(14th-34th; East of 6th)
Sushi Sen-nin: Japanese. 30 E 33rd @ Madison-Park; 24/19/$54; 889-2208; www.sushisennin.com; Fresh Fish, known for gorgeously prepared Special Rolls; Perfect for those preferring a la carte. Creative rolls that are delicious. Has a sushi bar, Yakitori bar; Make your own rolls options; Fairly priced overall. Critics say it’s hit or miss; I love the endless menu & overall fresh quality. Lots of spicy mayo & other sauces spice things up! Great service.
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse: Steakhouse. 4 Park @ 33rd; 26/20/$84; 889-3369; www.wolfgangssteakhouse.net; Started by former head waiter at Peter Lugar’s; Incredible Porterhouse; Wildly popular; Vaulted ceilings; Laid back, with old-school cool; Gorgeous décor and fish-friendly menu as well; Gruff waiters; Creamed spinach & German potatoes are famous; Bacon by the slice; Freshest Mozz; Sea Bass; Yellowfin Tuna; Rib Eye; One of 5 Manhattan locations. Masterfully done steaks – top 3 in city.
Kang Ho Dong: Korean. 1 E 32nd @ 5th Av; 23/17/$44; 966-9839; http://baekjeongnyc.com/; Based off of a South Korean chain; Wonderful quality beef and pork; Grilled BBQ style tableside; Very popular with locals; One of the complimentary sides is this cheesy-corn. YUM. Excellent website- pictures and videos; They will cook for you; Not many seafood options; Best bet here is the Beef Combo (includes ribs) for 2-3;
Dons Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar: Korean. 17 E 32nd @ Madison; 24/21/$58; 683-2200; www.donsbogam.com; Cook yourself at your table at this excellent Korean BBQ place that is actually trendy; Cool bar and international wine list; Fancier than most in the genre; The galbi is unmatched; $15 lunch specials served daily; Many soups on the menu; Most BBQ platters for 2 are $80-90; Expensive for the genre.
Hangawi: Korean. 12 E 32nd @ 5th-Mad; 24/24/$49; 213-0077; www.hangawirestaurant.com; Vegetarian Food; Relaxing; Serene; Tranquil; Check shoes at the door. Only pure vegetarian place I have on this site; Just a very relaxing experience featuring great service; Try the dumplings to start and the Mongolian hot pot is excellent. There is a 4 course tasting menu for $55. Have rice bowels; Lots of tofu selections.
New Wonjo: Korean. 23 W 32nd @ 5th-6th Ave; 24/16/$38; 695-5815; http://newwonjo.com/; Open 24/7 and offers succulent tableside BBQ; Charcoal grills instead of gas; Crowded at peak hours; Can get 3 meat BBQ combos for variety; Also: Spicy tuna salad, Seaweed salad, Edamame, Seafood pancakes, Bibimbop, Large Short Rib Soup and other large soups/ stews; Has Sushi menu too; BBQ includes many beef options, short rib, chicken, pork, shrimp and assorted seafood.
Her Name is Han: Korean. 17 E 31st @ Madison; 24/17/$42; 779-9990; www.hernameishan.com/; Just the nicest staff serve fantastic fresh Korean dishes; Traditional/homestyle preparations; Fun, affordable cocktail list – with creative names and ingredients; Not a fancy place – better for lunch; Boiled dumplings, Pork Ribs, Slow cooked Pork belly. Large menu – not a traditional BBQ at your table place. It’s a la carte.
Ravagh Persian Grill: Persian. 1135 1st Ave @ 30th; 24/17/$36; 861-7900; http://ravaghrestaurants.com/; Wildly popular mini-chain with two other Manhattan locations (see website); The original, located here, serves authentic fare at reasonable prices; Succulent kebabs, large portions, delicious rice options; Try the hummus, grilled eggplant, mouthwatering combo kebabs (tons to pick from), stews, Bronzino, Brook trout or shrimp.
Water Club: American. East River @ 30th; Enter at 23rd; 23/27/$73; 683-3333; www.thewaterclub.com; You come here for the amazing views of Brooklyn/Queens; Excellent menu featuring Grilled Bronzino; Amazing Shellfish; Crab Cakes; Lobster Bisque; Lots of seafood entrees; Scottish Salmon; Beef Wellington; and a Raw Bar; Steaks & Chops available; Brunch has amazing entrees – Seafood Salad, Smoked Salmon; Eggs Benedict with lump crab; Dinner entrees approx $30, Apps $15.
Breslin Bar: British. Ace Hotel; 16 W 29th @ 5th Av; 24/22/$53; 679-1939; www.thebreslin.com; Michelin 1-star rated from the owners of Spotted Pig; Meat-centric menu; Dark hunting lodge setting; No Rez policy; Excellent people watching- advantage of being in a hotel; Overall – more of a gastro pub than anything else; Limited dinner menu but note lunch, breakfast and brunch available.
Riverpark: New American. 450 E 29th @ FDR-1st Av; 26/27/$68; 729-9790; www.riverparknyc.com/; Serene hideaway in an officepark; Unimaginable views of East River and beyond; Tom Colicchio in command; Free parking; Seasonal menu; Brunch/lunch served; Menu includes Crab salad; Charcuterie Board; Hamachi; Pasta options; Whole Fish of the day for two; NY Strip; Lamb Chops; Rabbit; Bronzino and Scallops. See menu.
Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse: Steak. 255 5th Av @ 28th-29th; 23/20/$68; 532-7600; www.benandjackssteakhouse.com; Business professionals; Amazing sides- especially the creamed spinach and German potatoes; 2 former Peter Lugar servers own it; Communal porterhouse; NY Strip, filet all great; Nicely charred steaks; Extensive wine list; Plain, yet spacious setting; Very attentive service. Bacon as appetizer & seafood platter; Prime Rib; Kobe burger; Clams & Oysters; Sea Bass; Lobster Tails or 4 pounder; All the usual cuts.
Sahara’s Turkish Cuisine: Turkish. 513 2nd Av @ 28th-29th; 23/16/$35; 532-7589; www.saharasturkishrestaurant.com; Huge portions of authentic Turkish food; Friendly, helpful service; All at a great price with left overs for sure; Local neighborhood favorite; The Mixed Grill Kebab platter is yummy; Even have 5 fish entrees including Bronzini and Tilapia; Perfect for lunch as well. Seafood salad, Pastrami Cigars looks great.
Dhaba: Indian. 108 Lexington @ 27-28th; 25/17/$29; 679-1284; http://www.dhabanyc.com/; Lively feel; Probably the best of the Curry Hill restaurants; Very popular with locals; Long, exciting menu. $12 lunch buffet. Tremendous bang for the buck here as it is dirt cheap for the quality; Heavily spiced dishes – vindaloo will burn you; Bollywood like décor; Very popular and well reviewed. Menu has it all- endlessly long.
Turkish Kitchen: Turkish. 386 3rd Av @ 27-28th; 23/17/$40; 679-6633; www.turkishkitchen.com; So good; Under radar; Known for Sunday Brunch buffet; Succulent kebabs; Funky red-everywhere décor; Unique martinis; Zucchini pancakes; Grilled Talapia; Sunday Brunch all you can eat $25; Lunch Prix fixe for $16 or $20; Website is great – pictures of all the dishes. Great bang for the buck. Really a must-try in the genre.
Blue Smoke: BBQ. 116 E 27th @ Lex-Park: 23/17/$47; 447-7733; www.bluesmoke.com; Danny Meyer’s upscale rib house; Best BBQ in city; Live Jazz; Smokehouse; Melt in your mouth ribs; Excellent Sides; Excellent beers to choose from & excellent Bourbon bar; Pulled pork outstanding; You must try the Mac n Cheese; Lively setting; Perfect for the whole family. Battery Park City location as well. Deviled Eggs; Great for a party.
Pippali: Indian. 129 E 27th @ Park-Lex; 24/15/$35; 689-1999; www.pippalinyc.com/; Former Tamarind chef brings excellence to Curry Hill; Nonstandard menu; Helpful service although mundane décor; The classic Chicken Tikki Marsala with some Naan is always a safe bet; Truly a hige menu with everything organized nicely; Affordable pricing from an excellent chef. Absolute excellence in food quality.
Ilili: Lebanese. 236 5th Ave @ 27th; 25/23/$47; 683-2322; www.ililinyc.com/; One of the better restaurants of its genre offering small and large plates best designed for sharing; Date-friendly, sexy décor; Lounge feel; Huge menu of truly authentic preparations; Prix-fixe available for lunch or dinner; Lamb Makloubeh and Duck Shawarma are a must as are Brussels Sprouts. Trendy, date friendly décor. Style all the way – great service too. Brunch served. Try the Hummus, Tuna Tartare, Moussaka, Burrata. Huge menu. Get several small plates.
Hillstone: American. 378 Park Ave @ 27th; 22/19/$58; 689-1090; www.hillstone.com; Upscale pub highlighted by an excellent bar scene; Major after-work scene; Chicken fingers- off the menu; Upscale entrees and even sushi offered (multiple special rolls); Great place for a within-budget American meal. Other standouts: Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Veggie Burger, Grilled Artichokes, Rib Eye, Arctic Char, Crab Cakes.
I Trulli: Italian. 122 E 27th @ Lex-Park; 22/20/$53; 481-7372; www.itrulli.com; Gorgeous place; Inside fireplace; Outdoor seating in a lush garden; Sleek and inviting. Brilliant wine list; Close to an institution; Homemade pasta with Rabbit Ragu- yum; Brunch, lunch and dinner served; I prefer it as a lunch option in the summer; All the pastas are homemade & incredible. Pricing is fair; Superb wine list – place can be seen as a wine bar.
Dos Caminos: Mexican. 373 Park @ 26-7th; 21/21/$48; 294-1000; www.doscaminos.com/; Great upscale Mexican, though becoming more of a chain; Sexy, young, hip setting in all locations; Energetic scene perfect for Dates or larger groups; Margaritas will put you under; Guacamole is tremendous; Steve Hanson empire journeys on. Can be loud and service a bit iffy. Best of the mid-level Mexicans. Reliable fare & polished service.
Hanjan: Korean. 36 W 26th @ 5th-6th Av; 24/20/$49; 206-7226; www.hanjan26.com; Inspired Korean small plates; Perfect for late night Ramen; Goal of restaurant is to mimic Korean tavern and street market food – food how Koreans authentically eat it; Closed Sunday; Try the “freshly killed” grilled chicken wings; Seafood pancake; Grilled Mackerel; BBQ Short ribs; Various skewers.
A Voce: Italian. 41 Madison Av @ 26th; 24/22/$68; 545-8555; www.avocerestaurant.com; New York Times’ highest 3-star rating; Seasonal Italian masterworks; Huge buzz about the place so reserve well in advance; About 16 entrees and 6 or 7 appetizers – mouthwatering descriptions on the menu; Chef Missy Robbins nails it; Check website as each location has different entrees (also Columbus Circle). Affordable for its quality. Seafood offerings; Hamachi. Great menu.
Park Ave Summer/Autumn/Winter/Spring: American. 360 Park Av @ 25-26th; 951-7111; http://parkavenyc.com/#/2; Giant, airy flatiron space; Seasonal menu (and restaurant name change); Foodies galore; Excellent wine list; 3 course dinner with unlimited wine after 8:30pm daily for $65/person; Brunch is $32 prix fixe with $13 Bloody- incredible menu; Dinner this summer includes Burrata, Yellowfin Tuna, Bronzino, Halibut and Scallops. Lovely sides, desserts and ‘land’ dishes as well. Cocktails at dinner $16.
Manzo: Italian. 200 5th Av @ 24th; 25/18/$68; 229-2180; www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/new-york/nyc-manzo/; Located in Mario Batali’s Eataly – away from the madness; Features excellent pastas and a huge wine list; Try the duck, duck goose; Ribeye for two; Agnoltti (like Gnocchi) stuffed with Oxtail; Cavatelli with Lamb shoulder; The amazing fresh Mozz; Striped bass. Menu changes so check out online. Limited selection.
Sagaponack: American/Seafood. 4 West 22nd @ 5th Av; 25/19/$45; 646-760-9682; http://sagaponacknyc.com/; Hidden gem from this Long Island transplant; Excellent Raw bar; Spicy seafood flatbread; Great salad options; Long Island Duck; Buccatini Seafood Pasta to die for; Seafood Paella; Pappardelle with Korean shortribs; Lobster Roll; Happy Hour 4-7pm; Luch served; Relaxed, casual atmosphere; Affordable pricing to boot.
Novita: Italian. 102 E 22nd @ Lex-Park; 25/19/$55; 677-2222; www.novitanyc.com; Elegant, always improving fare; Standard and inventive fare; Great anniversary date spot. Tight-ish space (60 seats); Fresh Mozz; Bruchetta; Kobe beef carpaccio; Grilled shrimp with crabmeat; tuna rolls; About a dozen ultra fresh pasta dishes – all yummy such as Rigatoni with seared Yellowfin Tuna & Black spaghetti with seafood fra diavolo; Calamari salad;
Maialino: Italian. 2 Lexington Av @ 21st St; Gramercy Park Hotel; 26/23/$73; 777-2410; www.maialinonyc.com; Another Danny Meyer restaurant production; Signature roast pig dinner; Excellent breads and olive oils; Features an extensive menu with something for everyone; Huge wine list – many reasonably priced; Great scene as well; Weekend brunch; Spaghetti Carbonara & Sea Bass stand out; Cheese plates. Gorgeous interior. Tips included in prices; Happy hour at bar 5-7pm; $95 dinner tasting menu available.
Via Emilia: Italian. 47 E 21st St @ Park Av; 23/16/$41; 505-3072; www.viaemilia.us; Known for outstanding food; Try the candy-shaped pasta or the Ravioli con Caprino (spinach, tomatoes); Bruschetta appetizer; Old school cooking and affordable; Gnocco Fritto is the signature appetizer; Giant menu focusing on homemade pasta dishes; Lamb Shank, Pork Chops – light on seafood. Cash only. Huge list of appetizers; Best for lunch.
Almayass: Armenian-Lebanese. 24 E 21st St @ Park; 25/21/$58; 347-773-4893; http://www.almayassnyc.com; Very popular, highly rated and always reliable; Servers are excellent and will assist with menu; Original location is a top place in Beirut; As authentic as it gets; Gorgeous and ‘cool’ interior; 3 course lunch prix fixe for $27; Try the Lentil soup; 7 kinds of Hummus; Endless menu; Armenian tasting menu for 2 available for $68 total; Bronzino; Cocktails are $15; Expensive for genre but worth it.
Gramercy Tavern: American. 42 E 20th @ B-Way-Park; 28/26/$70 or $135; 477-0777; www.gramercytavern.com; Flawless food, service; New Chef Michael Anthony; Cheaper by the front Tavern which has own menu & a cool bar scene & amazing drinks; Expensive here b/c this place is an all-time NYC institution. Memorable evenings. Tasting Menu – $165; 3-course is $125 in dining room; Danny Meyer owned. Cocktails $19, beer $12. Do the tavern… 1 Michelin star. Non-tipping; Tavern has better menu and apps $20, main $30.
Mari Vanna: Russian. 41 E 20th @ BWay-Park; 21/24/$65; 777-1955; www.marivanna.ru/ny/#/; Try not to have too many flavor infused vodkas before you eat so you can enjoy the authentic Russian food here; Chicken Kiev or Beef Stroganoff; Gorgeous elegant dining room – extremely fancy looking; For $75/ person you can get 4 cold appetizers, 2 hot, 1 soup and 2 entrees and 2 desserts; Order a la carte as well. Lunch available. Like dining in a Russian palace. Love the menu here.
Mizu: Japanese. 29 E. 20th @ B-Way-Park; 23/17/$363; 505-6688; Incredible sushi; Young, hip; Creative menu featuring both classic rolls and unique combos; Younger crowd enjoying saki. Best thing I like about this place is they have about the largest list of sushi rolls/ special rolls (all affordable) I’ve seen; Also have cooked items, Teriyaki etc. Just a huge selection which I appreciate.Sushi Pizza even. BYO.
Barbounia: Mediterranean. 250 Park Av S @ 20th; 21/23/$51; 995-0242; The setting has a lot going on- formal yet fun and high energy; Gen X crowd; Service is excellent; The bread is legendary- famous flatbread; Hip cliental; Cocktails all $14, beer $7; Greek fondue on menu; Smallish, healthier looking portions; Extremely fresh; Charred octopus and beef carpaccio stand out; Fresh whole fish and some pastas as well; Lamb shank. Brunch features endless champagne cocktails for $20; Baked Bronzino.
Craftbar: American. 900 B-Way @ 19th-20th; 25/21/$52; 461-4300; www.craftrestaurant.com; Top Chef TV’s Tom Colicchio’s more casual sibling to flagship “Craft” down the block; Spot-on service; Nice mix of seafood/ shellfish and meat dishes with lots of appetizers and side dishes to choose from; Seasonal menu so check the website for changes; Brunch available – outstanding. The brunch menu is to die for: Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese, what! Closed Monday.
Boqueria: Spanish. 53 W 19th @ 5-6th; 22/20/$46; 255-4160; www.boquerianyc.com; Traditional Barcelona-style Tapas; No-Rez policy so go early; Extremely tasty small plates. Ultra creative; Smallish place. There is also a Soho location; Brunch 12-5 Sat/Sun; Tapas served all day as well as Artisanal cheeses; There is a market and lunch or brunch available. Seared octopus; Garlic Shrimp; Braised Oxtail; Lamb meatballs. Two paellas.
Burger & Lobster: Seafood. 39 W 19th St @ 5th-6th Av; 25/20/$33; 646-833-7532; www.burgerandlobster.com/home/; Entire menu is: Lobster Roll, Steamed Lobster, or a Burger; Very affordable for quality and portion; Global locations all over England, Cardiff, Sweden, Dubai and Kuwait! No Rez; Wildly popular – nobody eats a bad meal here; All items are $20- lobster included; Large drink menu; All entrees served with fries and salad; Burger is just amazing; Lobster roll gigantic; Take everyone you know here.
Craft: American. 43 E 19th @ B-Way; 26/23/$78; 780-0880; www.craftrestaurant.com; Flagship of Top Chef TV’s Tom Colicchio; Relaxing, sophisticated environment; Spot-on service; Try the beef short ribs; Nice mix of seafood/ shellfish and meat dishes with lots of appetizers and side dishes to choose from; Seasonal menu so check the website for changes; Most main courses under $35. Lunch Prix fixe $36 for 3 courses; Original menu – check website. Great scene.
Bocca: Italian. 39 E 19th @ B-Way-Park; 23/20/$49; 387-1200; www.boccanyc.com; Same ownership as Cacio e Pepe; Fun, enjoyable vibe; Features a pasta served in a pecorino cheese wheel – a must; Comfortable booths available; Dirt cheap weekday lunch specials; Very friendly service; Artisanal cheeses available; Truly excellent pasta dishes and appetizers while limited fish and meat-entrée selections. Mozz & Tomatoes; Fresh Cod.
Union Square Café: American. 101 E 19th @ Park; 27/23/$78; 243-4020; www.unionsquarecafe.com; New American; So good, so popular; Inspired cooking; Walk-in Bar/ lively scene. Voted #1 Popular in Zagats; Danny Meyer owned; Seasonal ingredients; Down to earth yet perfect service; Every course will be cooked with inspiration; Freshest ingredients from the local markets; Brunch is awesome; Can eat at the bar; Lunch will run $25 a dish; Incredible pasta dishes as well. Non-tipping restaurant;
ABC Cocina: Latin. 38 E 19th @ Park-B-Way; 25/24/$60; 677-2233; www.abccocinanyc.com/; Jean George inspired; Funky, hip environment – date friendly; Amazing brunch; Just a great cocktail list and sangria options; Essentially it is a Latin tapas house – order several small plates to try; Large menu as well; Cheese Fondue; Tuna Tartare; King Crab legs; I love the menu here and it’s in a great location for drinks.
Ponty Bistro: Senegalese. 218 3rd Av @ 18th-19th; 22/17/$39; 777-1616; www.pontybistro.com; French inspired northern African cuisine; Value prices and extremely unique cuisine; Two for 1 house Martinis including Lychee martinis; Breakfast & Brunch also served; $25 prix fixe menu; Very friendly service and certainly worth a try to have a cuisine rarely found in NYC. Escargot, French Cheese Puffs, Wings, Grilled Bronzino. Brunch served.
Rosa Mexicana: Mexican. 9 E 18th St @ BWay-5th Av; 22/21/$48; 533-3350; www.rosamexicano.com; Rosa remains a fun, hip-ish place to take a date and enjoy upscale Mexican; Guacamole made at table is best in the city, sorry Dos Caminos and everywhere else – love their formula; Pomegranate Margaritas top notch and strong; Well decorated; There is a reason they became a mini-chain.
ABC Kitchen: American. 35 E 18th St @ B-Way-Park; 26/23/$72; 475-5829; www.abckitchennyc.com; Hotspot from super-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten; Seasonal delicacies; Ultra-fresh ingredients from farm to table; Country setting; Less formal than other restaurant in his empire; 12-15 appetizers, 7-10 entrees; Extremely popular and decently affordable. Brunch & Lunch available; Pretzel dusted Calamari; Sea Bass, Lobster.
Laut: Malaysian / Thai. 15 E 17th @ BWay – 5th Av; 24/14/$28; 206-8989; http://lautnyc.com/; Massive menu – all extremely affordable; Large selection of soups for meals or appetizers; Dumplings galore; Dozen plus wok fried noodle dishes; Multiple curries, 2 dozen or so entrée specials; The focus is on different styles including Singaporean; Casual and low key; Can get cramp so go early or off-hours. Great for large groups.
Aldea: Portuguese. 31 W 17th @ 5th-6th Av; 25/22/$97; 675-7223; www.aldearestaurant.com; Best of its genre in the city; Michelin 1-star rated; Modern setting, deft service, food made from the freshest local ingredients; Ask for a table by the open kitchen; Chef George Mendes prepares works of art; Delicious cocktails- all $12; 4-course prix-fixe for $85; Seasonal menu- see website. Dynamic open kitchen. Expanded bar area.
Basta Pasta: Italian. 37 W 17th @ 5th Ave; 23/16/$43; 366-0888; http://www.bastapastanyc.com/; Japanese-Italian fusion; Sushi dishes, amazing pasta dishes and main courses infused with both styles; Open kitchen; Adventurous, Excellent pastas; Boring-ish (yet sleek) décor isn’t noticed when one is dining on pasta perfection. Signature dish is: Spaghetti with Parm & Prosciutto served in a half wheel of melted Parm cheese. Yum!
Casa Mono: Spanish. 52 Irving Pl @ 17th; 26/18/$57; 253-2773; www.casamononyc.com; Mario Batali’s take on Spanish cuisine; Negatives include the expense, size and elbow room; Positives include flat out outstanding Tapas; The Tapas range from $9 to $19 each and you’ll want to order at least 5 for a table of two; Just a delicious, perfect date experience best saved on a weekday or off-hours for greater attention. 1 Michelin star. Endless wine list and sangria options. 3 stars from NY Times.
15 East: Japanese. 15 E 15th @ 5th Av- Union Sq; 25/22/$79; 647-0015; www.15eastrestaurant.com; Extremely high-end Japanese; Pricy but considered one of the top new places of 2008. Fresh beyond belief. Sushi/ Sashimi is outstanding; Try the exquisite Omakase; Also hot selections available; Very date friendly establishment; Authentic- closely reminding those in the know of Tokyo style sushi. Huge sake collection. Pricy!!
Tocqueville: American / French. 1 E 15th St @ 5th Av; 27/26/$93; 647-1515; www.tocquevillerestaurant.com; Foodies delight at the gorgeous chandelier laden dining room; $29 lunch prix fixe; Always a special holiday menu online; Soft Shell Crabs in season; 5 course tasting: $110; Arctic Char, Tofu, Cod, Sea Scallops, Lobster, Trio of Beef featuring Oxtail; The menu is seasonal. Main courses: $38-$48. Drinks will run you $16 a pop or more; Five course tasting menu is $135;
Babu Ji: Indian. 22 E 13th St @ 5th Av-University; 22/18/$52; 951-1082; www.babujinyc.com/; Australian take on Indian cuisine; Very unique offerings like a Naan Pizza; Incredible tasting menu for $62/person; Try their version of Butter Chicken; Duck Curry, Short Rib Korma; They have a beer fridge that is self serve! Fancier cocktails also available; This is something different and worth a try. Dinner only.