The Best of NYC Restaurants

Joelle Mentis, Writer

NYC restaurants

There’s nothing like the energy of New York after Labor Day weekend. The city is charged and everyone is ready to go. You’re back on your circuit of lunches at Milos, dinner at The Grill, and, if you’re lucky, drinks at the new Aman. The glamour is back in the city, and it’s better than ever. So in honor of the greatest city in the world, we have the best restaurants in NYC, which are reason one million and one to love New York.

NYC Scene: Polo Bar

The Details:

There’s a reason why there’s a 2,000-plus-person waitlist for prime-time reservations at The Polo Bar. And it may just be the bar snacks of deep-fried olives, homemade herbed potato chips, and spiced nuts. Oh, and the pigs in a blanket, mini Reuben, and crudités are menu faves. That’s before you even drink in the scene of beautiful people and power players that make NYC so glamorous. In the words, it is one of the best restaurants in NYC

It’s the kind of place that only Ralph Lauren could have dreamed up. Bronx-born Ralph loves corned beef and burgers more than you’d expect for a self-made billionaire. And red meat takes center stage at his restaurant. Even if you’re there to just see and be seen, you’re going to leave with a full stomach. (Word on the street is the brownie sundae is not-to-miss.)

Of course, the cocktails are also a worthy mention, especially if Anthony is at the bar.  And you might just be in the mood for a true classic cocktail, like the Vesper Martini — shaken, not stirred.

What to Order:

Steak or the burger. The meat is their sweet spot. The classic rib eye and the burger also pair well with the signature cocktails.


Big Celebration: Les Trois Chevaux

The Details:

Angie Mar’s West Village fine-dining spot is as good as it gets. It’s one of the best restaurants in NYC. Three words: truffle caviar croissant. That could be the mic drop, but Chef Mar wows you with each and every single course of their tasting menu.

Les Trois Chevaux highlights the best of traditional French cooking, as well as the style and vibe of New York City. Mar’s attention to detail helps create this ambience. Everything is perfect, from the rich-navy velvet booths (which are a nod to her father’s favorite blue sweatshirt) to vintage chandeliers.

Whether or not frogs’ legs are your thing, the française cocktails are an experience that extends well beyond the tasty main dishes. And because we’re in NYC, Les Trois Chevaux feels just cool and urban enough for your next big fête.

What to Order:

Chef Mar brings French dishes to the table that are classic — so classic that no one serves them anymore. Case in point: the Pithivier, which is Dungeness crab baked into a crisp and thin puff pastry crust, served with fine seafood sauce. You’ll wish you could drink it like a soup.

Restaurant with a View: SAGA

The Details:

When you’re 63 floors in the air, the view is what you’re focused on. The FiDi skyscraper where you’ll find SAGA is the last of the great jazz age and looks more like an art-deco museum than an apartment building. The restaurant space was originally designed to be a private apartment for the founder of CITGO. It was then turned into SAGA  (which explains the multiple rooms furnished with art-deco pieces).

Chef James Kent, who saw Eleven Madison Park win three Michelin stars, is not only all about great food but tailor-made comfort (the furniture is heated!). There is no dress code and modern music flows. This restaurant is about as New York-inspired as it gets.

When you get off the elevator that takes you more than 60 stories high, you’re offered a drink that you can take to the terrace to enjoy. The tasting menu serves shareable plates, as well as smaller dishes. But there’s no physical menu to refer to, so you may need to rely on servers more than usual to pick your dishes.

What to order:

The menu is prix fixe ($295), and always delicious. But sometimes the unexpected is more tasty. For instance, the Moroccan and Asian influences shine with courses like duck, wagyu, and caviar (the latter you can put over any number of things).

After-Work Dinner: The Grill

The Details:

There are some places that just evoke the Mad Men days of three-martini lunches and Don Draper. And The Grill is it for NYC. This is as glamorous as it gets as far as space goes in this town, with triple-high ceilings and banquettes where every single seat is prime. If you’re in the pool room that was the former Four Seasons, that’s the place to be — for you, as well as the likes of Justin Timberlake.

But even without any of this, you would still love the food, which is old-school Hollywood glamorous, with a side of theater. The Grill makes its omelettes tableside. There’s also a traditional French press in a contraption that’s cranked down tight to press the bones and meat of the chicken for sauce. The juice of the chicken and meats is served on pasta. And it’s decadent.

This hotspot is a from a time when the Four Seasons brought Manhattan’s elite together to smoke cigarettes and dine on some of the most delicious cuts of meat. The Grill is a modern take on what was before the days of precise cooking — or clogged arteries. If you can shell out a hefty sum, the Grill will bring you back to the good ole days.

What to Order:

Steak, if you must. But don’t sleep on the ham steak or the Scottish Salmon. Or the mud pie. Desserts here are must-haves, even if you clean your dinner plate. Technically, the Grill is a steakhouse, so the meats of all varieties are actually the highlights.

Everyday Lunch:  Estiatorio Milos

The Details:

This is still one of the best values in the city. You get a three-course, prix-fixe lunch for around $30. How’s that for a NYC restaurant? And the mediterranean influence shines through with fresh branzino, calamari, octopus, and halloumi cheese. Your seafood is pulled straight from the ice, for you to view before it gets whipped it up into a dish.

This Hudson Yards location of Estiatorio Milos is every bit as loud and welcoming as any taverna in Greece, despite the more refined atmosphere. High ceilings and close enough tables make it easy to debate the best-looking fish with your neighbors without feeling like you’re on top of each other. The food and the energy here make every occasion from a birthday to a work lunch the epitome of the New York power scene.

What to order:

The Milos special, which are paper thin zucchini chips and the stuff addiction is made of. You can and should order any of the seafood selections — from the sashimi-grade octopus to the whole whitefish.

After-Work Drinks: Avra Madison + Aman NYC

The Details:

If you know a member, are a hotel guest, or a member yourself, it’s Aman time. Otherwise take a coveted seat at Avra Madison, the bar scene is still cool. But you shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach, where the saganaki always hits the spot.

Weekend Brunch: Sadelle’s

The Details:

When we think of grabbing bagels on Saturday, a night of overindulgence often comes to mind. But not at Sadelle’s. The restaurant comes to you from Major Food Group, the people behind Carbone and The Grill. So it’s always a production here. The scene is always lively and a good spot for out-of-town guests.  All day brunch is the name of the game, where the best post-synagogue bites are served until 3 p.m.

What to order:

Whatever you have room for. We’re suckers for anything that comes out on tiered plates. And it’s especially exciting when it’s at Sadelle’s. The staff hits all the right notes with handmade, freshly-baked bagels and the best smoked salmon in town. They also do a killer egg salad, and whether you go for the salmon roe or splurge on the caviar on latkes, this is Jewish-inspired food at its very best. The list of what to order is long; we’d also get the royal eggs, French toast, and Francesca salad.

Casual Bistro: Jack & Charlie’s No 118

The Details:

This is a classic supper club and a neighborhood spot and its already on its way to becoming  a New York institution. Jack and Charlie’s the brain child of Ed Cotton, whose accolades include Iron Chef America.

Though new, Jack & Charlie’s brings back the good old days. You can sit and stay all night, chatting with friends over clams casino and prime rib. The menu includes meatloaf, but the ante is upped with a whole duck that’s cooked with some 30 other ingredients.

The menu evokes memorable speakeasies, but it’s also special because of the method of cooking. Other restaurants use gas-powered ovens; Jack & Charlie’s uses a cherry-and-beechwood-burning oven inherited from past occupants. This adds a rich flavor…and a small bit of magic.

What to order:

This is food that sticks to your bones, like the corned beef knishes and the soft-break pretzels with mustard butter. The meatloaf comes with a house-made corn bread that can’t be beat. Oh, and lest we forget: oysters.

Everyday Italian: San Carlo Osteria Piemont

The Details:

There are some spots that are your go-to, and San Carlo always comes to the rescue. It’s the definition of neighborhood Italian, sitting on the West Village – Soho border. Its pasta shines. And this is a place you could bring a large group to order pretty much everything on the menu. San Carlo has truffles year-round. You get variations of black from winter through summer, and the coveted white truffles from Alba when they come into season in the fall. It’s all truffles, all the time. As it’s an everyday Italian restaurant, the pricing is fair, the service is impeccable, and reservations are easy.

What to order:

Truffle anything. But also the veal and the risotto and the duck breast. OK, everything.

Honorable Mention: Bar Pitti

There’s a reason why you’ll almost always have a celebrity sighting here. It’s simple, easy, no-frills Italian. Check the chalkboard specials for fresh pasta, and linger for the bread and wine. The service is some of the most attentive of any NYC restaurant, though the cash-only policy could cause some pains. It’s still one of the best NYC restaurants.

Coffee + People-Watching: Sant Ambroeus West Village

The Details:

There are times when you want to sit all afternoon at a perfect corner restaurant. That would be an outdoor table at Sant Ambroeus. Its coffee is the stuff you dream of. Cappuccinos have an impossible amount of airy foam. Good thing there are four locations across the city. You can bring your laptop and graze all day long. It’s one of the best NYC restaurants, but you can treat it like a European café when its not prime weekend hours.

What to order:

The affogato is a perfect vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso on top. Sant Ambroeus, of course, has cakes and some of the best simple cookies in town to go with your drinks. It’s a piece of Milan, but even better because you don’t have to travel. And their Milan-inspired favorites are reinterpreted with a nod to the major cities of the world.


Related: NYC From the Inside

The Polo Bar
1 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022
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