Everyone knows that Manhattan has a lot of really killer restaurants. Since I am a food obsessive and a general lover of Manhattan, I get asked often where to eat there. A daunting question, no doubt, but I’m always happy to wax poetic about NYC eats.
Like most things in life, the “bests” of NYC dining change fairly quickly as new spots open and older spots fall out of favor. Consider this post the first of many regular roundups of where you should eat in the Big Apple when the kids are with a sitter.
Before I get into it, I need to point out that with some exceptions, rock star dining in Manhattan requires advance planning and, ideally, checking the restaurant’s website to see how far in advance they take reservations and then setting a calendar reminder to make a reservation on that day. It’s basically a “no go” for anywhere really good when you start your planning less than 24 hours (really, less than a month!) beforehand.
In any event, here are some of my favorite Manhattan spots right now:
CERVOS: In 2017, a little restaurant called Hart’s in Bed-Stuy was getting a lot of buzz, including, being named the fifth best new restaurant to open in all of America that year by Bon Appetit Magazine. Fast forward to present day and Hart’s Lower East Side little sister, Cervo’s is similarly making waves, including, being in the running for Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant of 2018. Our visit to Cervo’s was nothing short of perfect. The room is so quaint, romantic and cozy, the wine program outstanding, and each thing we ordered was supremely delicious.
Cervo’s cuisine is rooted in Basque flavors and seafood is heavily featured - the Clams with Vinho Verde and Garlic and the Prawns a la Plancha are both knockouts. Probably my favorite thing we ordered, which doesn’t seem to be on the menu right now, was Beef Tartare with Littleneck Clams - who knew those two delicious things could taste even more delicious when put together?
ATOBOY: Atoboy opened in 2016 in the unhip area of Kips Bay. Atoboy is both really tasty and a great value. The menu allows you to choose any three dishes from for $42 (a bowl of white rice is also included in that price). Standouts include the Sunchoke with Oyster Mushroom, Black Truffle and Orange, the Lotus Root with Dubu (tofu), Seaweed and Chili Oil and the Fried Chicken with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Gochujang sauce (extra charge for this one). The room at Atoboy is industrial and modern but very much casual and friendly.
The same team recently opened the more formal, tasting menu only Atomix and I’ve only heard great things about it so far.
LEGACY RECORDS/CHARLIE BIRD/PASQUALE JONES: There are bunch of restaurant groups dominating the NYC dining scene these days and Delicious Hospitality Group may be my favorite. Their spots always deliver on food, wine and scene, but without any big hoopla or pretension. All three spots lean Italian, with Pasquale being the most casual, Charlie Bird the most hip and Legacy the most suitable for dining with your parents.
When my husband turned 40 last summer, Charlie Bird’s private room did a kick ass job helping us to celebrate. I recently even took my little ones back to Charlie Bird and the three of us loved chowing down on delicious bowls of pasta on the outdoor patio. We tried Legacy a month or so ago and it also did not disappoint - the room is far larger and more formal than its two older sister spots. Don’t skip the pastas at these restaurants and if you end up at Pasquale, then pizza is the name of the game.
*UPDATE: A mere day after this post went live, Sushi by Bae announced it was closing on 8/11 to allow Oona time to grow as a sushi chef 😫. Definitely check out Sushi By Bou for a similarly good and reasonable omakase.
SUSHI BY BAE: Oona Tempest is somehow only 25 years old and already a sushi chef queen. Her tiny, intimate sushi counter on the second floor of the Jue Lan Club in Flatiron, Sushi By Bae is the spin off of Sushi Chef David Bouhadana’s successful Sushi By Bou mini-empire. But Bae brings the glamour like no other.
Omakase at Sushi By Bae (like Bou) costs just $100 per person for about 12 pieces of nigiri. Cocktails can (and very much should) also be ordered and don't be shy about ordering an extra few pieces or handrolls at the end of the Omakase. Besides being inexpensive for quality sushi, a meal at Bae is a party. The tunes are blasting, the sushi chefs are outgoing and patrons are inevitably in a great mood. Did I mention the Omakase includes a piece of Wagyu beef topped with uni?? YES, please.
THE NOMAD BAR: When the NoMad Hotel opened in 2012, it brought with it a new go to area of Manhattan (North of Madison Square Park). I love the hotel and its namesake restaurant, but I especially love the NoMad Bar. It’s where I often tell folks unfamiliar with NYC dining to go.
The drinks here are some of the best in Manhattan and Chef Daniel Humm’s bar food menu is like no other. The burger is one of my all time favorites and the Humm Dog (a bacon-wrapped hot dog with black truffle and celery) is unreal. Many folks swear by their Chicken Pot Pie, too. The ambiance is so classic New York, you almost feel like a celebrity there. Also, unlike everything else on this list, the NoMad Bar does not take reservations and is walk in only. Expect waits and crowds at peak hours.
4 CHARLES PRIME RIB: Consider this one a reach. 4 Charles is a really small, really popular speakeasy of sorts. To snag a reservation you either have to stalk its Resy page like a hawk or resign yourself to eating at 10pm or later (yes, 4 Charles takes reservations up until 12:15am!) Our meal here was so good, we’re dying to go back - I just haven’t geared up for the effort that's required to do so yet.
4 Charles is the first, and right now only, NYC spot by acclaimed Chicago restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff and his Hogsalt restaurant group. 4 Charles serves an unreal prime rib and a burger just like it’s Chicago sister, Au Cheval, that may just be the best in the country.
And the room is just WOW. Described as a “supper club,” it’s sultry and seductive and reeks of hipness (but it’s not cheesy or sceney). The service is warm and friendly, which takes you aback since it’s such a swank place. It’s about time to up my game and get us a return visit.
Thanks for letting me indulge myself here! As my hit list is ever growing, expect more of these kinds of posts as I continue to #GetASitter and eat!