August 21, 2013

Where to Eat in NYC: Manhattan Edition

Where to Eat in NYC

After saying (over and over again) that I was planning to share some of my NYC favorites, it’s finally happening. This has been one of my most requested posts and something I’ve been meaning to do for much longer than I care to admit, so it only makes sense to start with my favorite thing about this incredible city: the food.

I often judge a restaurant by asking myself “am I excited to come back here?” and if the answer is yes, the place is a winner in my eyes. I’ve eaten at many, many restaurants in the city, and more often or not, I don’t return. It doesn’t always mean that I didn’t enjoy it, but rather, there are so many places to try and after a while, they begin to blend together. But then there are those special haunts that make such an impression that I can not wait to go back. With that said, I’m excited to share with you my absolute favorites in Manhattan (Brooklyn portion coming soon).

*Disclaimer: I have not included any pizza places as I will have a whole other post dedicated to that alone. Naturally!

Where to Eat in NYC ABC KitchenWhere to Eat in NYC ABC Kitchen

ABC Kitchen

Where: Union Square/Flatiron

I’m not one of those New Yorkers who’s a chef snob, but I do know that this is my favorite Jean Georges restaurant and easily one of my favorites in the city. It’s pretty difficult to get a reservation, but when you do, you’re in for a treat. The atmosphere is loud and lively, the interior is airy and beautiful and if you happen to be on a bad date, the people watching will  easily keep you entertained. While everything on the menu is delicious, the crab toast appetizer and sundae with salted caramel ice cream (pictured above) make my mouth water just thinking about them. It’s my favorite way to start and end the meal here.

Tip: If you’re not patient enough to wait a month before getting a prime time reservation, it’s fairly easy to get an early or late dinner seating (5:30 or 10 PM; then again, that goes for basically any restaurant in the city).

Where to Eat in NYC Cafe Cluny

Cafe Cluny

Where: West Village

I’ve tried about half the menu and have yet to be disappointed by anything. The atmosphere is cozy enough to come with a friend, yet romantic enough to come with your significant other. It’s also tucked away in such a charming part of the West Village, so whether it’s before or after your meal, I highly recommend going for a leisurely stroll.

Tip: They do take reservations, but only for dinner. Personally, I go during the week for brunch, and get seated right away (without a reservation). If you’re planning to come for a weekend brunch, the place gets mobbed, so be prepared to wait.

Where to Eat in NYC L'Artusi


Where: West Village

My favorite non-traditional Italian restaurant in the city. L’Artusi has the full package: a great ambiance, mouth watering food and top notch service. It’s also beatifically decorated and the sitting bar overlooking the kitchen, is one of my favorite seats in the house. I’ve only come for dinner, but I’ve also heard (from several people) that they have a fantastic brunch.

Tip: Their house made ricotta and olive oil cake are out of this world.

Where to Eat in NYC Balthazar


Where: Soho

A New York classic that’s still has one of my favorite breakfasts & brunches (on top of fabulous people watching). Yes, it’s always mobbed, both with locals and tourists, but it’s going strong for a reason. The scene is loud and bustling and has the vintage vibe of a real French brasserie. For brunch, their eggs benedict and steak frites are my favorite.

Tip: If you’re planning to spend a day shopping in Soho, this is a perfect way to start.

Where to Eat in NYC Barney GreengrassWhere to Eat in NYC Barney Greengrass Bagel

Barney Greengrass

Where: Upper West Side

A true NYC institution and although the waiters can be a little, well, “New Yorkish,” please don’t take it personally! Sure, you might feel like you’re in an episode of Seinfeld, but in my opinion (and Anthony Bourdain’s) this is the best Jewish Deli in NYC. I’m a sucker for a bagel with lox and cream cheese ($15, yes a little steep), so that’s always my favorite but I can recommend anything from the “Barney’s Specialties.”

Where to Eat in NYC Malatesta

Malatesta Trattoria

Where: West Village

A hidden gem in the West Village that really feels like a a rustic, authentic Italian trattoria. The prices are cheap (especially for Manhattan!) and the homemade pasta dishes are some of the best I’ve had outside Italy (my picky Italian friends have also agreed). While everything on the menu is great, my favorites include the grilled calamari, spinach gnocchi, the spaghetti alla chitarra and the tagliatelle al ragu. The house wine is also a great bang for your buck.

Warning, this place is CASH ONLY!
Tip: They take reservations, but only for a party of four or more. If you can’t make reservations, come on a weekday as it gets very crowded on the weekend.

Where to Eat in NYC Bohemian


Where: Noho

This place is mysterious, delicious, creative and  just down right special. It’s also not for the picky eater, so if you’re not open to things like uni croquettes, foie gras and short rib sashimi, I probably wouldn’t come here and waste your time and money (it is not cheap). If you’re not a picky eater, it’s personally some of the best Japanese I’ve had. Part of what makes this place quite special is the mystique surrounding it. Bohemian has a hidden location and a private reservation line. Those interested in dining at Bohemian have to either get the number from a previous diner or send an introduction by way of e-mail. When asked why Bohemian insists on being so exclusive, their response “they want to make secret places where you hear about from a friend of a friend – where family and friends can go and hang out. That’s the concept.” You would think a place like that would be pretentious, but it’s the exact opposite. Once you enter this kind-of-hard-to-find location, the atmosphere is laid-back and pleasant.  If any of you guys are seriously interested in dining here, shoot me an email and I’ll give you the number :).

Tip: The food is spectacular but be sure not to miss the cocktails. They’re as good, if not better, than many specialty cocktail bars in NYC. I’ve had the Burgamot and the Jaguar and both were incredible.

Fun Fact: This was once Andy Warhol’s Studio.
*Friends Recommendation*

Where to Eat in NYC The Fat Radish

The Fat Radish

Where: Chinatown/Lower East Side

When I asked two of my good friends, Keiko & Danny, what their favorite NYC restaurants were, they both had The Fat Radish on their list. My reply was “YES! I almost forgot about that one..” Because, like I said, there are just too many to remember. Their menu is seasonal, so I can’t recommend one specific thing but everything I’ve tried in the past has been so good. Keiko did point out “make sure you mention the grilled cheese, which is incredible and not one of their seasonal items.”



(Less Expensive)

Odds & Ends Worth Making the Trip For

Where to Eat in NYC Momofuku Ssam Bar

Momofuku Ssam Bar

Where: East Village

Two words: Pork Buns. Seriously. If you’re in the area (or not) and looking for a snack, or to taste one of the items that has made plenty of  “best eats in NYC” lists, pop into here for a beer or cocktail + an order of pork buns. There are plenty of other wonderful things on the menu, but the pork buns steal the show.

Tip: Right next door is their famous Milk Bar, which is chef David Chang’s version of a bakery. The most popular choices include the cereal milk ice-cream (you could try a sample first), the crack pie, the compost cookie and one of my favorites, the birthday cake truffles. I recommend getting a few things to share or bringing some back to your hotel or apt when that night time craving hits.

Where to Eat in NYC Shake Shack

Shake Shack

Where: Flat Iron

One of my favorite burgers, hands down. Yes, there’s usually a long line, but it does move fairly quickly. Don’t eat meat? The shroom burger is the prefect choice for vegetarians. For the full shebang, don’t forget a milk shake and (cheese) fries.

Tip: There are a few Shake Shack locations, but I prefer the Madison Square Park one for a quintessential NYC experience. Also, try to go on a nice day since that location is outdoors. (there are other locations in the city which are located indoors).

Where to Eat in NYC Cafe Habana

Cafe Habana Outpost

Where: Soho

Years ago, I’d wait outside for 45 minutes before finally getting seated in this hole-in-the-wall Cuban/Mexican restaurant. While I liked the food, it was the corn that I would have reoccurring dreams about.  Luckily for all of us, they opened up an out post right next door that serves some of the menus post popular options (the corn and my other favorite is the tostones). There is very limited seating inside, so you’ll probably have to grab your food to go.

Fun Fact: When they were dating, I had a Justin Timberlake & Cameron Diaz spotting here.

photos taken by us, from the restaurant website and from Unconfidential Cook & what shi eats



  • Elodie

    I am planning a trip to NYC for next year, so i'll make sure to check some of those out. Although now Shake Shack has opened in London, I can't promise I'll wait for the American version – This burger looks way too nice!

    -Elodie x

  • Staci (LeatherandLeops)


  • Staci (LeatherandLeops)

    Love this post! You covered a ton of my faves. I'm also a big fan of Osteria Morini, Red Farm, Papatzul, Perla & Lovely Day.


  • Anonymous

    I am surprised Locanda Verde is not on your list – BEST anything, especially best brunch…This gem is in Tribecca…

    • BrooklynBlonde

      Locanda Verde is definitely incredible – was so hard to include all the places that I love.

  • Niqua Nichole

    Great post! Can't wait to see the Bk Edition. I'm definitely excited to try Pomme Frites,Momofuku (I've only been to the milk bar, its awesome, and Malatesta Trattoria.

  • Lauren

    cafe habana outpost is opening in nola too! love this post too.


    This was all the motivation I needed to make some dinner plans this week! Thanks for the awesome recommendations!!!

    <3 dani

  • .......

    nice list of restaurants all of the food looks amazing and I love how the actual places look inside. xx. gigi.


    I was waiting for this!

  • Olga Zgonnik

    Been to most of them and agree, they are fab!

  • jenn from much to my delight

    I LOVE this post. Have tried several on this list (and am lucky (unlucky?) enough to work right across from Pommes Frites, but many of these restaurants are news to me, and I can't wait to try them. Thanks so much for this post. Right up my fat pants alley.

  • Little G

    Thank you for this post 🙂 I'm so in the New York state of mind right now 🙂 I always get this way around August, September, with the US Open coming up 🙂 Next time I'm in the city, I'll definitely check out some of the places you recommended. For me, this is a total Sex and the City cliché and probably very dated by now, but I love Pastis. It's my tradition to have steak and frites lunch at Pastis on every visit to New York.

    Actually I was wondering if you might consider doing a post on your favorite places to shop in Brooklyn. I make a lot of clothes, so what I'm most interested is accessories. Can you recommend neighborhoods or shops in Brooklyn where I can find something unique in jewelry, bags, shoes? I don't know Brooklyn very well and it's time I've explored it more.

    Thank you again for a wonderful post and your inspirational blog!

    –Gaiana (

    • BrooklynBlonde

      Yes, I'll definitely include that in a shopping guide (which I have coming up in the next few weeks). In the meantime, Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, Forte Green all have some great shopping!

  • Sofia Donatelli

    Thanks for all of these suggestions. I will be in NYC in October and will visit some of your suggestions. Thanks for sharing.I am always looking for great places to eat in NYC. Have you tried Ed's Lobster Bar? It's amazing.


    • BrooklynBlonde

      I have not but will definitely try it now!

  • major

    Thank you for this. I definietely Pinned it. I live in DC and planning on going there soon. I love dining there. Always awesome to find New spots.

    Thank You!!!!


  • Chrissabella

    Great Post and the pictures look all so damn yummy 🙂

    Chris x

  • Dana

    that burger in the first picture looks to DIE for!

    The Casual Classic

  • Anonymous

    My husband & I are coming back in November. Can't wait for the more of your NYC favorites!

  • Diana

    Everything looks so amazingly good!!

    xoxo, Diana ☠

  • pretty little things

    awesome post! i'll be bookmarking this! xo

  • Courtney McAlexander

    Helena, thank you for all the suggestions! Looooooong ago, I emailed you about suggestions and you took the time to reply personally and it helped me so much!! One of your suggestions was Cafe Habana and we did love it! I have been back there with my mom on another trip to NYC. Since I first emailed you (I think it was back in 2010), my hubby and I have been back to the city around 8 times (from Mississippi), it's our favorite place in the world, for sure.

    We've gotten pretty good at getting around, figuring our neighborhoods, etc. So much that people ask us for suggestions now before they travel there sometimes, ha. If I had to add a few to your list (I do love L'Artusi!) I'd say Upstate in the East Village (best oysters and SUPER friendly service), Taim (original location in the West Village), and Buvette in the West Village. We also loved Colonie, but that's in Brooklyn so maybe it will be in your Brooklyn edition. 🙂

  • BrooklynBlonde

    Yes! Totally remember! Makes me happy to hear how much you love NYC!

    Absolutely love Buvette, but had to cut some of my favorites out to keep the list from being 100 restaurants. Maybe in round II… haha! And Colonie is amazing!


  • Alela Sirah

    You make me want to hop on a plane right now!

  • Adela

    Hungry in hungry now and fancy a burger. But thanks for this 🙂 next time I'm in NYC I'll try them out 🙂
    Adela x

  • Suzie Q

    I absolutely love this post and your list! I agree, WAY too many restaurants to try in the city. I bookmarked this post, so many goodies on your list that I want to try! I've heard great things about ABC Kitchen. I love Cafe Habana for the corn too =) I recently tried Pig & Khao in Lower East. The food is amazing. I don't typically like pork (which is their specialty) but I am craving to eat there again. Definitely recommend =)

    Suzie Q

  • Diane

    so many great new places i need to check out ASAP! thanks for the list! 🙂

  • Donna Louise

    What a great post! I cannot wait to visit NYC 🙂 hopefully will be in January ! Xx

  • Dana

    Ahh I love hearing other people's favorite restaurants in the city – I always discover new places to try! Can't wait for your BK edition as well 🙂

  • sheerembellished

    Wow! Great post! Very thorough! I'll be in New York soon, so I'll definitely check out some of these places. Thanks for posting this.

  • Fallon at Sage & Sparkle

    Great post! I live here and there a few places listed I havent tried yet but have been meaning to. thank you for the reminder =)

  • Lindsay

    What a comprehensive list, thank you! The only thing I love more than NYC shopping is the food 🙂 bookmarked this for my next trip! xx

  • Iwona

    On my blog food also: )I invite you, if you're hungry:) I greet: )

  • Hanna Lee

    LOVE this post 🙂 Couldn't agree with u more with literally each restaurant u mentioned esp lovin' Balthazar & Shake Shack for sure!

  • Dorothy HF

    I'm totally saving this post and referring back to it when I next visit NYC, thank you!

    she goes wear


  • Laura

    Thanks for sharing! Definitely going to check some of these spots out when i'm back in NY!

  • Anonymous

    Have you been to Caracas in the East Village? Amazingly yummy cheap eates-def one of my favs!!

  • Anonymous


  • Aubrey and Melissa

    This is awesome, we will definitely have to give some of these a shot.

  • stylecrasher

    As if I needed another reason to want to visit New York so desperately!

  • melissa rosenkilde

    Really wishing I had a trip to NY planned. Everything looks absolutely delicious

  • jule

    thank you! looks awesome and just made my stomach growl loud enough for my neighbours to hear…

  • Tess @ Tips on Life and Love

    This is really helpful– especially, when friends from out-of-town come visit, and I have no idea where to take them. Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    Wow!! Wanna go try them out Now !!! I like the first two , Just by looking at those pics, i think the second place looks like something that was featured in your first tjmaxx video? U were wearing tight colorful jeans with pastel flower motive and high heels , and I thought to myself – omg, she is so stunningly tall and skinny IRL ))))
    If I were to add to the list – definitely recommend going to La Masseria if you are in Theater District ( it's on 48st & 8 ave ) – best Italian food , very authentic ! Service is outrageously good, prepare to be served by 5 different people for sure)) very friendly and cozy , great atmosphere , my fave!!
    Best wishes, Olga

  • Katherine

    This was an absolutely fabulous post. I love how you really gave a good feel to each place, and didn't just pick the "natural touristy" places. Next time I'm in New York I'll have to check out some of these options!


  • Marianne

    wow I'm so hungry after that post!

  • Lara M

    This blog post is really good. I Keep that in my mind for my next NY trip. Now I know where I have to eat 😉

    Lara from:

  • Olivia J

    Great blog post. I just moved to NY and this kind of stuff helps so much! Giving back to your readers is always great.

    Corporate Catwalk
    Facebook Page

  • Rachel Wee

    amaizng list gonna check these out
    personal style blog

    personal style blog

  • Cristina Monti

    Can't wait to try out some of these incredible restaurants next time I'm in New York
    Check out:
    With Love,

  • Krizia

    Thanks for the tips!

    x Krizia

    Shark Attack – Fashion Blog


    Thank you for all this info I will need it for my upcoming trip to the big apple. So many new places.

    xx, C

  • simplychic

    GREAT post!!!!

  • Anonymous

    This list is meh….mostly places that bloggers frequent. None of these places really stand out…

  • debtnthecity

    Loved this post 🙂 You should do a budget friendlier version though

  • happyasannie

    going to nyc in a couple days. maybe i'll try a couple of these thanks!

  • cheap chic

    Amazing list! Thanks so much!

  • Caribeanhall

    Caribean hall has 2 venues in Brooklyn. We are capable of hosting wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, child’s birthday party, adult’s birthday party, birthday dinner, Sweet 16, wedding reception, bachelor / bachelorette party, class, meeting business presentation, religious functions, corporate meetings, fashion shows, reunions or much more with comfortable seating arrangements for up to 400 guests.

  • Chanel @ La Viajera Morena

    I too do not return to a lot of restaurants that I have visited because of the insane amount of options that we have, however once in a while, I too have returned to a few places that I feel have some great food. Nice list, need to check some of these out 😀

  • Ada R. Cueva

    I think this is the list of restaurant that less expensive but nice taste of food. I love to visit one of this restaurant.

  • Mst. Zahanara Begum

    Caribean hall has 2 venues in Brooklyn. We are capable of hosting wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, child’s birthday party, adult’s birthday party, birthday dinner, Sweet 16, wedding reception, bachelor / bachelorette party, class, meeting business presentation, religious functions, corporate meetings, fashion shows, reunions or much more with comfortable seating arrangements for up to 400 guests.

  • Caribbean Restaurant Brooklyn

    This is really a great list of best eating places in NYC. I love Caribbean food. Janelles restaurant is my favorite one in local Brooklyn area.

  • Mikhail

    Welcome to Caribean hall !
    We are capable of hosting Party Halls in Brooklyn, Catering Halls in Brooklyn & Brooklyn Party Space accommodate up to 400 people.
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  • Melissa | Suitcase and Heels

    I know this post is a couple years old now, but you may want to make an edit because, as you know, Pommes Frites, just doesn't exist anymore. 🙁 I loved it and the Vietnamese pineapple mayo dipping sauce.

  • The Best Desserts in NYC | Brooklyn Blonde

    […] So there you have some of my favorites! Have you guys been to any of these? Have you been to other places that knocked your socks off? If so, do tell! Other posts that may interest you:  Where to Eat: {Manhattan Edition} […]

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