The Wright Way Guide to New York City Dining
Upper East Side
Sarabeth’s - $$
I adore Sarabeth’s. Right beside one of New York’s most charming accommodation, Hotel Wales, lies Sarabeth’s original location, serving delicious comfort food from breakfast to dinner. I lived in New York City for a very short time and use to eat here at least once a week.
My Recommendation: Free range chicken pot pie (theirs is definitely on my top ten list of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Yes, I have a list.)
Uva - $$-$$$
I found this place on a whim years ago and have been back a handful of times since. With rustic brick walls, glass chandeliers, and a back patio garden, this place makes you feel like you’re being served in the middle of Italy.
My Recommendation: Antipasto Misto & Brodetto di Pesce
The Loeb Boathouse - $$$$
Going to the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park is a NYC must for anyone visiting during the warmer months. This five star restaurant overlooks a neighboring lake with passerby rowboats and gondolas, making this the perfect date night location or place to celebrate a special event. Looking for something a little more casual? Their outdoor bar serves an array of bar snacks and quick bites.
My Recommendation: Seared Sea Scallops
Upper West Side
PJ Clarkes - $$
PJ Clarkes is one of my favorite lunch spots in New York for traditional American fare and craft cocktails. With a slogan like “We were old before it was cool, and we were cool before you were born,” it’s hard not to love this 19th century saloon-style restaurant that looks like it could be in an episode of Peaky Blinders.
My Recommendation: Waygu Burger
Tavern on the Green - $$$$
Like The Loeb Boathouse, this is another one of Central Park’s famous restaurants that has been around for nearly a century. I ate here on a summer visit and was able to enjoy their stunning outside dining area strung up with lights. Can’t sit outside? The inside seating is just as decadent, with interior design that pays homage to the buildings’ late 19th century origins.
My Recommendation: Cioppino (menu alters with season)
Carmines - $$-$$$
Carmines is a New York staple that’s a great place to go with large groups, as all their meals come in family-style servings. Although Carmines can lean on the touristy side, their Italian classics make you feel like you’re eating back at your grandmother's house.
My Recommendations: Chicken Parmesan, Meatballs, & Mixed Seafood Pasta
The Smith - $$
The Smith is one of the most popular spots for breakfast and brunch. With a timeless black & white interior and locations in bustling areas, this restaurant will immerse you into the New York lifestyle. Don’t forget to make a reservation ahead of time (especially on the weekends) because the tables start to fill up fast!
My Recommendations: Ranchero Scramble, Steak & Eggs
Loi-Estiatorio - $$-$$$
If you’re looking for fresh, traditional Mediterranean food, Loi-Estiatorio is the place. The simplistic interior makes it a perfect spot for a casual fine-dining experience. Their menu is mostly comprised of seafood dishes (all seafood connoisseurs rejoice!), so if you typically avoid marine-based cuisine, take a look at their menu beforehand to find the best option for you!
My Recommendations: Octopus (appetizer), Lamb Chops, & Seafood Orzo
Totto Ramen - $-$$
This spot may not look like much from the outside, but inside you will find arguably some of the best ramen noodles that I’ve ever had. With a fairly cheap menu and charming Japanese interior, this spot is great for a quick delish bite, especially when you need a warm up in the winter.
My Recommendation: Spicy Paitan (with spicy sauce on the side to adjust the hotness level)
I Trulli - $$$
While visiting New York City in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our restaurant options were limited as only outdoor dining and take-out were open to the public. Making a last minute pitstop to the city on our way to Long Island, we didn't have time to make reservations, yet stumbled upon I Trulli while staying at the nearby Mondrian Park Avenue. The food here was reminiscent of living in Sorrento, served on a beautiful back patio with lush greenery.
My recommendations: The malloreddus dish with sausage & tomato and the wild striped bass with artichoke hearts & blistered tomato
Zia Maria - $$
This cozy Italian restaurant in Chelsea showcases an extensive menu with responsible prices in a casual, yet romantic setting. Their bar seating is also a great place to grab an authentic Italian meal if you’re dining alone.
My Recommendation: Lobster Ravioli in Vodka Sauce.
STK Steakhouse - $$$$
Whether it after work happy hour or a formal dinner, this modern steakhouse is the perfect place to have a boozy night out in the city with impressive food. With their high-end wine list (go for the Caymus) and array of steak and seafood options, this is a place you’ll want to come back to.
My Recommendation: Truffle Short Rib Ravioli & Truffle Fries
Brindle Room $$
It is rumored that in this tiny, hole-in-the wall restaurant in East Village, the best burger in the world is made. Although I am not a burger expert and have yet to try every burger in the world, the Brindle Room comes pretty close in my opinion. This is one of those burgers that once you try it, you’ll compare all others to it, so eat at your own risk.
My Recommendation: Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger
Casa Bella (Little Italy) $$$
While it may be hard to find authenticity among the tourist trap restaurants Little Italy has to offer, Casa Bella is one of the greats. The restaurant goes all out for the holidays, so if you’re in the city for the Christmas Season, make sure to stop in!
My Recommendations: Manicotti Casa Bella
Lower East Side
The Ten Bells $$-$$$
This is a great little wine bar on the Lower East Side with community style dining. This is the perfect happy hour spot - stop by for their $1 oysters and European tapas menu.
My Recommendations: Meatballs, Buratta, & Charcuterie board
Hotel Chantelle - $$$
The rooftop bar at the Hotel Chantelle is my favorite place to get brunch in New York City, but make sure to make your reservations well in advance as I'm not the only person who thinks this. With their old time Parisian feel and frozen rosé cocktails, this is the perfect place for your Sunday Brunch Instagram posts.
My Recommendations: Steak & Eggs, Crushed avocado eggs benedict
Smorgasburg - $$
Imagine being in Candyland, except instead of candy, you’re surrounded by a hoard of food stands serving NYC’s favorites. From giant mozzarella sticks to fruit smoothies (served in a fruit) to ramen burgers, this is a foodies Mecca. Every weekend from April-November, Smorgasburg has three locations in Williamsburg, Prospect Park, and the World Trade Center, and the festival moves indoors in Williamsburg during the winter.
My Recommendations: Ramen Burger
Madame Claude Bis
Although not technically in NYC, this little French bistro in Jersey City deserves an honorable mention. Tucked away on a corner of what looks like a less than desirable part of Jersey City is one of the coolest restaurants I've been to in the area. With live jazz weekly and outdoor seating added to accommodate the pandemic, this restaurant is the perfect place for conversation and small plates paired with one of their unique wine or beers.
My recommendations: oysters, French onion soup, curry mussels, their charcuterie board and espresso martini.
My taste, not yours? Check out my favorite NYC food blog, One Hungry Jew for more recommendations.