New York City is one of the most visited places in the world, with endless options of places to choose from when it comes to dining. From casual eateries to the finest culinary establishments the city has to offer—small outlets hidden between buildings or luxurious dining halls standing as a beacon—it would be an impossible task to present a definitive list of the top ten restaurants.
Part of the magic of the bustling city is that for every palate and culinary preference, the Big Apple has a more-than-satisfactory answer for it, irrespective of location or price point. That said, some of the world’s most celebrated restaurants are represented across the town and below is a list of some of the restaurants that have earned a reputation for exceptional cuisine, spectacular views, or great ambiance.
1. Le Bernardin
No list of great restaurants in New York City is complete without mentioning Le Bernardin. This multi-award-winning restaurant, with three Michelin stars and a four-star rating from the Times, serves magnificent French cuisine and has a well-earned reputation for unarguably one of the best seafood dishes on the planet. Maguy Le Coze and Celebrity Chef Eric Ripert have created a masterpiece that displays one of the most alluring dining spaces right in the heart of the city with equal measures of exquisite charm and sheer class. Le Bernardin has wooed the palates of New Yorkers for over 20 years, with its stellar culinary reputation unaltered and its iconic status cemented twice over.
Situated on the Lower East Side of the sprawling city, the sister restaurant of the highly acclaimed Contra appears to shroud its culinary caliber at first glance. While the WildAir restaurant is predominantly designed to mirror a wine bar, it offers some of the best food anywhere in the city. It boasts a mouth-watering array of dishes—from seafood to salads and steaks—made by two of the most sensational chefs in New York. Almost everything on the menu is made in-house, and, true to design, each meal is complemented by a curated list replete with natural wines and an assortment of customized vintages. WildAir extends a willing embrace to all in search of an adventure in exquisite flavors.
3. Eleven Madison Park
Furnished in Art Deco styles with towering ceilings and a stunning view of Madison Square Park, this restaurant embodies the essence of fine dining with a distinctive contemporary feel. Its celebrated chef, Daniel Humm, runs the show at Eleven Madison Park with innovative ideas, cuisines, and frequently changing menus that have become the restaurant’s trademark and recently introducing a plant-based course to the menu and redesigning the bar to accommodate more regulars. Eleven Madison Park also boasts an award-winning wine list and an expansive array of cocktails and Calvados.
Despite the restaurant’s continuous evolution, its dishes remain of surpassing quality and the overall experience unforgettable—consistently redefining the arena of modern dining.
4. Lilia Ristorante
The Lilia Ristorante is owned by the acclaimed chef Missy Robbins, one of the first-rate pasta chefs in New York City. The ingenious saucier brings to Williamsburg the best of the Italian heritage when it comes to the dining experience. From the classic Italian cocktails to hand-crafted pasta, wood-fired seafood, and her signature Mafaldini, Robbin infuses her “Italian soul” into every aspect of the restaurant coupled with a pleasant ambiance that creates a familial accent. Seats are hard to come by at Lilia, with reservations being booked as much as a month in advance. However, as several guests would attest, it is worth the hype and is a must-visit spot in the New York dining scene.
5. The 21 Club
The 21 Club, which regulars refer to as “21,” is a restaurant steeped in history dating back to the Prohibition era. The current wine list contains vintages dating back to the Nixon era. The restaurant offers the classic New York dining experience with egalitarian hospitality—its time-worn bar, a hidden wine vault, and a spectacular assemblage of artwork layered over an exquisite display of America’s most refined cuisine integrated with peerless service. While extensive renovations in years past may have somewhat altered the historical authenticity of this ancient edifice, the ambiance remains untouched and the dishes impeccably tasteful. The 21 Club effortlessly validates its status as a must-visit dining location in New York City.
The eponymous Jean-Georges restaurant, owned by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, endures as the gold standard for French haute cuisine. This crown jewel in chef Jean-Georges culinary empire holds its own as one of New York’s most fabulous restaurants, with several awards, including four stars from the New York Times and the coveted three Michelin stars since it began operations over three decades ago. Jean-Georges brings back the table-side service redolent of the ’40s with masterfully crafted dishes utilizing the best American and French techniques infused with subtle Asian influences for a peerless seasonal menu. The restaurant also boasts an award-winning international catalog of 650 wines in complement to its delectable cuisine.
One of the most iconic and tranquil places to dine in New York is within the walls of Masa. Not only does the restaurant present what is arguably the best sushi on the continent, but a reverential ambiance, gracefulness, and exceptional hospitality are integrated throughout the dining experience. The structure is set amid hinoki wood and a magnificent forsythia tree that enchants all who walk through Masa’s doors, casting an image of timeless beauty. Chef Masa Takayama helms the venerable restaurant, and his selection of sushi is unmatched, with deft garnishes using the highest quality of fish. No other restaurant in the city displays such attention to detail as Masa—an experience not quickly forgotten.
8. Katz’s Delicatessen
What began as a deli on the Lower East Side from way back in 1888 has grown into an exceptional culinary establishment. With its walls adorned with pictures of dignitaries, entertainers, and athletes, Katz’s has undoubtedly been a famous spot among New Yorkers for a while. The restaurant offers a range of dishes on the menu from burgers, tuna fish, and cheesesteak, Katz’s Delicatessen tickles the palates of all its guests but never more so than when serving its deli classics—Katz’s legendary pastrami, beef tongue sandwiches, and corned beef. A testament to Katz’s sensational cuisine is its enduring popularity among the locals and simultaneously having the status of the top must-visit dining destinations for tourists in the area.
9. The View Restaurant and Lodge
Situated at the heart of New York’s Times Square, on the 47th and 48th floor of the New York Marriot Marquis, The View Restaurant and Lounge certainly lives up to its moniker. As the city’s only revolving rooftop restaurant, it offers a sweeping vista of the metropolis. Over the course of an hour, the restaurant floor revolves 360 degrees, showcasing ever-changing perspectives of the city’s iconic skyline. Away from the frantic pace of the city below, flavors are brought to life in a rich mix of meats, seafood, and fresh local ingredients. The View Restaurant and Lounge consistently woos its guests with an unequaled dining experience replete with award-winning cuisine and an eclectic catalog of drinks.
10. Per Se
In the 17 years since its establishment, Per Se restaurant has cemented its place as one of the top restaurants in New York City, marshaled by Thomas Keller, who brings an intensity to the fabric of the restaurant—from the cuisine and presentation to the décor and ambiance. Located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center, there is a stunning view of the cityscape afforded by the large windows in the dining area. The restaurant presents two tasting menus—one of them vegetarian. The kitchen has secured a legendary reputation for its sourcing of ingredients coupled with its uncanny ability to elicit exceptional tastes from seemingly ordinary ingredients.