The opportunities for dining out in New York City are practically endless — but your time and budget almost certainly aren’t. If you want to making dining out in one of the world’s great culinary centers count, don't waste time with a mediocre meal: Instead, look to the very best dining venues, as curated by leading restaurant-review publisher Zagat. Here are Zagat’s top 10 picks for NYC restaurants, as rated for their culinary excellence.
This Midtown seafood mecca — a Parisian transplant — has been racking up accolades since its 1986 debut in New York. Notably, it's received more James Beard Awards than any other restaurant in town and has consistently maintained its three Michelin stars since the Michelin Guide began reviewing NYC eateries over a decade ago. And, of course, it consistently ranks tops on Zagat’s “Best Food” list, too! Helmed by Maguy Le Coze and Chef Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin’s star shows no sign of dimming, thanks to handsome decor, polished service, and a lunch and dinner menu showcasing impeccable seafood dishes, inventive tasting menus, and a dazzling wine list for pairings (sourced from an Old World-stocked cellar of more than 15,000 bottles). Just be prepared for the price tag to match.
Bouley at Home
Newcomer Bouley at Home debuted in the Flatiron District in 2017, manifesting lauded chef David Bouley’s multi-concept culinary vision for the space. More than just a restaurant, the immersive venture goes beyond traditional dining to afford patrons an educational experience, with a home kitchen aesthetic that lends well to the hands-on cooking classes offered here (incorporating the freshest organic ingredients and an ethos of healthy eating), as well as the on-site food lab and bake shop. Of course, there’s plenty of eating to be had, too, including signature nine-course fine-dining tasting dinners (or more affordable five-course tasting lunches) that unfold at individual chef-led cooking stations (the cooks double as servers), where visitors can watch the meal being prepared before sampling it. Menus change based on seasonal ingredients... and chefs’ whims; just be sure to book in advance, as seatings are limited.
This classic, two-decades-old New French eatery, set at the doorstep of Central Park on Columbus Circle, marks the flagship of celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's veritable culinary empire. A fine-dining haven carrying two Michelin stars, the seasonal menu here reflects French, American, and Asian influences, with ingredients from the local farmers' market driving the dishes du jour. Patrons can choose between several two-, three-, or six-course tasting menus (tip: come for lunch if affordability is a factor), highlighting either seasonal fare or the chef’s signature creations. The sumptuous, sun-bathed dining room and white-glove service rounds out the splurge-worthy experience.
The parade of celebrity chefs continues on Zagat’s top-ranked NYC restaurants list, with French chef Daniel Boulud’s eponymous Daniel eatery ranking among the very best. The Upper East Side mainstay earns high marks for its sophisticated French cuisine, top-notch cellar with more than 25,000 bottles (as well as robust Champagne offerings), refined atmosphere (jackets are required for men, while chandeliers dangle overhead), and meticulous yet affable service. The modern, seasonally driven menu includes options for a four- or seven-course dinner menu; apart from the opulent main dining room, there’s a smart bar and lounge area, too.
Gotham Bar and Grill
Another longstanding NYC culinary institution, Greenwich Village’s reliable Parisian brasserie-styled Gotham Bar and Grill has been a go-to for quality cuisine for more than three decades. With Chef Alfred Portale in the kitchen, the Michelin star-carrying eatery draws crowds for lunch and dinner (lunch touts a popular, budget-friendly prix-fixe menu) thanks to New American comfort fare like salmon with roasted fennel or dry-aged New York steak. A respectable wine menu features rare vintages and small-production varietals. Look out for a notable art collection in the elegant dining room, too — the restaurant even touts its very own curator.
Peter Luger Steak House
A point of pilgrimage for NYC carnivores, Peter Luger Steak House in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, marks the only one of Zagat’s top 10 NYC restaurant picks to fall outside of Manhattan. Little wonder it's worth a wander, given a reputation and longevity that downright defies NYC geography. The classic, Michelin star-toting steakhouse opened in 1887 and hasn’t lost any steam since thanks in large part to its quality cuts of meat, all of which are USDA Prime, and hand-selected by the proprietors, before undergoing a run in the on-site dry-aging facilities. The results are buttery and lip-smacking. Expect an old-school beer hall-style atmosphere with leather seating and wood paneling; and note that--fitting with its old-timey air--it’s cash only.
Perched upon Midtown oasis Bryant Park, this Alsatian namesake eatery from Chef Gabriel Kreuther (a fixture on myriad “best chef” lists) opened in 2015 to much acclaim. Garnering two Michelin stars, creative French fare featuring Alsatian twists defines the menu here via artfully presented dishes like a sturgeon and sauerkraut tart topped with caviar; all of which comes served up by an attentive staff. The tasteful dining room boasts reclaimed wood beams, white leather seating, and an open kitchen so you can see the culinary masterpieces in the making.
Yet another French contender among Zagat’s top 10, this Union Square-area eatery has been dishing out sophisticated French-American fare since 2000. Meals are crafted with ingredients from the nearby Union Square farmers’ market; signature dishes from Chef Marco Moreira like California sea urchin with angel hair carbonara come paired with an impressive wine list. (Tip: The two- or three-course prix-fixe lunch or pre-theater menus are a steal.) Dig in your meal in a pristine dining room with soaring ceilings and golden trims; there’s also a chic modern bar, worth lingering at for an aperitif or nightcap.
A NYC favorite since 1994, the Gramercy Tavern in the Flatiron District owes its staying power to warm and attentive service, inviting atmosphere (marked by colorful murals and floral arrangements), and consistently solid modern American cuisine. Brainchild of lauded restaurateur Danny Meyer, Chef Michael Anthony’s seasonal menu here showcases local farms and food purveyors, with popular dishes like sea bass and braised beef. Pull up a chair in either the Tavern, a casual space with an à la carte menu, or try the more formal main Dining Room for fixed-price and tasting menus, although the space also offers an à la carte menu at lunchtime. Gratuities are now built into the menu prices.
For one of the city’s top temples to sushi, look no further than Sushi Yasuda, where, for some 20 years, the Midtown staple near Grand Central has paired perfectly prepared rice with cuts of fresh flavorful fish from around the globe. The minimalist, serene dining room integrates bamboo planks throughout, offering a quiet, Zen-inspiring space to let your taste buds explore sans distraction. For a worthwhile splurge, consider ordering the omakase prix-fixe meal at the sushi bar, for a palate-pleasing parade of sushi and sashimi custom-tailored to your tastes and left to the chefs’ expertise.