First, here are some places I make sure to take friends when they visit:
Shake Shack (burgers)
Lucali and Di Fara (pizza)
Katz’s Deli (pastrami sandwich—SO GOOD)
Pommes Frites (fries with lots of sauces—mango chutney is great)
Xian Famous Foods (Chinese Xi’an food)
Ippudo and Totto (ramen)
Bonchon (Korean-style fried chicken)
Peter Luger (porterhouse steak)
Nan Xiang Dumpling House (Chinese soup dumplings / xiaolongbao)
Murray’s Bagels AND Ess-a-Bagel (both have really good bagels!)
Shake Shack is probably the must-try NYC burger.
I like the Spotted Pig’s burger and Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger. You can make a reservation for the latter, but you’ll likely have to wait one to two hours for the former.
The Breslin’s Lamb Burger is also really good!
Paulie Gee’s. It is by far the best. You will probably have to wait. But it is hands down the best pizza in New York. Forget the “classic” places with overpriced, overcrowded crap. Paulie Gee’s is one of the new wave Brooklyn joints, and in my – and many other people’s – opinion, it is the best of them.
Di Fara in Brooklyn for more traditional NYC pizza. The wait time is around an hour.
Lucali in Brooklyn for more artisanal pizza. The wait time is also around an hour. Arrive before 5:45 to get a minimal wait time.
Other solid pizza places include: Motorino, Luzzo’s, and Artichoke Basille’s (REALLY GOOD when you’re drunk haha).
Nathan’s in Coney Island has the best hot dog in NYC in my opinion.
Crif Dogs and Japadog are both good. I have a lot of friends who really like one but hate the other.
If you plan to stop by Crif Dogs (or Xe May for the banh mi), try to make reservations at Please Don’t Tell; it’s a speakeasy hidden in Crif Dogs that makes REALLY good cocktails.
Amy Ruth’s in Harlem has REALLY good chicken and waffles!
-Fette Sau in Brooklyn is my favorite.
-Hill Country BBQ in Manhattan is my second favorite, though I don’t think it comes close.
The porterhouse at Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn is amazing.
The mutton (it’s really lamb) at Keen’s is great, too.
-I like Babbo and Del Posto. Del Posto’s more for fine dining, and Babbo has really, really good pasta.
Mission Chinese Food . Okay, Mission isn’t classic chinese at all, but I didn’t know where to put it. This outpost of a San Francisco restaurant serves crazy versions of traditional Szechuan cuisine. Kung Pao Pastrami? Yes. Broccoli Beef Brisket with Smoked Oyster Sauce? So good. Go for lunch, as the wait for dinner can be completely insane.
Xiaolongbao? Nan Xiang in Flushing. My friends visiting from Cali like to compare it to Din Tai Fung in Arcadia sometimes; they’re different styles of xiaolongbao. I still think DTF in Taipei is my favorite, though. still, Nan Xiang is probably my favorite place in NYC.
Normal dumplings? People like Prosperity Dumpling (5 for $1) and Vanessa’s Dumpling House (I want to say the basic is 4 for $1.). Both are really cheap.
Noodles? I personally like Lanzhou in Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing (across Xi’an Famous Foods) the most. Others like Lamb Noodle Soup, though (Yelp it!). If you want to stay in Manhattan, Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles is decent.
Szechuan? I like Lan Sheng.
People REALLY like Mission Chinese Food for fun spins on Chinese dishes. It’s worth a try if you’re curious; you can read about it and some of their dishes online! It’s usually at least an hour-long wait, though.
And random stuff/more Xi’an food? I like the beef burgers and lamb skewers at Xi’an famous and Biang!
-Honestly, the Korean food in NYC isn’t too amazing. Lots of the food in Ktown is similar and overpriced (compared to LA, at least :(.) One good thing is that they’ll still serve you lots of soju after 4 a.m.!
Sik Gaek in Woodside and Flushing has sannakji (cut-up raw octopus)!
I LOVE taking my friends to try Korean-style fried chicken at Bonchon!
For fine dining with a few Korean elements, Jungsik is pretty amazing.
The places I like are:
Masa (but that’s way too expensive—it goes to about $1,000/person)
Sushi Yasuda ($150/person for omakase)
15 east ($150–200/person for omakase)
Gari (really inventive and not traditional at all—it’s about $200 for omakase if you eat a solid amount).
If you want cheaper places, Sushi Azabu and Ushiwakamaru are pretty good.
-Ramen: Ippudo and Totto are my favorites. I wouldn’t really use your time to go anywhere else for ramen.
Soba: Soba-ya’s great!
Yakitori: Hm. This one’s hard. People usually just go to Yakitori Taisho or Yakitori Totto in St. Mark’s Place, but… I’ve had friends from Japan who didn’t love those two places’ yakitori.
Japanese Pasta: Basta Pasta’s supposed to be good!
Takoyaki (fried octopus balls): Otafuku is good.
Blue Hill . The leading farm-to-table restaurant in New York because the chef, Danny Barber, owns a farm in upstate New York. Really, I’d recommend you go there (Blue Hill at Stone Barns) but you can’t get there by subway (obviously). Whatever is fresh is amazing here. And everything is fresh.
If you want something closer to modernist stuff like Fat Duck, the closest is probably wd~50 in terms of modernist cuisine.
If you want really, really good fine dining that isn’t super modernist (so closer to, for instance, Ramsay, Ducasse, and Helene Darroze), Per Se, Le Bernardin, and Eleven Madison Park are all amazing.
Marea is pretty solid if you want a cheaper place with good seafood (though I don’t think the seafood there is as great as Le Bernardin’s seafood haha).
Jean-Georges is really good if you like fine dining with some Asian influences. They have a REALLY, REALLY GOOD lunch deal, so it’s too bad that you don’t have lunch free :(.
If you want REALLY traditional French fine dining, Daniel is good. It feels too stuffy for me, though. (Then again, even Le Bernardin feels pretty stuffy to me!)
-I can’t really think of an equivalent to a place like Dinner by H.B. in NYC. Hm…
I really like more Asian desserts. to that end, I like: Chikalicious, Cha-An, and Kyotofu. I guess Spot Dessert Bar is solid, but it’s always crowded; I think it’s kind of overrated :(.
Wafels & Dinges (waffle dessert truck) is great!
If you stop by Woodside, try to stop by Fresca La Crepe. They make my favorite crepes in NYC!
I honestly haven’t really explored the other dessert places, so I can’t say much about them :(.
Honestly, I don’t really know :(. I really, really like Maison Kayser a LOT, though. Their baguettes and croissants are amazing!
Other people usually like to go to Bouchon Bakery; that’s generally a solid choice (Thomas Keller and all).
Dim Sum – Golden Unicorn. A huge tradition on New York Sundays, there are no shortage of dim sum restaurants. For a real traditional take, I like Golden Unicorn. That being said, if you have the time to go out to Flushing, Queens, there are probably even more traditional – and better – dim sum places out there.
I like the Momofuku restaurants, but they ARE pretty overpriced. (Milk bar, Ssam, Ma Peche, Ko, and Noodle Bar—Noodle Bar has REALLY good pork buns but below-average ramen.)
Laduree has the best macarons, but… you have one in London, so you really don’t need to go there. (AND you also have Pierre Herme in London. Lucky!)
Visiting friends always want to try the 53rd St. and 6th Ave. halal food cart to try the chicken/lamb and rice, so I’ll usually take friends there. I personally think it’s a bit overrated. (Admittedly, though, it IS a lot of food for only $6, and that white sauce IS good hahaha.)
Jerry Seinfeld’s Favorite NYC Restaurant:
La Sirena (88 Ninth AvenueNew York City, NY 10011) NEAR CHELSEA MAKRET (Chef: Mario Batali)
Pusha T’s Favorite NYC Restaurant:
Fish sandwiches from Famous Fish in Harlem
Ranked 5th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, this bright high-ceilinged restaurant only offers an eight-to-10-course menu, with an always-changing line-up of fresh, delicious food.
Smorgasbord Food Festival (Williamsburg)
The $100 Golden Donut
No Tipping Restaurants
Housed in the Museum of Modern Art building, the contemporary-American restaurant offers both a prix fixe and, in The Bar Room, an à la carte menu, with dishes such as pistachio-marinated blue shrimp, black-truffle tortellini and juniper-cured hamachi.
Entrées with a distinct Asian feel are all the rage at this intimate restaurant in the heart of Greenwich Village, but do try Malaysian-American chef Anita Lo’s sherry-infused roast chicken, too.
Another Michelin-starred eatery that’s recently gone tip-free is Meadowsweet in Brooklyn’s quirky Williamsburg neighbourhood. The menu is quite reasonably priced and dishes range from smoked sturgeon to Long Island duck breast.
This Basque-inspired Spanish eatery in East Village is open for dinner every day and for lunch on the weekends, but you can also drop in for a drink, complemented with its fantastic selection of raciones.