10 Best Mediterranean Restaurants in New York City
By Andrea Duchon
New York Local Expert
Mediterranean food encompasses a wide array of cuisines. From Middle Eastern falafel to Greek tzatziki to Moroccan-style tagine, there's something for nearly everyone and every palate. But with so many options, it can be difficult to make the decision on where to head first.
After all, New York City is no stranger to the tastes of the Mediterranean with restaurants ranging from upscale joints to take-out counters. Luckily, we've chowed down and researched all around the city to deliver a list of the 10 best places to spend your next meal.
If you're looking to impress a date, look no further than Alta in the West Village. With beautifully crafted small plates, an extensive wine list and an underground entrance that will make you feel like you've just discovered a hidden gem, Alta is gold.
For something a little further uptown (maybe before a show?), Taboon is calling your name. And for those looking to eat like a king without breaking the bank, spots like Taim and Nanoosh will more than satisfy your cravings.
While it can be overwhelming to nail down a Mediterranean joint worth checking out in The Big Apple, we think this list of the 10 best Mediterranean restaurants in New York is a good place to start.
Even though Alta is quite large, the elegantly back-lit walls and ethereal drapes make it a beautifully intimate space. It's perfect for conversation paired with an extensive selection of small bites and good drops. With little beauties like bacon wrapped olives, wok seared calamari, shrimp risotto and fingerling potato saltimbocca, the food is consistently good. An equally thorough wine list opens up even more opportunities for flavor pairings. In a city where the next hottest thing seems to crop up every two minutes, Alta has been holding down the fort and garnering rave review after rave review for years. It's a don't miss. (212-505-7777)
9 Cafe Mogador
A brunch favorite among locals for years, Cafe Mogador has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Still, it's an institution for a reason and the food here consistently impresses both out-of-towners and neighborhood regulars alike. Drawing inspiration from Morocco, the menu favors tagined chicken or lamb in one of five different ways, served with cous cous or basmati rice. Apricot and prune or the green Charmoulla are good options for first timers. At brunch, opt for the Moroccan Benedict with spicy tomato sauce and wash it all down with a mimosa. You'll need it after fighting the crowds that have inevitably gathered outside. (212-677-2226)
8 Boulud Sud
Just a few blocks north of Keller's Per Se, chef Daniel Boulud awakens palates with his sophisticated take on Mediterranean food. A popular dinner choice for Lincoln Center theater-goers, Boulud Sud's ambiance is simple and well-coordinated - the perfect backdrop for the bold flavors of the cuisine. Patrons have the option of ordering a la carte, or choosing the three course prix fixe menu for $60. If you're not interested in fighting the high-culture crowd at supper, opt to dine at lunch, where the food is every bit as delicious and the prices are a tad friendlier on the wallet. (212-595-1313)
7 Little Owl
Tucked at the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets in the West Village, this small eatery is the perfect place for a romantic date night rendezvous. Serving up winning Mediterranean fare, The Little Owl utilizes seasonal ingredients to enhance its menu, which features fresh fish, hearty meats and other flavorful concoctions, like the mouth-watering ricotta cavatelli. Diners enjoy watching the activity street-side via floor to ceiling windows, while stealing peeks into the open kitchen. If you're visiting with 4 people, opt to sit at the chef's favorite table (hint: it's also the bar), and keep in mind that if you're planning to dine here with a party larger than 2, reservations are required. (212-741-4695)
Sleek, understated lines, and a sky high dining room ceiling meld with white-striped glass windows that make dining here an airy affair. Though you're surrounded by glass, the atmosphere feels somehow cozy - warm fuzzies that are only amplified when the food arrives from the open kitchen.
You're familiar with the concept of a sushi bar, but a hummus bar? Probably not so much. At Nanoosh, this chickpea spread rules the roost in everything from wraps and salads to "Powerfood Plates" where diners can build their own unique meal. The restaurant's dedication to health is evident the moment you walk in the door, and all the food is all-natural and organic, so you'll feel satisfied and superb regardless of what you order. They also do a hefty bit of delivery service, so if you're staying nearby, don't be afraid to skim their website (there's an altered delivery menu) and order in. (212-362-7922)
Taim is quick eats in the form of falafel, sandwiches, salads and smoothies. Locations are peppered all around town, but you'll find this one sharing a street with its big sister, Balaboosta. All the food here is vegetarian and the falafel is gluten-free, so eaters with restrictions will rejoice when looking for late night grub. Even if the clock doesn't read 2AM, Taim is one of those rare places that is good after a few beers and if you're stone cold sober. Regulars say that these are the best falafels in town, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees. (212-219-0600)
Balaboosta is Yiddish for the perfect blend of housewife, cook and hostess, and this Nolita restaurant doesn't drop the ball in upholding the traditions of the old country. The dining room is lined with windows but still somehow manages to retain a feeling of comfort and coziness. The menu is served either a la carte or family style in three different prix fixes for larger groups. If you're dining with friends, those options are a no brainer. But if you're with a smaller crowd, start with the cauliflower before moving into the grilled lamb chops and ending it all with the knafeh, a Middle Eastern cheesecake served with Persian cotton candy and rose water ice cream. (212-966-7366)
Located in Hells Kitchen, Taboon is upscale Mediterranean done right. The atmosphere here is homey and comfortable, but still with enough flair that you feel special for eating out. While the stars of the menu come from the restaurant's namesake oven, you'd be remiss if you didn't start with the trio of hummus, baba ghanoush and tapenade. A favorite for a pre- or post-show dinner, Taboon also has a dedicated theater menu for $38 that includes a meze, main and a dessert. If you're more of an early riser, try Taboon's shakshooka brunch, or stick to the continental side of things with their challah french toast and homemade vanilla ice cream. (212-713-0271)
1 Estiatorio Milos
Greek-focused Estiatorio Milos boasts locations in Montreal, Athens, Vegas, Miami and London, as well as New York. Don't let that dissuade you. While the wide spread exposure might be off-putting, the food is most certainly not. Beware that the menu -- and the prices -- are much more high-brow, and inspiration's drawn from locations closer to Manhattan than Athens. (Maryland crab cakes, anyone?)
Because of its close proximity to the Theater District, it also conveniently offers a special 4-course dinner both pre- and post-show, with choices ranging from fresh calamari to tomato salad, and grilled salmon served with crown broccoli. (212-245-7400)
About Andrea Duchon
Andrea Duchon 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 Duchon here.