Anchored by Union Square Park, this vibrant New York City neighborhood is as popular with tourists as it is with locals. Whether you're here for the Union Square Greenmarket, taking classes at NYU, or passing through on any number of subway lines (the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, W, and R all stop here) you'll find no shortage of excellent dining options. Union Square restaurants range from classic red sauce Italian to take-out Persian and even a white tablecloth, Michelin-starred destination. The next time you find yourself at this downtown hub, consider placing an order at one of these eight stellar restaurants.
Known for serving up some of the best Neapolitan pies outside of Naples, this sunny and spacious Italian restaurant offers a peaceful respite from Union Square – except when a European football game on the big screen gets diners riled up. You can’t go wrong with the classics here, like a Margherita pizza topped with mozzarella and fresh basil, or the eponymous Ribalta: a white pizza with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe.
New York celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer’s upscale café recently relocated a few blocks north of its original location, but the new and improved USC is just as impressive. The menu features a slew of homemade pastas and pan-roasted, seared, braised, grilled, or roasted meats (try Pat LaFrieda's dry-aged ribeye for two). For a more casual meal, head to the adjacent café, Daily Provisions, which serves a particularly memorable gouda-and-sausage breakfast sandwich doused in spicy wake-up sauce.
This Japanese noodle chain’s only New York outpost serves handmade udon topped with upscale ingredients like uni, caviar, and truffle crème. Of course, you can always keep things simple with traditional dashi broth soups seasoned with soy sauce and bonito flakes.
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s trendy in-store restaurant at the luxe housewares showroom, ABC Home, defies expectations with elegant creations served on mismatched china. Vegetable-focused dishes are a strength, but carnivores shouldn't fret. Seasonal entrees might include pork confit with smoked bacon marmalade or casarecce pasta with fennel sausage.
Meat eaters leave this Michelin-starred restaurant stunned that such a complex and satisfying meal was created entirely of vegetables. Both vegetarian and vegan menus offer a dizzying number of plant-based creations, like the signature cauliflower tempura buns and the king trumpet mushroom cashew au poivre, served with morels and sunchokes.
Rustic, no-frills American cuisine is served at this spacious restaurant just blocks from the Greenmarket. You’re here for simple food executed perfectly, like a juicy rotisserie chicken, a rotating menu of homemade pastas, and weeknight specials including a tender pot roast short rib that feels like it slipped out of your grandmother's oven (if she was a New York City chef, of course).
This trendy tapas spot — and its sibling venue Bar Jamon, which is dedicated to Spanish ham — is best tried with a group of friends who don't mind sharing. Try Spanish classics like pan con tomate and fideos with chorizo and a selection of more modern plates, like a duck egg with black truffles and goat confit served with avocado queso.
Housed inside an unremarkable pizza joint, this tiny counter serves up massive flavors in the form of Ash Reshteh (a fragrant Persian noodle soup served with a sprinkling of fried shallots and a side of sesame flatbread) and Loobia, a hearty vegetarian stew that's best enjoyed on a bench in Union Square Park on a mild fall day.