I was originally going to write this in a series of articles as 5 of my favorite Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, etc. restaurants, going through all of the boroughs (minus Staten Island). As I was drafting out each article, I realized that I had tons of Manhattan restaurants and almost none from the other boroughs. Even where I live in Queens, I only had one really awesome restaurant I wanted to talk about. This was kind of a wake-up call for me to get around the other boroughs more, especially my own! I still want to share with you guys my favorite restaurants, so I compiled it all into one big article featuring my favorites in all of NYC. And these are just a few! Most of them are located in Manhattan, but there are a few from the outer boroughs that are definitely worth trying!
I couldn’t save the best for last because if you take anything away from this article I want it to be this restaurant! Queen’s Comfort is my hands-down favorite restaurant in the history of ever. If you won’t take my word for it, take it from Guy Fieri who has featured QC in an episode of Triple D. And if that’s still not enough, this should be: fried sriracha mac and cheese balls. They’re appropriately named “fireballs” and they are everything. The inside looks like your crazy grandmother’s basement and it’s so cool. The walls are covered in artwork and action figures and anything else you could imagine!
What to order: Start with the fireballs, you have to. My boyfriend and I get two baskets for the two of us just because they’re that good. I always get the chicken and waffles, too! It’s BYOB so you can do that or order a glass of cold cider (my fave!).
Ippudo is a super popular Japanese ramen chain, and I can totally tell why. The ramen is really great, I have yet to find better in NYC! After living in Japan for 5 years my expectations are pretty high, and this comes pretty close! The best time to get ramen is on a cold rainy day! It will make you feel super warm and cozy. Ippudo always gets super busy on the weekends and there’s no reservations, so get there before they open or you’ll be standing outside in line for a while!
What to order: Start with the edamame and some water! I love my Ramen suuuuper spicy, so I always get the Torishio ramen with bakudan, which is a paste that makes the soup spicy! If you run out of noodles, you can always ask for kae-dama which is an extra serving of noodles if you’re not into drinking the soup!
Serafina has locations all over the city, so each one is different! The one I always go to is super cozy in an upstairs loft and is really nice for an evening out. The food is traditional Italian, and the atmosphere is cozy and intimate. They have a location near the Met, so you can head over for a nice dinner at Serafina after a museum day!
What to order: The menu varies by location, so check out your local Serafina! There’s locations in NY, Massachusetts, LA, and Puerto Rico! However, I always get some variation of their margherita pizza (they have 4 different types!).
Lavagna is my boyfriend and I’s favorite special occasion restaurant! It’s a little place tucked away in the East Village, so it’s super quiet and intimate. The place is small and fills up on the weekends and for holidays, so book your table in advance! It is quite pricey, which is why it’s our special occasion restaurant. For two people getting a main dish and possibly a glass of wine, expect to spend between $80-$120.
What to order: Me and my boyfriend have never gotten an appetizer here, but I hear they’re great! For the entree, we both get the steak lavagna and it just melts in your mouth! They do offer specials on a 3-course meal for two, but unfortunately, the steak lavagna is excluded from that deal so we have never gone with that option.
Ulysses is a super cool bar-restaurant in FiDi (financial district) that serves the BEST food. I can’t vouch for the drinks, but by the looks of the always-crowded bar area, they must be pretty good to say the least. It’s located on a super cool pedestrian road called Stone Street and it’s filled with restaurants and packed full of young people on the weekends. It’s a great place to just hang out and share some apps!
What to order: Sit outside and share a bunch of appetizers with your friends! I love literally everything on their menu, but I usually share some combo of apps like mozzarella sticks, fries, chicken tenders, and sliders for a group of 4-6 depending on how hungry we are.
I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like shake shack. It’s basically the upper scale version of McDonald’s but 1000x better. I’ve heard it’s comparable to In-N-Out, or if you’ve ever had Elevation Burger, it’s similar to that too. For a “fast food” type burger, it can get a little pricey but for a quick bite to eat it’s great. There’s locations all over NYC, but skip the Times Square location – it’s full of tourists and the lines are absurd.
What to order: I always get a bacon cheeseburger, but they’ve got all different kinds, including vegetarian options! I also really like the chicken sandwich if I’m not feeling a burger. I always order cheese fries too- they’re so good! They also have a huge variety of custards and shakes. My favorite is the black and white shake, but you can’t go wrong with any of them!
You’ve probably seen or heard about this place on social media before. They make crazy-good and gigantic milkshake concoctions that are to die for. The first time I went, I was a little skeptical whether the milkshakes actually tasted good in addition to looking good – and I was not let down! There’s a few locations in New York, and it’s a super fun restaurant to go to with your friends! It’s really small and it can get super busy on weekends and during tourist season, so get there early if you plan on getting shakes and a burger.
What to order: My friends and I went mainly for the shakes, so we didn’t order a main dish. We were able to get in quicker because we were only getting shakes, but it is standing room only for just shakes. It wasn’t a big deal though because the shakes were so good! I got the cookie flavor, but you can’t go wrong with any of them! Don’t skip out on getting a plate of fries with the Korean bbq dipping sauce – arguably as good as the shakes themselves! If you plan on eating a burger, they’re really big, so I suggest sharing a shake with a friend!
Umami burger has several locations around the US! It’ a gourmet burger joint that really does have some of the best burgers I’ve ever had! They have some pretty cool burger choices including an ahi tuna burger!
What to order: I love the truffle burger and the sweet potato fries!
Salvatore’s of Soho
Located in the Bronx, me and my boyfriend go here when I’m visiting him at his school. It’s a really casual Italian restaurant that serves the best food for a good price! It’s super popular among college kids because it’s located right by Manhattan College, and it’s BYOB.
What to order: I usually order the chicken francese, chicken parm, or ravioli a la vodka. They also have a great selection of pizzas for dine-in or take out!
I went to The Smith for my birthday almost a year ago and I would definitely do it again! The Smith has multiple locations throughout Manhattan, and they’re all super cute and cozy! It’s the perfect restaurant for any occasion – a birthday, brunch, or just hanging out!
What to order: All the dishes here sound amazing, but I really loved the pancakes with whipped ricotta, pecans, and caramel sauce! I’ve also heard the mac n’ cheese is to die for!
Another great spot in the city that serves gourmet “bar food” is Brazen Fox! It’s kind of like an upscale sports bar that serves all your favorites – burgers, onion rings, steaks and some seafood, and more! I’ve been to both the Manhattan and White Plains locations, and my favorite is the Manhattan location! I love the vibe of the restaurant and I think the food is just a little bit better!
What to order: If you’re just hanging out with a few friends, there’s a really good happy hour deal for an appetizer sampler for $15, which can serve 4-6 people! I also love their burgers – you can’t go wrong with any of them!
Sugar Factory is a super fun place to go that serves the craziest drinks! They’re called goblets, and they come in crazy colors and assorted candies and are even smoking! They can make them alcohol-free too if you’re not 21. I went here for my 18th birthday and we ate dinner and got the crazy drinks and it was super fun! The food was not bad, but I would mainly go again for the drinks. Celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens, Sasha Pieterse, and more have been spotted at sugar factory!
What to order: Get any of their goblets! They’re so fun and great to share because they’re so large! Don’t forget to bring your cameras to get pictures with your goblet!
Last but not least, Hourglass Tavern is an intimate, cozy restaurant tucked away in the Theatre District. I talked a little bit about it in my article about the best NYC date spots because it really is the perfect spot for a date. You could even attend a Broadway show before or after for a fun night out! They even have a pre-theatre prix fixe! The interior is super charming and cute, and the food is amazing!
What to order: I love their chicken alfredo, but I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with anything on their menu!
What are your favorite NYC restaurants? Leave a comment to let me know!