From low-key, casual local joints to opulent chef-driven steakhouses, we’ve got the coolest restaurant in New York City and why you should book a reservation next time you’re in town.
The Black Ant
An East Village favourite, The Black Ant redefines the way new age foodies taste authentic Mexican food. Set in an low-lit, Mayan-contemporary interior, Chef Mario Hernandez and mixologist Jorge Guzman bring flavours to the table you certainly haven’t eaten before. Crunchy shrimp tacos encrusted by salty ground grasshopper, chicatanas – salt with smashed winged leaf-cutter ants and of course, some seriously awesome mole will fulfill all your unknown curiosities for Nahuatl cuisine. Dine in for a boozy, open-air brunch on the patio, or fool your Tinder date into thinking she was going somewhere romantic. Regardless, bold food lovers shouldn’t pass up on a meal at the Black Ant next time you’re in East Village.
Celebrated Boston chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette brought their success South End to test their luck amongst the trendy Chelsea. Toro delivers a creative spin on Barcelona style tapas in a large, industrial fit out with communal tables and chic bar. The service is not only good, but foodie informative which is cool when you’re faced with a massive list of small plates. Don’t miss out of the bone marrow and the pulpa which is complemented extensive list of sherries, exclusive wines and various ciders will keep you boozy until close.
Amidst the wildly popular Chelsea scene lies Le Zie. A classic, low-key spot for those seeking authentic Venetian food in a relaxed atmosphere. There’s no big flair, or noisy crowds (unless it’s the weekend), just trattoria neighbourhood style, white setting dining with a great bar room. The Lounge at Le Zie is unassuming, a homey meet up spot for drinks and apps. Wine lovers will appreciate the slow sipping of fine wines by the glass with exclusive varieties of Aglianico, Barolo, Vermentino and more.
The Spotted Pig
Everyone inhabits The Pig. Whether you’re a native New Yorker, curious tourist or celeb, the Chargrilled Roquefort Burgers must settle in your stomach at least once before leave West Village. It’s set in an classic bi-level building with funky, boar-inspired interior decor. April Bloomfield set the mark for gastropubs with The Pig has become a NYC classic. The spot is always lively. Open until 2am. And never takes reservations, which is oddly the thrill of going. You never know where the night will take you. Ah, and the shoestring fries are something to text home to mum about.
Miss Lily’s is a light-hearted, fun dining experience and one you probably haven’t heard of alongside the slew of cool restaurants in New York. There’s two locations – SoHo and East Village and certainly can’t be missed with it’s Caribbean Island themed decor. Does a bacon, egg and cheese cure my hangover? Sure. But a late brunch at Miss Lilly’s revitalises my tired soul before another boozy night out. Maybe the Jerk Chicken Platter, the pounding reggae music, my hungover mates good company (not). But really it’s all about the prix fixe brunch cocktail pitcher that doesn’t stop pouring until 4pm.
Atop the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea rests the biseasonal Gallow Green. In the summer, an open-air garden rooftop restaurant and bar with smart cocktails and delightful meals. Come winter, your one-stop lodge for a warm recluse from the city streets with spiked ciders and mulled wines. Gallow hits the mark for speakeasy style dining from the dapper bouncer to prohibition-esque lifts and rye-infused classic cocktails that makes Gallow Green one of the coolest restaurants in New York.
Tanoshi Sushi & Sake Bar
If the trending term “unassuming” strikes you, then Tanoshi in Upper East Side will be a spot you want to eat. There’s only 3 seatings per night, 10 per seating. And you have to physically go there to sign up for seating the night you want to go. Remember, sushi master Jiro Ono was hidden away in a subway basement. Don’t let the unassuming and dilapidated exterior pass up the high quality omakase you’ll find at Tanoshi.
Where one finds chicken and waffles, they find an ethos of Southern happiness. Add a cool modern vibe alongside a solid list of cocktails and you’ve found the pinnacle of Brooklyn splendor: Sweetchick. Because any time of day is a good time to indulge in the comforts of maple syrup-drenched Bacon-Cheddar Waffles and a gin rendition of the classic Purple Drank. Whether you’re strolling vibrant art galleries on the Lower East Side, or aimlessly meandering through Brooklyn, find Sweetchick in one of their three NYC locations – Williamsburg, Prospect Heights, LES.
Chef Ignacio Mattos invites you to feast on a variety of avant-garde, Mediterranean-leaning small plates in a cosy cafe setting off Houston street in Nolita. Intimate dates and small groups are welcomed to sip on fine wines from renowned New York sommelier Thomas Carter while experiencing menu favourites like the burrata, ricotta dumplings and the fluke. Unlike other small plates restaurants, you’ll leave Estela fat and happy… and pretty buzed.
Whether you’re looking for a French forward, opulent dinner or a rowdy brunch in Meatpacking – Bagatelle is the spot for you. The classic Parisian bistro interior oddly complements the bold graffiti style wall decor that makes up the interior. But you’ll probably be more focused on the oversized bottles of Verve Clicquot and loud music. Whoever said Dubai throws the best brunch parties hasn’t stepped foot inside Bagatelle just yet.
Hunt and Fish Club
A stone’s throw away from the tourist-driven Times Square lies the lavish, gatsby-esque Hunt & Fish Club. Inspired by classic New York glamour, the awe-inspiring $5 million fit out showcases opulent marbles, a grandeur chrome chandelier and a magnificent bar with works of art by Roy Nachum. Hunt & Fish Club offers high-end steak and seafood mostly commonly frequented by celebrities, athletes and Wall Street bigwigs. Don’t forget to spiffy up those Ferragamo’s with the restaurant’s shoe polishing service downstairs by the Blue Room.
Your dinner date at Tao Downtown will turn into a long night of partying in Meatpacking. On one side, an imaginative Pan-Asian style restaurant accentuated by it’s massive Buddha centrepiece in a 400 person bi-level dining room. The other, a trendy nightclub. The menu is expansive, ranging of favourites from Tao Uptown to sushi to Chilean sea bass satay. The music is loud, dance-worthy and subconsciously guides you to a night of dancing whether you like it or not.
New York restaurateur Gabriel Stulman refurbished this West Village classic joint and presented us with a thoughtful, chef-driven supper club. The dim-lit, speakeasy style atmosphere sports an extended mahogany bar, photos of renowned male figures and notable music selections not found in many trendy spots around the village. Canadian chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly puts forth some seriously awesome eats such as salt-cod fritters and a decadent steak tartare. It’s become a local favourite for it’s creative cocktails and welcoming 8-table atmosphere which brings together a unique mix of crowds.
No top New York restaurant list would be complete without the understated presence of Blue Hill in Greenwich Village. Located beneath street level, this legendary restaurant surpasses all the marks – suitable wine list, haute seasonal cuisine, fresh local ingredients. If you’ve assumed American fare was just burgers and fries, Blue Hill will prove you wrong. Dan Barber’s innovative gastronomic endeavours deserves a go every time you go back to New York with it’s never ending rotating menu and unfussy atmosphere.
Enjoy the smoky, rich flavour of Texas barbecue a ferry ride away from Manhattan in Brooklyn. After decadent brunches and white linen dinners, come relax in a casual, communal seating style joint in Red Hook. No dress code, or bottles of Moet, just good old melt-in-your-mouth Texas barbecue. Set in a large, converted hall, the king of NYC bbq is littered with American flags, a stage for live music and huge bars.
Andrew Tarlow’s (Reynard, Marlow and Sons, Diner) corner cafe Achilles Heel lies off the beaten path of in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Set in it’s original 1920’s building, the interior boasts a cosy, tin-ceiling speakeasy style environment with fireplace, eclectic furnishings and copper bar. The drinks are solid – from house cocktails to curated beers. And the limited menu spans from blood pudding to burgers and a braised, smoked chicken available only on Sundays. If you’re the type of traveller who likes to venture to where the locals hang, here’s where you should spend a dockside afternoon drinking.
Blue Smoke’s Jazz Standard
All barbecue joints are not created equally. And if for some reason you feel they are, Blue Smoke’s Jazz Standard in Flatiron helps change the way you’ll forever see barbecue. What’s better than Southern style cooking in the presence of world-class jazz acts in an underground joint? Not much.
Butcher Paper Dinners @ Brooklyn Grange
Does the idea of a Sunday afternoon rooftop dinner party with the Manhattan skyline in the background sound enticing? Surrounded by the very produce your eating, concocted by a renowned NYC chef at communal table of similar-minded foodies? Well, keep idealising because the 2017 tickets are currently sold out. But if you sign up for the newsletter and get updates for the upcoming season, you may find yourself on this exclusive, sustainable Long Island City rooftop at one of the coolest dining experiences NYC has to offer.
Flashback to a vintage Parisian brasserie. Decorated by mosaic tilings and classical painted mouldings, Keith McNally brings a little slice of haute French culture to the Beekman Hotel in the Financial District. Followers of McNally can revel in the distinct flavours of roasted marrow bones, the house whisky burger and leg of lamb. Complemented by an extensive list of wines and unknown cocktails, dining at Buvette is an experience dissimilar to others in New York.
Gramercy was in need of a good Middle Eastern spot and Nur certainly picks up the slack. This stylish, small plates restaurant invites Israeli and Jewish cuisines under Chef Meir Adoni, bringing us a long way from conventional tabbouleh and hummus. Try Adoni’s renowned beef tartare or his Gefilte Shrimp with dashi gelee and ignite those flavour deprived tastebuds. It’s brand new and so far seems to be on it’s way to becoming a newfound hot spot in the city.