Top 10 Best Restaurants in New York City

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 by Emily Johnson

New York City is world-renowned for its incredible food scene, from fine dining establishments to casual eateries serving comfort food. With over 24,000 restaurants in the city, there are endless options to choose from. However, some restaurants stand out above the rest for their exceptional food, service, and ambiance.

No.RestaurantCuisineLocationHighlight
1Le BernardinFrench SeafoodMidtown WestContemporary French cuisine focusing on seafood.
2DanielFrenchUpper East SideElegant French-inspired contemporary cuisine.
3Eleven Madison ParkAmerican, ContemporaryFlatiron DistrictSeasonal tasting menu offering a theatrical dining experience.
4Per SeAmerican, FrenchUpper West SideSignature contemporary American cuisine with French influences.
5The River CaféAmericanBrooklyn WaterfrontContemporary American cuisine with iconic views.
6Gramercy TavernAmericanFlatiron DistrictSeasonal American cuisine with a welcoming atmosphere.
7Blue HillAmericanGreenwich VillageSustainable, locally-sourced American cuisine.
8The ModernFrench, AmericanMidtownContemporary menus in a sophisticated ambiance.
9MasaJapanese, SushiMidtown WestOmakase-style dining with ingredients flown in from Japan.
10AquavitScandinavianMidtownNordic cuisine and culture with an extensive cocktail menu.

This article highlights the top 10 best restaurants that every food lover must visit when in New York City. From upscale French cuisine to authentic Italian joints, these restaurants offer one-of-a-kind dining experiences. The restaurants on this list have been selected based on critical reviews, diner feedback, awards, and overall popularity. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, these 12 restaurants should be on your NYC dining bucket list.

1. Le Bernardin

Name and Location: Le Bernardin is a Michelin-starred French seafood restaurant located at 155 West 51st Street in Manhattan, New York.

History and Significance: Originally opened in Paris in 1972 by siblings Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze, Le Bernardin has earned Michelin stars across multiple locations and is renowned for its contemporary, elegant seafood dishes.

What to Expect: Guests can expect a fine dining experience with a la carte menus focused on seasonal seafood complemented by an award-winning wine list. The dining room features modern decor and suits jacket requirements.

Visitor Information: Le Bernardin offers lunch and dinner seatings Tuesday to Saturday. Reservations are recommended, with jackets required for gentlemen. The main restaurant is upscale with a lounge available for casual small plates.

Widely considered one of the best restaurants in New York City, Le Bernardin offers contemporary French cuisine with a focus on seafood. Helmed by celebrity chef Eric Ripert, the restaurant is renowned for its impeccable service, elegant atmosphere, and exquisite seafood dishes. Standout menu items include Le Bernardin’s famous Baked Lobster, Poached Halibut, and Crispy Spiced Squid.

Le Bernardin has earned three prestigious Michelin stars, the highest Michelin rating. Food critics and diners consistently rave about the inventive seafood preparations, fresh ingredients, and overall fine dining experience. Make your reservations well in advance to secure a table at this upscale French eatery.

2. Daniel

Name and Location: Daniel is an elegant French cuisine restaurant located at 60 East 65th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York.

History and Significance: Opened by renowned chef Daniel Boulud in 1993, it has won awards from the James Beard Foundation and maintained a Michelin star rating for over two decades as a fine dining icon.

What to Expect: The prix fixe and tasting menus feature contemporary, seasonal French dishes with white glove service in an upscale atmosphere accentuated by fresh florals. Extensive wine pairings available.

Visitor Information: Daniel serves lunch and dinner, requiring proper evening attire. Reservations recommended weeks in advance for award-winning cuisine from Chef Boulud and polished service.

Daniel is Chef Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant, widely considered one of the top fine dining destinations in NYC. The elegant, upscale atmosphere and impeccable French-inspired contemporary cuisine create a memorable fine dining experience. Outstanding dishes include Daniel’s Black Truffle and Foie Gras Ravioli, Garlic-Braised John Dory, and their world-famous Chocolate Bar.

With two Michelin stars and numerous James Beard Foundation awards, Daniel represents the pinnacle of fine dining in New York. Everything from the service to the presentation is executed flawlessly. Dining at Daniel is a special occasion splurge for any foodie visiting the city.

3. Eleven Madison Park

Name and Location: Eleven Madison Park is a Michelin-starred contemporary American tasting menu restaurant located at 11 Madison Avenue in New York City.

History and Significance: Originally founded in 1998, Eleven Madison Park was renovated in 2017 under Chef Daniel Humm to feature a seasonal, locally-sourced tasting menu that has earned it the #1 spot on World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

What to Expect: Whimsical dishes and exceptional wine pairings provide a memorable fine dining experience. The 10+ course seasonal tasting menu changes regularly, served in an art deco setting overlooking Madison Park.

Visitor Information: Jacket and business casual dress code enforced. Reservations often booked 30+ days out, with prepaid tickets for the tasting menu required at over $300 per person. Beverage pairings additional.

This 3-Michelin star restaurant located in a beautiful art deco building offers a tasting menu that is widely considered one of the best in the world. Under Chef Daniel Humm, the tasting menu consists of 10+ courses showcasing seasonal ingredients and unique flavors. Standout dishes include their famous lavender-duck dish and honey-lavender glazed duck.

Eleven Madison Park is not just about the food – it provides a whimsical and theatrical dining experience from start to finish. From the Swiss-inspired decor to the tableside preparations, everything is tailored to give diners a memorable evening. The pricing is quite steep, but dining at Eleven Madison Park is a once-in-a-lifetime splurge for any culinary experience seeker.

4. Per Se

Name and Location: Per Se is a contemporary American fine dining restaurant located at 10 Columbus Circle in Manhattan, on the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center.

History and Significance: Established by renowned chef Thomas Keller in 2004, Per Se has maintained three Michelin stars for over a decade and regularly ranks among the World’s Best Restaurants lists for its elevated New American cuisine.

What to Expect: Elegant interior with Central Park views provide a refined ambiance, as guests enjoy a seasonal 9-course Chef’s Tasting menu paired with exceptional wines selected daily. Service is polished and accommodating.

Visitor Information: Dinner reservations recommended 30+ days in advance with a prepaid prix fixe menu at $355 per person. Proper evening attire is enforced, with the dining room offering a jacket, tie and business casual dress code.

Located in the Time Warner Center, Per Se is Chef Thomas Keller’s esteemed restaurant showcasing his signature contemporary American cuisine with French influences. A tasting menu provides approximately 9 savory courses, offering the best of seasonal ingredients and Keller’s impeccable technique. To fully experience Per Se, opt for the Chef’s Table tasting menu.

As a recipient of 3 Michelin stars, Per Se upholds impeccably high culinary standards with polished service in an elegant setting. Notable dishes include Oysters and Pearls, Butter-Poached Maine Lobster, and their delicate Vanilla Bean Goat Milk Cake. Due to its acclaim and limited seating, reservations are difficult to secure and quite expensive. For foodies, an extraordinary meal at Per Se is worth the effort and splurge.

5. The River Café

Name and Location: The River Café is a waterfront fine dining restaurant situated below the Brooklyn Bridge along the East River Waterfront at 1 Water Street in Brooklyn, New York.

History and Significance: Opened in 1977 as one of New York’s first locally-sourced farm-to-table restaurants, River Café rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy and continues to offer acclaimed contemporary American cuisine and breathtaking Manhattan views.

What to Expect: Menus change seasonally showcasing regional ingredients through creatively plated dishes and extensive wine selections. Tables line floor-to-ceiling windows providing unparalleled views of downtown Manhattan.

Visitor Information: Dinner reservations recommended weeks in advance; business attire required with jackets for gentlemen. Valet parking available at the restaurant’s Brooklyn location with select weekend lunch seatings.

Situated right on the water overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline, The River Café offers one of the most breathtaking views. Since it opened in 1977, the restaurant has attracted diners seeking its contemporary American cuisine, incredible views, and romantic ambiance.

The ever-changing seasonal menus incorporate fresh ingredients like seafood, duck, and produce sourced from farms in upstate New York. Standout dishes include their signature Oysters Roasted with Chorizo, Long Island Duck with Lavender Honey, and sensational desserts. With 1 Michelin star, The River Café provides a magical fine dining experience in a truly unique New York setting.

6. Gramercy Tavern

Name and Location: Gramercy Tavern is a contemporary New American restaurant located at 42 East 20th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue South in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, New York.

History and Significance: Established by Danny Meyer in 1994, Gramercy Tavern emerged as a top NYC dining destination known for its seasonal menus, craft cocktails and convivial atmosphere led by Executive Chef Michael Anthony. It maintains a Michelin star rating.

What to Expect: The dining room offers an elegant, refined setting for ingredient-focused dishes, complemented by an extensive wine list and attentive service. Tasting menus available; reservations recommended.

Visitor Information: Dinner reservations recommended. Jackets suggested but not required; business casual permitted. The tavern offers a more casual menu and walk-in seating.

Led by Chef Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern is one of New York’s most beloved restaurants known for its welcoming hospitality, warm ambiance, and seasonal American cuisine. Main courses like their Roasted Chicken, Lamb Shoulder, and New York Strip are executed flawlessly. Their prix fixe Tavern menu is more affordable but every bit as delightful.

Beyond the quality food, Gramercy Tavern shines in its service. There is no pretension – just knowledgeable, friendly servers providing a comfortable, enjoyable dining experience. Gramercy Tavern has received 1 Michelin star, multiple James Beard awards, and consistent rave reviews for its food and hospitality. It’s a restaurant that makes any New Yorker or tourist feel right at home.

7. Blue Hill

Name and Location: Blue Hill is a fine dining farm-to-table restaurant located at 75 Washington Place in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York City.

History and Significance: Opened in 2000 by Chef Dan Barber, Blue Hill pioneered the locavore movement by sourcing ingredients from its Hudson Valley farm and producers within 200 miles. It holds a Michelin star for its seasonal American cuisine.

What to Expect: Menus change daily based on availability from Blue Hill Farm and regional purveyors. The dining room features an open kitchen, exposed brick and copper accents in an airy, modern space showcasing the day’s fare.

Visitor Information: Dinner reservations recommended one month in advance. Smart casual attire is appropriate. A à la carte menu is offered alongside the Farmer’s Feast tasting option at Blue Hill in Greenwich Village.

Led by Chef Dan Barber, Blue Hill offers a dining experience focused on sustainable, locally-sourced American cuisine. Menus change daily based on what is seasonally available from their farm in the Hudson Valley and producers in the region. Popular dishes include Long Island Duck Breast with Polenta and Stone Barns Greens.

Diners rave about the freshness and flavor of ingredients, creative preparations, and cozy Greenwich Village townhouse setting. Blue Hill has received numerous accolades including a Michelin star for its excellent farm-to-table cuisine. It’s a favorite among locals and tourists seeking a memorable culinary experience grounded in seasonal, responsibly-sourced ingredients.

8. The Modern

Name and Location: The Modern is a two-Michelin starred contemporary American restaurant located on the ground floor of the Museum of Modern Art at 9 West 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York.

History and Significance: Founded by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group in 2005 under Chef Gabriel Kreuther, The Modern features seasonal New American tasting menus paired with an award-winning wine program led by Sommelier Michael Engelmann.

What to Expect: Sophisticated, elegant surroundings with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking MoMA’s sculpture garden. Two multicourse prix fixe options change regularly, reflecting refined modern techniques and seasonal ingredients.

Visitor Information: Reservations recommended 30+ days in advance. Jacket and business casual dress code with ties for gentlemen. Bar Room available for à la carte small plates and walk-ins.

Located in the Museum of Modern Art, The Modern features two restaurants – The Bar Room and a fine dining room. Under Chef Abram Bissell, the contemporary menus incorporate French techniques with seasonal New American flavors. Dishes like Mushroom En Croute with Celery Root and Black Truffle exemplify Chef Bissell’s artful, refined fare.

The Modern’s simple yet sophisticated ambiance and city views through floor-to-ceiling windows create a destination dining experience. As a recipient of 2 Michelin stars, The Modern upholds exacting culinary standards while providing diners with a taste of quintessential New York dining culture. It’s a top choice for a special occasion meal or business lunch.

9. Masa

Name and Location: Masa is an acclaimed Japanese sushi restaurant located inside the Time Warner Center at 10 Columbus Circle on the 4th floor in Manhattan, New York.

History and Significance: Founded in 2004 by respected sushi chef Masayoshi “Masa” Takayama, the intimate 20-seat counter is dedicated to the Edomae-style of sushi pioneered in 19th century Tokyo. It holds three Michelin stars.

What to Expect: The $600+ omakase menu features ultra-fresh seafood and wild ingredients flown in daily from Japan. Dishes are prepared meters away by Chef Masa and staff, paired with premium sake selections in a refined, Zen-like atmosphere.

Visitor Information: Reservations taken one month prior for the single nightly seating at 6pm. Business attire required; solo diners permitted at the sushi counter. Cash or Amex accepted; gratuity included.

Masa is Chef Masa Takayama’s intimate sushi bar known for its omakase-style dining experience. Only 26 seats are available per seating where Chef Masa himself prepares edomae-style sushi and sashimi flown in daily from Japan. The 20+ course tasting menu also includes dishes like Wagyu Beef and foie gras seared tableside.

As the only NYC sushi restaurant awarded 3 Michelin stars, the quality of fish and overall dining experience at Masa is unparalleled. The minimalist interior provides a uniquely intimate and personalized setting. An average meal costs over $600 per person, making Masa an extraordinarily expensive but incredible sushi experience.

10. Aquavit

Name and Location: Aquavit is a Michelin-starred Scandinavian restaurant located at 65 East 55th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues in Midtown Manhattan, New York.

History and Significance: Opened in 1987 and led by Chef Emma Bengtsson since 2017, Aquavit pioneered modern Nordic cuisine in New York. Its redesigned space and recent relocation have refreshed the concept while maintaining creative Scandinavian flavor.

What to Expect: The à la carte menu features contemporary seafood, meat and vegetarian entrees flavored with seasonal ingredients and Scandinavian spices. Refined, minimalist interior offers a stylish, intimate ambiance.

Visitor Information: Lunch and dinner served daily with reservations recommended. Smart attire is appropriate; lounge offers bar bites and cocktails. Complimentary parking for evening diners based on availability.

The only Scandinavian restaurant in New York City, Aquavit provides a taste of Nordic cuisine and culture. Award-winning head Chef Emma Bengtsson showcases Scandinavian flavors and ingredients through prix fixe and tasting menus. Standout dishes include Smoked Salmon Rosette, Dry-Aged Duck, and Rye Bread Ice Cream. Aquavit also offers an extensive cocktail menu specializing in aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit.

The warm, modern interior and gracious hospitality makes Aquavit an accessible fine dining experience. Aquavit has received 1 Michelin star for its exceptional Nordic cuisine. For those seeking something beyond classic French or Italian, Aquavit introduces diners to a taste of Scandinavia in the heart of New York.

Conclusion

This list only scratches the surface of the many phenomenal dining establishments throughout New York City. With new restaurants opening constantly, there’s always more to explore in this dynamic, ever-evolving food city. From tiny hole-in-the-wall joints to grand temples of fine dining, an outstanding meal awaits around every corner.

When visiting New York, make time to sample the city’s world-class cuisine. The restaurants highlighted here offer one-of-a-kind dining experiences worth the time and cost. Whether celebrating a special occasion or simply indulging in a food adventure, these restaurants will create incredible culinary memories of New York that last a lifetime.

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