FIRST THINGS FIRST!!!
Visit the High Line, a reclaimed Westside railway turned into a spectacular overhead pedestrian NYC public park on an elevated train line that runs from the Meat Packing District to Chelsea. Many years ago, before the area became the sexy, trendy, fashion-oriented place it now is, it was the bloodline of the abattoirs in the Meatpacking District.
Jonathan Waxman's terrific West Village spot on Washington @ 12th Street. Order the delicious Pollo al Forno salsa verde. If you can sit outside on a warm night, with the breeze blowing up from the Hudson, there’s no better seat in NY. Nice wines, too.
Jodi Williams’ cute spot on Grove Street near Bleeker. Very busy at night and at brunch. Feels perfectly French.
A resurrected classic (and once famous) bar that now serves the considered, precise food of Victoria Blamey, a talented, unstoppable chef I worked with in NY. The burger is spectacular. Great drinks, too.
An under-rated, delicious restaurant on Hudson St. near Leroy run by chef Pike Price. Super nice guy cooking great food in an unassuming spot in the West Village. One of my favorites.
On Greenwich Avenue, near 7th. A pleasant small plates Italian spot with really tasty food. Opened originally by... Jody Williams. It can be too busy and too loud as the night goes on, but of a Sunday afternoon or in the early evening, it's nice. Small but appealing idiosyncratic Italian wine selection.
Rita Sodi's more formal Italian place on Christopher Street, near Bleecker. Very good, classic Tuscan food in a relaxed, tranquil atmosphere.
Mary's Fish Camp
Go early. Often very loud (but good) music. Sometimes aloof but generally nice staff. Delicious shellfish and fish. Deceptively not not cheap.
6th Ave and 12th St
Sweet cafe by a Brazilian friend, Fernando Aciar; you'll fall into his irresistible, unforgettably beautiful, seductive green eyes.
Excellent, busy West Village oyster bar/restaurant on Cornelia Street.
Delicious, popular Israeli falafel and smoothie shop by the tireless Einat Adony. Yummy, yummy!! Several locations, but Waverly Place is my favourite.
Excellent Japanese spot on Hudson and Barrow, some crazy offal things, some less threatening, some familiar, but all very good. They also feature a delicious late night ramen on Fridays and Saturdays after midnight.
On Grove between Bleecker and 7th Avenue. Owned by Rita Sodi, the girlfriend of Jody Williams (who owns Buvette).
The Standard Grill
Washington Street @ 13th in the Meatpacking District. One of the Standard's many places, but very good. Packed. Be sure you eat in the grill and not one of the other restaurants.
MADISON SQUARE PARK AREA
Chef owner and former il Buco colleague Justin Smillie. Say hello if he's there. His food is excellent. Park @ 26th. There’s another Upland in Miami.
A warm, charming restaurant with direct, simple food that you want to eat. Seemingly plain, it's a very professional place that focusses on its rotisserie, of course. Great meal near the Central Park and the museums.
El Quinto Pino
A Spanish- style spot on 24th and 9th Avenue serving tasty food by Alex Raij, a chef who also has the delicious La Vara in BK. Busy at Happy Hour.
9th Ave @ 25th. More Alex Raij, Basque this time. Good food. Still, I prefer El Quinto Pino.
The Red Cat
An under-the-radar restaurant on 10th Ave near 23rd. Pretty good and a nice place to hide.
On W 14th, is very good, very Italian, and very expensive.
Very good pizza by famous baker Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery (see below). It’s all about the crust.
Sullivan Street Bakery
Jim Lahey's stellar bakery. He was orginally on Sullivan Street in Soho, but moved to this larger space after a divorce. Famous for his recipe for No-Knead bread.
7th St and 1st Ave The cutest, littlest, hole-in-the-wall café with no seating, by my friend Jamie McIntyre (from Oliveto, in Oakland). Is it not the best coffee in NYC?
Great Jones Café
Fantastic, simple café/diner with food made by a tattoo-covered Tibetan crew (been in NY too long?). Delicious American food and a great bar. No BS here.
il Buco and il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Two good sister places I consulted for, the first on Bond Street, the Alimentari on Great Jones. The salumeria is the only one in NY making its own salumi. Delicious food in booth restaurants. Bond Street is a quiet gem.
Great terrace, great bakery, good food. The almond croissant is spectacular. On a sunny morning it's tops.
I like this place a lot, really a bar with food whose preparation is clever, simple, imaginative and delicious. What a clever way to deal with not having a kitchen! Tins of seafood from Portugal, Spain, and France, with a few other simple preparations, in a basic but friendly East Village spot looking onto Tompkins Square Park. On its website, it looks like more than it is, but it's a quite pleasant, enjoyable, small restaurant. Mos def have the Trout Rillettes, which it really isn't, but is exceptionally good!
A Lower East Side Argentinian place that sports a deeply delicious sandwich of pork, steak, avocado, and a fried egg. Now that’s worth a special trip.
1st St between 1st and 2nd Avenues. Always good, hard to get into now because of her book's success, and its stellar food. The sweetbreads with capers are delicious, as is any fish dish, for that matter. Sit on the open window on a warm, dreamy, summer night.
Good food, good service, on the expensive side, but worth a visit. The patio is a great place to have a cocktail and people watch.
Marcus Glocker is not flawless, but he’s close. His food is revisionary French, in the best sense of the term. On the former Tribeca site of Corton (downtown). With Drew Nieporent as a partner, you can bet the wine list is superb.
Café Altro Paradiso
The second place by Ignacio Mattos and Thomas Carter. 6th Ave @ Spring. Perhaps better than Estela.
Cute, ultra cool, very French café with a good avocado toast on healthy bread and a proper Croque Monsieur. Great place to sit on the pavement and have a glass of wine.
A good Keith McNally place – not mind-shatteringly good, but very good – on Houston @ Bowery. Modernised Old School French, with a fun bar. He knows how to run a place (Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, Augustine, et al) a create a great vibe.
Ed's Lobster Bar
My favourite lobster roll in NY. Great raw bar overall. Lafayette Street.
Ignacio Mattos has cooked in Argentina with Francis Mallmann, in California at Chez Panisse, and, for many years now, in New York. He’s had some ups and downs over his years in NY, but Estela is a stunningly good up that erases any rough spots, one of my favorite and one of the best restaurants NYC. Delicious wines at good prices. His new hot place over on 6th Ave is Café Paradiso, and he and his partner, Thomas Carter, are in the new Met Breuer on the UES.
The new place by Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, who have been co-chefs since before it was a thing, and who put many of Keith McNally's restaurants(Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, Pastis, Cherche-Midi) on the map. Go and enjoy simple, direct, unfussy, well-cooked, delicious food accompanied by an engaging wine list. These folks know how to do it.
On Broome @ Varick, it’s a highly recommended French café that I haven’t tried but am dying to go to.
Is the newest, superb spot in Manhattan, and everyone wants to go. Daniel Rose of the renowned Spring, in Paris, opened in partnership with the indefatigable Steven Starr to create this sublime Manhattan restaurant that serves Daniel’s personalized, classic French food, on Lafayette Street, on the edge of Chinatown. Don’t miss it.
A new French café said to be very good. On Centre Street in lower Soho, and one in Meatpacking, but don't know that one. I think it's inside another store, so?
Could now be called rustic Italian restaurant. Everything cooked over wood. One of my favourites.
Pepe Rosso To Go
Great take out, with two tables, on Sullivan Street just off Houston.
A newish place on Bowery that is very French without the typical French tropes. It boasts a 1600 bottle wine list – I can’t count that high – but the food selection is smaller, and very well done. The American chef, Daniel Eddy, cooked at Spring, one of Paris’s hot new wave bistros, located in the 1st Arrondissement. So it’s that, but it’s worth a determined try, if not a special trip.
Russ and Daughters Café
Every bit as good as the original deli on Houston, where they tell you the proper order placement to ensure the best possible bagel (don't order the bagel first!). Could the latkes be a little crisper? Yes, but everything else is so good and it's so well run and so upbeat, you let them slide. On a sunny Sunday morning, it's a dream.
Spring and Elizabeth. Very fun modern Thai spot, very good food, very busy, go early or you’ll never get in.
With its loud, vocal announcement of new arrivals to the room, it’s showy compared to Hide-Chan. Ippudo’s part of a global Japanese ramen restaurant chain, but it’s very good and very busy with long waits if you don’t time it right. I like to sneak into the 4th Ave (near 9th Street) location
at about 3:00-3:15 pm, just before lunch closes. I prefer it to Midtown.
There are two locations. I prefer the one on E. 52nd and 1st.
Simple menu, delicious ramen. I like the spicy garlic bowl.
It’s very good, but a little bit too cool and hip, rather than calming, for my taste. I prefer the W. 52nd Street location.
2nd Ave. at 6th. Not as "authentic" as it might be if it were located in Queens – it's on the edge of NYU – but they serve very tasty spicy Chinese food.
Legend Bar & Restaurant
88 7th Ave
New York, NY 10011
Superb Sichuan food.
Spicy Village (He Nan Noodle House)
A tiny place on the Lower East side serving delicious hand-pulled noodles, and many other things. Order the deservingly legendary Spicy Big Tray Chicken.
Shan Dong Fried Noodle
106 Mosco St
New York, NY 10013
Cash only. No Website. The name describes the menu. The dumplings are superb. Cash only.
456 Shanghai Cuisine
69 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
Cash only. No website. Excellent soup dumplings.
A tiny, perfect, ramen shop with about 6 seats. It serves ramen at night, but is especially lovely for its set menus at breakfast and lunch. There are always specials. The food is bright and fresh and interesting. On Ainslie at Lorimer, in Williamsburg. You may have to wait for a table, but it's worth it. No reservations. Visit the sparse, enchanting tea shop upstairs.
I love this Brazilian cafe on 5th, near the Marcy stop. Food is good, typical, but the Sunday music jams are the thing.