Where to Eat in NYC :: By Occasion

Where to Eat in NYC

One of the most common questions I get is, “I’m coming to New York City, where should I eat?” There are so many incredible places to eat in this city and you really can’t go wrong. But, after having lived here for a few years I finally feel as though I have the inside scoop on where to eat in NYC. The recommendations below are either from personal experience or recommendations from trusted foodie friends here in the city.

I will probably end up doing a few of these posts to break down my top recommendations based on the type of cuisine, neighborhood, etc. {is there a specific type of breakdown you would be interested in?} But for now, I’m going to start by sharing my favorite restaurants based on the occasion. So without further ado, here you go!

Afternoon Tea

  • Alice’s Tea Cup :: Very casual and kid friendly. We love all locations. Their house blend tea and plain scones are divine!!
  • The House Gramercy Park :: Inside a carriage house from the 1800s. Cute location with great tea. Make a reservation and ask to sit upstairs- bonus points if you can get a reservation by the round window.
  • The Plaza Palm Court :: It’s cliché for a reason. It’s expensive, but it is a true experience!



  • By Chloe :: SUCH good food- don’t let the vegan menu scare you. Even meat lovers will enjoy this place!
  • Chalk Point Kitchen:: Farm to Table, be sure to make a reservation. Service can be slow, but the food is delicious!
  • Empellon Taqueria :: Some of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten- truly. We went here as a group of 10 & had to sit at 2 separate tables, but it was still fun!
  • Patsy’s Pizza :: Delicious, simple pizza & Italian food.
  • Risotteria Melotti :: If you like risotto, this place is a must! And it’s gluten free
  • The Smith :: They have a few locations around the city and they are a great go-to. Great food & drinks!
  • Tiny’s :: I really didn’t know if I should add this to brunch, casual or date ideas. Great food & adorable ambiance {literally in a building from 1810}.
  • Vintner Wine Market :: I’m obsessed with their sandwiches & they have incredible great happy hour wines & beers. We found this place when it was a hole in the wall, they have since moved to a larger space- but we still love it! We get a couple of their incredible sandwiches & a couple glasses of prosecco & beer.

Date Ideas

  • Eleven Madison Park :: They are reopening Fall 2017!
  • Gramercy Tavern :: Delicious, seasonal food
  • The River Cafe :: Make a reservation and ask for a waterfront table! Gorgeous views and a delicious pre fix menu with a plethora of options!
  • Tavern on the Green :: We go for drinks at the bar or on the outside patio. We haven’t had good luck with the food in the actual restaurant, but the patio has great food and appetizers. The cheese board is a must do!

Group Gatherings {also good for just 2 people}

  • Agave :: Restaurant & tequila bar- need I say more?
  • Beauty & Essex :: Pretty decor & yummy food!
  • Catch :: Great space & food. You might spot a celebrity while here
  • Dirty French :: Think French bistro meets NYC
  • La Esquina :: No fuss, delicious Mexican food
  • Los Feliz :: Great space with over 150 tequilas
  • Macao Trading :: Inspired by the 1930’s with delicious Chinese & Portuguese inspired dishes
  • Puglia’s :: A family owned and operated Italian restaurant with huge portions
  • Redeye Grill :: American steakhouse with great acoustics. This is one of our go-tos for dinner {either as a date night or group outing}
  • Supper :: Italian comfort food at its best. Cash only!
  • Tao Downtown :: A trendy Asian restaurant with fun decor.


  • Shake Shack :: Iconic for a reason!
  • UrbanSpace :: A fun eclectic mix of everything. It’s a shared space where 20 restaurants have little storefronts and shared seating. It’s kind of a posh food court style space. I specifically like their Vanderbilt location.
  • Bagels :: A must-eat when in New York. There are a plethora of bagel shops, but my favorite ones are the Jewish Bagel shops. Keep an eye out and go inside!
  • Delis :: I love our delis in NYC. They have everything from sandwiches and wraps to paninis and salads. I often pop in them for something fast on the go. There are hundreds of delis, so just use your best judgement.
  • Pizza :: It’s hard to go wrong, but Joe’s and Little Italy are two of my favorites for a fast slice.
  • Street pretzels :: For some reason the soft pretzels from any food cart are better on 6th Avenue. Not sure why, but they are just better!

Outdoor Seating

  • Hudson Clearwater :: Entrance is slightly obscured, so look carefully!  Delicious, cozy spot. In the spring/ fall, great little outdoor patio too.  I love it for meeting friends and sharing multiple bottles of rose when spring finally arrives… ;)
  • Narcissa  :: A farm-to-table spot in The Standard East Village’s entrance that’s been getting great reviews… Neat ambiance, great location & a small dining room with fantastic bar. Fantastic outdoor seating right on Bowery, weather-permitting.
  • The Waverly Inn ::  Charming, rustic space for dining in one of the best neighborhoods in NYC. The Waverly Inn was established at the turn of the century and the bar and the two rickety adjoining dining rooms are on the ground floor of a West Village townhouse on Bank Street.  The food is great too.  My recommendation: go for brunch and request a table in the garden or on the charming front patio!



  • Cara Mia :: Good, simple Italian with great service.
  • La Grenouille :: Upscale French restaurant and a really lovely, small place for a fancy and memorable meal. I think this would be a great spot to mark a special occasion or anniversary and it is also a great place pre-theater. Tip- you must end the meal with a soufflé, the signature dish here!
  • Le Bernardin :: A Michelin Guide’s 3-star rating this is an elite French restaurant by famed chef Eric Ripert. Absolutely delicious.
  • Trattoria Trecolori :: Such a fabulous restaurant. The location makes it the ideal spot for a pre or post-theater Italian meal.
  • Un Deux Trois :: A delicious French restaurant. I adore their savory dinner crepes and French onion soup!
  • Vintner Wine Market :: Also listed under casual restaurants, but it is close to the theaters!

Speak Easies

  • Apotheke :: Inspired by 19th century Paris with a strict dress code {fun after a date night or night out with friends}
  • Bathtub Gin :: Hidden behind a coffee shop (though that does serve real coffee too), this speak-easy is famous for what-else but it’s gin drinks! But the whole menu of cocktails and light fare is good.  Note: They *do* take reservations so make sure to snag one to avoid a wait.
  • Death & Co. :: First come, first serve seating.
  • Flatiron Lounge  :: . Constructed in 1927, the bar itself was once stationed at The Ballroom, a New York institution frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra and other celebrities of the time.
  • Raine’s Law Room  :: Great, neat 1920s vibe. Call or drop-by early to get your name in for a table reservation—the line will build and call backs can be hours long!


  • Robert :: Located on Columbus Circle overlooking Central Park. Great for an afternoon champagne & cheese board pick me up, late night drinks or any meal of the day!

Where to Eat in NYC

Photography by Ashley Monogue Photography

What restaurants would you add?
What kind of restaurants do you want to try when in NYC?

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  • Reply
    September 5, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    This is a good guide. I’ll have to check out these places!

  • Reply
    September 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    This is such a detailed and well-thought out list of where to eat in NYC. I don’t think there’s any category you’ve left out, I like the sound of gluten-free pasta, it means you can eat more without getting bloated right?! I’ll have to try out the places with a good view the next time I visit :)

  • Reply
    September 5, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    I love how you’ve broken out the restaurants because it makes searching for a place so easy! If you’re looking to do another list, maybe it would be fun to see a list of restaurants that are in popular movies, like Katz’s or that little bistro-type-cafe from “You’ve Got Mail.” Seriously, you can’t go wrong with NYC dining! I think in a perfect world, I’d be able to dine at Le Bernardin every week. And I’ve got to check out this Shake-Shack thing! So many people have been mentioning it lately!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2017 at 6:45 am

    I really like the way your categorised your list! It truly culminates eating as a lifestyle for all occasions. they all sound great and interesting, look like New York need a month just to cover some amazing restaurants!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2017 at 9:39 am

    This is the most amazing list of restaurants I’ve ever seen! Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this down haha I am definitely going to bookmark your post. I always travel to NYC (at least 5 times per year) and honestly I am tired of eating at the same places over and over again. Nothing quite like a good restaurant!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    That seems a very good list. And easy to use as you separated all the places in categories. Would love some afternoon tea now! And also having a drink at Robert for the view! :) Am I the only one who didn’t find hamburgers at Shake Shack not that exceptional?! ;))

  • Reply
    Parnashree Devi
    September 6, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    This is a superb list of restaurants in NYC. I simply loved the way you have segregated the entire list. I am going to save it for my visit next time. Superb post.

  • Reply
    Stacey Billingsley
    September 6, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    I love posts that discuss food! I’ve been to NYC twice, and both trips were pretty budget. My last trip was with high school students on a Broadway tour–we saw four shows in three days! Our dinners were included, but we looked for places for lunch that high school kids could swing. We did eat at Shake Shack for lunch one day! It really was good. And it was packed! It was also raining, so people were trying to cram inside the building to avoid the rain. That part wasn’t that great, but we did find a place to sit and the cheeseburger I had was pretty awesome. The rest of the time we snacked a lot, like having gelato in Little Italy or a hot dog from the cart. We had to. If I ever get to have a grown-up trip, I will keep these places in mind!

  • Reply
    Archana Singh
    September 7, 2017 at 1:27 am

    I have to admit i am not a foodie but your post is so exhaustive and detailed it could make me one. I would love to save your post for my next visit. Shake Shack was my on-the-go favourite too.

  • Reply
    Amanda Tran
    September 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Such a fantastic guide to restaurants! I’m so disappointed to have missed the majority of these when I was in NYC. But guess that just means I’ll have to go back. Love that NYC has such a good variety too.

  • Reply
    Ashley DTKAustin
    September 10, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Such a great roundup of restaurants! I am saving this for my next trip to NYC! Which I hope is soon! :)

  • Reply
    Kasey | Running in Heels
    September 18, 2017 at 11:13 am

    So many great places I wish I had more time while I was there!

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