Red Rooster: Near the Apollo Theater
When chef Marcus Samuelsson bought a townhouse in Harlem, he decided to build the neighborhood a restaurant worthy of its storied past. The result is a swinging mix of multi-culti comfort food (fried “yardbird,” meatballs with lingonberries and braised cabbage, fish tacos), with live music downstairs and lots of bourbon at the bar upstairs.
Upper West Side
Dovetail: Near the American Museum of Natural History
Welcoming service and an organic earth-toned design define this restaurant by French Laundry–trained chef-owner John Fraser; book ahead for his three-course Sunday Suppa. Quirky-named desserts include the Mexican Standoff (horchata ice cream, spicy milk chocolate) and Take That, Starbucks! (pumpkin ice cream, espresso toffee sauce).
Upper East Side
Café Sabarsky: At the Neue Galerie
Tall windows with translucent shades, ornate wood paneling, and Josef Hoffmann light fixtures outfit chef Kurt Gutenbrunner’s authentic Viennese café. Order the roasted bratwurst with Riesling sauerkraut or trout palatschinken (a Central European pancake). For dessert, try a cup of stiff Viennese coffee alongside the klimttorte (chocolate and hazelnut cake).
Lincoln: At Lincoln Center
Housed in a glass-encased space designed by architects Diller Scofidio & Renfro, the restaurant adds appeal to the world's largest performing-arts complex. Mix that with chef Jonathon Benno’s clever Italian cuisine—lasagna vincigrassi with beef and mushroom ragù; ravioli stuffed with braised lamb—and you have a venue worthy of a standing ovation.
Shun Lee Café: Near Lincoln Center
Black and white checkerboard ceilings hold up lanterns modeled after the Chinese calendar. Dim sum carts zipping through carry dishes like shrimp and ricotta puffs, giant fried crab claws, and fresh dumplings. Full-size entrees include Szechuan-style rack of lamb and the Beijing duck served with crepes, spring onions, and hoisin sauce.
The Modern: At the Museum of Modern Art
Treat yourself to a French-inflected meal at this Danny Meyer restaurant, where the city’s edges are smoothed over and everything’s in its right place. The chef’s tasting menu includes langoustine and razor clam tartare, Long Island duck breast, and a trio of desserts to taste.
Le Bernardin: Near Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall
The interior of this stylish Midtown haunt features twisted aluminum and undulating wood, a massive seascape triptych by Brooklyn artist Ran Ortner, and a sleek lounge for cocktails with seafood-centric small plates. Four-course dinners by chef Eric Ripert start with Royal Osetra caviar and conclude with pan-roasted lobster.
Marea: Near Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center
Seek out a coveted reservation for chef Michael White’s flagship—this swanky seafood restaurant off Central Park West—and then do your meal right: lardo-draped uni with sea salt; Nova Scotia lobster with burrata, eggplant, and basil; and the fusilli with red wine–braised octopus and bone marrow.
Asiate: Near Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall
Floor-to-ceiling windows on the 35th floor of the Time Warner Center in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel present spectacular views of Columbus Circle and Central Park. Chef Angie Berry serves up baby carrot risotto with glazed escargot and buckwheat-egg soba noodles with Osetra caviar and uni cream.
DB Bistro Moderne: Near Broadway Theaters
Part of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s empire, the restaurant’s front room is decorated with red plaster walls and bright floral photographs, while the back room features green-tinted glass and wood-and-steel-framed mirrors. French-American plates from chef Jason Pringle include pot au feu with beef broth, oxtail, and bone marrow, and Maine lobster with fried artichokes, grapefruit, and mascarpone.
Tertulia: Near Le Poisson Rouge
Weathered brick archways, a well-utilized brick oven, and a tight bar up front with short glasses of cider on tap make the space seem like it’s been around forever. Chef Seamus Mullens’ interpretations of Spanish classics include pimientos de padrón with fried Shishito peppers and arroz a la plancha with Ibérico ham and snails.
Lower East Side
Mile End Delicatessen: Near the New Museum
Skip the imported bagels at this Montreal-style Jewish delicatessen and focus on the smoked meat (cured and smoked brisket) piled high in sandwiches or nestled among the cheese curds in a plate of poutine. Fans, take note: Mile End’s original location is in Brooklyn (97 Hoyt St.).
Brooklyn Fare: Near Brooklyn Academy of Music
Housed inside a gourmet grocery on an otherwise bland block, Brooklyn Fare is one of the toughest reservations in New York. Its 18 seats are arranged around a small kitchen, with a constellation of copper pots hanging overhead. Chef César Ramirez and his technicians conjure upward of 20 courses a night per guest.
Saul: At the Brooklyn Museum
Artfully prepared New-American dishes—dry aged squab with roasted carrots and spiced yogurt; Colorado lamb saddle with brussel sprouts and turnips—have earned this restaurant one of Brooklyn's few Michelin stars. Though Saul will surely hum during the lunch rush, we prefer it at dinnertime, when you're guaranteed near-private access to the Rodin sculptures presiding quietly over the Brooklyn Museum’s lobby. saulrestaurant.com
M. Wells Dinette: At MoMA PS1
Surprises abound at this museum restaurant: head cheese, fresh goat liver, and veal brains, for starters. Chef Hugue Dufour’s dishes are as experimental as the artwork on display at MoMA PS1. Set up like a classroom, with long desks for communal dining, M. Wells will school diners on transforming animal fat and innards into a satisfying meal.