November 25, 2015

While there are plenty of things to do on Black Friday besides shopping, if you happen to find yourself in New York's shopping hubs, you'll want to know where to eat. Excellent new restaurants abound, and reflect the neighborhoods they're in, so you can expect swanky dining rooms around Fifth Avenue, chic downtown eateries in Soho, and design-focused bistros in Williamsburg. Here are the best places to eat in seven of New York's major commerce-driven neighborhoods.

Fifth Avenue

Lined with legendary stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Henry Bendel, and just about every designer boutique you can think of, the world's most expensive shopping corridor has equally glitzy restaurants nearby. Ralph Lauren's Polo Bar is the place to see and be seen. At Chevalier inside the Baccarat Hotel & Residences, the service is impeccable; the setting magnificent, and the modern French fare flawless. The most exciting newcomer on the scene is Jams, acclaimed chef Jonathan Waxman's new restaurant inside the 1 Hotel Central Park. The pillowy gnocchi with shaved Brussels sprouts and walnut sage pesto are sublime.

Rockefeller Center

Midtown's Art Deco landmark is a one-stop-shopping center with a hundred boutiques ranging from Hallmark and La Maison du Chocolat to the FDNY Fire Zone, where proceeds from gift items like puzzles and kids' firefighter costumes benefit the New York Fire Department. After an afternoon of shopping, head up to Rockefeller Center's swanky rooftop lounge SixtyFive for a much-needed cocktail and small bites with stunning views. In need of something more substantial? The new Ocean Prime steakhouse by restaurateur Cameron Mitchell delivers decadent steaks and seafood with some excellent appetizers and sides rounding out the menu. Don't miss the truffled mac and cheese.

Lexington Avenue

Bloomingdale's flagship on 59th and Lex is a shopper's heaven year-round, and amps up its appeal during the holiday season with over-the-top window displays. Nearby, you'll find plenty of big name brands like Zara and Sephora, but fewer restaurants and bars. Luckily, the Bar Room is right around the corner on E 60th Street, and it's the perfect place for lunch. A classic, old New York vibe provides the backdrop for upscale comfort food like grilled cheese with tomato soup, chopped salad, and an excellent burger by Chef Aaron Phillips, an alum of Le Bernardin.

Soho

It's easy to work up an appetite navigating the designer boutique-lined streets of Soho, and fortunately there are plenty of great food options in the neighborhood. Michael Chernow's breezy new seafood spot Seamore's is worth it for the super fresh catch of the day he gets from Montauk fishermen via the Dock to Dish program. (The charismatic restaurateur is also starring in the new Food Porn series on FYI.) Selections change daily, though you can always count on awesome fish tacos and fried calamari. Nearby, the unstoppable Major Food Group (Carbone, Parm, Dirty French) has another hit on their hands with Sadelle's, a Jewish-style bagel shop with delicious (but pricey) breakfast and lunch offerings.

Meatpacking District

If you're looking for gifts for foodies or art-lovers, the Meatpacking District and neighboring Chelsea is your best bet. Chelsea Market is home to an excellent wine and spirits shop, Buon Italia specialty grocery store, and the Filling Station, where you can get olive oils and balsamic vinegars infused with lemon, grapefruit, or truffles. Keep an eye out for the new Dizengoff hummusiya by acclaimed Philly chef Mike Solomonov, set to open inside the market soon. If you're headed to the new Whitney Museum for art books and design items, a stop at Untitled at the Whitney is a must for Michael Anthony's artful small plates.

Union Square

With a huge holiday market and discount stores like Nordstrom Rack (not to mention that old standby bookstore The Strand), Union Square is a bustling hub of commerce. Fighting the crowds can be an overwhelming experience, so duck onto the side streets for a brief respite. Old Town Bar & Grill, which feels much the same as it did when it opened in 1892, is the place to go for a pint and pub grub. If you're after something more upscale, but still laid-back, head ten blocks north to Upland, where acclaimed chef Justin Smillie's California-meets-Italy dishes include sausage-and-kale pizza and a five lettuce Caesar (kale, gem lettuce, Treviso, Castelfranco, and Tardivo leaves tossed in an anchovy vinaigrette with Bordeaux radishes and anchovy breadcrumbs).

Williamsburg

If the boutique-lined blocks of Williamsburg are your shopping destination of choice, you won't have any trouble finding delicious food nearby. Belgian brasserie Witlof, one of the neighborhood's best new restaurants, serves bistro classics like moules frites and a croque madame all day in a former turn-of-the-century bank. If you find yourself lingering as day turns to night, head to Loosie Rouge, the hip new bar with cocktails on tap and New Orleans-inspired food like oysters Bloomberg and shrimp po'boys served in the equally chic attached restaurant.

Laura Itzkowitz is a contributing digital editor at Travel + Leisure and author of New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lauraitzkowitz.

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