24 Amazing Places to Eat and Drink in New York City

By Nomadic Matt | Published September 3rd, 2013

The New York City skyline lit up beautifully at nightNew York City is a microcosm of the world, where you stumble upon four different ethnic food shops right next to each other and people speaking a dozen other languages all on the same street. I love living here. I feel like I can escape back to other areas of the world without ever leaving the city.

I’ve been living in New York since January, and the more I’m here, the more I fall in love with New York. I’ve gotten reacquainted with the places I loved when I lived here in 2010 as well as discovered some amazing new places.

It’s easy to get caught up in Times Square, Central Park, and all the big-name celebrity chef restaurants. It’s easy to get lost in the thousands of food and drink options in the city. Today, I want to share some known and not-so-well-known places to eat and drink in the Big Apple. This is where I go and enjoy myself when I’m not on the road.

Restaurants

Delicious food at a very good restaurant in New York City
The Chocolate Bar – You can find me here about 2–4 times a week (according to Foursquare, I’ve been here over 100 times), and it’s one of my favorite places to sit and work. I don’t drink coffee, but they have the most amazing coconut iced tea; I highly recommend you try it. There’s a good chance you’ll find me writing blogs and drinking one when you visit.

Hot Kitchen – Delicious and fiery Szechuan food at a great price. Try the tripe (it’s better than I thought it would be)! Be warned, though: the food here is really spicy! Since I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy food, my stomach was still suffering the next day.

Yuba – My favorite sushi place in the city, this little restaurant is easily missed. I visit here too often—so often they gave me cake on my birthday and call me up when they have special orders. Don’t miss the uni or the tuna.

Sao Mai – A great Vietnamese place located near my apartment, this place serves pho that rocks my world. The portions are huge here and, according to my friend Jodi, who is an expert in all food Vietnamese, this place is authentic.

S’MAC – A mac and cheese shop that takes the traditional dish and makes it even better. It’s heavenly, cheesy goodness. Their 4-Cheese and Cheeseburger are my two favorites. The fact that this place is around the block from my house has become a problem, though—I’m eating there too often and may be getting an S’MAC belly!

Bareburger – Home of the best gourmet burgers in the city. They use all-natural and organic ingredients and the number of toppings you can put on the burger is amazing. Not only do they serve great burgers, but they have really good organic and healthy salads, sides, and sandwiches. You can get beef, chicken, bison, ostrich, elk, or a veggie burger. My favorite is the country bacon, because what’s a burger without bacon?

Shake Shack – An institution in NYC with multiple locations around the city, the Shake Shack is a must-visit, with all-around delicious burgers, fries, and, of course, milkshakes. The original location in Madison Square Park usually has a long line, so be prepared to wait (though you can look at the Shake Cam on their website to see).

WonDee Siam – Living in Thailand ruined me for Thai food. It’s never as good outside the country as it was while I was there. (I mean, if anyone can tell me where I can find pork noodle soup, let me know, because I’ll be on the next plane there.) But WonDee is the closest thing I’ve found to authentic Thai food (and it’s no surprise I found out about it from some local Thais).

Masala Times – I was only recently turned onto this place near the NYU campus. Serving Bombay-style street food, this place serves some really good Indian food. I couldn’t get enough of it. The plates are sharable and you get rice and bread, too. Try the Fish Tikka. It’s delicious.

Vanessa’s Dumpling – I stumbled upon this place in the East Village while walking home one day; it was only later that I found out it’s actually quite famous. After eating their dumplings, it’s easy to see why. They were delicious—the pork dumplings had intense flavor to them. And at 10 dumplings for $2, the price is just right.

Prosperity Dumplings – Located in Chinatown, this is another amazing dumpling place. The pork dumplings come fried or steamed, and there’s a nearby park where you can sit if this tiny place is full. And if you want more for later? You can buy 50 frozen dumplings for $8!

John’s on Bleecker – Pizza in New York is an institution, and I admit I’m no pizza guru. To me, it’s either bad, good, or really good. I can’t make those fine pizza distinctions like some New Yorkers can. I qualify John’s as really good. The thin-style pizza comes in huge portions big enough to serve three. Service is quick, but expect to wait during dinner for a table.

Chelsea Market – Chelsea Market is more a collection of food places than a single restaurant. It’s extremely popular and a great place to pop into when you need some groceries, a meal, or snacks. You’ll find good Thai food here, and Amy’s Bread has amazing bread. The Lobster Place has decent sushi (and great lobster), but I really enjoy their clam chowder. If you want a meal with local and organic food, try the Green Table.

Smorgasburg – Smorgasburg is an outdoor food market that occurs every weekend starting in May until the end of November. There are two locations: Saturdays at East River State Park and Sundays on the DUMBO waterfront. Close to 100 vendors serve food and drinks, and on a warm day in the summer, you’ll find the place swarming with locals.

Bars/Lounges

Things to eat at a beautiful restaurant in New York City
Sake Bar Decibel – This sake bar in a basement serves hundreds of different kinds of sake (and some basic Japanese appetizers). It’s tiny, cozy, and a little too warm, but you know the large Japanese clientele means it’s good. Some of the best sake I’ve had has been served here.

The Back Room – Located down an alley and, literally, through a back entrance, this Prohibition-style bar features drinks served in teacups (they were used back in the 20’s to deceive cops. It’s a nice touch!) in a library-style room. It’s a popular late-night spot on the weekends.

Death & Company – My favorite cocktail bar in the city, this Prohibition-style bar is for serious cocktail lovers. They make the best martinis I’ve ever had—so smooth, it’s like drinking water. If you’re looking for high-quality cocktails, there’s no other place to visit. It gets very crowded here, and the wait to get in can be up to an hour, but luckily, there are nearby bars to hang out at while you wait.

The Gin Palace – Located down the street from Death & Co., I tend to spend time here while I wait to get into there. They have a dozen types of gin and tonic mixes, and they’re able to whip up some interesting twists on the traditional drink. It’s a small bar, and they sometimes have bands playing.

Triona’s on Third – A sports bar with good drink specials and darts. It’s a great, laid-back bar to go to with friends for after-work drinks. Watch out for game nights as the place gets packed, though once the game is over, people leave pretty quickly (and you get the dart board all to yourself).

The Thirteenth Step – This is your typical college bar with dollar beer on Tuesday nights. If you want to get drunk on cheap beer, this is the place to do it. Dollar beers are a rarity here in NYC and while I have no desire to party with kids using fake IDs, I’ll stop in for some cheap drinks on my way to another bar.

The Frying Pan – An old boat on the Hudson river, this bar is an after-work and happy hour staple of New Yorkers, especially during the summer when the boat teems with locals who come out for drinks, sun, and socializing—all reasons why this is one of my favorite places in the summer, too.

The Standard Biergarten – Famous, celebrity-prone, and not like anything you’ll ever find in Germany, the Standard’s beer garden is still a great place for drinks. The picnic tables allow you to talk to your friends or make some new ones, there are ping pong tables, and the casual, after-work environment makes it a great place to hang out with your friends.

Finally, besides food and drink, here are two museums that don’t get enough love:

Federal Hall – This national memorial has served as New York’s City Hall and the United States Custom House, as well as the site of the first Congress of the United States and George Washington’s presidential inauguration. Visitors are welcome on weekdays, free of charge.

Tenement Museum – Visit to immerse yourself in the immigrant experience and learn about how the waves of people lived in the early 20th century. Advanced reservations are required for the tours.

New York is full of a million different places to eat, drink, and explore. This post just scratches the surface (so expect a follow-up in the future), but it’ll get you started on discovering some off-the-beaten-path treasures and local places you won’t find in a guidebook.

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comments 61 Comments

Gerry

Hey Matt,

Me and my wife will be visiting NY & the USA for the first time in Nov when I get back from my tour of duty in Afghanistan. We never had the first clue where to eat or drink when we get there, even though we will check a few travel books, but they always seem a bit impersonal to me.

So I look forward to putting most of your tips to the test.

All the best

Gerry

Matt,
U did choose some good places. But u forgot all the great pizza places, ice cream trucks, chicken and waffles, donuts, and hotdog stands. Love for u to write a post on the best hotdog or best slice in NYC.

NomadicMatt

I’ll have to write another post though. I think it will be called “25 places that made Matt gain 25 pounds.” ;)

rafael palomino

I need a cool place in the 20 near Madison to have cocktails.

Joe P

I am leaving for New York in July. I have never really visited the city only driven through it. I am flying into Brooklyn for a wedding that is in Long Island. Do you have any suggestions of good places to eat and drink in those areas? Any places to get great craft beer there also? Thank you for your input in advance.

I always love having new options for food to try in my city :D Thanks!

Wow, I’ve only been to two places on this list. Of course, I have my own places to eat and drink that I regularly go to. We should introduce each other to a few places before I head out to Asia again.

Melissa

Waffles and Dinges truck!!!!!!!!

WEG

Sounds like some wonderful places! But the one place I just don’t “get” as to why so much attention is paid is the Shake Shack. I’ve had innumerable burgers WAY better and I just don’t understand the draw. Am I missing something?

NomadicMatt

I love those fries. I can never get enough!

what a great guide – NYC really has so many amazing places to eat and drink!!!

I love the Shake Shack, I was there in May.

I say it in almost every NYC article comment, but one of my fav places is Rudy’s Bar & Grill in Hells Kitchen.
It’s a total dive bar. Cheap drinks and has FREE Hotdogs… you just can’t beat that!

NomadicMatt

Okay, I’ll check it out. I’m sold.

I’m heading to New York for the first week of Dec with two girlfriends and that list will be our go-to guide for food & drinks. I love that you added so many Asian restaurants. Here in Germany, it’s difficult to find decent Chinese or Thai food, so I’ll need to catch up.
Can you recommend a good place for Korean BBQ, too?

NomadicMatt

Miss Korea in Koreatown (Cheesy name but delicious BBQ)

Chris

Cool, thanks! :)

Great list Matt! Could have surely used this list when I visited NYC last year. I spent a lot of time looking around and using apps on my iPhone to find restaurants. A nice Thai place would have been nice.

You make me want to go back to NYC! I lived there for a year almost 10 years ago, and I spent a little more than 2 months there this past spring. I now live in Rome, Italy, but New York still holds a special place in my heart. I love the diversity there … with both the people and the food. The next time you visit Chelsea Market, stop by Ronnybrook Dairy. They have the best milkshakes hands down. City Bakery (a short walk from Union Square) has the most amazing chocolate chip cookies. Cookies are pretty much non-existent in Italy, and I dream of those cookies. Enjoy your future food discoveries!

NomadicMatt

Come back soon!

Ack! I’ve just come back from NYC 2 days ago. This list would have been great to have while I was there. I did manage to hit up a few of the places you’ve listed. Means I’ll just have to go back to NYC. It definitely grew on me while I was there!

NomadicMatt

Which one was your favorite?

Love these recommendations – some of my favorites are on there, plus now you’ve given me a bunch of new places to try, too! Smorgasburg is my favorite, but I have to say I disagree about the Shake Shack – it seems a little over-hyped to me, and I’ve never been that blown away by the food there.

I love John’s! I neeeeed to hop on a plane immediately and visit S’MAC and Vanessa’s Dumplings! Great list, definitely bookmarking.

Happy travels :)

Live in NYC and somehow have not made it to the Frying Pan yet, heard it always is too crowded, do you have a time you recommend to go?

NomadicMatt

Get there right before quitting hour so you can get a seat!

The options for great eating in New York are endless! I have an obsession with really good Mac and Cheese, so looking forward to trying S’Mac next time I am in New York.

NomadicMatt

It’s amaczing! :)

Vicki

Thanks Matt, What a great list, now I just need to save up, get an 18hr flight and come try them all- be well worth it I think

NomadicMatt

See ya soon.

Stephania

Great list, but I urge you to include Unami Burger. By far the best burger I’ve had in the city, and this is coming from a Shake Shack/Bareburger fan. It’s not native to NY; the restaurant originated in California, but it is too delicious to pass up. If you haven’t tried it, you definitely should.

Here’s the address:
432 6th Ave, New York, 10011

Happy eating!

NomadicMatt

I’ll check them out!

Lisa

I am a flight attendant and go to NYC regularly, always looking for great places to eat and drink. Will work my way through the list, top to bottom!!

Have you been to Holey Cream on 9th and (I think) 53rd? Create your own doughnut ice cream sandwich! Not very healthy.. but so good.

Joseph

Im pumped! I just booked our first award flight from FL to NY (for New Years) since I’ve started this miles/points game and Im glad you posted this! We will definitely check a couple of these spots out!

Ralph Craig

Heading to New York for my girlfriends 30th during thanksgiving week and are coming over blind. This will give us start. Still looking for value for money hotel and the best ticket to do the tourist must do stuff.

NYC is a great place to travel to offering a large number of services and sight seeing activities for its tourists also one can find budget hotels in city like Manhattan.

Shane

I’d add a few like:

Breslin Bar & Dining Room. Best Lamb Burger EVER. Thrice Cooked Fries are insane. The fries might be the best in all of NYC.

Spotted Pig in the Village. I can’t imagine a NYC visit without going there.

Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown. It’s worth every minute of the wait

and while you are waiting, enjoy a Bobba Tea from the place next door.

I wish I had this list when we visited this past Spring! We tried a lot of places, but my mouth still waters when I think about Halal Guys.

The last time I was in NYC, I splurged and went to Keens Steakhouse. Super expensive, but that meal is in my all time top 3 easily. I am going back soon and will checkout some of the places on this list.

Scott

A Manhattan-centric list. Tartine in the West Village, a very reasonably priced French bistro. Nathan’s Coney Island and L&B for Sicilian pizza and red sauce Italian are also city highlights. I’m not sure that I’d suggest the trip out to Brooklyn if you’re on a short trip, but if you’re near those places, a stop/detour is worthwhile.

Hi, I would like to add Nyonya, a wonderful and tasty Malaysian Restaurant in Chinatown/Little Italy to this great list Matt. And thanks for sharing; always special to have great insider tips of a city or area.

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/3/35912/restaurant/Little-Italy/Nyonya-NYC

surbhi

my advice to all those who are planning to visit New York. Kindly choose Lufthansa. My friend flew with them last summer and she was all head over heels. their connectivity is the best out there.

Good list indeed.

What about the restaurants in Little Italy? The ambience in Little Italy is great and many restaurants provide you authentic Italian stuff.

Stephanie

Are there good places for vegetarians?

Hi…Nomadic Matt,

Thanks for these great and valuable information. I think that every traveler should keep this great list with them when go to visit Newyork.

This is where I make a promise. Matt, I promise I’ll visit all the places you mentioned in this post if I get the tourist visa 2 or 3 weeks from now.

nicole prisuta

Any recommendations for me for night clubs or cool bars? Going to nyc in march:)

Ang

Hi Matt! Got linked to your blog from MMS! Welcome to NY!!! Born and raised here! If you’re looking for some authentic thai food, and I mean authentic thai food made by thai ppl and not made by chinese people, head to woodside or brooklyn. I am chinese myself, but I don’t consider thai and japanese restaurants owned by chinese people authentic. Just like I don’t consider places like Tao or chinese take out as authentic chinese food. There is a large thai population in woodside (where i grew up).

These are the two restaurants:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/sripraphai-thai-restaurant-woodside

and this place for some northern thai food. it is different from regular thai food. the wait is also out of control if you decide to venture into brooklyn (where i live now).

http://www.yelp.com/biz/pok-pok-ny-brooklyn

NomadicMatt

Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll check them out! I’m always looking for good Thai food.

Hi Matt,
Do you like Vietnamese food?

“Sao Mai – A great Vietnamese place located near my apartment, the pho here rocks my world. The portions are huge here and, according to my friend Jodi, who is an expert in all food Vietnamese, this place is authentic.”

NomadicMatt

I love it!

Suzy

Hi Matt,
I’m glad I came across your blog. It’s been 25 years since I visited NYC. This time with children (15 & 17) in tow, coming from Singapore, we will be spending Christmas in the Big Apple. I believe it must be late for me to make reservation at the popular restaurants so I would appreciate it if you will recommend a restaurant or two with decent food and a good chance that I can get a table reservation. I think something Christmasy will be nice. We will be staying in Time Square.
Happy Holidays!

Manuel

Anyone one have any restaurant recommendations for the following:

1) In Little Italy, any great authentic Italian food with a romantic setting?
2) Any romantic setting in Manhattan for an anniversary with a great view for our last night? Don’t want to exceed too much on the budget for the last night dinner but hey, it’s New York!

Thanks!

Andy Shaw

I took your advice on SMAC and The Thirteenth Step. I’m now writing this with a massive hangover.

NomadicMatt

Those cheap beers will do you in but head back to SMAC. That grease will help ya!

Ana G

Hello Matt,

Where do you recommend for us to have our NYE dinner? Our family will be going for the first time to ring in the new year! Can you recommend us a nice family-friendly place?

Did you ever create that post on best hot dog or slice in NYC? Planning a trip there for less than a month away. Thanks.

Susie

Hi Matt

We are planning new year in New York (I know it’s very early!). Could you give some ideas of a yummy place to eat before we go to Time Square please?

We would appreciate any tips or advice of places to visit while there.

Thanks ever so!

Safiyah

There’s also great places in Brooklyn also! You should do a post about great spots in Brooklyn I lived here all my life although I’m 26 and I’m just running into great food places…. Talk about great burgers or delicious chicken and waffles or soul food, Brooklyn has them all!

Jason

Coming to NYC on 8th March with the wife from London and we both love real ales. Any places to recommend Matt?
thanks.

John Edmonds

I like Rudy’s and The Pony Bar. For bar specials and restaurant deals in NYC I use the book 365 Guide New York City http://www.365guidenyc.com Tons of deals.

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