Like fashion trends, NYC restaurants come and go. It is impossible for a single person to keep up with Manhattan’s dynamic dining scene. So we have narrowed down the list for you. Below are the ones that captured our hearts, our attention and our palates
Before we get to the list, there were several consistent themes we came across in our dining escapades. Indian cuisine is making a dramatic splash in the NYC with many new spectacular openings in the last year(Indian Accent, Paowalla and Pondicherri). We also saw a glowing new renaissance of French cuisine(Le Cou Cou, Augustine, Le Coq Rico and Le Turtle). This was also the year where high profile restaurateurs made a big impact; Stephan Starr with Le Coucou, Keith McNally with Augustine, Danny Meyer with Union Square Cafe, Tom Collichio with Fowler & Wells, and Floyd Cardoz with Paowalla. Lastly, this past year we saw a movement away from the ancient custom of tipping. Now many establishments have a service charge embedded into the pricing on the menu. Agern, Union Square Cafe and Pasquale Jones are just a few that have eliminated tipping.
Now onto our top favorites. Drum roll please.
1. Le Coucou – 138 Lafayette St, New York, NY – Nolita – (212) 271-4252
Le Coucou is our favorite pick of the year. There is something so luxurious about the French; their exquisite food, wine, and fashion. Le Coucou is currently the creme de le creme of French cuisine in Manhattan. This lavish, romantic, new restaurant is located downtown in the Howard Hotel. This Stephan Starr restaurant has immediately become the new darling of NYC. It is the triumphant collaboration between Stephen Starr and Daniel Rose. Daniel Rose is a extraordinary American chef who made a splash in Paris, with Spring. Le Coucou is classically French, or dare I say “Haute French”, paying homage to the glory days of indulgent NYC French cuisine of the past. The menu is modern yet timeless in many ways, some standouts are the chicken with foie gras, dover sole, duck with cherries and fig, and the lamb rack with eggplant. We have been charmed every time we have dined at Le Coucou and we keep going back. Don’t wait for a special occasion to try this gem of restaurant, experience it’s elegance and grandeur this weekend or as soon you can snag a reservation, as they are impossible to get.
2. Pasqule Jones – 187 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012 – Nolita – No phone
Pasquale Jones is a new, upscale, super hip restaurant in Nolita with great wines, fresh pastas, the perfect pizzas, and a brilliantly curated playlist. The playlist is composed of r&b, jazz, and hip hop and makes for a lively vibe. The combination brings you a sure-fire hit that is trendy, fun, sexy and most importantly, delectable. There is a lot of buzz and hype around this place, and Pasquale Jones delivers on all fronts. This intimate modern Italian joint is the perfect place for a date night or an evening with a few friends. Give it a shot, it is Italian comfort food at New York’s finest.
3. Augustine – 5 Beekman St, New York, NY – Downtown FiDi – (212) 375-0010
Keith McNally hits a home run with his new French Bistro in the super hip Beekman Hotel. We were seriously enamored by this restaurant. Fans of Pastis, Cherche Midi, and Balthazar will fall head over heels with Augustine. No need to go to Paris when you have Augustine in town. You are immediately drawn into the restaurant with its soft romantic gold hues everywhere. The mirrors, the decor, the lighting, all set the tone for an evening in Paris. The food, the service, and wine list are all eloquently combined to bring you a wonderful Parisian dining experience. Some classics on the menu that sure fire hits are the Halibut En Cocotte, Leg of Lamb, and Filet Mignon Au Poivre. Keith McNally has created some of New York’s most beloved restaurants. This is sure to go down as one of his best.
4. Indian Accent – 123 W 56th St, New York, NY – Midtown West – (212) 842-8070
The prominent restaurant Indian Accent in New Delhi, is prized as being one of the top restaurants in the world(Top 100 by S.Pellegrino). In addition, Indian Accent has been awarded the title “The Best Restaurant in India” by many distinguished global publications. This Indian based restaurant has opened a New York City outpost with huge accolades and fan fare. The food at Indian Accent is spectacularly innovative. Chef Mehrotra has created a menu that elevates Indian cuisine to the highest caliber. The menu is a modern take on Indian food. The flavors are rich yet not overpowering. Chef Mehrotra uses traditional Indian spices with global ingredients to create a modern twist to time-honored classic Indian dishes. Chef Mehrotra creates dishes that are explosive, yet delicate in texture and spice. Try Indian Accent, it will exceed your expectations, as it did ours. If you are a fan of Indian food you will love the cuisine all the more, and if you are not a fan, we are certain Chef Mehrotra will surely convert you.
5. Chumley’s – 86 Bedford St, New York, NY – West Village – (212) 675-2081
Chumley’s first opened its door in the West Village in 1922 as a local speakeasy that was frequented by locals and literary giants such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck. In 2007 the restaurant closed due to structural issues. Now 10 years later, Chumley’s has reopened in the same landmark location of 86 Bedford Street as a swank gastropub. Some highlights from the menu are the 86 Burger . This is a serious burger for meat lover, drenched in bone marrow, with no toppings(no lettuce, tomatoes or any other options) just cheese. The 86 burger is seriously decadent and indulgent, one of the best burgers I have had this past year. If in the mood for a nostalgic setback in time, Chumley’s is the place to be, full of rich history, wild stories and fun anecdotes. The drinks, food and atmosphere all deliver. No signage out front means you will have to hunt down the entrance, but will be well worth it.
6. Le Coq Rico – 30 E 20th St, New York, NY – Flatiron – ( 212) 267-7426
Chicken takes center stage at Le Coq Rico, a modern French Brasserie. The decor is modern, clean and classy. Chef Westermann known for his three star Michelin restaurant, Le Buerehiesel and Le Coq Rico in Paris brings his poultry centered restaurant to Flatiron. Le Coq Rico is all about the bird, which is cooked to perfection. It is tender, juicy, and flavorful on the inside and light and crispy on the outside. Most of us are used to seeing the dry aged label on the menu when it comes to steak, but Le Coq Rico ages their chicken and notes the age on the menu from 90, 110, 120 to 130 days. The rotisserie chicken is tender and packed with flavor and the sides are show stoppers, try the mac and cheese and the creamy mashed potatoes. The desserts are the best in city. Must try the classic Flottante(floating island) with a creamy light meringue. If you are in the mood for succulent chicken head on over to Le Coq Rico, The Bistro of Beautiful Birds.
7. Union Square Cafe – 101 E 19th St, New York, NY – Union Square – (212) 243-4020
An iconic NY institution, Union Square Cafe recently reopened its doors. Danny Meyers creates a dynamic new space that sparks a celebratory vibe and creates an environment of warmth and grace. It is powerful enough for a business meeting yet intimate enough for private celebrations. Chef Carmen Quagliata spent the last 12 months creating new items to add to the menu but long time patrons will be happy to know that many of their favorite from USC 1.0 are still on the menu. Some new dishes to try are the crispy calamari, the braised lamb shank with salsa verde and the butter roasted monkfish. Union Square Cafe has been a New York institution for 30 years with many distinctions, it has been the only restaurant to be #1 on Zagat’s list nine times and has been presented with five James Beard Awards, making it New York’s most quintessential restaurant. Come check out their sparkling new space, where you will find a little bit of the old mixed in with a whole lot of new. Call soon to grab your table, and let Danny Meyer’s esteemed hospitality indulge you to make you feel right at home.
8. Agern – Grand Central Terminal, 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY – Midtown – (646) 568-4018
Agern is a unique Nordic restaurant in Grand Central. Claus Meyer, founder of the famous Copenhagen Noma restaurant makes a wonderful NYC entry. The design of the restaurant is classic Danish/Nordic, with a modern yet minimalist design combined with understated elegance. We highly recommend the tasting menu to get a true flavor for the talents Chef Gunnar Karl Gislasson. There is a land and sea tasting menu for the carnivores and a field and forest menu for vegetarians, but if that is a bit much for some folks, there is always the option for a la carte. The salt baked beet root dish was entertaining, as they carved it for us table side in a ceremonious fashion, one of our favorites was the cod with caviar. The cocktails are creative, the beer and cider list extensive, and a wine list inspiring with a focus on American wines. Visit Agern for a memorable experience with contemporary Scandinavian cuisine.
9. High Street on Hudson – 637 Hudson St, New York, NY – Meatpacking/West Village – (917) 388-3944
Philly’s most praised restaurant comes to the West Village. High Street on the Hudson, accomplishes the insurmountable task of pleasing everyone all the time. Now is that even possible? Can a restaurant be all things to all people? Well if you are talking about High Street on Hudson then I give a resounding yes. The day starts with breakfast classics like fresh breads, danish pastries, pastrami and hash, and malted granola to name just a few. Scumptious hearty lunches are served mid day with the best salads and sandwiches in all of Manhattan. At center stage their dinner menu steals the show, try the seaweed bucatini and the artic char. The menu is perfectly complemented by its domestic wine list. Stop in any time at High Street on Hudson your taste buds will thank you.
10. Fowler & Wells – 5 Beekman St, New York, NY – Downtown -FiDi – (212) 658-1848
As we enter the new Beekman Hotel we feel like we have dropped into the sets of a movie from the Mad Men era. The Beekman with its jaw dropping architectural detail, is located in a historic building dating back to 1883. Tom Colicchio, celebrity restaurateur and judge on “Top Chef” needs no introduction in the culinary world. His restaurant name Fowler & Wells, gets its inspiration from two phrenologist(Mr. Fowler & Mr. Wells), who practiced the pseudoscience of studying shapes of the head to determine personality traits. The dining space is long and narrow with high ceilings. The room exudes old world charm with its simple and elegant lighting, jewel toned stained glass art and dusky brass mirrors, all combined with a new world industrial vibe of exposed bricks and open ducts. By now you are getting a sense of the rich New York history, architectural significance, and the beauty of the space, all factors that Tom Colicchio wanted to exemplify when creating the menu. Many chefs design a menu and then create a space that works for the cuisine. With Fowler & Wells, Colicchio worked backwards, as he devised a menu to represent the history of the building. Colicchio created a classically indulgent menu, with dishes reminiscent of old world New York City, like Beef Wellington, Oysters Rockefeller, and Lobster Thermidor. So come downtown and check out Fowler & Wells.
11. Massoni – 11 E 31st St, New York, NY – NoMad – (212) 951-1141
“Top Chef” Dale Talde makes his Manhattan debut with Massoni. Chef Talde has many ventures around the city and Miami but Massoni is the first venture into Manhattan. Chef Talde is serving “inauthentic” Italian cuisine intermingled with his signature Asian flair. The menu is carb heavy with a focus on Italian comfort foods, offering a large selection of pastas and pizzas. The square deep dish pizzas at Massoni are the best I have tasted in the city, reminiscent of Detroit-style pizzas. The salads are bountiful and a perfect complement to the pastas and pizzas. My favorite was the spicy biriyani rice balls, a nice spicy Indian twist to traditional Italian arancini balls. The desserts are delicious and there is nothing more“authentic” on the menu than the trio of Italian style cannolis with a snickers filling. With Top Chef Dale Talde at the helm, there is no competition, Massoni is the new chic, trendy restaurant in NoMad. So check out Dale Talde’s new “Italianish” hot spot.
12. Paowalla – 195 Spring St, New York, NY – Soho – (212) 235-1098
Paowalla is a Hindi term for someone who makes bread. Chef Cardoz brings modern Indian cuisine to Soho with his newest venture Paowalla. New Yorkers know Floyd Cardoz as the celebrity chef behind the hugely successful Danny Meyer restaurant, Tabla. This time Floyd Cardoz ventures out on his own to bring you the Indian cuisine he grew up with, blended with a twist of modern flair. Like Tabla, the menu presents a bread bar, various breads(kulchas, naans, parathas, rotis) are cooked in the Tandoor and then served with exotic chutneys. Then menu then moves on to small, medium and large plates. Try a variety of the small tapas style plates, most notably the chaats and egg dishes. For the main course our favorites were the Kerala style banana leaf cod and the upma polenta. Also be sure to try the Indian inspired cocktails like the Tamarind Margarita, Blossom Rose, and Kachumber Cooler. Come experience a taste of Mumbai in Manhattan with Paowalla. Inventive, creative, modern Indian cuisine.
13. Le Turtle – 177 Chrystie St, New York, NY – Lower East Side – (646) 918-7189
Le Turtle quietly opened last year on the Lower East Side. This French eatery is small, hip, and obscure. Le Turtle is a wonderful, little, fusion French restaurant with a local neighborhood vibe, yet the food and ambiance of big name restaurant. The space has a fun, modern, hipster vibe. The wine list is purely French with a focus on natural wines. The French cheeses and charcuterie are a wonderful way to start off the meal. The must have on the menu is the Maine lobster with pickled Aji peppers, tarragon salt, Asian pear and almond curd. Whoever thought to pair peppers with lobster hit this dish on the mark. The fusion flavors of creamy, sweet, spice and savory just explode in your mouth while the lobster melts away. Le Turtle is perfect for a date or a larger group for a fun lively evening. The space is small, 55 seats, so reservations are highly recommended.
14. Casa Apicii – 62 W 9th St, New York, NY – Greenwich Village – (212) 353-8400
Situated in a quiet street in Greenwich village, Casa Apicii is set inside a historic brownstone. Step inside and you will find a beautiful oak bar. Past the bar is the stunning double story dining room with star burst light fixtures, giving you a romantic feel of dining under the stars. The menu is Italian with an extensive list. Be sure to check out the secret library lounge upstairs, almost a speakeasy like feel, as you can only enter if you are in the know. The lounge and bar upstairs was small, candlelit and so chic. Stop into Casa Apicii for a romantic date night, a girls night out, or dinner with the family. It is a wonderful new Italian restaurant that will be sure to please all.
15. White Gold Butcher – 375 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY – Upper West Side – (212) 362-8731
April Bloomfield hits a major home run with her new Upper West Side establishment that is wonderful for breakfast, lunch, hot dog happy hour, dinner or a walk up butcher stop. April Bloomfield(Spotted Pig, Salvation Burger, The Breslin), is doing what she does best, meats. In a cozy and casual environment, White Gold Butcher serves simple, high quality meats that are sourced locally. The most coveted item on the menu is the chopped cheese sandwich, that is just so damn good. It is juicy chopped meat, just perfectly salted, with gooey cheese, served on the a fresh baked bun, that is toasted to the perfect crispness. April Bloomfield delivers simple food with high quality ingredients. Stop in at White Gold Butcher for a casual afternoon, keep in mind they do not take ressys.
16. Flora Bar – 945 Madison Ave, New York, NY – Upper East Side (646) 558-5383
Thomas Carter and Chef Ignacio Mattos partner up once again to open the dramatic new restaurant Flora Bar, in the Met Bruer Museum,(formerly the old Whitney Museum). Wander the galleries of the museum and then head downstairs for coffee, drinks, or a meal at the elegant new restaurant in the museum. Carter and Mattos have obsessed over every detail to bring you an elegant presentation of small plates, primarily focusing on seafood and vegetables with Spanish and Japanese influences . After much acclaim at Estela(named one of the worlds 50 best restaurants), one cannot help compare the two. Both Estela and Flora Bar are similar in many ways, so I would describe Flora Bar as Estela on steroids. Flora Bar is bigger, grander, more dramatic and delivers perfectly. We highly recommend trying the lobster crudo, the crispy endive salad and the lamb chops. The wine list is impeccably curated and has a heavy emphasis on old world European wines. Stop into The Flora Bar for a formal dinner or a casual afternoon after a museum visit or anything in between.
17. Blacktail – Pier A House 22 Battery Place, New York, NY – Battery Park – (212) 785-0153
Calling all Hemingway fans, BlackTail in New York City is an evocative new cocktail bar and restaurant. BlackTail is a tribute to old world Cuba, a throwback in time when Havana was bustling and glamorous. BlackTail draws its name from the luxury black-tailed planes, that used to transport wealthy New Yorkers to Havana, Cuba in search of libations during the prohibition days. Upon catching the first glimpse of the lobby bar, with its lush greenery and stain glass ceilings, I was immediately transported to balmy Havana. The vibe was glitzy, old world Cuba. The long wood-paneled bar was intoxicatingly elegant and lively. We were immediately immersed into a celebratory mood, when our server started us off with an amuse-bouche, a classic lime Daiquiri. There are so many exquisite cocktails to explore alongside the delectable menu. If you are in the mood to be whisked off to Cuba, no need to get on a plane, come to BlackTail for an immediate immersion into the nostalgic, bygone, carefree days of Havana, Cuba. They don’t take reservations, so drop in before words gets out.
18. Loring Place – 21 W 8th St, New York, NY – Greenwich Village – (212) 388-1831
After years of working with some of the best in the industry, Dan Kluger pursues his dreams and ventures out on his own to open Loring Place. He originally worked with Danny Meyer and then most recently at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant ABC Kitchen. Dan Kluger has poured his heart and soul not only to the menu, but the design of the space. The original late 1800’s beams are restored to add dramatic splendor to the room, there are beautiful reclaimed wood tables, an open kitchen and an intimate new private dining space that is warm and inviting. You will get lots of green vibes as the menu has a focus on seasonal vegetable inspired plates, with pastas and pizzas to start. Their is a fun lively vibe, almost a convivial neighborhood feel, or an essence of home. The service is top notch, a trait I am sure Dan Kluger perfected during his time with Danny Meyer. Loring Place is one of the hottest tickets in town. The design, the food, the service, the wines, and cocktails all exhibit Dan Kluger’s extensive talents and intense focus to details.
19. Tavo – 615 Hudson St, New York, NY – West Village – (917) 675-6454
Tavo is the highly anticipated restaurant by Chef Julieta Ballesteros and owner Francisco Decrescenzo, both from Monterrey Mexico. The restaurant features Mexican cuisine with a Latin-American flair. Ballesteros exhibits her worldly tastes with Asian influences inspired throughout the menu. The design of the space is minimalist yet sleek. Some of our favorites were the avocado-wasabi smash, the ceviche peruano, the grilled Spanish octopus and the Cuban lasagna. The food is creative, the cocktails inventive and the space is fun, open, and inviting. This is not your small town Mexican restaurant, the menu is sophisticated and worldly. Tavo is a little hidden gem tucked away in the West Village.
20. La Sirena – 88 9th Ave, New York, NY – Meatpacking – (212) 977-6096
The high-profile Italian gastronomy super stars, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich opened their highly anticipated Italian Trattoria La Sirena, in Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel. This is their first restaurant in New York City after their critically acclaimed Michelin star restaurant Del Posto first opened its doors a few blocks away, exactly a decade ago in 2006. The two superstars have returned to their culinary home in New York City after spending the last few years opening up Eataly ventures throughout the globe. La Sirena is designed to be a lively mix of Babbo and Lupa, with the Romanesque menu of Lupa and the sophistication of Babbo. With names like Batali and Bastianich you don’t need me to tell you that it is good, so go ahead and check it out for yourself. You are sure to have a wonderful evening with great vibe, food and service.