August 2, 2019

A City Guide to New York: Favorite Neighborhoods, Restaurants, Hotels, and Bars

We love to share our restaurant recommendations in cities all over the world. Perhaps this “pay-it-forward” attitude is supposed to be some sort of twisted justification for all of our eating and drinking. And New York is the most frequently requested place, hands down.
It’s nearly impossible to navigate the openings and closings even in our nearly monthly visits, but we’ll do our best to capture our favorites—organized loosely by neighborhood, because that’s the easiest way to operate there.Our favorite places to stay are in the areas bordering Nolita, SoHo, the Lower East Side, and Chelsea, but we find ourselves frequently in Midtown/Flatiron for business. Favorite hotels are The Greenwich, The Bowery, and CrosbyStreet, and our usual go-to in Flatiron/Midtown is the Nomad (which also has a few great bars, including the Nomad Bar and Library Bar, both worth checking out whether you’re staying there or not). Recently, we found a new downtown favorite in the Beekman Hotel (which is also worth a stop at Keith McNally’s Augustine brasserie, even if you
don’t stay there).
Restaurants are where it gets really fun here.

In the “lower” part of Manhattan (Soho/Chelsea):

  • La Mercerie: It’s a new hot spot, no question, but we like sitting at the bar for lunch.
  • Frenchette: If you can get in, that is, it’s worth it. (Pro tip: Either go for lunch, or download the Resy app and sign up for a “Notify Me” alert, which sends you a message if someone cancels their reservation. It’s worked for us two or three times.)
  • Le Coucou: One of our favorite breakfast places, and also one of the more highly rated of Stephen Starr’s many restaurants.
  • Peachy’s: In Chinatown, it’s a cool cocktail spot below Chinese Tuxedo.
  • The new NYC outpost of Chicago’s Au Cheval has a cool “down the alley” location off Canal Street.  It’s good, but it feels like more of a production line for burgers.

Near the Bowery Hotel, our favorites (with all-you-need-to-know explanations—just trust us):

  • Saxon + Parole: Our favorite bar and oyster spot.
  • Lafayette: Andrew Carmellini does French, complete with a bakery/coffee counter. Don’t miss it for breakfast/brunch.
  • Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria: An inspiration for market-meets-restaurant (and they just opened a very cool adjacent retail store as part of their empire)
  • Il Buco: Fantastic classic Italian, the sister restaurant to the above.
  • Estela: Wine list is exceptional, and great little eating bar. Known as a great restaurant, too.
  • Musket Room: Michelin star but not fussy.
  • Rubirosa: Pizza. Pizza. Pizza.
  • The Dutch: Andrew Carmellini’s oyster bar/restaurant, an oldie but a goodie.
  • Wayan: New Soho spot from Cédric Vongerichten (son of Jean-Georges) with a creative French/Indonesian menu
  • Charlie Bird: Fun branding, great food, unbelievable wine and wine glasses (all Zalto at $50 + a pop).
  • Pasquale Jones: Incredible wood fired menu and great bar/counter seating.
  • Osteria Morini: More modern Italian by Michael White.
  • Prune: Been around and high on the list forever. Small storefront that opens to the street.
  • Dirty French: French place in the Ludlow hotel by Torrisi.
  • Ivan Ramen: Famous Ramen expert from Tokyo.
  • Mission Cantina: Danny Bowien goes south.
  • Freemans: A classic bar, located in the back alley by the newly opened Sister City, a hotel from the Ace Hotel Group.
  • Root & Bone: Best fried chicken and sides in Alphabet City
  • Wildair: Small place, small plates.
  • Atla: An all-day spot great for lunch, across from Layfayette.
  • Empellon Taqueria: Part of Alex Stupak’s Empellon empire, poised for expansion soon.
  • Emmy Squared has now opened a new location in East Village.  Great happy hour pizza (even if the space design leaves a little to be desired).

Midtown South(ish):

  • Simon & the WhaleThe Freehand Hotel is getting a lot of attention around the country as a hot spot wherever it lands. Simon & the Whale helps make the NYC location no exception.
  • Marta: Danny Meyer does pizza. Enough said. In the Martha Washington Hotel, and not a great example of integrating food and common area hotel space. Actually, not a great example of restaurant flow overall, but the cracker-thin-crust pizzas are tasty.
  • Cosme: From the Mexico City chef behind Pujol (one of the world’s best). Not your average taco joint, but fantastic upscale Mexican food, and an interesting space.
  • Upland: Italian-ish menu (surprise), and a great central eating bar. Be careful of the step in front between the bar and seating area. No less than 10 people trip every time we’re there (lesson for designers: Be careful how to transition between multi-height rooms).
  • ABC Kitchen/Cocina: Kitchen was the original, but Cocina is our favorite. You’ll literally take pictures of everything and want all of it. And don’t miss a walkthrough of ABC Carpet and Home, the source of the decor. You’ll want to redecorate your entire existence with their stuff, until you get a look at the price tags.
  • Clocktower in the Edition Hotel: Another Stephen Starr, and a little more upscale feeling in space and food. Worth a drink in the bar instead of the sit-down dinner to see the expensive gold-leaf bar.
  • Legacy Records: An incredibly popular spot in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s good, although all the hype is a little lost on us (it’s New York, I guess). But the bar is a great spot to people-watch. Make sure to use the restrooms for a hand-wash with Aesop soap; it’s 100% worth the trip.

Worth the walk or Uber: