clock menu more-arrow no yes

The 38 Essential New York Restaurants, January '14

View as Map

It's time to update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant?" This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs, save for those occasions when you absolutely must spend half a paycheck. Every couple of months, we'll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

As the official 38 map has now passed its fourth birthday, we here at Eater felt it was time for a full on reset of the list. After much re-evaluating, debating, and a couple good hard looks in the mirror, we kept about a third of the list, brought back a handful of 38 alums, and filled the rest of the slots with new additions. Welcome to the new Eater 38, rejiggered for the New Year.

Rather than a stage-4 meltdown over our having excluded your favorite restaurant from the list, wouldn't it be more productive to just nominate it for inclusion?

Note: Restaurants are listed based on geography, starting with lower Manhattan.


Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Oriental Garden

Copy Link
14 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 619-0085
Visit Website
Oriental Garden is where your favorite chefs eat on their days off. This unfussy Chinese restaurant serves awesome seafood dishes (the dining room is lined with fish tanks) as well as surprisingly delicate dim sum (some of which is served form carts). The scene can be hectic, especially during the weekend lunch rush, but you should have no problem scoring a table here in the late afternoon or early evening. [Photo: Foursquare]

2. Tamarind TriBeCa

Copy Link
99 Hudson St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 775-9000
Visit Website
Head to this Michelin-starred Tribeca restaurant to sample dishes from all across India, in a comfortable, and ever-so-slightly elegant setting. Tamarind Tribeca is a smart choice for a business lunch Downtown, and it's also a fine pick for date night. [Sam Horine]

3. Rubirosa

Copy Link
235 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-0500
Visit Website
This lively Little Italy restaurant is one of your best bets for classic red-sauce cuisine in New York City. Make sure to try one of the homemade pastas, and one of the ultra thin-crust pizzas.

4. Parm

Copy Link
248 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 993-7189
Visit Website
The second restaurant from Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi is a casual Italian-American bar and sandwich shop with food that goes the distance. The chicken parm, Italian combo, and Saratoga club are all strong choices, and you're going to want an order of the calamari (if it's available) and the Buffalo cucumbers too. The nightly entree specials wouldn't be out of place at Torrisi and Carbone's other restaurants. [Krieger]

5. Balthazar Restaurant

Copy Link
80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-1414
Visit Website
Restaurateur Keith McNally's enduring Soho brasserie is the best every day restaurant in New York City. Period. [Photo: Krieger]

6. The Dutch

Copy Link
131 Sullivan St
New York, NY 10000
(212) 677-6200
Visit Website
Andrew Carmellini's freewheelin' Soho restaurant is basically a steakhouse, a craft cocktail bar, a seafood parlor, and a casual New American bistro all rolled into one. The Dutch also has a great brunch menu. [Krieger]

7. Peasant

Copy Link
194 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-9511
Visit Website
If you haven't dined at this Elizabeth Street charmer in a while, it's time for a revisit, because the rustic Italian fare is just as good as you remember. The wood-fired lamb and the gnocchi with morels are perennial favorites. Note: Peasant is best enjoyed in the fall and winter months. [Foursquare]

8. Ushiwakamaru

Copy Link
136 W Houston St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 228-4181
Visit Website
Hideo Kuribara's Houston Street restaurant is a favorite among chefs and sushi purists, and, thankfully, it's moderately priced by New York sushi standards. This is straightforward sushi, made with good ingredients. Fun Fact: Ushiwakamaru recently launched a "secret" late night ramen operation.... [Photo: Foursquare]

9. Charlie Bird

Copy Link
5 King Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 235-7133
Visit Website
Ryan Hardy serves exciting market-driven Italian cuisine at Charlie Bird, but the thing that you might like the most about this restaurant is the service. Owner Robert Bohr, sommelier Grant Reynolds, and the rest of the team will make you feel like you're the guest of honor at a very hip party. [Photo: Bess Adler]

10. Perla

Copy Link
24 Minetta Ln
New York, NY 10012
(212) 933-1824
Visit Website
At restaurateur Gabe Stulman's Italian charmer, chef Michael Toscano serves awesome pastas and monster meat dishes. This is a perfect date night restaurant, and a great place to take out-of-towners as well. [Photo: Krieger]

11. Momofuku Ssäm Bar

Copy Link
207 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500
Visit Website
David Chang's second restaurant is still going strong, although the game has changed a bit over the last few years. The duck lunch is now considered to be of the greatest feasts in the Momo empire, and the team recently introduced a brunch menu for people that hate brunch menus, which is garnering some great buzz right now. Classics like the apples with kimchi, spicy pork sausage with rice cakes, pork buns, and bo ssam are still available, of course. [Photo: Facebook]

12. Alder

Copy Link
157 Second Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 539-1900
Visit Website
Modern cuisine guru Wylie Dufresne serves inventive food that's easy to enjoy at Alder. The New England clam chowder, rye pasta, and pigs in a blanket are already on their way to becoming Wylie classics. [Krieger]

13. The Spotted Pig

Copy Link
314 W 11th St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 620-0393
Visit Website
The Spotted Pig inspired a thousand knock-offs over the last decade, but the original is still the best, by far. April Bloomfield's food is a heady mix of traditional English fare and California cuisine, with a splash of the Mediterranean thrown in for good measure. The burger and the gnudi will forever be the most popular dishes, but make sure to order a few vegetables too. [Photo: Krieger]

14. ABC Kitchen

Copy Link
35 E 18th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 475-5829
Visit Website
This chic market-focused restaurant from Jean-Georges and Dan Kluger has not cooled one bit since it opened three years ago. ABC Kitchen serves some of the city's best salads, as well as great pizzas and a fancy cheeseburger. And save room for the popcorn-topped ice cream sundae for dessert. [Photo: Krieger]

15. Gramercy Tavern

Copy Link
42 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-0777
Visit Website
Gramercy Tavern is the king of farm-to-table cuisine in New York City. The front room is one of the best places in New York for a leisurely lunch, or a romantic meal during the week. [Photo: Krieger]

16. The Cannibal Beer & Butcher

Copy Link
113 E 29th St
New York, NY 10016
(212) 686-5480
Visit Website
Satisfy your cravings for red meat and fancy beer at this casual Gramercy bar and restaurant. The menu from Momofuku alum Francis Derby includes steaks, tandoori lamb belly, slow-roasted pig head, and all manner of sausages and charcuterie items. [ Krieger]

17. Hanjan

Copy Link
36 W 26th St
New York, NY 10010
(212) 206-7226
Visit Website
Head to Hooni Kim's stylish Flatiron Korean restaurant for fresh killed-chicken skewers, braised pig trotters with kimchi, and fluffy scallion pancakes filled with squid. This is food that pairs well with liberal amounts of sake and beer. [Krieger]

18. El Quinto Pino

Copy Link
401 W 24th St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 206-6900
Eder Montero and Alex Raij recently expanded their Basque tapas parlor into the space next door, so now the restaurant has more seating and a bigger menu. All of the tapas are worth trying, but make sure to order the uni panini, fideua, and braised tongue. [Bess Adler]

19. Szechuan Gourmet

Copy Link
21 W 39th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 921-0233
Visit Website
Szechuan Gourmet is Midtown's worst-kept Chinese food secret. Skip all the Chinese-American dishes and order straight from the Sichuan section of the menu. The dining room is way nicer than it needs to be. [Photo: Yelp]

20. Keens Steakhouse

Copy Link
72 W 36th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 947-3636
Visit Website
Get a mutton chop with a side of history at this century old steakhouse that offers delicious food, perfect cocktails, and a killer ambiance. Those on a budget can hit up the bar room. [Keens]

21. Betony

Copy Link
41 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 465-2400
Visit Website
Betony is the restaurant that Midtown has been waiting for. Bryce Shuman is serving elegant, but accessible Modern American cuisine here, and the service, lead by GM Eamon Rockey, is warm and attentive, without being overbearing. Stop in for a drink and some snacks at the bar, or settle in for a full-on fine dining feast in the back. [Krieger]

22. Amali

Copy Link
115 E 60th St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 339-8363
Visit Website
This handsome Mediterranean restaurant serves one of the city's top brick chickens, and the seafood, pasta dishes, and charcuterie are just as good. Amali is also something of a destination for Greek wine enthusiasts. [Amali]

23. Donguri

Copy Link
309 E 83rd St
New York, NY 10028
(212) 737-5656
Visit Website
One of the best places in the neighborhood for Japanese food. You won't find any sushi rolls on the menu at Donguri, but there are a few excellent soba and udon dishes, and a number of lightly-composed fish and vegetable items. The lobster miso soup is a must-try dish. [Photo]

24. Bar Boulud

Copy Link
1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023
(212) 595-0303
Visit Website
Bar Boulud is a destination for wine-lovers, charcuterie fanatics, and anyone that loves good French food. [Photo: Noah Kalina]

25. Red Rooster

Copy Link
310 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(212) 792-9001
Visit Website
Marcus Samuelsson's Harlem global soul food restaurant is a hit with the critics and everyone else. It's a gamechanger for the neighborhood and totally worth the trip, especially for brunch. [Krieger]

26. Phayul

Copy Link
3765 74th St, Fl 2
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
This comfortable aerie above a hair salon offers some of the finest Tibetan food you’ve ever tasted, representative of the flock of Himalayan restaurants that have taken over the Jackson Heights dining scene. There’s blood sausage, meaty curries, the ragged noodles called thenthuk, and don’t miss the wiggly mung-bean jelly laphing, carpeted with Sichuan peppercorns. -- Robert Sietsema

27. Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna

Copy Link
26-02 23rd Ave
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 777-5511
Tucked away on a side street, this may be the rustic Greek taverna you’ve dreamed about, offering steaming plates of zucchini fritters, fried salt-cod with garlicky skordalia, and fresh fish brought right to the restaurant by Long Island fishermen who are friends of the owner and left swimming on the porch in buckets. -- Robert Sietsema.

28. Pondok Jakarta

Copy Link
86-20 Whitney Ave
Elmhurst, NY 11373
(718) 606-8025
There’s too damn little of the peanutty and coco-creamy Indonesian food in town; this friendly small café offers the hawker food of Jakarta, a riotous mix of fried chicken in several guises served with fiery sambals and a boiled egg; chicken and lamb satays, and salads featuring tofu, peanut sauce, sprouts, and the compressed cylinders of rice starch called lontong. -- Robert Sietsema

29. M. Wells Dinette

Copy Link
22-25 Jackson Ave
Hunters Point, NY 11101
(718) 784-2084
Maybe the art at the attached the museum ain’t always so good, but you can depend on this Motrealithic café to turn out food stunningly beautiful and stunningly delicious, with colorful flourishes worthy of a Mondrian or Kandinsky, via chef Hugue Dufour. Open only in the afternoons till 6 p.m. -- Robert Sietsema.

30. Glasserie

Copy Link
95 Commercial St.
Greenpoint, NY 11222
(718) 389-0640
Visit Website
Head to this airy Greenpoint restaurant to sample the exciting Mediterranean fare from Brooklyn phenom Sara Kramer. Standout dishes include the rabbit, the bulgur croquettes, and the flaky bread. Note: Kramer left the restaurant in March, and now chef Eldad Shem Tov is in the kitchen. The menu has stayed more or less the same. [Bess Adler]

31. Reynard

Copy Link
80 Wythe Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(718) 460-8000
Visit Website
This all-day restaurant in the Wythe Hotel is a good choice for a casual bite, a celebratory feast, and everything in between. Reynard is hip without being exclusive, and everyone in your party will love Sean Rembold's rustic New American fare. This is Brooklyn empire builder Andrew Tarlow's best restaurant. [Krieger]

32. St. Anselm

Copy Link
355 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 384-5054
The tender, butter-drenched Butcher's Steak is the best $16 slab of meat in New York City, no question, but the pricier cuts at Joe Carroll's Williamsburg steakhouse are even better. The New York strip offers a lot of bang for your buck at $25, and the Ax Handle Ribeye, which ranges from 35-60 oz, has developed a loyal following as well. Also of Note: Unless you go right when the restaurant opens, be prepared to wait a bit. [Photo: Facebook]

33. Roberta's Pizza

Copy Link
261 Moore St
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(718) 417-1118
Visit Website
Roberta's is the epicenter of the modern Brooklyn food scene. The pizzas are fantastic, but the restaurant really flexes its muscles with the vegetable dishes. [Photo: Facebook]

34. Mile End Delicatessen

Copy Link
97A Hoyt St
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 852-7510
Visit Website
Noah and Rae Bernamoff offer a fresh take on delicatessen fare at this tiny Boerum Hill restaurant. The original Mile End now acts as a deli by day and a beer bar by night with inventive riffs on Jewish cuisine from chef Eli Sussman. [Photo:Facebook]

35. Littleneck

Copy Link
288 3rd Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 522-1921
Visit Website
This hip seafood restaurant near the Gowanus canal serves clam-shack favorites and a whole lot more. Now that the restaurant has a full liquor license, this is a solid choice for after work drinks and oysters, or a burger and cocktail at the bar. [Krieger]

36. Talde

Copy Link
369 7th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(347) 916-0031
Visit Website
Dale Talde breathes new life into the pan-Asian genre at this unabashedly fun Park Slope restaurant. Head here with a few friends and try a lot of things to share. [Krieger]

37. Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitano

Copy Link
1524 Neptune Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11224
(718) 372-8606
This century-old Coney Island pizzeria is one of New York's great cultural institutions. As Robert Sietsema notes: "This place is simply the best pizzeria in the world." [Photo: Bess Adler]

38. Thirty Acres

Copy Link
Read Review |
500 Jersey Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 435-3100
Visit Website
Kevin and Alex Pemoulie are serving inventive and all-around delicious New American food in Jersey City right now. If you hop on the Path Train, or find a friend with a car to take you across the river, you're guaranteed to be charmed by Thirty Acres.

Loading comments...

1. Oriental Garden

14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013
Oriental Garden is where your favorite chefs eat on their days off. This unfussy Chinese restaurant serves awesome seafood dishes (the dining room is lined with fish tanks) as well as surprisingly delicate dim sum (some of which is served form carts). The scene can be hectic, especially during the weekend lunch rush, but you should have no problem scoring a table here in the late afternoon or early evening. [Photo: Foursquare]
14 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10013

2. Tamarind TriBeCa

99 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013
Head to this Michelin-starred Tribeca restaurant to sample dishes from all across India, in a comfortable, and ever-so-slightly elegant setting. Tamarind Tribeca is a smart choice for a business lunch Downtown, and it's also a fine pick for date night. [Sam Horine]
99 Hudson St
New York, NY 10013

3. Rubirosa

235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
This lively Little Italy restaurant is one of your best bets for classic red-sauce cuisine in New York City. Make sure to try one of the homemade pastas, and one of the ultra thin-crust pizzas.
235 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012

4. Parm

248 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
The second restaurant from Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi is a casual Italian-American bar and sandwich shop with food that goes the distance. The chicken parm, Italian combo, and Saratoga club are all strong choices, and you're going to want an order of the calamari (if it's available) and the Buffalo cucumbers too. The nightly entree specials wouldn't be out of place at Torrisi and Carbone's other restaurants. [Krieger]
248 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012

5. Balthazar Restaurant

80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Restaurateur Keith McNally's enduring Soho brasserie is the best every day restaurant in New York City. Period. [Photo: Krieger]
80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012

6. The Dutch

131 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10000
Andrew Carmellini's freewheelin' Soho restaurant is basically a steakhouse, a craft cocktail bar, a seafood parlor, and a casual New American bistro all rolled into one. The Dutch also has a great brunch menu. [Krieger]
131 Sullivan St
New York, NY 10000

7. Peasant

194 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
If you haven't dined at this Elizabeth Street charmer in a while, it's time for a revisit, because the rustic Italian fare is just as good as you remember. The wood-fired lamb and the gnocchi with morels are perennial favorites. Note: Peasant is best enjoyed in the fall and winter months. [Foursquare]
194 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012

8. Ushiwakamaru

136 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012