New York City has been my home for close to three years, though I’ve been coming to the city since I was 16. (Little known nerd fact: My parents took my friend Matt and me to NYC because we won a free trip for placing first (me) and second (him) in the Massachusetts state championship of the card game Magic: The Gathering. Yes, you read that correctly!)
NYC is one of the best foodie cities in the world — you can find cuisines from every ethnicity here. And from dollar pizza slices to expensive $400 USD meals at Per Se, it also has food to cover all price ranges. Because of the variety and quality of food here, I rarely cook at home (kitchens are small and there’s better food everywhere!), and so, over the years, I’ve developed a robust list of recommended restaurants that I want to share with you now.
Note: Since I live in NYC, many of these restaurants aren’t the cheapest as I don’t always live on a budget when I’m home, and, since I live in Manhattan, most of these restaurants are located there (sorry to the other four boroughs!). Finally, this is the third such list I’ve written (I eat a lot). For the two previous links, see the bottom of this post!
Corner Bistro (331 W. 4th Street)
World-famous for its thick and greasy hamburgers, I think this is one of the best burger joints in the city. This tiny, dimly lit bar is definitely not the restaurant you would expect to find such mouthwatering food. I bet they haven’t cleaned the grill in ages, which makes the burgers have such an amazing taste. I’m sure the drinks here are good too but I only ever come for the burger.
The Fat Radish (17 Orchard Street)
With some of the best farm-to-table, organic food in the entire city, the menu here changes based on seasonality, offers lots of vegetarian options, and will leave you full and feeling healthy.
Hot Kitchen (104 Second Avenue)
Delicious, fiery Szechuan food at a great price. This isn’t the place to get General Tso’s. It’s the real deal. Try the tripe (pig’s intestine) – it’s delicious! Be warned though: the food here is really spicy! Since I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy food, my stomach still suffers the day after I eat there, but if you love fiery food (or are willing to suffer the consequences), don’t miss this place.
Jeffrey’s Grocery (172 Waverly Place)
Located in the West Village, this is not a cheap meal (most mains are $20 USD), but they pour heavy, heavy glasses of wine and have some of my favorite oysters and seafood in the city. They also host a $1 USD oyster happy hour on their entire selection (4–6pm during the week), which I think is the best deal in the city!
Mad. Sq. Eats. (General Worth Square, Fifth Avenue at W. 25th Street)
Madison Square Eats is a semiannual culinary pop-up market in the heart of the Flatiron District. The space features food trucks serving a wide variety of food and drink stalls serving Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, American, wine, seafood, and everything in between. It’s only open during the months of May and September. Most dishes are $10 USD. You can’t go wrong with anything here, but the pizza, banh mi, and taco stalls are my favorites.
Miss Korea BBQ (10 W. 32nd Street)
This is my favorite Korean BBQ restaurant in the city. Granted, I’m not a Korean BBQ expert, but the meat here is delicious, and they give you a TON of sides of a dizzying variety (which to me is the best part of Korean BBQ. Bring on the unlimited kimchi!). The fact that it’s usually full of Koreans is something I take as a good sign.
Ofrenda (113 Seventh Avenue S., West Village)
This authentic Mexican restaurant in the heart of the West Village is right near my house, and I love its happy hour (4–7pm), amazing tacos, huge portions, and fresh guacamole. It’s always packed during dinnertime, so get there on the early side!
SriPraPhai Thai Restaurant (64-13 39th Avenue, Flushing, Queens)
The best and most authentic Thai restaurant in New York. As someone who has lived in Thailand, I rarely find a place I like. It’s never as good. I hardly ever get Thai food because I’m always disappointed but this place is the real thing. It’s as close to getting to eating in Thailand as you can get. I especially like the som tam (papaya salad) here. It’s legit.
Tomoe Sushi (172 Thompson Street)
This tiny restaurant serves big cuts of fish on perfectly warmed rice. Their toro (fatty tuna) is outstanding. Tomoe is considered one of the best sushi bars in the city and gets packed quickly, so come early or for lunch. Prices here aren’t on the cheap side, but their $18 USD lunch set offers the best value.
Yuba (105 E. 9th Street)
My favorite sushi bar in the city, this little restaurant is easily missed. I visit here too often — so often they gave me cake on my birthday and call me up when they have hard-to-get or especially fresh fish. I take all my friends here. It’s consistently the best sushi I’ve found for the best price. Try the lemon roll (you have to ask for it, it’s not on the menu), the toro, and the uni. Tell Jack and Nina that I sent you.
Prime and Beyond (90 E. 10th Street)
A Japanese-style steak house serving some of the best filet mignon in the city, I love this restaurant for its ginger salad, bacon Brussels sprouts, and friendly staff. A steak here is not going to be cheap, but if you’re looking for a fancy meal or a good date spot, this fits the bill.
Kristalbelli (8 W. 36th Street)
What makes this Korean BBQ restaurant amazing is the high quality of beef (wagyu) they serve. They don’t serve many sides like other BBQ restaurants — instead, they focus on meat. Lots and lots of meat. They get their name from the fact they grill the meat on a crystal dish.
Percy’s Pizza (190 Bleecker Street)
This is not the best pizza in the city (far from it), but it’s the best dollar slice shop I’ve found. There is just something amazing about their sauce that keeps me coming back. They are open late and you can’t get a better dollar slice deal. (Note: New Yorkers will debate the best slice until the end of time. This is just my preference. For better pizza, I also like John’s on Bleecker, Fiore’s, and Roberta’s.)
Russ & Daughters (179 E. Houston Street)
This is the best breakfast and brunch joint in the city, hands down. Nothing even comes close. Come here for latkes, lox plates, world-class cream cheese, and anything else breakfast/deli like you can think of. There are two sections: the restaurant and the deli. The restaurant always has a long, long wait, so if you don’t get there early, it’s better to grab from the deli around the corner and eat elsewhere.
Carroll Place (157 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village)
This is an amazing wine bar that serves a great happy hour and has a robust wine selection. You have to also try the chicken wings and meatballs — they are unreal. The chicken is cooked with rosemary to crispy perfection, and the meatballs come with the most amazing tomato sauce. My roommates and I come here all the time for happy hour. Those wings are a constant fixture in my weekly diet.
Left Bank (117 Perry Street)
Located in the West Village, this French restaurant offers a wonderful $20 USD Sunday prix fixe dinner that is one of the best budget meals in the city. You get two courses and wine in a romantically lit setting. My roommates and I also come here often, especially if we want a nice quiet bonding evening!
New York is full of restaurants worth eating at. You could eat at a different restaurant every meal, never repeat yourself, and still need a few lifetimes to enjoy them all — and by then there would be so many new restaurants, you’d never finish!