New York City’s Best Restaurants for Power Lunches
Mention the power lunch and you’ll likely conjure up images of wheeling and dealing Mad Men-era executives in suits talking business over martinis and steaks. Today, it seems like the typical New Yorker is more likely to be found scarfing down a desk-side sandwich between meetings. Yet, the fascination with power lunches hasn’t completely died out. In fact, the near-impossibility of taking a long lunch has made the prospect seem even more glamorous. (Plus, the New York Times has proof that certain members of the city’s upper echelon still put on their Brooks Brothers suits for lunch.) Even if you can’t steal away from the office during the workweek, these iconic New York restaurants are worth visiting anytime—especially if you’ve got an expense account.
The Four Seasons
The iconic restaurant that has defined the term power lunch since 1959 is the one and only Four Seasons. Designed by legendary architect Philip Johnson and set in Mies van der Rohe’s landmarked Seagram Building in Midtown, this powerhouse is still the place to see and be seen—for now. Go soon if you can—this summer the restaurant’s lease expires and it will be replaced by a yet-to-be-named concept by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznik, the trio behind buzzy restaurants Carbone, Dirty French, Parm, and Santina.
Eleven Madison Park
If you can spare three hours and $295, lunch at Eleven Madison Park is the ultimate power move. The three-Michelin-starred restaurant run by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara is renowned for its impeccable service, flawless cuisine, and grand setting in the landmarked Art Deco Metropolitan Life North building. It recently became New York’s most high-profile restaurant to eliminate tipping and just announced a new menu format, which will include fewer courses but add some family-style dishes.
Having lunch in the famed ‘21’ Club means enveloping yourself in New York history. It opened officially in 1930 and before that served as a speakeasy where actors, gangsters, and even politicians went to surreptitiously imbibe. In the bar room, with its classic red-and-white checkered tablecloths, all you have to do is look up to understand the place’s legacy as a power lunch spot. Prominent businessmen, sports stars, and even presidents gave the toys hanging from the ceiling as status symbols.
Located in Park Avenue’s landmarked Lever House, an icon of mid-century modern architecture built in 1952, Casa Lever embodies old New York glamour. The restaurant, run by the team behind the Sant Ambroeus restaurants and coffee bar, serves Milanese cuisine to financial titans. Come here to feast on traditional veal cutlets and lobster linguine in the shadow of Andy Warhol paintings.
Sirio Maccioni’s flagship restaurant first opened in 1974 and its legacy has only grown since then. In 2006 it moved to its current home in the Bloomberg Building on East 58th Street, where it’s frequented by former mayor Michael Bloomberg. Having launched the careers of chefs including Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, and Geoffrey Zakarian, the restaurant is a favorite of scions and tycoons who come to savor dishes like black truffle risotto and sole meunière under the theatrical, circus tent-like light shade.
Cipriani Club 55
Stockbrokers and traders flock here for business lunches with a view of Wall Street. The Cipriani empire dates back to 1931, when Giuseppe Cipriani opened the legendary Harry’s Bar on Piazza San Marco in Venice, where everyone from Hemingway to Peggy Guggenheim drank. Power lunchers who come to Cipriani Club 55 may hope to soak up some of that glamour—the gorgeous setting inside the former National City Bank doesn’t hurt.
Acclaimed chef Gabriel Kreuther’s eponymous restaurant in the Grace Building near Bryant Park quickly became a power lunch hotspot when it opened in June 2015. After ten years as executive chef at Danny Meyer’s the Modern, Kreuther decided to return to his roots with an Alsatian-inspired menu featuring dishes like langoustine tartare and baked royal Dorade with green tomato marmalade.
The Lambs Club
Editors, models, and moguls can be seen dining at the Lambs Club in the Chatwal Hotel, which occupies the landmarked building designed by Gilded Age architect Stanford White for the city’s original theater club. The setting evokes a clubby version of the old Theater District, with black-and-white photos of Broadway actors framed on the walls and red leather banquettes against black walls. Acclaimed chef and TV personality Geoffrey Zakarian helms the kitchen, which serves comfort foods like burgers and Cobb salad paired with a cocktail program designed by the late great bartender Sasha Petraske.
Michael McCarty’s Midtown restaurant Michael’s is the preferred power lunch spot of the city’s media titans and literati. Opened in 1989 following the success of Michael’s Santa Monica, the restaurant boasts an airy dining room filled with art by David Hockney, Frank Stella, and Jasper Johns. The cuisine is modern American, with influences from Italy, France, and California and features wine from McCarty’s vineyard in Malibu.
Master chef Eric Ripert helms the kitchen at Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, where he serves his acclaimed seafood-centric dishes. With three-course tasting menus priced at $85 (not including wine), you’d better have an expense account to dine here. It’s definitely a prime restaurant for impressing investors and business colleagues.
For a power lunch in posh Gramercy Park, Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern is unbeatable. Chef Michael Anthony sources the freshest produce from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket for his upscale comfort food. The lunch menu offers many of the same dishes as dinner but for a more modest price tag. Pro tip: eat in the more informal bar room, where you can order the off-menu burger or the daily soup and sandwich combo.
Grand Central Oyster Bar
Not just for commuters passing through, the Grand Central Oyster Bar has been serving up bivalves and seafood platters since 1913, the year the famed train station opened. With its Guastavino-tiled arches and checkered tablecloths, it actually appeared as the setting for a three-martini lunch on an early episode of Mad Men. Stop by the next time you’re in Grand Central and explore the rest of the terminal’s well-kept secrets.
The restaurant inside the glitzy new Baccarat Hotel & Residences aims to become Midtown’s new power lunch spot and it has many of the trappings of such a place—an opulent setting where wine is served in Baccarat’s crystal goblets, a menu of updated French classics, and superb service. Whether it can gain a dedicated following like the Four Seasons will remain to be seen.