There's something to be said for staying power, and Le Bernardin certainly delivers. Celebrity chef Eric Ripert has created a New York space that's romantic, refined and seductive, while still managing to infuse his French-Spanish influence into every corner. Le Bernardin, regarded by many as the best restaurant in NYC, has received more James Beard Awards than any other restaurant in the city and holds four New York Times stars, in addition to three Michelin stars. The food, as you might imagine, is impeccable. Simple preparations and respect for the ingredients trump any type of frou-frou experiments, though the cuisine still manages to shine with creativity that can only come from years of intense love and attention-to-detail. If you love seafood, put Le Bernardin at the very top of your culinary bucket list.
Upon entering Sushi Yasuda, one is immediately aware of the absence of art, decorations, or anything that might attract the eye. It is minimalist to the extreme with bamboo-plank walls and open spaces. This simplicity is reflected in Chef Naomichi Yasuda's cuisine as well. The fillets of fish are custom-cut for each order, as pre-cut fish begins to break down almost immediately, losing some of its delicate textures and flavors. The pure and clean dishes are built out of respect for tradition have helped this restaurant to earn a three-star review in the New York Times, and numerous accolades on lists like these ones the city over.
Totto Ramen opened a new location in Midtown East, so if you're on the right side of the island, you'll be happy to know you can get a fix nearby. Both locations are open late, so take solace in the fact that your soup fix can be served (almost) until the clock strikes 12. The name of the game at Totto is, of course, ramen, a Japanese soup laden with wheat noodles and served with accouterments ranging from bean sprouts and nori to salted kelp and spicy pork. Regulars rail against the impossibly long waits during dinner, but despite their protests, you'll still find them lining up in droves to slurp this local favorite.
First things first: you're not coming here for any type of bargain. The Grill is one of the most expensive restaurants in New York, but if you want to experience the opulence of the city, there's nowhere better. The Grill is a remake of the iconic Four Seasons, meaning its set in a historic building and feels like you've stepped into 1950. Only in this version of the past, lobster à la Newberg will run you $92 and your dessert will be lit on fire table-side by a server wearing Tom Ford. Like, we said, it's opulent. But if you can afford it, it's a must.
What Peter Luger is to old-school steakhouses, Quality Meats is to the modern wave of beefy hotspots in New York City. While you'll find nearly all of the same cuts here - bone-in rib-eyes, strips, filets - you'll recognize immediately that this trendy space defies the norm of what a steakhouse is known to be. For one, steel meat hook chandeliers dangle from the ceiling, a nod to pushing the boundaries. The menu follows suit, with dishes like Hamachi sashimi with Black Mission figs and Thai chili vinaigrette, or the Cajun short rib with potato gnocchi and burgundy truffles. Luckily, the chefs in the kitchen hold their own against the cool vibe of the space, turning out near perfectly executed cuts of meat on the regular.
What do you get when you mix an ingredient-driven, award-winning Italian menu, impeccable service, and a fantastic wine list with more than 750 selections? The answer is Marea. Meaning "tide" in Italian, Marea is manned by Chef Michael White and has earned three stars from The New York Times, two stars from Michelin, and a city of devoted regulars who claim that this is the best Italian seafood in the city. Dishes like dressed blue prawns with carrot crisp and tarragon to share, or choose from the Crudo al Taglio, or sliced raw fish and shellfish or choose from four different types of caviar, starting at a mind-boggling $150 per ounce. Our recommendation: opt for the 4-course prix fixe, a modest $99 affair that allows you to sample a crudo, pasta (fatta in casa, or homemade), main and dessert.
Unless it's freakishly low, or ridiculously lofty, a restaurant's ceiling probably isn't the first thing that draws your attention. At Keens, it'll be all you can look at - that is until they bring your meal. Keens Steakhouse - established in 1885 - is one of New York's oldest and most revered eateries. It also happens to have the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world literally hanging from its rafters. The tradition stems from the days when travelers left their delicate pipes at their favorite inns until they returned. Today, Keen's is well-known for its mutton chop - a deep cut of meat so succulent you'll wonder why its popularity ever waned. NY trivia: Keens is the only survivor of what was known as the Herald Square Theatre District.
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 widespread exposure might be off-putting, the food is most certainly not. Beware that the menu - and the prices - are higher-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. Even if you're not catching a show, it's still worth a visit.
Helmed by two Japanese chefs by way of Paris' Michelin-starred circuit, MIFUNE is a breath of fresh air. Yes, they serve delicious sushi and sashimi, but if you turn your attention to the rest of the menu, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
The food is a unique take on Japanese with dishes like foie gras terrine served with hacho miso and corn chips or the straw-smoked lamb chop in black garlic miso sauce.
Our vote? Opt for the tasting menu and let the geniuses in the kitchen perform magic with the menu. Another option: If you have three others in tow, book the semi-private downstairs dining room for the shabu-shabu (Japanese hot pot) tasting menu, featuring fish flown in daily from Japan's Tsukiji fish market, washugyu beef, and MIFUNE's unique Japanese risotto.
When you walk into Le Parker Meridian, you'll be sure you're in the wrong spot. How could this luxury hotel with marble interior and gloved doormen be the home of a grungy rock n' roll burger joint? Well, better believe it. Burger Joint is hidden in plain view through a hallway in the lobby of the hotel. The line of people will likely tip you off, but if you can't find it, just ask the hotel staff. Surprisingly for a spot that seems so kitschy, the burger here is good. Really good. In fact, we'd rank it among the best burgers in the city, so don't miss it.