Just a few decades ago, you'd be hard pressed to find people wandering the Flatiron District in search of a satisfying meal. These days, that's all changed. Now, it'd be pretty impossible to swing a dead cat without hitting at least a handful of foodie approved dining destinations.
On one hand, the Flatiron District's hotels have redefined acceptable fare for out-of-towners with jaw-dropping joints that even bring locals in off the streets. There are restaurants like The NoMad, a crazy chic, upscale new American joint that manages to bring the most boring item on any menu - chicken - into the spotlight with their over-the-top chicken for two. Or, how about infusing the area with some serious libations like April Bloomfield's done at The Ace Hotel with her gastropub, The Breslin?
But if you're looking for something to wow the pants off that lucky someone, you'll find that here too in places like Eleven Madison Park. Continually ranked among the best restaurants in the world, Eleven Madison Park offers the ultimate experience in dining, with impeccable service and sublime food.
So, while few in the past would have answered the question "where's dinner?" with the Flatiron District, we can happily say those days are behind us.
Here are the ten best restaurants in the Flatiron District.
The Cellar at Beecher's Handmade Cheese
The New York outpost of Seattle-born Beecher's Handmade Cheese does not disappoint. This large space, smashed onto the corner of Broadway and 20th Street in 2013 to the delight of cheese-loving New Yorkers the city over. Even more exciting was the discovery that a hidden wine cellar lived beneath the lactose-heavy troughs on the first floor. Now, The Cellar is no secret, and locals descend upon this spot for everything from happy hour to late night nibbles. The star of the menu (no surprise) revolves around cheese - the mac n' cheese variety, to be exact. Choose from six different options, all of which happen to pair perfectly with wine. (212-466-3340)
On the top floor of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's epic Eataly, a mammoth food hall dedicated to high-end Italian products, Birreria couples sweeping views of the Flatiron and Empire State Buildings with killer cocina. This is a beer garden, Italian-style. The crowds of happy hour office workers, Italian expats and third-dating couples come for the convivial atmosphere and solid beer list (there are 10 draughts and more than 20 bottled brews), but it's the food that truly impresses. The house-made sausages and charcuterie include bratwurst and cotechino, and can be paired with any number of vegetable antipasti and fresh, seasonal salads. ((212) 937-8910)
Supplied with the freshest ingredients from nearby Union Square Farmer's Market, this wonderful American bakery specializes in all of the good stuff: scrumptious scones, marvelous muffins and an array of buttery baked goods. The loft-like, balconied dining room is a great place to watch people as they swarm the horseshoe-shaped bakery counter below. Chances are they're after one of two things: a chewy, salty and stretchy pretzel croissant, or a cup of thick, molten hot chocolate - City Bakery is known city-wide for these signature items. Ordering one, or both, is probably one of the best ways to start your morning off with a smile. (212-366-1414)
Burgers and custards and fries, oh my! Award-winning chef Danny Meyer created this homage to drive-throughs and burger joints in the southeast corner of the once-seedy Madison Square Park, and inadvertently started a citywide burger craze – and a global phenomenon. Outposts of the quick service concept have spread everywhere from the streets of New Haven, CT to the malls of Dubai, UAE, and fans of the signature Shack Burger loudly debate its merits against competitors from In-N-Out and beyond. Don't believe the hype, though: come to the park-bound original to sample the juicy burgers, crisp fries and wide array of shakes and frozen custards that started it all. (212-889-6600)
Grandeur is the word at this fine dining outpost on the border of Chelsea and the Flatiron District. The heavy-handled door and building exteriors are covered in hand-chiseled limestone, invoking both Delhi palaces and a really nice day spa. The expansive dining room contains reflecting pools filled with lotus flowers, dimly lit banquettes surrounded by white tablecloths, and no shortage of oversized, pink-hued limestone statues. None of this would matter, though, if the menu weren't so solid. Try the Goan shrimp, packing heat in a spicy piri-piri sauce, grilled monkfish in yogurt sauce with serrano chilies, and handi favorites like chicken Malvan. (212-490-2100)
The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
A gastropub in the truest sense of the word, April Bloomfield's The Breslin sits next to the uber-cool Ace Hotel. Drawing crowds of Stumptown-loving hipsters, in-the-know out-of-towners, and just about anyone looking for a good meal, this joint has a little of everything - though meat-eaters will be among the happiest. With entrees including lamb burgers, roasted sausage and duck and the ribeye for two, you can't go wrong as a carnivore. For special occasions, the kitchen also takes 7-day advance reservations for parties of 8+ that includes a whole suckling pig, crisped to perfection, then presented in entirety to the table. (212-679-1939, 646-214-5764)
Voted the best restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation, this impossibly elegant restaurant is attached to the flagship ABC Carpet & Home store – and it shows. The restaurant is outfitted in sustainably created furniture, twinkling lighting and gorgeous antiques from the globe-trotting interiors store, and the rear dining room connects right to the first floor of the six-story emporium. The locally sourced, seasonal menu does farm-to-table like none other, serving housemade pastas, fresh-from-the-sea tuna sashimi, killer vegetable sides and show-stopping main courses like wood-oven roasted Maine lobster and suckling pig served with braised winter turnips and bacon marmalade. (212-475-5829)
Eleven Madison Park
Winner of the 2012 James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef, Daniel Humm creates innovative combinations to match the over-the-top opulence of Eleven Madison Park's dining room. Vaulted ceilings and wrought iron chandeliers create a truly Gotham-like atmosphere that sets the stage for Eleven Madison's traditional French cuisine with a twist. The restaurant has also racked up its fair share of accolades, including three Michelin stars and four stars from The New York Times. Tasting menus start at $225 per person before beverage pairings, so while you won't save any dough when you dine here, you'll add plenty to your waistline. (212-889-0905, 646-747-2583)
Reserve well in advance to get a table in the central atrium, which has plush velvet chairs and polished tables beneath a vaulted ceiling that lets in scores of natural light two stories up. The side room, or parlour, is no less dramatic, with rosy tones, candlelit tables seating up to eight, and rows upon rows of framed line drawings. The top-notch kitchen produces an array of seasonally inspired plates, including an impossibly elegant hamachi crudo, perfectly seared duck and house-made tagliatelle made with Meyer lemon and tender lump crab. And stay thirsty, my friends – the stellar cocktails are complemented by an impressive, international wine list that includes a crisp, dry rose on tap. (347-472-5660)
Seamus Mullen may not sound like the name of your typical Spanish chef, but Flatiron's Boqueria is no average tapas bar. Now a major force with three restaurants in Manhattan, Mullen made his name at this smart Spanish restaurant. Look for the large Iberian ham mounted in the front window, and you'll know you've come to the right place. The long space fairly glows with energy, from the young crowd sipping rosato and two varieties of house-made sangria at the bar, to the rows of tables topped with tea lights and an array of Iberian small plates like rice cooked with squid ink, Medjool dates wrapped with salty bacon and classic patatas bravas. (212-255-4160)
About Andrea Wien
Andrea Wien was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.
When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll likely find her eating tacos while throwing darts and watching the Cleveland Browns.
Read more about Andrea Wien here.
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