New York City has a vibrant food culture and an impressive variety of cuisines. From quick service restaurants to Michelin-starred establishments, you really are spoilt for choice. Where to eat in NYC is a timeless question, and this post is my small contribution to an answer.
I’ve had a lot of good food throughout my NYC trips over the years. This post will focus on places that N- and I tried during our most recent trip together. These are places I recommend—places I would visit again.
As mentioned in my London restaurants post, here’s what I look at when recommending places to eat for travelers: food taste and quality; location; value for money; seating; and walk-in availability. On the last point: Unless otherwise indicated, we walked in at the restaurants below with minimal waiting time.
Chelsea Market was a food hall with a good variety of choices at mostly affordable price points. N- and I decided to try a little bit of everything.
Unlike other food halls, Chelsea Market didn’t have a common seating area. Some of the places had seats, but most didn’t. We were able to find bar-type seats at Cull & Pistol and took turns bringing back food. It wasn’t the most comfortable eating experience, but at least the food was good.
Num Pang Sandwich Shop
Five-spice glazed pork belly grain bowl — Pork belly with cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and fried onions. For the grains, they offered a choice between brown rice, jasmine rice, or their super grain blend (brown rice, farro, and quinoa). I chose the last. The bowl was filling and delicious.
Cull & Pistol
Lobster roll — The generous serving of fresh, delicious lobster really carried the dish. The bread and the sauce were pretty standard. I do think they could have done more to make this roll more interesting.
We also had some clam chowder here, but it was unremarkable.
As someone who loves sushi burritos, I liked this concept. I also think crispy tacos are underrated.
Spicy tuna taco — Sashimi-grade bigeye tuna with jicama, avocado, cucumber, spicy mayo, radish, and sesame seeds, all in a crispy gyoza shell. The tuna was tasty, fresh, and came in a generous serving.
Curry beef taco — Beef in medium-spiced Japanese style curry, cotija cheese, and napa cabbage slaw. This taco was delicious, but I wouldn’t call it a curry; it was more like beef stew in taco form. It tasted a little like caldereta.
Both tacos came with chips, which was a plus.
I ordered a variety of chocolates from here. They were rather pricy, but worth trying. These are what I recommend:
White almond bark — This had so many almonds that the chocolate was almost just a binding agent. Both the chocolate and the almonds were of good quality.
Dark cashew chews — This was also very good.
Chelsea Market / Food Hall / Website / Yelp / $$
The first time we tried to eat here, the wait was so long that we gave up and went next door. But a few days later, we were able to have lunch here with a short wait.
Veggie bowl with salmon — Sautéed Japanese eggplant, baby bok choy, carrots, bean sprouts, edamame, scallions, and sesame lime dressing on brown rice or quinoa. I chose brown rice and added salmon. The salmon was perfectly cooked and the bowl was healthy and delicious. It had too much dressing though, so I’d ask for dressing on the side.
Fried chicken and cheddar waffle — This dish was just okay. The chicken, though perfectly fried, wasn’t very flavorful. The waffle was crispy outside but crumbly inside (which worked against it). I liked the unique spicy tabasco honey this came with.
Friedman’s (Chelsea) / New American, Breakfast & Brunch / Website / Yelp / $$
Turntable Chicken Jazz
It was dinnertime and we didn’t know where to eat in NYC’s Koreatown, which was near our hotel. When N- suggested Korean fried chicken, I searched on Yelp and found Turntable. We had a hard time looking for it until I saw a small unobtrusive sign on an office building.
The building was dark and seedy—the kind where you might find an unlicensed dentist to pull out an aching tooth. We went up the stairs and through a narrow corridor, then opened the door.
We found ourselves in a large lively restaurant with music playing loudly on the speakers. The interiors were trendy—concrete walls and wooden tables, plus they had a bar. I never would have imagined this scene from outside. I also have to compliment their soundproofing.
Turntable chicken — They had a few chicken choices. We went with 5 drumsticks and 10 wings, half in soy garlic sauce and half in hot sauce.
The chicken was tender with a light flavor; it definitely wasn’t greasy. I liked the wings better than the drumsticks. The latter were too big and thus had less skin.
Speaking of skin, the chicken skin here wasn’t as crispy as I would have wanted.
I loved the soy garlic sauce. The hot sauce was a bit too spicy for me.
We ordered extra dips—one blue cheese and one honey mustard. They went well with the chicken.
Corn cheese — Corn off the cob mixed with melted mozzarella cheese, mayo, butter, and onions. This was damn good. The cheese was incredibly melty—the kind that formed long, thin strings when you served the corn from the bowl onto your plate.
Twister — A spiral-shaped potato on a stick, topped with parmesan cheese, spicy mayo, and ketchup. Although hard to eat, this was flavorful and delicious. I liked the cheesiness, the spiciness, and the crispy potato edges.
Turntable Chicken Jazz / Korean Fried Chicken / Website / Yelp / $$
The Malt House
N- and I had dinner here. It was a gastropub with a surprising amount of space for a New York establishment. There was no wait. The food was reasonably priced.
Crab and artichoke dip — An excellent three-cheese dip with artichoke, spinach, and a generous amount of jumbo lump crab. It was served with tasty plantain chips instead of the usual tortilla chips you’d expect. This dish was filling enough that you could have it as a small meal on its own if you weren’t too hungry.
Blackened Alaska salmon po’ boy — A sandwich made of fresh and tender Cajun salmon, topped with grilled onions, cucumber, avocado, and sriracha aioli. I asked them to substitute its side of fries with truffle fries, which were nice and flavorful.
Atlantic cod and rosemary chips — N- loves fish and chips and couldn’t miss the chance to order it here. The fish was tender with crispy breading. It was served piping hot with rosemary parmesan fries and spicy poblano aioli.
The Malt House (Financial District) / Gastropub / Website / Yelp / $$
Degustation is closed as of this writing. I’m leaving this here for posterity.
This was a tiny restaurant—just an open kitchen with an L-shaped bar around it. You could watch the head chef and cooks make the food right in front of you. The bar was regular table height, with chairs instead of bar stools. The seating was a little tight but not cramped. We had to make reservations in advance.
We opted for the 7-course chef’s tasting menu.
Amuse-bouche — Potato pancake, salmon, dill-and-fennel cream cheese sauce.
Beet salad — Roasted beets, beet puree, candied Marcona almonds, messina greens. Beets seem to be the food trend du jour. I wouldn’t mind seeing them go out of style. I don’t see the appeal. The almonds and beets went well together though.
Persimmons and ham — Persimmons, aged manchego cheese, serrano ham, endives. Lightly dressed. I liked this one. The persimmons paired perfectly with the ham.
Egg and chips — Poached egg, tomatillo sauce, fried potato chips with paprika. The dish featured a good flavor combination. It was a gourmet take on hangover food.
Scallop and bacon — Seared scallop, crispy bacon, celery root purée. This was the highlight of the meal. The scallop was perfectly cooked, fresh, tasty, and smooth. And the bacon was crispy—as bacon should be.
Fettuccini — Housemade fettuccini with chorizo and chives. Although a bit oily, this was piping hot, spicy, and delicious.
Lamb — Lamb, quinoa, garlic pistou, chives, onion. The lamb was delicious and tender. Very good.
French toast brûlée — Spanish style brûlée french toast with goat’s milk caramel. It was like creme brûlée and french toast had a baby. French toast outside; creme brûlée inside; caramelized sugar on top. Practically perfect in every way.
All in all, we had an excellent dinner here. The menu flowed well and the dishes were solid. I especially liked the scallop and the french toast brûlée.
My one gripe about this meal was that the servings were tiny. At $85++ per person, I would have expected to be full afterward. We weren’t. We went elsewhere for a second dessert.
Degustation (CLOSED) / French, Spanish, New American / Yelp / $$$
We went here twice, both times for dessert—that’s all they serve here. There was a bit of a wait the second time, but fortunately they had an indoor waiting area.
Shaved snow desserts — We tried three of these over two visits: Mango Madness, the O.G. (black sesame), and Cookie Monster. I found all of them way too sweet, so I don’t recommend these.
Green tea ice cream waffle — Green tea ice cream, dark chocolate drizzle, condensed milk, and Oreos on top of a waffle. After searching all my life, I finally found the perfect combination of east and west: Oreos and green tea ice cream. It was a match made in heaven. This was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.
Grace Street / Desserts / Website / Yelp / $$
New York City has an excellent food scene. There’s no shortage of good restaurants, which is why I don’t mind returning again and again. Do you have any recommendations on where to eat in NYC? Let me know in the comments.