New York City is renowned for its pioneering culinary scene and legendary chefs, but the end of 2016 and the beginning of the new year ushered in a particularly outstanding crop of restaurants. With the re-opening of Danny Meyer’s beloved Union Square Café and Tom Colicchio’s new restaurant at The Beekman hotel, there has been a resurgence of old-world–style haunts and brasseries that present modern, market-driven spins on traditional dishes. Celebrity chefs are also reinventing their gastronomic talents with Jean-Georges Vongerichten opening a casual vegetarian eatery and April Bloomfield helming a butcher market and restaurant on the Upper West Side.
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Union Square Café
Restaurateur Danny Meyer’s famed Union Square Café reopened at the end of 2016 to much fanfare and took over a new, larger space just blocks from the original location. The look is decidedly refreshed, but still retains elements of the original, including dark wood furnishings, evergreen accents and contemporary art adorning the white walls. The two floors create more space for diners and offer an airy, convivial ambiance for beloved dishes like the burger (which launched Shake Shack), delicious pastas of parpardelle with duck confit and unique favorites like the pan-roasted venison. A well-edited list of craft cocktails and wines accompanies the menu. Read more.
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A former chef from Jean-Georges’ ABC Kitchen has put a distinct spin on farm-to-table cuisine at his own restaurant (at top, center and right) in Greenwich Village. The modern setting with a sleek bar, whimsical light fixtures and minimalist design reflects the simple yet inspired dishes. Begin with the Mediterranean small plates of hummus, grilled shrimp or spiced cauliflower before entrées of pastas, pizzas, fish and meats, such as suckling pig with pineapple and jalapeños. The menu evolves with the seasons and the emphasis is always on local, market-driven ingredients. Read more.
The Los Angeles cult sushi chain (at top, left) opened its first restaurant outside of California in a sleek, minimalist space in Flatiron. While the menu offers à la carte options, Sugarfish is best known for its affordable omakase menus, which offer a selection of fresh sushi, sashimi and maki rolls. Sugarfish mimics the technique of Japan’s top sushi chefs by giving the sushi rice equal importance as the raw fish and serving it warm and moist. Read more.
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Inside the downtown Beekman Hotel, Augustine channels a chic French brasserie with old-world touches like lavish chandeliers, antiques and mahogany furnishings. The atmosphere is buzzy and decadently celebrates the quintessential French joie de vivre. Rooted in traditional French cooking, the menu offers exquisite presentations of foie gras, cheese soufflé and crab and avocado salad, but also boasts some surprises like sea urchin spaghettini and innovative cocktails. Read more.
Tom Colicchio opened Temple Court inside the downtown Beekman Hotel as an ode to old-world New York restaurants. Interiors are opulent and clubby, with stained glass, marbleized floors, table lamps and grand chandeliers. The menu features hearty dishes like foie gras with persimmon, rabbit schnitzel and loin of lamb topped with olives and lemon confit. There is also a tasting menu for those who want to try a selection of the traditional fare. Read more.
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Opened in spring 2017, this casual sister to Cosme serves inspired Mexican cuisine with a focus on local ingredients, organic vegetables and simple preparations. Open from early in the morning until late at night, Alta serves up guacamole and goat cheese molettes and flax seed chilaquiles for breakfast and, later on, chicken enchiladas, arctic char tostadas and fish Milanese with cucumber ceviche. An extensive cocktail and mezcal menu lists concoctions like the overproof margarita and an Oaxacan coffee cocktail. The sleek eatery occupies an glass-enclosed space on a Noho corner and draws a convivial crowd at all hours. Read more.
4 Charles Prime Rib
Tucked away in the West Village, 4 Charles conjures up images of the classic haunts of New York. with walls of rich mahogany, leather booths, maritime drawings and crystal chandeliers. Begin with seafood appetizers such as the shrimp cocktail or Alaskan king crab before digging into the house specialty of roast prime rib prepared either English style, thinly sliced, or Chicago style, more thickly cut with generous sides of buttery mashed potatos or creamed spinach. Other classics on offer include Dover sole or cacio e pepe pasta. The cocktail menu features multiple renditions of the Old Fashioned and Martini. Read more.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten introduced his third eatery, a vegetarian-focused restaurant, abcV, also inside the ABC Home Store. Staying true to the chef’s culinary finesse, the menu at abcV is sophisticated, yet thoughtfully health-conscious and organic-based. The modern, airy spot serves an array of breakfast and lunch options (and dinner will be available in coming weeks). Dishes are centered on the freshest organic vegetables prepared with noodles or tofu, in soup or in sandwich form. Housemade juices in a variety of flavors as well as organic cocktails and wines are available from the artisanal bar. Read more.
April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman jointly opened a butcher shop-cum-restaurant on the Upper West Side that sells prime cuts of beef, pork, lamb and poultry as well as serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The modern, farmhouse-chic space offers takeaway items like sandwiches and savory pastries for breakfast and lunch and then hosts a relaxed, yet refined dinner at night. The small, curated menu of meat-centric dishes include chicken liver mousse and beef carpaccio with horseradish to start before entrées like lamb with chimichurri and strip steak topped with chicories. Read more.
A departure from the casual, hole-in-the-wall Chinese spots in Chinatown, Chinese Tuxedo is housed in a former opera house. Chic and buzzy, the spot is decorated with massive potted palms, candles at every table and minimalist furnishings. Traditional favorites like beef and broccoli and pork lo mein are served alongside more innovative fare like baby bass steamed with ginger and shitake and Shepard’s purse ravioli topped with shallot dressing. Read more.