodle-slinging spots. They’re actually both owned by the same man, Bobby Munekata. Both Totto Ramen and Hide-Chan serve up nicely firm noodles; Hide-Chan, however, specializes in tonkotsu (pork bone) broth.
Grand Central Oyster Bar
The iconic seafood destination is nestled under soaring, beautifully arched and tiled ceilings in a subterranean space inside Grand Central Terminal. The environs, complete with massive U-shaped counter seating perfect for dining solo, are so special that the restaurant nabbed the Design Icon Award at the James Beard Awards in 2017. In addition to ordering up a platter of raw bivalves, don’t miss the epic oyster pan roast. All of the seafood goes down smoothly with a stiff martini. Note that it’s closed Saturdays and Sundays.
This celebrated sushi spot is one of the city’s finest. Chef Naomichi Yasuda opened the place in 1999 and was known for creating a detail-oriented, quite traditional, and personalized sushi experience; he left in 2011, but his namesake restaurant has maintained the same level of quality since and, in fact, it now boasts a Michelin star.
Korean meets New Orleans at this Midtown East hot spot that started as a pop-up with dishes like fried chicken, tomato kimchi, and jambalaya, or shrimp and grits in shrimp dashi. Now the menu is a robust collection of snacks, sides, and hearty meat dishes served in a warm, utilitarian dining area.
Her Name is Han
Nostalgic Korean home cooking delivered with a sense of style from the prolific Hand Hospitality group, it’s an early example and still one of the best of what Hand has opened in the last few years.
Okdongsik New York
Sibling to Hand Hospitality restaurants which include homestyle spot, Her Name Is Han; dessert shop Lysée; the revival of hot pot restaurant, Hakata Tonton; and the East Village’s Ariari, Okdongsik offers mainly the traditional soup gomtang, and mandoo. While it’s an incredibly brief menu of two items, New York Times critic Pete Wells declared, “both are outstanding.”