Eat where the New Yorkers eat. The restaurants listed here regularly make the “best-of” lists at acclaimed reviewers like Zagat and the New York Times. They also top local popularity polls. These Big Apple favs are frequented by everyone, from the people at the big name law firms to the hipster students at City College.
This tiny noodle bar features star chef David Wang. He experiments in a fusion style that combines Chinese, Japanese, Korean and American tastes in traditional Asian dishes, from steamed buns to ramen. The turnover for counter stools is fast, so don’t mind the line. The clientele is a friendly mix of downtown residents and visitors from uptown and farther afield. momofuku.com
Try a New York institution. Still the locals’ favorite place for a good Reuben sandwich, Katz’s has been serving kosher Jewish deli cuisine forever. Try a side of barley and mushrooms or a glass of tea. Katz’s offers plenty of gluten-free and kid-friendly options. This is where the deli scene in “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed. katzsdelicatessen.com
For great burgers and fries, New York thinks you can’t beat the Shake Shack. Their signature Angus sirloin burger comes with cheese, lettuce and tomato and their special sauce. They’ve also got veggie burgers, fries, hot dogs and frozen custard. Add beer and wine to the list, and you’ve got a sit down meal to remember. www.shakeshack.com
Cross the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn and experience another New York institution. This supremely old-fashioned, wood-paneled steak house is still the place to go for a serious steak. The New York Times describes their porterhouse as “breathtaking.” They have a limited menu, but everything you want for a Sunday steak dinner is there: baked potato, creamed spinach, pie. At lunchtime, Peter Luger offers a burger version of their prime beef. peterluger.com
New York has great pizza. Any pizzeria you stop at for a slice is bound to give you better pizza than you’ve had most anyplace else. That’s the way New Yorkers see it, at least. There is much discussion about the best pizza. This list includes Lombardi’s, if only because it was the first pizza place opened in Manhattan, back in 1905. It still serves great pizza. www.firstpizza.com
If you’re headed back from a museum or on your way to an afternoon show at the metropolitan playhouse, 7A Cafe is the perfect place to grab a quick brunch in East Village. Try out the Challah french toast, or one of their burgers. With it’s proximity to some of the Big Apple’s best night life, the 24 hour service is great for almost every occasion. www.7acafe.com
–Marlena Stoddard, RFT Contributor