TOP 20 Restaurants in New York City that LOCALS love and highly recommend!

As you wander through the heart-pounding streets of New York City, your taste buds are in for an adventure just as thrilling as the city itself. Imagine a melting pot of flavors, each block offering a scrumptious slice of the world on a plate.

You’re not just in any city; you’re in the culinary capital of the nation, where every dish tells a story, and every meal is an experience to remember.

From the cozy mom-and-pop shops tucked away in the winding lanes of Greenwich Village to the high-end culinary temples lighting up Midtown Manhattan, the city’s restaurant scene offers something for every palate.

New York is home to cutting-edge gastronomy and time-honored traditions, side by side, vying for your attention. It’s not just about eating; it’s about embarking on a journey through the most diverse and delicious restaurants favored by those who know them best—New York City locals.

Unique New York City Eats

New York City is a sprawling playground for your taste buds, offering a mosaic of eats that transform dining into more than just a meal. You’ve come to the right place to step off the beaten path and into establishments where the food is as intriguing as the story behind each dish.

Colorful Food New York City

Tokyo Record Bar, located in Greenwich Village, strikes a chord with a mix of vinyl tunes and Japanese bites. Picture yourself cozying up with a cocktail as you groove and munch through an ambiance-rich evening.

For a whimsical twist to your meal, why not try Alice’s Tea Cup? This Upper Manhattan gem serves fairy-tale-inspired teas and sconces in a setting curious enough to make the Mad Hatter feel right at home.

Here’s a quick glance at a few spots:

  • Blume & Hütte: An alpine escape in Upper Manhattan.
  • Tiki Chick: Embark on a playful Polynesian adventure.
  • King’s Carriage House: Indulge in elegance with English-style fare.

And if you’re venturing around Midtown, you’d be remiss to skip the subterranean Japanese experience at Sakagura. Dive into exquisite sake and tapas that transport you straight to Tokyo.

So go ahead, let your culinary curiosity lead the way through the streets of New York City! Whether you’re sipping eccentric teas or reveling in record-themed dining, each bite is a chapter in your city escapade. Bon appétit!

1. Gage & Tollner

Walking into Gage & Tollner, you’re stepping into a slice of New York City’s history. Established in 1892, this treasured Brooklyn gem has recently swung its doors open once again, bringing with it an air of classic charm.

Vintage mirrors, lavish cherry wood, and gleaming brass chandeliers cast an amber glow. This place hums with a warmth that’s as inviting as the buzz of friendly chatter around you.

On the menu, you’ll find a nod to the golden age with a modern twist. Indulge in a succulent steak or their acclaimed fried chicken, paired with a cocktail that harkens back to the no-nonsense, all-classic era of mixology.

A customer shared the following review on yelp.com: Took my husband here for his birthday since he loves steaks. I have nothing but great things to say. The service and decor was so cute inside.

The staff exudes a smooth, professional flair, serving up delights in a way that’ll make you feel both valued and at ease.

For an unforgettable, nostalgic New York dining experience, make your way to Gage & Tollner. It’s a favorite for a reason, and now you get to be part of its ongoing story.

2. Crown Shy

When you step into Crown Shy, you’re not just entering another eatery; you’re embracing an experience that marries neighborhood charm with fine dining finesse.

Location:
70 Pine Street, New York, NY 10005

What to Expect:

  • Ambiance: A blend of casual elegance in a vibrant setting
  • Cuisine: A spin on American classics with a seasonal twist

Crown Shy is a gem situated in the heart of New York’s bustling financial district. With high ceilings and large windows, the light-filled space welcomes you with open arms.

The kitchen, led by skilled chefs, serves up creative dishes that have earned it recognition in the culinary world, including a prestigious mention in the MICHELIN Guide.

A customer shared the following review on yelp.com: Food is just an A+. The chicken lives up to the hype. The satsuma orange is out of this world. The pictures I’m sharing are as flavorful as they look, I promise.

Here’s what you’ll relish most: each plate they present is a conversation starter, from the savory appetizers to the artfully decorated desserts. It’s intimate, it’s invigorating, and it’s undeniably yours to explore.

3. Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi

Imagine savoring Afro-Caribbean flavors intertwined with New York City gusto—Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi offers exactly that. Nestled within the prestigious Lincoln Center, this restaurant emerges as a vibrant culinary experience.

  • Location: 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023
  • Style: Afro-Caribbean Fusion
  • Atmosphere: Cultural & Contemporary

Chef Kwame Onwuachi, a celebrated talent, brings his vision to life with dishes that combine his Nigerian, Jamaican, and Creole heritage with a New York twist.

As you walk into Tatiana, embrace the mixture of aromas, the buzz of content diners, and the elegant decor that complements the culinary artistry.

A customer shared the following review on yelp.com: Stellar service should be called out. Our sever was bubbly, well informed and down to Earth. A well crafted menu reflective of the food of the diasporas. Started with the oxtail crab rangoon and fried okra which were just enough to get your appetite wet.

If your appetite yearns for innovation and soul, you’d be thrilled to know that Tatiana is where traditional spices meet modern flair. Can’t you already taste the adventure?

4. Gramercy Tavern

Nestled in the heart of New York City’s Flatiron District, Gramercy Tavern is your gateway to a quintessential dining experience.

Blending rustic charm with contemporary elegance, the restaurant exudes an inviting atmosphere that makes you feel right at home.

Location:
42 E 20th St Frnt A,
New York City, NY 10003

Cuisine:
American, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options

A customer shared the following review on yelp.com: On most recent visit enjoyed the duck liver mousse, oysters, pork shoulder, and duck meatloaf. All were executed well. Duck meatloaf is divine. Really rich with a lot of umami flavor.

After you’ve finished adoring the artful plates and savoring the final bite, you’ll understand why locals cherish this gem. It’s not just about food here; it’s the whole experience that’ll have you joining the ranks of its many fans.

5. Dhamaka

Embark on a culinary voyage at Dhamaka, where the vibrant flavors of Indian street food come to life. Tucked away on the Lower East Side, this gem shines with its unique approach to traditional fare.

Location:
119 Delancey Street, Manhattan, NY 10002

At Dhamaka, the menu is a kaleidoscope of lesser-known regional dishes that tell a story with every bite. Expect a riot of spices and textures, from the streets of Mumbai to the bylanes of Lucknow.

The chefs at Dhamaka pride themselves on crafting dishes that evoke nostalgia and wanderlust. The Rajasthani khargosh (rabbit) is a testament to their innovative spirit, daring you to step out of your culinary comfort zone.

A customer shared the following review on yelp.com: This was so worth the wait, we have been waiting for a year almost and it finally happened. We ordered fish amritsari , venison kebab with beetle leaf drink which was unique.

Dhamaka’s service mirrors the generosity of Indian hospitality. Here, you’re more than a guest—you’re part of the boisterous family. So, pull up a chair and savor the zest of India’s street-side kitchens.

6. Kochi

Have you ever embarked on a culinary journey through the flavors of Korea right in the heart of New York City? Let’s talk about Kochi. Nestled in Hell’s Kitchen, this gem offers a whimsical take on Korean fine-dining.

  • Location: 652 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036
  • Chef: Sungchul Shim brings his Michelin-starred flair.
  • Menu: Inspired by royal Korean court cuisine, each dish is a masterpiece.

The Skewers: Chef Shim’s skewers are not just food; they’re stories on sticks, each telling a tale of tradition and innovation. With a taste that dances on your palate, Kochi’s skewers will charm you, bite by bite.

The Service: It’s the warmth that greets you and the attention that pampers you. Kochi’s staff has a magical way of making you feel like royalty.

Feast on the delicate hwe, or dive into the dynamic bibimbap, at Kochi, your palate will thank you. For a piece of the Michelin magic, a visit to Kochi is a must when in New York.

7. Rezdôra

When you step into Rezdôra, you’re greeted with the warmth reminiscent of a classic Italian home. Stefano Secchi, the maestro behind the magic, trained at the illustrious Osteria Francescana in Modena.

You’ll be mesmerized by the authenticity of the Northern Italian delights, each plate a testament to the rich, culinary heritage of the Emilia-Romagna region.

At 27 East 20th Street in New York, NY, this gem is a cozy enclave where handmade pasta is not just food; it’s an art form.

Think of it as your pasta paradise, where traditional meat and fish dishes are also crafted to perfection. The local vegetables? They are as fresh as the Italian countryside.

The service here is attentive and genuine, making you feel like a part of la famiglia. Whether it’s a vibrant plate of Cappellacci dei Briganti or the subtlety of Pesce al Forno, prepare to be charmed by the flavors and ambiance of Rezdôra.

8. Atoboy

You’re in for a treat when you visit Atoboy, located right in the heart of New York at 43 E. 28th St. This stylish spot stands out with its modern take on Korean cuisine that blends traditional flavors with an adventurous twist.

Menu Highlights:

  • Banchan-style dishes: Perfect for sharing
  • Seasonal ingredients: Keeping it fresh and exciting
  • Creative pairings: Such as seafood with bold sauces

When you walk in, the communal tables create an inviting atmosphere that’s perfect for social dining. Prepare to be delighted by the artistic presentation of each course, where the plates are as visually impressive as they are palate-pleasing.

Discover why locals rave about Atoboy – it’s not just a meal, it’s an experience that captures the essence of New York’s culinary diversity.

9. Sushi Nakazawa

Nestled in the vibrant West Village, Sushi Nakazawa is your go-to spot for an unparalleled sushi experience. At the helm is Chef Daisuke Nakazawa, a maestro whose dedication to the craft shines through in every bite.

Your taste buds will embark on a journey with a twenty-course omakase — a sushi lover’s dream come true.

Location: 23 Commerce St, New York, NY 10014

Whats Remarkable?

  • Chef Nakazawa: His passion for sushi is the cornerstone of this restaurant’s acclaim.
  • Omakase Experience: A carefully curated tasting menu that unfolds like a symphony of flavors.

Imagine savoring a piece of sushi, where each component is a testament to perfection — that’s the thrill that awaits you here. Sushi Nakazawa is more than a meal; it’s a front-row seat to an edible art show.

Your evening will be filled with delicate tastes, from the freshest fish to perfectly seasoned rice, each piece a testament to the chef’s expertise. Don’t just eat sushi; discover the heart and soul of sushi-making.

10. Clover Hill

Tucked away on a serene Brooklyn Heights street, Clover Hill offers more than just a dining experience; it’s a cozy enclave that will charm your socks off. At 20 Columbia Place, you’ll find this gem that makes size irrelevant with its extraordinary flavors.

Imagine a kitchen so small yet so mighty, churning out dishes that large establishments can only dream of. Your taste buds will be in for a thrill with Chef Charlie Mitchell’s refined touch, turning top-notch ingredients into culinary masterpieces.

You’ll find the sauces as delicious as they are inventive, each plate an artful assembly to delight both your palate and your eyes.

To dine at Clover Hill is to support a piece of history – it’s where the first black chef to lead a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City has crafted a menu that is reimagining fine dining. The ambiance speaks of understated elegance, a perfect backdrop for food that speaks volumes.

Don’t just take my word for it; locals have whispered, and the secret is out – Clover Hill is a small-scale revolution on a plate, right there in Brooklyn.

11. Cote

Imagine stepping into a vibrant spot where the sizzle of grilling meats fills the air. Cote, located in the Flatiron District at 16 West 22nd Street, offers an electrifying blend of Korean barbecue and steakhouse chic.

You get the best of both worlds: select cuts of meat you can cook to your liking and a thoughtful selection of banchan to accompany these flavors.

The magic begins with the Butcher’s Feast—a signature assortment of premium meats that showcase the restaurant’s dedication to quality. It’s a carnivore’s dream, artfully marinated and ready for the grill set right before you.

At Cote, it’s not just a meal; it’s an experience. Sip on soju and savor the expertly aged steak, while the attentive service ensures your glass is never empty. The energy is contagious, the décor is sleek, and every bite is a celebration of smoke and savor.

Don’t just take our word for it; let Cote fascinate your senses and become a story worth sharing.

12. K’Far

Have you ever wanted to whisk your taste buds away on a Mediterranean journey? Look no further than K’Far—an enchanting eatery nestled in New York City, known for its Israeli-inspired cuisine and warm ambiance. It’s where flavors bloom and each dish tells a tale of tradition and innovation.

Menu Highlights:

  • Jerusalem Bagel: A playful twist on a classic.
  • Kubaneh Toast: Rich, buttery, and simply irresistible.
  • Chocolate Babka: For your sweet cravings.

Imagine biting into their Jerusalem Bagel; it’s as if you’re walking through the ancient markets of Israel. The welcoming staff at K’Far takes delight in serving up these mouthwatering moments with a side of heartfelt hospitality.

A visit here isn’t just dining; it’s an experience that envelops you in a tapestry of culinary delight. Don’t just take my word for it; let your palate be your guide at K’Far.

13. Sofreh

When you walk into Sofreh, you’ll immediately notice its clear, minimalist aesthetic, expertly reflecting the modern take on Persian cuisine. Sofreh in New York is a treasure for those craving both tradition and a touch of contemporary flair.

The menu showcases house-made delights, from appetizers to mains. You’re in for a treat with their savory kabobs and fragrant rice dishes, each carrying the warmth of a home-cooked meal.

Every bite at Sofreh speaks to the soul, especially with their expertly cooked stews that simmer tradition with modern tastes.

Service? Impeccable. With hospitality as inviting as their dishes, the staff complements the dining experience, ensuring you feel every bit the honored guest.

Settled comfortably at 75 St. Marks Ave, Sofreh stands as more than just a meal; it’s an experience, a delightful dance of flavors right in the heart of New York. So, the next time you roam through the streets of this bustling city, remember that a haven of Persian delight awaits you at Sofreh.

14. Ugly Baby

When you step into Ugly Baby, you’re greeted by a kaleidoscope of colors and the kind of warm smiles that promise an unforgettable dining experience. Hidden in Carroll Gardens, this Thai gem serves up flavors as vibrant as its walls—think fiery curries and tangy, herb-laden salads.

Location:

  • 407 Smith St., New York, 11231, USA

Noteworthy:

  • Bib Gourmand recognition
  • Traditional Thai with a twist

Grab a seat and prepare your taste buds for a roller coaster of flavors. Here, the chefs aren’t afraid to pack a punch with traditional Thai spices. Your senses will thank you for the culinary adventure at this bustling spot, which locals applaud for its authenticity and convivial atmosphere.

15. Elias Corner

When you meander through the vibrant streets of Astoria, Queens, you stumble upon a culinary gem—Elias Corner for Fish.

This is not your average eatery; it’s a place where menus are unheard of, and the day’s catch dictates your dining destiny. Revel in the simplicity of perfectly seasoned, fresh-off-the-boat seafood in an unpretentious setting.

Location: 24-02 31st Street, Astoria, NY 11102

At Elias Corner, the star is undoubtedly:

  • The Freshest Fish: Grilled, fried, or however you fancy.
  • Greek Salads: Crisp, fresh, and drizzled with zesty dressing.
  • Wine & Beer: Sip on selections that pair wonderfully.

The ambiance is warm, with a distinctive Greek flair that locals can’t get enough of. Enjoy your meal amidst congenial chatter, without the fuss of flipping through pages of options.

So grab your friends, pick a spot, and let the day’s fresh catch take the lead at Elias Corner. Your seafood adventure awaits in the heart of Astoria.

16. Oxomoco

At Oxomoco, your taste buds can embark on a vibrant journey through Mexican flavors, right in the heart of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

This Michelin-starred gem on Greenpoint Avenue delivers an unforgettable culinary experience, rivaled only by the warmth of its service.

The stunning decor mirrors a breezy resort, making your dining experience feel like a quick escape to an exquisite oasis.

Their menu showcases exceptional wood-fired dishes. You can savor everything from mouth-watering tacos to their famed chicken tinga. Locals rave about the bold and authentic flavors that pack a punch in every bite.

Located at 128 Greenpoint Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Join the throngs of New Yorkers who flock here, not just for the food, but for the atmosphere that’s as lively as the city itself. Engage with friendly staff who treat your meal as an event. Don’t just eat—celebrate at Oxomoco!

17. Cadence

Located in the vibrant East Village, Cadence invites you on a Southern-inspired culinary adventure. This gem stands out with its purely plant-based menu that brings a modern twist to soul food.

  • Atmosphere: Cozy with a touch of rustic charm.
  • Menu Highlights: Inventive vegan dishes packed with bold flavors.

Imagine savoring crispy fried lasagna bites or indulging in a smoked grits entree that will make you rethink everything you know about vegan cuisine.

The service? Nothing short of heartwarming, with staff who make you feel like family. Rest assured, you’re in for a treat with dishes crafted with care and creativity.

Address: 122 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

Next time you’re in the East Village, drop by Cadence for an unforgettable meal that just might become your new favorite spot in the bustling heart of NYC.

18. Lillo

When you’re wandering through the charming streets of Cobble Hill, a delightful surprise awaits you at Lillo. This isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a quaint piece of Italian charm right in the heart of Brooklyn.

Imagine cozying up in a space that feels like a friend’s kitchen, where the aromas of home-cooked Italian dishes linger like a warm hug.

At Lillo, the emphasis is on simplicity and authenticity. Chef Lillo himself often greets guests with the same warmth that radiates from his delectable creations.

Here’s a quick taste of what you’ll find:

  • Pasta: Handcrafted and cooked to perfection.
  • Wine: A carefully curated list to complement your meal.
  • Atmosphere: Intimate and heartwarming.

You’ll be enthralled by plates such as tagliatelle al ragù or the signature linguine with clams, each dish promising to transport you straight to a small trattoria in Italy.

A customer left this review on yelp: The food was delicious, we shared few dishes and we enjoyed each one. Thank you Chef Lillo for taking care of us.

Located at 331 Henry St., Brooklyn, Lillo is your go-to for a night when you crave the comfort and robust flavors of Italy, served with a side of genuine hospitality. Indulge in the joy of food at Lillo, where every meal is a celebration of life’s simplest pleasures.

19. Van Da

Enjoy an ambiance where modern Vietnamese cuisine takes center stage, and you’re the special guest—welcome to Van Da. Located in the vibrant East Village at 234 E. 4th St., New York, this restaurant thrives on creating a memorable dining adventure for you.

As you peruse the menu, bold flavors beckon. From the refined techniques in every dish to the contemporary twists on classic Vietnamese food, authenticity shines through. Van Da isn’t just about the delectable flavors; it’s about the experience: a playful dance of spices and textures that delight.

The chefs here are artists, your plate their canvas, and your palate the appreciative audience. You’ll find the service is as impeccable as the menu—attentive, warm, and always with a hint of that quintessential New York charm.

So, if you find yourself wandering through the East Village, remember that a table at Van Da promises an escape to a modern Vietnamese haven right in the heart of New York City.

20. Di Fara Pizza

Nestled in the bustling neighborhood of Midwood, Di Fara Pizza awaits your discovery. The moment you step in, you’re transported to a world where pizza is not just food, it’s a masterpiece curated with passion. The charred edges of each slice tell a story of authenticity, all thanks to the legendary Dom DeMarco.

What’s Cooking:

  • Pizza Type: Traditional New York and Sicilian
  • Specialty: Hand-grated Pecorino Romano
  • Must-Try: Classic Cheese Pie

Why It’s Loved: Di Fara’s charm isn’t just in the pizza; it’s in the time-honored way they prepare it. Each pizza is lovingly handcrafted, using imported ingredients from Italy. The drizzle of olive oil, cut basil atop bubbling mozzarella—it’s a ritual that locals swear by.

Get There:

  • Location: 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY
  • Atmosphere: Unpretentious, Traditional

Get ready to bite into the legacy of New York pizza at Di Fara, where each visit leaves you with more than just a satisfied appetite—it leaves you with a slice of history.

NYC’s Top 20 Restaurants: Locals Approve

New York City is a vibrant tapestry of culinary excellence, and your tastebuds deserve a journey through its many flavors. You’ve just explored a selection of 20 top-notch eateries cherished by New Yorkers.

Remember, eating like a local means stepping out of your comfort zone. Halal Guys, once a humble food cart, is now a symbol of the city’s dynamic food scene.

So next time you’re in the Big Apple, stay curious, ask locals for their secret spots, and be ready to queue for that bite worth bragging about. Happy dining!

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