Arielle's NYC Restaurant Guide

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Being a native NYer, and one that most people trust for any type of NYC recommendation, I figured I couldn’t get away with not publishing a NYC restaurant guide. Having lived full-time in NYC for 5 years and then making frequent visits after I moved, I have accumulated several restaurants I have enjoyed dinning at that will not disappoint (and I plan to reveal some secrets to getting reservations there as well). As always, I try to be as real as possible in my reviews. I will make sure to update this list periodically and hopefully this guide can serve as your go to place when looking for a new restaurant to try or for when booking a trip to visit NYC. 


Pictured: Maison Pickle UWS


*if you want to see more pictures of the food at the following restaurants, check out my “nyc weekends” highlights on my Instagram profile  



1.    Mezze on the River-West Side Lower Manhattan: $$$ This place was absolutely stunning to eat at in the summer. They also have a ton of cute Instagram photo opps. Right on the lower west side of Manhattan and on the water (by Brookfield Place), Mezze on the River is a newer Mediterranean inspired restaurant to the Manhattan dining scene. I went here for brunch with a few friends and will say the food was rather expensive. However, the portions were huge, and the food was extremely good. I had the Belgian Sugar Pearl Waffles which were each adorned with an assortment of toppings: hot honey bacon, whipped cream and raspberries, and strawberries and Nutella. After we ate, it was really nice to be able to walk along the Battery Park City Esplanade and burn off some of those calories. 

2.    Sadelle’s- SoHo: $$$ This Jewish inspired brunch spot is a staple for NYers especially after a night out of excessive drinking (cue the carbs). Another popular spot (that makes it very difficult to get a reservation to, but if you go on Resy at 10am 30 days in advance you can get one), Sadelle’s is breakfast that feels like a warm hug on a Sunday morning. The food is very homey with options like Matzo Ball Soup, Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese, Bagel and Lox, etc. The Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese were divine and so are the Bagels. I would skip the viral super thick French Toast, because I personally felt it tasted soggy (like it was not cooked) and it was literally $25 for only two pieces. 

3.    Maison Pickle- Upper West Side: $$ Arguably some of the best French Toast in Manhattan, Maison Pickle is the ultimate brunch spot (and I say ultimate because the portions are huge and perfect for sharing). It’s cool because every time I can try a new thing and I love that dishes are so shareable. I also really enjoy the vibe inside. Being a hidden gem, since it’s all the way on Upper West, it’s fairly easy to snag a reservation. Or if you don’t have one just sit at the bar. 

4.    Jacob's Pickle- Upper West Side: $$ Another one of my go-to brunch spots, Jacob’s Pickle is another popular spot in the NY dining scene. The whole restaurant is decorated with pickle jars (which makes sense given that’s what they are known for), and it’s a really nice place to dine on the weekends. The first time I went I had this massive platter of banana chocolate chip pancakes (not my favorite pancakes because they were kind of heavy). But the second time I went, they happened to be doing a limited time collaboration with Magnolia Bakery where they took two giant waffles and stuffed them with the bakery’s famous banana pudding. My friend and I had to try this iconic dish, and it was very good, but ended up getting a little bit sick after because of how many layers of food it was. 

5.    NoMo Kitchen- SoHo: $$$ Overly expensive for brunch but I think something you should try once, NoMo Kitchen is in a great location in SoHo. It’s in the NoMo SoHo Hotel and the restaurant itself is absolutely beautiful. They have a whole wall painted with that famous heart mural you will recognize if you have ever seen pictures of SoHo on google and beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The food is rustic American faire, and I would 100% recommend this place. I had the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, and they were super thick muffin like pancakes that totally hit it out of the park for me because they were so unlike most pancakes I’ve had before. And that’s saying a lot because I am not really a pancake person. 

6.    Oscar Wilde NYC-: $$$ Instagram famous spot with stunning restaurant décor and a great vibe for a drink with friends or a date but didn’t think the food was anything special and it was all very small portion sizes. Only went here for brunch so not sure how the dinner is but I think you can pass on the food in general.  

7.    The Ainsworth- (Multiple Locations): $ I discovered the Ainsworth after it opened in the East Village in the same spot as the Pour House (a place I used to go to for NYU frat parties, I know I know). When I walked in to check it out, I found out it was pretty much just a sports bar/restaurant now (kind of disappointing) but what I didn’t know is they have an insane brunch spread on the weekends. Really unique stuff. I went to their Midtown location with a friend and had the Fruity Pebbles French Toast and they also have Cinnamon Roll Pancakes which looked awesome, which I’ll have to try next time. 

8.    The Smith- Multiple Locations: $$-$$$ An overpriced American restaurant with multiple locations around the city, The Smith is a staple if you want good food and good service and don’t have anywhere else to go. They usually have reservations open and I think both the brunch and dinner are good (although I do prefer the dinner menu). The Skillet Roasted Mac and Cheese, Vanilla Bean French Toast, Buttermilk Pancakes, The Brick Pressed Chicken, and the Filet Mignon are all good options. 

9. Glass Ceiling Nomad-$$: A Rooftop outdoor/indoor restaurant in Flatiron, this is a cute place to go in the summer and if you want to "drunch." They have really cool cocktails, nice views of Flatiron, and the food is delicious. I would recommend the waffles (they are just like the sugar pearl ones I love at Mezze on the River) and the pink pancakes look good as well. Would definitely recommend. 

Dinner or Drinks: 

10.    Cucina Alba-Chelsea: $$$--> This place really disappointed me. An Instagram viral new Italian Spot in Chelsea, I probably won’t go here again. It’s super out of the way and difficult to get to and it was way overpriced. 3 bite sized meatballs were $26, and the truffle pasta that everyone raves about is like 7 pieces of pasta for $28. All the food tasted good, but the portion sizes were a turn off. Furthermore, the drink menu is weak, there really are only good wine options. The service was very fast, but maybe too fast, I felt like I was being rushed out of the restaurant so they could turn the table over and barely had time to enjoy my meal. There are so many better Italian spots in the West Village/Chelsea area I would recommend more, like the next one I am going to talk about. 

11.         Arthur and Sons- West Village: $$ As you probably now know from my Boston guide, I am very picky about my Italian food and let me just say that this place put a lot of Italian restaurants in NYC to shame (including Carbone). The restaurant itself is small so getting a dinner reservation at prime-time and on the weekends is extremely difficult (yes you need to be on Resy 30 days in advance right when they open to get one). But let me tell you, this place is worth the hype. First off, the food is all very affordable for NY Italian, and everything is family style so literally 3 people could eat the Chicken Parmesan alla Vodka and only spend $12 each on it. Second, the drinks are very strong. And third, the food is insanely good. These people really perfected their sauce and cheese recipes (which are key in a quality Italian dish). I would highly recommend the Chicken Parmesan all Vodka (a spin on regular Chicken Parm) and the Spicy Rigatoni.

12.         Legasea Bar and Grill: $$$--> Newer spot in Midtown for steaks and seafood, Legasea is a great spot for a good meal and good atmosphere. It was not overly crowded; the food was really good, and so was the service. I give the drink menu 10 stars, especially the Disco Nap (which was an espresso martini style drink with toasted marshmallows on top). The steak frites were a solid option for food. The only thing I wish they had more of were fish entrees. 

13.         Peak NYC- Hudson Yard: $$$$ This newer rooftop restaurant at the top of Hudson Yards’ tallest building, opened in early 2022 right next to “the Edge” and I must say the views are stunning (My friends and I all took like 50 pictures each). The food selection was high-end and classy; think Caviar, Maine Lobster, and Filet Mignon so be prepared for everything to be over the top expensive. I am not sure how the food tastes because we only went here for drinks, but I have heard good things. Furthermore, one of the cool things about Peak is if you have a reservation there and dine, you can get access to the Edge experience for free. Which given it costs $38 per person, I think that’s a pretty good deal. 

14.         Peachy Keen-Hell’s Kitchen: $$ Another new restaurant that popped up in Hell’s Kitchen, Peachy Keen is all 70s inspired. The menu, the décor, and the music are all very “groovy”- as Austin Powers would say. I went here with friends for a round of drinks before heading out for a night on the town and it was the perfect place to pregame and get in the mood. We had the “Disco Sally,” “Up All Night” and the “Blue Hawaiian” cocktails and safe to say they hit different. Check out their Instagram to see all the cool concoctions they have on the menu! 

15.         Souvlaki GR (Multiple Locations): $ One of my favorite Greek places in Manhattan and a place my good friend from NYU introduced me to back in the day, Souvlaki GR has a Greek menu like no other and everything is extremely cheap for NYC prices. The place is super cute and as soon as you walk in you feel like you have been transported to a restaurant right in Santorini. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu but if I had to recommend a few things I would say the Chicken Souvlaki Skewers, as well as the assortment of Tziaki, Hummus, and Eggplant spreads with Pita (which is perfect for sharing). 

16.         Misirizzi- East Village: $$ New Italian spot that opened in the East Village. I went here with a friend during the summer. The place itself is small but I did think the drinks and the pasta were very good. I had the Radiatori with Arugula Pesto and would recommend. The drinks and food were a little too expensive for what it is, but keep in mind this is NYC.

17.         Fraunces Tavern- Battery Park Area: $$$ I was introduced to this place when I went for one of my best friend’s birthday’s and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s Manhattan’s oldest bar and restaurant, founded in 1762, and a place that a lot of our Founding Fathers frequently dined at (1 point for history). I had the burger (which was high quality meat) and fries and the limited-edition Hot Apple Cider cocktail (with vanilla vodka) and I very much enjoyed it.   

18.         Gelso and Grand- Little Italy: $$$ One of my favorite spots in Little Italy, I first discovered Gelso and Grand years ago when I went to the annual San Gennaro’s Feast with one of my friends. It has a super rustic/industrial vibe inside which is very different from a lot of the restaurants in Little Italy. I would recommend a glass of Lambrusco (a sparkling red wine), Cacio e Pepe, the Pistachio Pesto, and Spaghetti Pomodoro pasta dishes.

19.         Veselka à an NYU staple, Veselka is a Ukrainian diner that operates 24hrs a day (you heard that right, a 24hr diner with amazing food, sign me up, $1 pizza can get kind of gross). This place is perfect for a late night out with friends or late-night study session during finals week. They are known for their Pierogis which you can order one of two ways: pan fried or boiled (and they have a wide selection of flavors). I also really enjoy their Potato Pancakes and their Banana Crème Pie (literally one of the best Banana Crème Pie’s I’ve had ever. One time I went there just to have that pie). So instead of grabbing late night pizza after a night dancing and drinking at NYC’s clubs and bars, head to Veselka. 

20.         Catch NYC -Chelsea: $$$$ Ahh Catch, this place disappoints me the most. I used to come here a few times a year in college a year or two after it opened and it was my favorite place to get seafood in Manhattan, it was also an absolutely gorgeous restaurant in a really cool area in Chelsea with tons of other great bars and stores around. And most weekends they would close off the third floor later in the night to turn it into a semi-club with a DJ which was really cool. However, it pains me to say that after COVID this place went downhill and is not the kind of place you would catch me going to again. I went about a year ago and the place was a disorganized zoo. You go through the effort of making a reservation only to have to wait 45 minutes for a table in a cramped waiting area with 20 other people also standing waiting for a table. Then once you are seated, service is slow, and you are squished between tables yelling over everyone else talking just to have a conversation with your friend next to you. It’s just not a pleasant dining experience anymore. They try to squeeze as many tables in as possible and it just completely ruined the vibe there. Come back here when NYC decides to become irrelevant again and everyone leaves LOL.

21.         Eataly Birreria- Flatiron: $$ I can’t believe I lived in NYC for years before being able to get a reservation here. This place is extremely popular, mostly because of the restaurant’s décor that changes with the seasons, and I will say each display is stunning. They also change the menu each season to mirror what’s fresh and popular. I went here during the winter, so everything was white (resembling a first snowfall) and had the Ravioli (which the exact dish is not on the menu anymore cause like I said they change it) but I really enjoyed it. It is pricey for what you get, but I think you should go here once just to have the experience. 

22.         Alice NYC-West Village: $$$ Another newer Italian spot in Manhattan’s West Village (the area of the city that has slowly become a hot spot for these places), Alice is a great place to eat really yummy pasta and have a couple drinks with friends. The vibe inside is very Alice and Wonderland (which makes sense given the name), so think dark and mysterious. And all the pasta dishes we tried were superb: Agnolotti Cacio e Pepe (Ravioli) and the Orecchiette Astice e Burrata. It is expensive so keep that in mind, but the overall experience was great! 

23.         Tao- Uptown/Downtown: $$$$ The famous Tao. Surprisingly I am not a big fan. I love Asian cuisine, but I just felt this place was overpriced and the food was not very impressive. The vibe inside the restaurant is very cool and they do have a club underneath the Downtown location (which in my opinion kind of sucks). However, I wouldn’t completely nix this place, I think it’s worth dinning once and if you really want to try the Tao club, hop on a plane Vegas, that location is a way better experience. 

24.         Cathedrale- Greenwich Village: $$$$ A boujee French restaurant part of Tao Group that opened in the bottom of the East Village Moxy Hotel, Cathedrale is somewhere you should dine if you like a club/lounge vibe and expensive French food. The Burger and Fries, the Black Truffle Fettuccine, and the Filet Mignon were to die for. They also have some unique cocktails, and because I’m a vodka girl I would recommend the Salut Les Copains. 

25.         Rosemary’s- West Village: $$ A NYC favorite, Rosemary’s is a cozy Italian spot in the West Village with a great menu. Last time I was there was during February restaurant week and it was an amazing deal for an appetizer, entrée, and dessert (which all were very impressive). I had the Misticanza Salad (arugula and parmesan), Pesto and Burrata Pasta (which was limited time), and the Olive Oil cake for dessert. Service is good, but the place does get crowded so it can be kind of loud and you’ll also want to make sure you make a reservation in advance on Resy. 

26.         Oceans New York- Union Square: $$$$ A seafood and steakhouse with a classy vibe, Oceans is the perfect place for a high-class dinner in Lower Manhattan. It is expensive, but it’s one my favorite places in the city to have seafood because everything is locally sourced. I specifically enjoyed the Nova Scotia Halibut. The service is superb, and they also have an insane dessert menu and fancy cocktail list so If you want the full dining experience from drinks to dessert I would recommend checking it out. 

27.         Westville (Multiple Locations)- $-$$ My college staple, Westville was my “I want to eat healthy but leave the apartment” kind of dining. They have a really great selection of American food and so many healthy options that are high-quality and affordable. I think at this point I have largely eaten everything on the menu there and if I had to recommend a few things I would say The Smokey Mac and Cheese, The Arugula and Parm Salad (I used to eat this once-a-week freshman year when I felt vegetable deprived), and The Grilled New York Strip Steak with a side of Truffle Parm Fries or the Sweet Potato Fries. 

28.         Caliente Cab Co-West Village: $$ My favorite Mexican spot in NYC, Caliente Cab Co was another staple for me in college because the food is high-quality (which can sometimes be hard to find for Mexican food) and the prices are right. The drinks are good (I love the frozen margheritas- specifically the watermelon flavor) and are very strong. They also serve that Instagram viral massive margherita called the “Gigante Fresh Fruit Margherita” for $60 which might seem like a lot but given the standard cocktail price in NYC is $18 per drink and this equals to 6 drinks in one, it’s a good deal. For food I would recommend the Chicken Quesadilla, the House made Guacamole with Chips, the Mexican Street Corn, and the Chicken Fajitas. 

29.         Sparks Steakhouse- Midtown East: $$$$ Couldn’t forget to put a famous steakhouse on here (you can thank my Dad for this one since he foot the bill), Sparks is a world famous steakhouse known for its aged beef, seafood, and fine wine. It has also been in tons of movies and TV shows so you might recognize the inside when you dine there. I haven’t been here since before COVID however the overall experience was great, very old school. I ordered the Filet Mignon and a side of fries, a solid spot for a nice steak. 

30.         Black Tap- Midtown/SoHo: $$ One of my favorite burgers and shake spots in the city, Black Tap is known for its massive legendary milkshakes. They used to have 4 locations in NYC but after the hype died down, they closed a few and only have 2. Their milkshake menu frequently changes so there is always something new to try (they just had a Valentines Dark Chocolate Raspberry milkshake for the holiday). The Wagyu Steakhouse Burger is my favorite and for shakes I really enjoy The Cookie Shake, The Cake Shake, and the Brooklyn Blackout Shake. Highly recommend this place to anyone, it’s a long time favorite of mine.

31.         San Marzano-East Village: $ The “poor people’s” Italian restaurant, San Marzano is a staple for students at NYU and young professionals living in the East Village. However even though this place is cheap, this does not mean it is not good. They have a solid bottomless brunch on the weekends and the pastas (which are made fresh daily) and Italian sandwiches are amazing. Note, this place does not take reservations, it’s walk-in only. So, I would only come either right when its opens or not at all as it gets super busy. For brunch I’d recommend the French Toast (obviously) and for dinner the Pesto Caprese Panini and the Fusilli Vecchia Bettolla. 

32.         Jack’s Wife Freda-SoHo/West Village: $$ I really do like this place however I think the menu is too selective. It’s an Australian restaurant that is very popular, but I feel like the menu options are kind of whacky, for lack of a better term. For example, for brunch they have this Rosewater Waffle. Who would ever want rosewater in their waffle, is it just me or is that kind of gross. And unfortunately, I am not an egg person so that eliminates a lot on a menu for me. For dinner the menu has apparently gotten better since I last dined there, so maybe I’ll have to give it another shot. It’s not that the dinner I had there before was bad, I just thought it was boring. 

33.         Serendipity 3- Upper East Side: $$ A famous NYC landmark, Serendipity has been around since 1954 and has served the likes of Marilyn Monroe to Andy Warhol. It is especially known for frozen hot chocolate among other huge sundaes and all different types of pies and cakes. The restaurant holds several Guinness World Records such as the most expensive hamburger and most expensive milkshake (it is served in a Swarovski crystal glass with 23kt edible gold). The first time I dined there was when I was a freshman at NYU, and I have been multiple times since. You really can’t miss trying one of their legendary desserts. And if you aren’t someone with a sweet tooth, don’t worry they serve real food too! Reservations come out on the Resy app 30 days in advance. 

34.   Kyma -Hudson Yards: $$$-$$$$ Another newer restaurant to Manhattan dining scene, Kyma is in the fastly developing Hudson Yards area. Do not sleep on Hudson Yards, they are putting some really good restaurant over there. This is a Greek/Mediterranean party restaurant, they have a DJ in the center of the dinning room and a lot of the food is meant to share (because the portion sizes are huge. I loved the drinks: specifically the "Pure Passion" . And for food we had the mezze trio "Pikilia" with Pita to start (all the dips were amazing), and the Free Range Chicken as the main course. The place was super fun and I would 100% go back.  

35.   tán- Midtown East: $$$ I was a little worried that the hype surrounding this place would not be real but it actually impressed me. The executive Chef Richard Sandoval creates a high class ambiance for this Tulum inspired Mexican restaurant on the east side of Midtown. The restaurant itself is beautiful and you feel like you have been transported right to Mexico. It is small, and very popular, so getting a reservation for any day will be difficult (I had to book mine 2 months in advance on OpenTable). The food was amazing and the drinks also impressed me (the day we went was the first day the restaurant had it's liquor license). I would recommend the Chips and Guacamole to start, the Yucatan Chicken as the main course, and the Sea Salt Caramel Ice-cream or Corn Cake for dessert. For drinks try the Cucumber Mule!


Coffee Shops:

36.         Starbucks Reserve Roastery- Chelsea: $$ After hearing my Marketing Professor rave about this place when I was back in school, as well as the Instagram influencers, I finally dragged myself to Chelsea to try it out. I mostly came here for the food (to see if it was fresher than a regular Starbucks coffee shop) and to see if the drinks were more presentable. The drinks are more presentable and so is the food, but it kind of tastes like the same quality as any other Starbucks coffee shop but with a higher price tag. I think you can pass on this place, there are so many other good coffee shops in NYC with better pastries and treats as well as cheaper drinks. 

37.         Ralphs Coffee-: $ Okay so to be honest, I only tried this place for research purposes since I work for a coffee company, but I will say I was also very drawn to the overall aesthetic given Ralph Lauren has long been one of my favorite designers. I think the atmosphere of the place gives off “holiday season” and “high-class coffee shop” which I enjoy especially since nowadays Starbucks is what people consider “fancy”. But although the coffee is good, its nothing special. It’s really just a good photo opp. 

38.         “Citizens” of Chelsea- Chelsea: $$- a cute Australian coffeeshop with locations around the city. Citizen’s Chelsea location is my favorite because they serve a ton of yummy breakfast and lunch food. It’s the perfect place to grab a quick bite without needing a reservation. It is kind of pricey for what you get, but I would highly recommend the fries and the Banana Bread French Toast. 

39.         Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company-Greenwich Village: $ Probably my favorite bagel place in all of Manhattan, Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee kettle boils their bagels fresh every morning and they are huge. They also have a huge selection of spreads: lox crème cheese, chive crème cheese, butter, you name it. It gets super busy, and the bagels sell out by mid-morning so make sure you stop by before lunch. 




P.S If you have any restaurants not on here that you have been to and love, leave a comment on this post! 

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