clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Assorted fried item sit in metal trays while a worker in a blue baseball cap attends to them
188 Bakery Cuchifritos in the Bronx. The Caribbean lunch counter has been open since 1982.
Alex Staniloff/Eater

22 Classic Restaurants Every New Yorker Must Try

Whether it’s a Midtown steakhouse or a Chinatown mainstay, these places deserve a spot on your bucket list

View as Map
188 Bakery Cuchifritos in the Bronx. The Caribbean lunch counter has been open since 1982.
| Alex Staniloff/Eater

New York is one of the oldest dining cities in the country, and though it can feel like we’re always mourning the loss of another neighborhood stalwart, the city is still brimming with countless iconic establishments. Here is a collection of some of the most vibrant New York classic restaurants, all of them decades-old and some dating back more than a century. They range from legendary steakhouses to gritty taverns and coal-fired pizzerias, but they’re all quintessentially New York.

Read More
Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

188 Bakery Cuchifritos

Copy Link

Open since 1982, 188 Bakery Cuchifritos is a Caribbean neighborhood staple for orders of chicharrones, pernil, cuajito (meaty pig stomach), as well as morcilla. Of the latter, critic Ryan Sutton says, “the sausage...serves as a reminder that if you’re not considering Puerto Rican pork within the scope of the city’s grand meat and charcuterie traditions, you’re not doing it right.”

Patrons gather behind a plexiglass guard at a counter for lunch; decorative handwritten menu signs hang in the background
The lunch counter at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Mario’s Restaurant

Copy Link

Now over a century old, Marios on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is as old school as it gets. The Migliucci family still owns this restaurant that started as a pizzeria, serving dishes like linguine with red clam sauce and veal marsala. The interior looks untouched, full of oil paintings, Michelangelo statuettes, and white columns. Don’t miss the dessert trolley, and be sure to finish off with an espresso paired with a shot of complimentary anisette.

A man in a yellow shirt walks under a red awning with the word Mario’s.
Mario’s in the Bronx.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Sylvia's Restaurant

Copy Link

Dubbed “the Queen of Soul Food,” Sylvia Woods opened the doors on Sylvia’s Restaurant in 1962, bringing generous servings of Southern comfort food to Harlem. The neighborhood restaurant is world-famous for its timeless cooking and Southern charm, which still endures decades after opening. While Woods died in 2012, her family continues to run the restaurant.

A leg of fried chicken next to a helping of mac and cheese in an aluminum take-out container.
Fried chicken with mac and cheese at Sylvia’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Joe Allen

Copy Link

New York lost the restaurateur Joe Allen in 2021, yet after nearly 60 years, his namesake restaurant lives on; this Theater District staple remains a haunt for theatergoers and actors alike. Get the La Scala salad with iceberg, salami, and provolone; the Joe Allen burger or steak frites; and save room for the epic banana cream pie.

P.J. Clarke's

Copy Link

Though it’s now expanded into a chain of pubs, the original P.J. Clarke’s has stood on Third Avenue since 1884. This is the one with the ancient mahogany bar, the old jukebox, and the taxidermied dog at the bar. Over the years it has attracted regulars like Jackie Kennedy and Frank Sinatra, and the bacon cheeseburger is called the “Cadillac” because that’s how Nat King Cole once described it.

The corner building that’s PJ Clarke’s.
The exterior of PJ Clarke’s.
Eater NY

Grand Central Oyster Bar

Copy Link

Grand Central Oyster Bar has occupied the subterranean space in Grand Central Station since 1913. The award-winning room, with its vaulted, tiled ceilings is one of the main attractions here, and one of the best seats for slurping more than a dozen kinds of oysters is at the bar. The only update in its storied history is that the restaurant is now closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Customers sit around a chef’s table below ornate, hanging lights and arched ceilings.
Grand Central Oyster Bar in Grand Central.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Keens Steakhouse

Copy Link

Keens is packed with history, and not just because it opened in 1885. This Midtown steakhouse used to be home to a famous theatre and literary group, and after that, a pipe club. Dozens of pipes still line the restaurant, giving it a warm, unique vibe not like any other restaurant in the city. The signature order here is the mutton chop. The restaurant also sells a smaller portion as a $29 as special.

A mutton chop on a white plate with salad, surrounded by a knife and fork on a white tableclothed table.
A mutton chop from Keens Steakhouse.
Eater NY

Old Town Bar

Copy Link

Old Town Bar is one of a handful to survive Prohibition. The space itself, with its tiled floor, wooden booths, and mahogany bar, is one of the main attractions, but Old Town also serves a superb burger and wings. Dine downstairs, and your food might just be delivered to the bar via dumbwaiter from the kitchen upstairs.

A darkened bar room with many standing and seated patrons and Victorian fixtures.
The barroom of the Old Town has been a literary hangout for over a century.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

John's of Bleecker Street

Copy Link

John’s — a coal-oven pizzeria founded by a veteran of Lombardi’s — opened in 1929 and today serves a pie that Eater critic Robert Sietsema found to be “lusher” than its coal-oven peers. That means a little bit more cheese and a top-notch crust. Prepare to wait in line to enter.

People sit alone and in groups in a restaurant with tiled floors and wooden booths.
Inside John’s of Bleecker Street.
Eater NY

McSorley’s Old Ale House

Copy Link

Open since 1854, McSorley’s is one of the city’s oldest bars, and it’s still packed most nights of the week. The only choice here is between light or dark beer; it comes to mugs to an order for $7. A short food menu with burgers, hot dogs, and ham and cheese sandwiches is written on a chalkboard that hangs behind the bar.

Raoul's

Copy Link

Raoul’s, the decades-old Soho bistro regularly hosts high-rollers and famous folks alike (and is the subject of a soon-to-run documentary on what makes it so special). In addition to a great place to people watch, the restaurant has one-of-a-kind ambiance and is known for its legendary burgers and steak au poivre.

A neon sign with the words “Ballantine Raoul’s” gleams on a glass window.
A neon sign from Raoul’s.
Eater NY

Ear Inn

Copy Link

A venerated bar that used to mark the water’s edge before the landfill expansion, the Ear Inn is many things: a music venue, a haunted house, an Irish pub, and a piece of history. Go here for the better than it needs to be bar food, an eclectic collection of regulars, terrific people watching, and stuff on the walls chronicling the bar’s history since it opened in 1817.

Inside the Ear Inn.
The interior of the Ear Inn.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Balthazar

Copy Link

Whether or not you’re following owner Keith McNally’s provocative Instagram account, opened in 1997, Balthazar is one of those classic restaurants that feels of-of-the-moment: from its roster of high-profile regulars to its French brasserie menu or the dining room with attention to design detail like few others. Visit solo for a VIP glass of Champagne to kick off a meal or go with a crew and start the night with a seafood tower.

A person walks in front of a bakery, whose front window advertises loaves of bread in various shapes and whose red awning reads “Balthazar” in yellow font
The exterior of Balthazar.
Daniela Galarza/Eater

Katz's Delicatessen

Copy Link

Katz’s has stood on the corner of East Houston and Ludlow streets since 1888, and the pastrami alone is a New York icon. The expansive, cafeteria-style dining room is almost always bustling, and diners have to know how to navigate the system. Get in line, remember to tip the slicer (they might give you an extra piece to snack on), and no matter what, don’t lose that ticket.

The front of a sprawling corner store at night, with red neon letters that read “Katz’s Delicatessen” in capital letters.
Outside of Katz’s Delicatessen.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Lombardi's Coal Oven Pizza

Copy Link

Lombardi’s is the first pizzeria in New York City and, supposedly, the country. It relocated a few decades ago — from the home it had occupied since 1905 to a storefront down the block — but it’s still one of the city’s few coal-oven pizzerias. Go early or late to avoid the onslaught of tourists, and get a basic red or white pie.

Four employees in red shirts and white aprons work in a kitchen, behind them the words “1905 Lombardi” are etched into a tile wall
The interior of Lombardi’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Russ & Daughters Cafe

Copy Link

This spinoff from Russ & Daughters offers deli classics like chopped liver, matzo ball soup, and potato knishes. The emphasis is on preserved fish, but the pastrami smoked salmon on a pretzel roll more than makes up for the the lack of actual pastrami. The serpentine space, cheerily decorated in white and powder blue, extends from Orchard to Allen streets, and seems as old as its original location.

Russ & Daughters interior.
Russ & Daughters Cafe shows a vision of old-school NY.
Bess Adler

The Odeon

Copy Link

Opened in the ’80s, the comely neon-lit Odeon “is a movie set that doubles as a restaurant,” according to a decades-old piece in Vanity Fair. Opened by Lynn Wagenknecht, her then-husband restauranteur Keith McNally, and his brother Brian, it’s still run by Wagenknecht (while Keith has gone on to open a restaurant empire). In spite of the many lives New York has lived since it opened in what was then remote Tribeca, the Odeon feels both of the ’80s and of the moment. And your Odeon burger, three-egg omelet, or croque monsieur will be as satisfying as you would hope.

A bard with red stools, mirrors, and tables.
The bar at The Odeon
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Bamonte's

Copy Link

A red-sauce stalwart of Brooklyn, Bamonte's has been open since 1902 and hasn’t been renovated since the 1950s. It’s said to have been a mobster hangout and still attracts plenty of Williamsburg old-timers. Don’t miss the baked clams or the pork chop topped with peppers, which Eater critic Robert Sietsema deems “the city's most perfect evocation of that dish.”

A red frame house is the setting for Bamonte’s, and an old man sits on a bench in front.
Customers gathered outside of Bamonte’s in Williamsburg.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Wo Hop, founded in 1938, takes the distinction of the city’s second oldest Chinese restaurant. (Only Nom Wah Tea Parlor, started in 1920 and also on this list, is older.) Its longevity is due to both the reliability of its Chinese-American fare and the small, subterranean nature of the real estate it occupies. Try the massive platters of chicken chow mein, sweet-and-sour pork, subgum egg foo young, and beef chow fun. While the address listed here is considered the original Wo Hop, the street-level part of the restaurant is dubbed Wo Hop Next Door.

A bowl of congee set against a neon green background at Wo Hop.
A bowl of congee from Wo Hop.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gottscheer Hall

Copy Link

Founded in 1924 when Ridgewood was a German immigrant enclave, Gottscheer represents a group of ethnic Germans who had previously lived under the Habsburg Monarchy in what is now Slovenia. This sturdy beer hall, which looks every year of its age, has a barroom open to the public where German and American beers are dispensed, and an agreeable but limited menu of sausages, goulash, pretzels, and cutlets is served. Don’t miss the potato pancakes.

A blue brick entrance with a bright blue awning.
Step through these doors into a century old German tavern.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Brennan & Carr

Copy Link

Founded at the end of Gravesend Neck Road in 1938 when this part of Brooklyn was mainly farms, Brennan & Carr looks like a stockade from the Civil War crossed with an English Tudor cottage, and boasts two darkish dining rooms inside. Order at the outside window, or traipse through the open kitchen and sit down for an oversized roast beef sandwich served on a kaiser roll. Both sides of the bun are first dipped in beef broth, and the beef here is as much steamed as roasted, but that’s not a bad thing, since it develops a bouncy texture.

Roast beef at Brennan and Carr.
Roast beef at Brennan and Carr.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Nathan's Famous

Copy Link

Even if it’s since grown into a wide-reaching franchise, Nathan’s Famous remains a true New York institution. The Coney Island original opened in 1916, selling hot dogs for five cents. They cost more now, of course, and come in vegan varieties, but otherwise not much has changed about the experience of eating a cheap, greasy dog on the boardwalk.

A waiter holds a large quantity of beer to serve to his customers at McSorley’s Old Ale House on St. Patrick’s Day.
A common sight at McSorley’s.
Angela Weiss/Getty Images

188 Bakery Cuchifritos

Open since 1982, 188 Bakery Cuchifritos is a Caribbean neighborhood staple for orders of chicharrones, pernil, cuajito (meaty pig stomach), as well as morcilla. Of the latter, critic Ryan Sutton says, “the sausage...serves as a reminder that if you’re not considering Puerto Rican pork within the scope of the city’s grand meat and charcuterie traditions, you’re not doing it right.”

Patrons gather behind a plexiglass guard at a counter for lunch; decorative handwritten menu signs hang in the background
The lunch counter at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Mario’s Restaurant

Now over a century old, Marios on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is as old school as it gets. The Migliucci family still owns this restaurant that started as a pizzeria, serving dishes like linguine with red clam sauce and veal marsala. The interior looks untouched, full of oil paintings, Michelangelo statuettes, and white columns. Don’t miss the dessert trolley, and be sure to finish off with an espresso paired with a shot of complimentary anisette.

A man in a yellow shirt walks under a red awning with the word Mario’s.
Mario’s in the Bronx.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Sylvia's Restaurant

Dubbed “the Queen of Soul Food,” Sylvia Woods opened the doors on Sylvia’s Restaurant in 1962, bringing generous servings of Southern comfort food to Harlem. The neighborhood restaurant is world-famous for its timeless cooking and Southern charm, which still endures decades after opening. While Woods died in 2012, her family continues to run the restaurant.

A leg of fried chicken next to a helping of mac and cheese in an aluminum take-out container.
Fried chicken with mac and cheese at Sylvia’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Joe Allen

New York lost the restaurateur Joe Allen in 2021, yet after nearly 60 years, his namesake restaurant lives on; this Theater District staple remains a haunt for theatergoers and actors alike. Get the La Scala salad with iceberg, salami, and provolone; the Joe Allen burger or steak frites; and save room for the epic banana cream pie.

P.J. Clarke's

Though it’s now expanded into a chain of pubs, the original P.J. Clarke’s has stood on Third Avenue since 1884. This is the one with the ancient mahogany bar, the old jukebox, and the taxidermied dog at the bar. Over the years it has attracted regulars like Jackie Kennedy and Frank Sinatra, and the bacon cheeseburger is called the “Cadillac” because that’s how Nat King Cole once described it.

The corner building that’s PJ Clarke’s.
The exterior of PJ Clarke’s.
Eater NY

Grand Central Oyster Bar

Grand Central Oyster Bar has occupied the subterranean space in Grand Central Station since 1913. The award-winning room, with its vaulted, tiled ceilings is one of the main attractions here, and one of the best seats for slurping more than a dozen kinds of oysters is at the bar. The only update in its storied history is that the restaurant is now closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Customers sit around a chef’s table below ornate, hanging lights and arched ceilings.
Grand Central Oyster Bar in Grand Central.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Keens Steakhouse

Keens is packed with history, and not just because it opened in 1885. This Midtown steakhouse used to be home to a famous theatre and literary group, and after that, a pipe club. Dozens of pipes still line the restaurant, giving it a warm, unique vibe not like any other restaurant in the city. The signature order here is the mutton chop. The restaurant also sells a smaller portion as a $29 as special.

A mutton chop on a white plate with salad, surrounded by a knife and fork on a white tableclothed table.
A mutton chop from Keens Steakhouse.
Eater NY

Old Town Bar

Old Town Bar is one of a handful to survive Prohibition. The space itself, with its tiled floor, wooden booths, and mahogany bar, is one of the main attractions, but Old Town also serves a superb burger and wings. Dine downstairs, and your food might just be delivered to the bar via dumbwaiter from the kitchen upstairs.

A darkened bar room with many standing and seated patrons and Victorian fixtures.
The barroom of the Old Town has been a literary hangout for over a century.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

John's of Bleecker Street

John’s — a coal-oven pizzeria founded by a veteran of Lombardi’s — opened in 1929 and today serves a pie that Eater critic Robert Sietsema found to be “lusher” than its coal-oven peers. That means a little bit more cheese and a top-notch crust. Prepare to wait in line to enter.

People sit alone and in groups in a restaurant with tiled floors and wooden booths.
Inside John’s of Bleecker Street.
Eater NY

McSorley’s Old Ale House

Open since 1854, McSorley’s is one of the city’s oldest bars, and it’s still packed most nights of the week. The only choice here is between light or dark beer; it comes to mugs to an order for $7. A short food menu with burgers, hot dogs, and ham and cheese sandwiches is written on a chalkboard that hangs behind the bar.

Raoul's

Raoul’s, the decades-old Soho bistro regularly hosts high-rollers and famous folks alike (and is the subject of a soon-to-run documentary on what makes it so special). In addition to a great place to people watch, the restaurant has one-of-a-kind ambiance and is known for its legendary burgers and steak au poivre.

A neon sign with the words “Ballantine Raoul’s” gleams on a glass window.
A neon sign from Raoul’s.
Eater NY

Ear Inn

A venerated bar that used to mark the water’s edge before the landfill expansion, the Ear Inn is many things: a music venue, a haunted house, an Irish pub, and a piece of history. Go here for the better than it needs to be bar food, an eclectic collection of regulars, terrific people watching, and stuff on the walls chronicling the bar’s history since it opened in 1817.

Inside the Ear Inn.
The interior of the Ear Inn.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Balthazar

Whether or not you’re following owner Keith McNally’s provocative Instagram account, opened in 1997, Balthazar is one of those classic restaurants that feels of-of-the-moment: from its roster of high-profile regulars to its French brasserie menu or the dining room with attention to design detail like few others. Visit solo for a VIP glass of Champagne to kick off a meal or go with a crew and start the night with a seafood tower.

A person walks in front of a bakery, whose front window advertises loaves of bread in various shapes and whose red awning reads “Balthazar” in yellow font
The exterior of Balthazar.
Daniela Galarza/Eater

Katz's Delicatessen

Katz’s has stood on the corner of East Houston and Ludlow streets since 1888, and the pastrami alone is a New York icon. The expansive, cafeteria-style dining room is almost always bustling, and diners have to know how to navigate the system. Get in line, remember to tip the slicer (they might give you an extra piece to snack on), and no matter what, don’t lose that ticket.

The front of a sprawling corner store at night, with red neon letters that read “Katz’s Delicatessen” in capital letters.
Outside of Katz’s Delicatessen.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Lombardi's Coal Oven Pizza

Lombardi’s is the first pizzeria in New York City and, supposedly, the country. It relocated a few decades ago — from the home it had occupied since 1905 to a storefront down the block — but it’s still one of the city’s few coal-oven pizzerias. Go early or late to avoid the onslaught of tourists, and get a basic red or white pie.

Four employees in red shirts and white aprons work in a kitchen, behind them the words “1905 Lombardi” are etched into a tile wall
The interior of Lombardi’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Related Maps

Russ & Daughters Cafe

This spinoff from Russ & Daughters offers deli classics like chopped liver, matzo ball soup, and potato knishes. The emphasis is on preserved fish, but the pastrami smoked salmon on a pretzel roll more than makes up for the the lack of actual pastrami. The serpentine space, cheerily decorated in white and powder blue, extends from Orchard to Allen streets, and seems as old as its original location.

Russ & Daughters interior.
Russ & Daughters Cafe shows a vision of old-school NY.
Bess Adler

The Odeon

Opened in the ’80s, the comely neon-lit Odeon “is a movie set that doubles as a restaurant,” according to a decades-old piece in Vanity Fair. Opened by Lynn Wagenknecht, her then-husband restauranteur Keith McNally, and his brother Brian, it’s still run by Wagenknecht (while Keith has gone on to open a restaurant empire). In spite of the many lives New York has lived since it opened in what was then remote Tribeca, the Odeon feels both of the ’80s and of the moment. And your Odeon burger, three-egg omelet, or croque monsieur will be as satisfying as you would hope.

A bard with red stools, mirrors, and tables.
The bar at The Odeon
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

Bamonte's

A red-sauce stalwart of Brooklyn, Bamonte's has been open since 1902 and hasn’t been renovated since the 1950s. It’s said to have been a mobster hangout and still attracts plenty of Williamsburg old-timers. Don’t miss the baked clams or the pork chop topped with peppers, which Eater critic Robert Sietsema deems “the city's most perfect evocation of that dish.”

A red frame house is the setting for Bamonte’s, and an old man sits on a bench in front.
Customers gathered outside of Bamonte’s in Williamsburg.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Wo Hop

Wo Hop, founded in 1938, takes the distinction of the city’s second oldest Chinese restaurant. (Only Nom Wah Tea Parlor, started in 1920 and also on this list, is older.) Its longevity is due to both the reliability of its Chinese-American fare and the small, subterranean nature of the real estate it occupies. Try the massive platters of chicken chow mein, sweet-and-sour pork, subgum egg foo young, and beef chow fun. While the address listed here is considered the original Wo Hop, the street-level part of the restaurant is dubbed Wo Hop Next Door.

A bowl of congee set against a neon green background at Wo Hop.
A bowl of congee from Wo Hop.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gottscheer Hall

Founded in 1924 when Ridgewood was a German immigrant enclave, Gottscheer represents a group of ethnic Germans who had previously lived under the Habsburg Monarchy in what is now Slovenia. This sturdy beer hall, which looks every year of its age, has a barroom open to the public where German and American beers are dispensed, and an agreeable but limited menu of sausages, goulash, pretzels, and cutlets is served. Don’t miss the potato pancakes.