35 Fabulous Foodie Finds in New York City, From High End to Street Food

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There’s no shortage of great food in New York City. My favorite dining experience this month was Nougatine, the more casual sister restaurant to Jean-Georges. This place gives you a legit 3 course lunch (that you get to choose!) that is simply out of this world delicious.  Bonus: they have outdoor seating which is perfect for breezy summer days. The budget friendly award goes to Shake Shack–while it’s not a place I go too frequently, it’s always a lovely treat when I do, particularly their mushroom veggie burger! Let’s take a look at some of my favorite picks lately.

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Bar Pleiades: Upper East Side // $$$ // Nestled in the Surrey Hotel, this spot can do no wrong in my book.  Top notch service, artfully displayed meals that are as tasty as they are pretty, it makes for a wonderful date spot…and who knows? It may even inspire you to elope on the rooftop!

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{Nougatine: Columbus Circle // $$$ // The more Jean-George restaurants I try, the harder in love I fall with his food.  Seriously–for the lunch menu price point of 3 courses for $38, it’s truly the best fine dining experience you can get in the city.}

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{The Peninsula Hotel: Midtown // $$$ // As a fun surprise date, the hubs took us for couple’s massages at The Peninsula, complete with a poolside lunch afterwards.  Something about massages always leaves me famished, so I pretty much inhaled this veggie panini. }

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{Il Gattopardo: Midtown // $$$ // Nestled in the most charming townhouse and boasting the motto “passion is our main ingredient”, I had no doubt I was going to love this place.  If you go, request to sit downstairs–they have the most amazing high glass ceiling looking up onto Midtown.  The cucumber + tomato salad and simple spaghetti are the best I’ve tasted in NYC.}

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{Shake Shack: Various Locations // $ // Ok–I had the brilliant idea to go to my favorite chain on Memorial Day–along with every other New Yorker and tourist, it felt like!  I mean, it’s the New York answer to BBQing, right?!  The line literally wrapped around the block, taking a solid hour to get through.  But by that time I was determined that nothing was coming between me and my shroom burger.  Totally worth it!}

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{Plaza Food Hall: Midtown// $$ // In the basement of the Plaza Hotel sits a feast for every sort of diner–from sushi, to salads, to steak–this place has it all and does it all exquisitely, too.}

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{Nobu: Midtown // $$$ // The famed Japanese restaurant really needs no introduction, but here’s a hint my husband (the real foodie of this relationship!) taught me: always ask them what “off-menu” items they have–because they always have some for the adventurous palate, and they’re always done to perfection.  Also–dinner rezzies go fast, but if you walk in at lunch time you can usually get seated without a reservation.}

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{BG Restaurant: Midtown // $$$ // Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the food at this place.  Nestled on the 7th floor of Bergdorf Goodman, you know straight from the get-go that they won’t think twice about charging you $35 for a salad (a salad that is just okay in my view.)  BUT–for a special girlfriend treat, do go for their afternoon tea.  It’s no more expensive than anywhere else in the city–and make sure to ask for a table by the window so you can overlook Central Park while you sip your tea.}

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{The Smith: Upper West Side // $$ // You guys know I love this comfort food staple–from their cheesy jalapeno grits at brunch to their avocado sammy at dinner, this place makes all the good stuff just right.}

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{Melt Shop: Hell’s Kitchen // $ // Grilled Cheese.  Tomato Soup.  And TOTS.  I needn’t speak more.}

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{Cafe El Presidente: Flatiron // $$ // I was having THE BIGGEST craving for veggie tacos when I stumbled by this place on an early Friday evening.  It was PACKED, but they quickly squeezed me into the bar.  The vibe is hip, drinks strong, food solid–and Mexican cuisine is one of those I don’t play around with–in my book there’s only good and bad–and this place is muy buen.}

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{Il Buco Vineria: East Village // $$ // The rustic vibe and wine wins all the points for this downtown Italian joint–and you’ll probably adore the food if you’re a meat eater–but veggies, beware.  Your pickings are slim, and if you’re anything like me you’ll hold a bit of a grudge against the place for charging you a stupid amount of money for noodles in a butter/garlic sauce.}

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{The Little Beet Table: NoMad // $$ // When my sister, the celiac, came to visit last weekend, I researched “best gluten-free restaurants in NYC” and this place popped up, right at the top.  It’s 100% gluten-free, but the dishes all tasted really good–also a good place to go if you’re trying to eat healthy, I’d imagine.}

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{Benoit: Midtown // $$ // Featuring authentic Parisian bistro fare, I was so pleasantly surprised by this French gem, nestled on an unexpected street in Midtown.  The front bar area is perfect for grabbing some apps and a glass of wine, if you’re not up for a whole sit down dinner.}

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{Urbo Grind: Times Square // $ // I swear, this place is a hidden gem on what is probably the busiest street in all of America. We were looking for a quick spot to grab coffee before a show, and stumbled on in–shockingly, there was no wait, and we pretty much had the cafe to ourselves!}

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{Sigmund’s Pretzels: East Village // $ // After reading Sarah’s zest for these pretzels at the Choice Eats Food Festival, I knew I had to check it out. I ordered an egg sammie on a pretzel bun, which was phenomenal, and the hubs went for the burger on a pretzel bun. Little secret: we liked this place so much (and the price point!) that we broke our little “no repeat” rule and came back again.}

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{Prohibition Bakery: Lower East Side // $ // Okay, while this definitely won’t be taking the place of my favorite cupcake bakeries, I needed to include it because a boozy bakery is something you should for sure try…once.  The tiny bite sized cupcakes are packed with alcohol infusions that create such intense flavors your tastebuds will do little cartwheels in your mouth–beer and pretzel was my favorite.}

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{Benihana: Midtown // $$ // Is now a good time to admit that hibachi is one of my foodie guilty pleasures?  Okay then.  If you have a weakness for rice with garlic butter fried and smothered with ginger dipping sauces, all made with fire and fanfare in front of you, this is your spot.}

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{Joseph Leonard: West Village // $$$ // Intimate, small, cozy, and food cooked to perfection. Just trust me on this–go–and send my compliments to Chef Pablo. The ONLY downfall is they don’t take rezzies–so go at an off time or be prepared to squish into the bar and wait.}

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{Treat House: Upper West Side // $ // A five year old’s dream–and mine too, apparently. This place specializes in one thing, rice crispy treats, and boy have they perfected them.  The sugar cookie treat (with the little duck on it) was my favorite.}

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{Saffron Garden: Sunnyside // $ // When Indian is done right, it can be one of my favorite cuisines. I loved how everything on the menu was clearly labeled as veggie or vegan friendly, and the aromatic spices in the food really created a lovely experience for all the senses.}

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{Le Pain Quotidien: Various Locations // $ // While not quite as popular as Starbucks, you can pretty much find an LPQ in any neighborhood.  The food is healthy and fresh, and I think it’s adorable (and very French) how they serve their coffee out of bowls.}

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{Jean-Georges: Columbus Circle // $$$$ // Without a doubt, one of the top 3 dining experiences I’ve ever had in NYC.  The vegetarian tasting menu was out of this world (I finished EVERYTHING), truly deserves a post of its own. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, skip the gift and come here instead–an experience you and your tastebuds will not soon forget.}

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{Chez Napoleon: Hell’s Kitchen // $$ // This has long been my favorite “hidden gem” French comfort food restaurant–owned by the most delightful French family, you can expect warm service and the most delicious house-made vinaigrette that you’ve ever tasted–slather it over everything!}

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{Bouchon Bakery: Inside the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle // $ // Perfect place to catch your breath after a walk in the park or a morning of shopping–large size vanilla macaroons are my go-to order.}

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{Tavern On The Green: Central Park West // $$$ // I always assumed this was a tourist destination so steered clear until recently (it’s where our out of town guests picked, go figure), but was really pleasantly surprised! The food was delicious, and there’s a toasty fireplace you can warm up next to! I got the soup for brunch, but the french toast was clearly the way to go.}

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{1 Dollar Pizza: Hell’s Kitchen // $ // Dollar pizza, folks. Love it or you hate it, but I’m SUCH a lover.}

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{Nai Tapas Bar: East Village // $$ // Feel like transporting to Spain for the evening? This hole-in-the-wall tapas joint will get you there. Along with the small plates, we were so pleased with the entertainment–live music and gorgeous flamenco dancing, and no cover charge to boot!}

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{Dominique Ansel Bakery: Soho // $ // Meh, ok so were got here early in the morning for the cronuts (but nope, not early enough).  After waiting we figured we may as well order something, so we grabbed a few croissants and this Nutella bread.  It was okay, but just okay.  It left me a little confused as to the popularity of the place?}

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{Circo: Midtown // $$$ // We stumbled on this circus-themed joint during restaurant week, and while I was impressed with my appetizer (cauliflower flan, now that’s fun!), the main course and dessert course were just so-so.  Because it was Restaurant Week?  Maybe.  But it wiped out any chances of becoming regulars–which I guess is good for this No Restaurant Repeat Challenge!}

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{The Four Seasons: Midtown East // $$$$ // Ok, you know how I said before Jean-Georges was one of the three best restaurants I’ve experienced? Well, this is on that list, too!  Seriously, BEST SERVICE I’ve ever received in NYC…not to mention such playful and innovative dishes–besides that cotton candy, I was over-the-moon thrilled with their veggie lunch option (a delightful farro salad) and miniature house-made croissants, still warm from the oven.}

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{The Modern: Midtown // $$$ // Perfect for a classy date night.  Wear your favorite dress.}

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{Bibble & Sip: Midtown // $ // Their  lavender latte is everything you’d ever dream it could be. Small cafe, but nice for catching up with a book or friend…tends to be my post-yoga class spot.}

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{Prune: Lower East Side // $$$ // Great for meat lovers–the vibe is leaning towards the side of hipster for a casual, yet pricy, night out.  Probably not the best place if you have any food concerns (gluten-free, vegan), but they will produce this lovely off-menu veggie platter if you ask nicely–you must not be afraid of butter, though.  It’s on the cozy (read: small) side, so claustrophobics need not come.}

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{The Bar Room: Upper East Side // $$ // They won me over with peacock wallpapering, and then locked it down with those extra crispy french fries–nice spot for a casual lunch or dinner.  You can also catch the game at the bar.}

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{BluePrint: Whole Foods // $ // Well, it’s not a martini on the rocks or anything, but certainly the most efficient way to get in all your leafy greens in one swig. The taste is not nearly as terribly as one must think, promise!}

Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
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