New York is one of the best places for dining in the world. With expert chefs and restaurants ranging from fine dining to family-run pizzerias and upstart food carts, there’s something for every appetite and budget.

Here’s our favorites:

1. Shake Shack

Shake Shack

At Shake Shack, what began as a humble hot dog cart in Madison Square Park is now a burgeoning burger chain. Long lines at the original Madison Square location should be expected, but the awesome food is worth the wait. The restaurant is run by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, which is the same company that operates the higher-end Eleven Madison restaurant, and he and his team used their expertise to make excellent hamburgers, fries, and milk shakes. Shake Shack currently has more than 10 restaurants in NYC, and locations include Grand Central Station, JFK, and Brooklyn – read more here (Photo by Matthew Hurst)

2. Daniel

Daniel

Chef Daniel Boulud has won James Beard Foundation awards for €œOutstanding Restaurant,€ €œOutstanding Restaurateur,€ €œBest Chef, New York City,€ and €œChef of the Year.€ He is also New York’s longest-reigning four-star chef. Chef Boulud opened Daniel in 1993 in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and it was relocated it to its current location in 1998. The restaurant is three-star rated by Michelin and is one of only five restaurants to be given a four-star rating by The New York Times. The atmosphere is romantic, sophisticated and memorable. Expect to be dazzled. The cuisine is New French and is available in 3, 6 & 8 Course Prix Fixe Tasting Menus paired with wine – read more here (Photo by Navin Rajagopalan)

3. Katz’ Delicatessen

Katz’s Delicatessen

Katz’s Delicatessen is an old-style Jewish deli on the Lower East Side that has been open since 1888, making it the oldest deli in New York City. The kosher deli was originally named “Iceland Brothers” before the founders were bought out by cousins Willy and Benny Katz in 1910. The deli serves a whopping 10,000 pounds of pastrami every week, plus over 12,000 hot dogs. The pastrami and corned beef is all hand-carved – just like it always was. Everyone has eaten here – even presidents, and the walls and covered with photos and testimonials. It’s a boisterous, convivial place – both workers and customers are happy to be there – read more here (Photo by Fernando Mafra)

4. Balthazar Restaurant

Balthazar Restaurant

Balthazar is one of “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” according to Restaurant Magazine. Chef Keith McNally has created on open, yet intimate, SoHo brasserie with a zinc raw bar, high ceilings and an airy charm. The menu is inspired by rustic French cuisine, with the French Onion Soup and the Steak Frites being especially popular menu items. In fact, the French Onion Soup is so popular at Balthazar that up to 15 gallons/day is served, and the Steak Frites is in such high demand that 2 chefs are devoted to preparing and cooking them – read more here (Photo by Ralph Daily)

5. Peter Luger Steak House

Peter Luger Steak House

Peter Luger Steak House has been open since 1887, and the legendary Brooklyn restaurant boasts one Michelin star and was named to the James Beard Foundation’s list of “America’s Classics” in 2002. Additionally, it was named “The USA’s Best Steakhouse” by USA Today in 2012. They age their own beef and serve over 10 tons of it every week. The steak house is not fancy, just excellent. With a long wooden bar, exposed wooden beams and brass chandeliers, it has a bit of a beerhall feel to it. The waiters can be gruff, but that is part of the appeal – read more here (Photo by G M)

6. Ippudo NY

Ippudo

Ippudo NY is a bustling, fun ramen shop in the East Village that draws crowds for their brothy ramen bowls and delicious pork belly buns. It is part of a Japanese chain of ramen shops run by Shigemi Kawahara, who is known as the Ramen King, and the NYC shop was the first overseas location of the burgeoning empire. The noodles for the ramen are made in-house and are cooked al dente so that they hold up well when combined with the rich broth, which is made from pork, chicken, beef, or seafood, and seasoned with soy sauce, salt, miso, and other ingredients. The pork belly buns come with super tender meat on soft white buns and are served with house sauce. Of note, also, and worth sampling, are the wonderful appetizers. When a new customer arrives at Ippudo, the customary shout is “Irasshaimase,” and the shout sets the stage for the lively experience. The crowded bar area up front leads to small dining rooms beyond. Seating is communal style. The lighting is dark, the upbeat music is loud, and the employees are both efficient and entertaining – read more here (Photo by arlo j)

7. Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern combines New American cuisine, seasonal fare, an excellent staff, and a desire to continually improve to rate as New York City’s most-beloved restaurant. The restaurant opened in the Flatiron District in 1994, and it was restaurateur Danny Meyer’s follow-up to his successful Union Square Cafe. The goal from the start was to be a place that strives to be a tavern in the true sense of the word – a destination that feels welcoming and where the food is good, the company enjoyable, stories are shared, and meals are memorable. In short, it is a place to which people want to return. Two distinct dining experiences are available: the Tavern is walk-in only and casual and serves an à la carte menu with the option of a four-course menu at dinner. The Dining Room offers fixed-price and tasting menus with an à la carte option at lunch – read more here (Photo by london road)

8. Le Bernardin

Le Bernardin

Le Bernardin, Chef Eric Ripert’s French seafood restaurant, boasts 3 Michelin stars and was deemed the 12th best restaurant in the world by Elite Traveler in 2013. The restaurant actually was started in Paris in 1972 and moved to Manhattan in 1986. The space has a museum feel, with soft lighting, rich wood paneling, and wonderful artwork adorning the walls. The food is spectacular and the service is flawless. Meals are Prix-Fixe or Tasting Menu. For good value, the 3-course City Harvest lunch menu is recommended. Make a point to get dessert, as it is an essential part of the experience – read more here (Photo by Arnold Gatilao)

9. Momofuku Noodle Bar

Momofuku Noodle Bar

Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in the East Village in 2004 and serves chef and owner David Chang’s innovative takes on ramen, pork belly buns, fried chicken, and more. David Chang is of Korean heritage and grew up in Virginia, then he spent time time learning French cooking technique while cooking in kitchens such as Craft and Cafe Boulud. Momofuku Noodle Bar bears witness to his past, with his version of ramen dishes veering off-course from the traditional and embracing his own special touches. Hot slabs of fatty Berkshire pork belly are combined with shredded shoulder and combined with stock made from a combination of chicken legs, roasted pork bones, ham hocks, and bacon. Noodles are added and then everything is topped with peas, bamboo shoots, a poached egg and optional corn. Reservations are not accepted, and the place is small, so consider the wait as part of the experience. Diners can put their name in and explore the neighborhood while waiting for a text saying their table is ready – read more here (Photo by T.Tseng)

10. Buddakan

Buddakan

Buddakan is a sexy and stylish mansion of a restaurant that will leave diners in awe – from first impression of descending the stairs into the dining room until the end of the modern, Asian-inspired meal. Located in the Chesea Market in the hip Meatpacking District, Buddakan opened in 2006 and has wowed both locals and visitors ever since. The restaurant features one of the most beautiful dining rooms in Manhattan and awes from the onset. The reservation desk and modern bar are upstairs, and for dining guests are led down a grand staircase to a huge, two-story banquet hall with a huge communal table, oak-paneled walls and gigantic chandeliers. Surrounding the main dining rooms are small dining alcoves where thousands of pictures of Buddha adorn the walls, and a library with gold-gilded books for decoration. Everything is very dark, and downtempo music provides a soundtrack for dining – read more here (Photo by star5112)

11. Sushi Yasuda

Sushi Yasuda

Sushi Yasuda is a Midtown restaurant serving sushi from fish flown in fresh from Japan in a setting that is clean and minimalist with bamboo walls, floor, bar – and even ceiling. The restaurant was founded in 1999 by Naomichi Yasuda and quickly gained famed for the freshness and expert preparation of its omakase style offerings. Traditional sushi is the star of the show here – there are no California rolls or spicy tuna rolls, and everything is dictated by the what fish is freshest. Additionally, there is no music or loud conversation, and only a few beers and sakes are offered to accompany the sushi. Dousing the selections with soy sauce and wasabi is frowned upon here – read more here (Photo by Kent Wang)

12. Jean Georges

Jean Georges

Jean Georges is located on the Upper West Side in a 70-seat space in the Trump International Hotel across from the SW corner of Central Park. The menu is French and prix-fixe, with a two-course lunch or a four-course dinner. The atmosphere at Jean Georges is upscale, the cuisine is inspired, and the service is spectacular from beginning to end. The restaurant boast 3 stars from Michelin, and Jean Georges was named the 12th best restaurant in the world by Elite Traveler for 2012. Jean-Georges Vongerichten grew up in Alsace, France, in a home where his mother and grandmother would prepare lunch every day for the 50 employees of their family business. His culinary career began when he got a job as an apprentice to the chef at a Michelin 3 star restaurant. He arrived in the United States in 1985. Today, he operates 5 restaurants worldwide and has written 5 cookbooks – read more here (Photo by Dan Costin)

13. The Halal Guys

The Halal Guys

The Halal Guys operate what is known as the “world’s most famous food cart” on the corner 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. The cart sells platters of chicken and/or gyro meat with rice and their famous “white sauce.” Mohamed Abouelenein, from Egypt, began in 1990 with a hot dog cart, and in 1992 he made the strategic move to switch to selling chicken, gyro meat, rice, and pita bread because he thought it would be healthier and he could also sell to Muslim cabdrivers. His plan worked and became so popular that long lines formed. Soon, fights broke out in the lines, bouncers were hired to keep to line control, and imposters arrived (New York’s Best Halal Food). What’s the attraction? It’s fast, cheap, and delicious, and the white sauce is said to be addictive. The portion sizes are large, and the food is reasonably prices. The menu choices are simple: chicken, gyro, or falafel, then sandwich or platter. There’s also super-spicy red sauce available – read more here (Photo by Tal Atlas)

14. ABC Kitchen

ABC Kitchen

ABC Kitchen is famed Alsatian chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s whole-hog entry into sustainable and local cooking, and it’s located in the ABC Carpet & Home department store on lower Broadway. The “consciously sourced” ingredients are taken ultra-seriously here – not only are the ingredients from local suppliers, but the menus and coasters are made from recycled paper, the place mats are compostable, and all of the left-overs are composted at the end of the night. The tables are decorated with wildflowers and soy-based candles, and the plates are locally sourced. All that said, the food is indeed very good, and some leans toward relevatory. Many dishes have become stand-out classics, such as the Squash Toast and the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae. The interior is airy and rustic and decorated with furnishing from the store. It is filled with beautiful people, including the occasional celebrity – read more here (Photo by angela n.)

15. Nobu

Nobu

Nobu opened in 1994 and gained fame for Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s innovative fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines. The uber-sexy Hudson Street location is the flagship restaurant of what is now a 30 restaurant chain – “the world’s hippest restaurant chain,” according to Vogue magazine. After 20 years in business, Nobu sometimes gets criticized for feeling a bit dated, but is still considered to be one of Manhattan’s premier dining venues, known for its iconic dishes such as miso-marinated black cod, rock shrimp tempura with spicy mayonnaise, and the tuna tartare with a bed of crushed avocado. Robert DeNiro is one of the founders of Nobu along with Chef Matsuhisa, Drew Nieporent, and film producer Meir Teper. Make a reservation way in advance – read more here (Photo by Nick Webb)

16. Maialino

Maialino

Maialino is famed restauranteur Danny Meyer’s elegant, rustic, Roman trattoria tucked inside the swank Gramercy Park Hotel overlooking Gramercy Park. Executive Chef Nick Anderer’s menu draws inspiration from classic dishes found throughout Rome, which means less rich tomato sauces and more cheese, egg, and pork. In fact, “Maialino” means “little pig” in Italian, and larger groups can order a whole roasted suckling pig. All of the dishes feature fresh, seasonal ingredients. The service is warm and professional, and the atmosphere is warm and convivial. Enter the dining room by passing the long bar and the wine cellar (featuring a stellar all-Italian wine list) and then the cucino, which serves as a coffee and pastry bar for breakfast and brunch and then as an antipasto station for lunch and dinner. The beautifully furnished dining room featured tiled floors, wooden tables with blue and white checker tablecloths, and large windows that open to the gated park and flood the space with light – read more here (Photo by Allen Burt)

17. The River Cafe

River Cafe

The River Café is located on a barge in Brooklyn at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. The walk approaching the barge is down a cobblestone street with bordered by plants and lit with lanterns. Along with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, The River Café serves food worthy of a Michelin star. Entrees include Niman Ranch New York Cut Sirloin Steak, Scottish Salmon, and Colorado Rack of Lamb. The deck is the perfect setting for relaxing with a drink when the weather is pleasant, especially when the sun is setting. A jacket is required for men, and a reservation is necessary – read more here (Photo by Eisenrich)

18. Eataly

Eataly

Eataly is the first American location of a Italian chain of markets that combines a grocery store featuring numerous food stations with many small restaurants, a coffee shop, a wine shop, and a cooking school – all under one roof. Oscar Farinetti is the founder of Eataly, and the concept was conceived as part of the Slow Food movement. The New York location is and owned by a partnership that includes chefs and restaurateurs Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich. Eataly is located near Madison Square Park, opened to much fanfare in 2010, and sprawls over 50,000 square feet in size. Over 8,000 people visit Eataly every day. There are seven small specialty restaurants, and each is strategically located next to the corresponding market that supplies its fresh ingredients. Come hungry – there’s huge displays of fresh ingredients, Italian meats, house-made chocolates, gelato, Italian wines, and Lavazza coffee – read more here (Photo by Charles16e)

19. Lombardi’s Pizza

Lombardi's Pizza

Lombardi’s Pizza was founded  in 1857 when Gennaro Lombardi opened his pizzeria in the Nolita neighborhood. Lombardi’s is certainly one of the oldest restaurants in NYC, and it is widely acknowledged to be the first pizzeria in America. In 1984, the restaurant closed for 10 years before reopening in a new location one block away from the original. Gennaro’s grandson, Gennaro Lombardi III, currently runs the business with a childhood friend, and he still cooks the pizza in a coal-burning oven. The pizzas feature a thin, smoky crust, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Only whole pies are sold – no slices. There are two choices for pizza: The Original with Fresh Mozzarella, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Romano, and Fresh Basil, the White Pizza with Mozzarella, Ricotta, Romano, Oregano, Basil, Black Pepper, Garlic-Infused Oil – read more here (Photo by Simon Doggett)

20. Mamoun’s Falafel

Mamoun's Falafel

Mamoun’s Falafel is a very good, popular, and inexpensive Middle Eastern restaurant that first opened in the heart of Greenwich Village in 1971. It’s the oldest falafel restaurant in New York and is a remnant of the days when folk rock hippies roamed the nearby streets. Today, NYU college students, hipsters, and folks from all walks of life get in line under the brown awning to pluck down $3.50 for a hot, freshly-made falafel. For those willing to splurge and pay more than $5, consider the lamb shawarma. Add the hot sauce for an extra kick. The line moves quickly, and if you go late enough at night, there is no line – read more here (Photo by angela n.)

21. Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park serves contemporary, French-inspired American cuisine in an elegant art deco banquet hall with high ceilings, granite walls, and art deco decor. Unlike many critically acclaimed restaurants, Eleven Madison Park does a worthy job of living up to the hype. Chef Daniel Humm is a master of taste and presentation, and the servers take time to engage with diners and explain the history and significance of each course. The 12-course tasting menu focuses on the bounty of New York and lasts approximately three and a half hours. Many of the courses are either prepared or finished tableside, including making cocktails, making sauces, or torching the fabulous Baked Alaska. The restaurant has been awarded 4 stars from the New York Times and 3 stars from the Michelin Guide, making it one of 6 restaurants in the city that have earned the accolade – read more here (Photo by Kent Wang)

22. Wafels & Dinges

Wafels & Dinges

Wafels & Dinges serves awesomely delicious authentic Belgium waffles with a wide – and creative – variety of toppings. Look for the canary yellow food trucks and carts scattered across NYC. The wafels come in two varieties: the classic Brussels light and crispy wafel, and the infamous Leige wafel – a sweet, soft, and chewy dessert wafel made with Belgian pearl sugar. Either comes served in a paper tub with a plastic fork and a choice of dinges, which includes whipped cream, Belgium chocolate syrup, maple syrup, bananas, and dulce de leche. For the true Belgian experience, opt for the speculoos topping, which is some mysterious kind of cookie butter. Don’t feel like dessert? Consider a wafel with pulled pork or bacon – read more here (Photo by dumbonyc)

23. Grimaldi’s Pizza

Grimaldi's Pizzeria

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is a former winner of the Travel Channel‘s Food Wars and was named one of the “Five Best Pizzerias in the US” by the Food Network. Patsy Grimaldi always believed that coal-fired brick ovens produced the best pizza, so he located his pizzeria in Brooklyn because Manhattan did not allow coal-burning ovens. The dough comes from a secret recipe, and the coal-fired oven gives the pizza a slightly-charred, yet chewy, crust. The sweet San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce come from Italy. Expect a line out the door at Grimaldi’s, and it’s whole pies only and cash only – read more here (Photo by Guian Bolisay)

 

Featured photo by Anthony Quintano. All photos CC-BY-2.0.

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