Check this out — a new downtown Manhattan restaurant that will totally change its decor and menus every month.
That space has special meaning for me and my sweetie of eleven years, for in it we had our third date when it was a French bistro named Le Jardin. We loved eating in its grape-arbored backyard, a rustic rarity in downtown Manhattan.
Here’s a list of favorite New York City restaurants from one of my favorite blogs, Eater NY.
Some of my own hangouts made the list; I’ve lived just north of NYC since 1989:
Old Town Bar. Noisy and crowded in the evening, but great for a quiet lunch. Founded in 1892, its booths are battered and worn, like stepping into a sepia photograph. Head up the narrow steep stairs for a quieter experience in the restaurant upstairs.
Dublin House. Dive bar! Great jukebox. An unlikely find in the pricey upper West Side.
Fanelli’s. Love its heavy etched glass doors and narrow bar. Like Old Town, it’s more than 100 years old, so go for the setting, not the food. Stop in for a Guinness as you stumble through Soho.
Temple Bar. Look for the small glowing lizard inset — no sign! — into the wall on Lafayette Street. This bar is a tiny, intimate jewelbox. Perfect for a romantic date. Dress up!
The King Cole Room. A drink will cost a small fortune, but worth it for a taste of true old-school elegance at the St. Regis Hotel. Savor the gorgeous Maxfield Parrish mural behind the bar that gives it its name.
Cafe Cluny. Tiny, perfect, neutral colors. Not cheap but worth it.
Cafe Angelique. Perpetually jammed with bankers and European tourists, this pretty spot has good food in an interesting neighborhood, the West Village. Fuel up here for your shopping on $$$$$$$ Bleecker.
Caffe Reggio. Crammed with NYU students at its small tables, it’s the perfect spot on a cold winter’s afternoon for a cappuccino and cannoli. Opened in 1927, its ochre walls are covered with art.
Grey Dog. The best! I love its rustic interior, friendly staff, comfy tables. Settle in with your NYT and savor.
Gramercy Tavern. The room is gorgeous, the service elegant, the food delicious. Still thriving after 17 years!
La Grenouille. I had lunch upstairs last year and it was one of the loveliest experiences ever. Hushed, old-school, formal, delicious, expensive. Founded 49 years ago, it has an elegance hard to find and one to cherish.
Toloache. This three-year-old Theater District Mexican is one of my absolute favorites. I love their small, freshly made margaritas, their delicate hand with portion sizes and sauces, friendly service. I love the look of the two-story room, with its hand-painted tile mural. This is high-end dining, not boring old fajitas/tacos/burritos.
Red Cat. Few restaurants in Manhattan last, but this one has. Red Cat is welcoming, warm, lovely to sit in and offers great food at reasonable prices.
Morandi. One of Keith McNally’s faux-aged see-and-be-seen spots, I love it anyway. Sit at the bar and enjoy one of the city’s best spaghetti carbonaras.
Balthazar. Another McNally spot, opened in 1997. Heaven. Huge room, high ceilings, stylish crowd, great food. As close to Paris as you can get on this side of the Atlantic.
Cafe Boulud. We recently treated ourselves to the three-course prix fixe lunch ($35 pp) with a bottle of Cotes du Rhone for $28. The room is calm, quiet, lightened with antiqued mirrors and crisp, bright watercolors. The service is excellent, the food lovely, presentation fab — my vitello tonnato came on a slab of slate, my banana/ice cream dessert de-constructed into three pockets of a white china dish. Can’t wait to go back.
New York Noodletown. Cheap, delicious, cheap, delicious. The white plastic tablecloths and line-up of people eyeing your table reminds me of all my favorite (hometown) Toronto spots on Spadina.
Daddy-o. I just discovered this 12-year-old tiny little corner restaurant with a great burger. Any restaurant lasting more than a decade in Manhattan is doing something very right!
What are your New York favorites?