July 8, 2019
Eat NYC: Best Restaurants in New York
Our Guide to the Best Restaurants in the Big Apple
New York is iconic, right? Manhattan’s green spaces, like Central Park, are the most filmed locations in the world – forget Tom Hanks, the city is the star the directors want. And finding the best restaurants in New York can feel like hunting a needle in a haystack – there’s so much on offer, everywhere, that it’s hard to know what’ll be good and what not.
It can be difficult to remember that Manhattan is also just a regular city. Much like London, or Leeds even, it’s full of people and businesses trying to do the best they can; without the fairytale magic and stardust that you see through the lens of a film. That’s what we’re used to helping our amazing indie foodie clients with, so we know.
We therefore wanted to predominantly celebrate its indies. Because just as much as those in our own city, they’re fighting a battle to be seen, visited, and most importantly, tasted! – So we thought we’d compile a list of our favourite, after a recent weeklong trip this June, which comprised the heaviest rains as well as 30° sunshine.
Best Indie Beer Bars in New York
Rockaway Brewing Co.
Bars are ten a penny in New York; you can barely turn a corner in Manhattan without being faced with a pub, hotel bar or restaurant’s drinks offerings. And there is certainly a time and a space for a glass of Frosé (New York’s favourite drink for summer 2019, it seems – the adult version of a slush-puppy made from rosé that is the stuff of dreams on a hot summer’s day).
We also had some ace cocktails, but we had them at restaurants. So…
Most of our bar hunts were in search of some of New York’s great beers. And boy did we find some winners. Okay, so none of these are in Manhattan. But Brooklyn is a great place to hang anyway, and if you visit in the height of summer a trip out to Rockaway Beach is pretty much a no-brainer.
Covenhoven is a taproom, beer shop and all-round friendly hang on 730 Classon Avenue, Brooklyn. On warm summer’s evenings they hoist the front shutters, so you can cradle your tasty half in your hand by the light of a flickering candle, and play a game, or get yourself a DIY charcuterie board (choose from the priced up hams and cheeses in the fridge so you only get what you want). They’re mega-welcoming (check out their massive blow-up Pride unicorn, and general chatty friendliness on their insta @covenhovennyc) – the perfect place to while away a sunny evening in Brooklyn. They have 16 constantly rotating taps, with plenty of NY brews – from Evil Twin to Three’s – so there’s plenty to go at.
You know who else is nice? The people at Three’s Brewing. Nice beers and all. Head to their brewery and bar on Douglass St in Brooklyn for the post-work buzz, as everyone gets themselves out of work and into a half of something tasty. Their 24-line draught system allows them to pour the best of their own brews, as well as some well-respected neighbours. We enjoyed their Logical Conclusion, an American IPA doing pretty well on Untapp’d, with 4.08/5!
Rockaway Brewing Co.
The beach and New York aren’t exactly synonymous, especially for us tourists who are just there visiting. But a sweltering summer day is totally made complete with a train ride out to Rockaway Beach. Head to their tap room at 415 Beach 72nd Street for a chilled and sunny vibe, complete with a great food pop-up and amazing beer. With regular live music and a collection of vinyls to scroll through, it’s the perfect way to cruise into the late afternoon/evening from a sunny day at the beach. A long, lazy and enjoyable Rockaways beach day could’ve contributed to this, but I genuinely think their Juice Cleanse Tropical Sour was the best sour I’ve EVER HAD. (And it smelt ABSOLUTELY disgusting).
Where to head next…Berg’n, Other Half, Brooklyn Brewery
We didn’t manage to get to Berg’n, but it was next on the list. Head to their beer hall & events space in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights for great beers, but they also knock up craft cocktails and serve natural wines.
Other Half is renowned for belting out a cracking selection of IPAs, from their Triple IPA All Green Everything to the American Other Half IPA.
We actually went to Brooklyn Brewery, but it was closed for a private event. Yes, yes, we can get Brooklyn brews over in the UK without much hassle – but we wanted to see where it all happens. Brooklyn do free brewery tours every half hour over the weekend.
Best Brunch in New York
Sundays in Brooklyn
New York is kind of famous for brunching – but it seems a solidly weekend-vibe thing to do. Now, we’re all for breakfast – haven’t got a problem with breakfast at all – but brunch is surely breakfast’s more satisfactory sibling, and on that account, trying to combine breakfast and lunch into one meal (minimum 2 courses) is a solid 3-4 days per week business. Being on holiday was no different. Post jet-lag, we wanted to be able to get up and brunching by around 11. These are the best options we found, available all week long.
We stayed at new hotel SisterCityNYC, located right next to the New Museum on the Bowery. Not only is it a win for late-night summer cocktails (get on that roof!), they also have a restaurant called Floret. We had a great breakfast there – sunchokes (artichokes to you and me), tahini, green apple, pine nuts, lemon and za’atar, and oily Italian flatbread with fava beans and pecorino, that 100% required the side of avocado I ordered with it (I’d call it brunch, but frankly, it wasn’t big enough. Bloody tasty though.) – Plus, their dinner menu is launching imminently. One to watch.
Sunday in Brooklyn
Contrary to its name, it’s available all week. Phew! Loads of options to work from on the menu. We had a satisfying (and exotic, for English people!) ‘biscuits and gravy’. Nope it’s not your worst hobnob-based nightmare, it’s Southern-style biscuits (basically a scone, but even more buttery) covered in sausage gravy. Weird but nice. And something in a skillet. Frankly, it was a nurturing environment in which to greet the day, get a coffee in, gaze through the cocktail options for a hair-of-the-dog before deciding against it, and spend a long time perusing the lengthy menu of brunch options. (But if you need to use the bathroom, you might die. It’s right next to the woodfired oven, and, much like an authentic pizza Napoletana, you will be cooked if you stay in there more than 60 seconds. DO NOT ATTEMPT with a hangover. You have been warned).
Okay, this swanky midtown number is not our usual ‘top grub, chilled atmosphere’ kind of vibe. Honestly it’s downright swanky. The staff were all shirt-and-tie-wearing, mega-polite Eastern Europeans, with white linen draped over their arms. That’s the ambience. But bloody hell, nice brunch. We had a lobster tartlet with yuzu, tarragon and truffle. We also had matcha pancakes, which basically tasted like cake, fried in butter, with a few bits of fruit on top. Great start to any day, we reckon.
Where to head next…Olmsted, Coast & Valley, Freeman’s
Olmsted is about to come up in our fine dining suggestions too, but this well-renowned Brooklyn neighbourhood restaurant with mighty high standards has just brought their committed followers the final meal in the holy trinity – brunch. Think “crispy chickpea socca, asparagus, olives, sunny side up eggs and avocado puree”, “butternut squash bread with clotted cream and jam” and “Krapfen austrian donuts filled with seasonal jelly”. Sounds a dream.
Coast & Valley again is about to come up in our fine dining suggestions, but this recently opened California-inspired North Brooklyn venue does brunch too, rejoice! So alongside the amazing selection of wines (you can try EVERYTHING they have on the menu by the glass), you can get yourself some “buckwheat pancakes, cardamom butter and maple syrup” or an “olive oil fried egg, with roasted potatoes, dandelion greens, calabrian chile, capers and crispy prosciutto.”
Freemans is situated down a little hidden alley right by SisterCity hotel – and its menu looked great. However, it’s very cosy and dark in there – ie, the perfect rainy day hideaway, but not the place of choice during our 30 degree sunshine. Brunch here feels more American classic, with plenty of grits, things cooked in skillets and “bison steak and eggs” – though they have some pretty saucy choices too, including “hot artichoke dip, crispbread” and “jumbo lump crab cake Benedict with tarragon hollandaise on an english muffin with mixed greens”.
Best restaurants in New York
If you’re like us, a great restaurant doesn’t have to mean Michelin starred (New York already robbed us blind before we even arrived – this is an EXPENSIVE city!) – but we did make one Michelin starred venue this time, which heads up the best restaurants list. Our second option? Completely different. And a good counterpoint to why eating Michelin starred all the time would be unnecessary, even if we could afford to.
If you watch Chef’s Table on Netflix, you’ve probably seen Blue Hill come up. With its farm-to-table ethos, it feels very fresh and different against the urban bustle of Manhattan. The food is honest, stripped-back, and yet refined. And it was beautiful; the flavours were simple, subtle and delicate. But, you know what? We do this really well in the UK now, too. Nothing was too far beyond the remit of our Leeds favourites Ox Club and Home. The cocktails here were beautiful and adventurous (one being so savoury and earthy from the mushroom and wild garlic added to its martini base) and the homegrown veg crudités were served with whipped lard and dried lime powder. That’s the kind of vibe we’re talking about. It was a tasty, fun, expensive night.
We happened upon Momosan on our first, jetlagged night, searching vainly for somewhere near-ish and tasty before we literally fell asleep on our feet. Momosan totally delivered. In a cool, industrial, stripped-back room, diners sit around the bar and at shared tables whilst waiting staff zip around, friendly and efficient. Iron Chef Morimoto is behind this fancy ramen and sake joint on Lexington, and (being sadly starved of good ramen in the UK – though that is changing!) it was mindblowingly good stuff.
We had a peking duck taco (when you’re in a cultural melting pot, you’ve got to just go with it, right?), tuna ‘zuke maguro’ which was soy marinated tuna, tataki cucumber and taberu rayu (basically, zippy-hot hunks of the freshest yellowfin tuna with microleaf coriander and bashed-up, marinated cucumber). It was so, so good. Finally we had gyukotsu ramen. They only make 20 orders of gyukotsu per day. This seven-hour braised beef rib was served with sesame beansprout and kale, black pepper oil, and aji-tama. It was one of the cheaper, great meals we had (this food, plus a sake, a beer and a cocktail came to around 90 dollars, and there were much cheaper ramen dishes on the list that their gyukotsu special). This is definitely one to get yourself to.
Where to head next…Oxalis, Olmsted, Coast & Valley
These three are all over in Brooklyn, from Greenpoint in the North through to Prospect Heights. If we’d spent the week in Brooklyn we’d definitely have made our bank balance stretch to taking these in…
Oxalis was a mega-popular pop-up that has just settled down into bricks and mortar in Brooklyn, and is being raved about round town. Check out their 60 dollar tasting menu or their a la carte Bar menu which you don’t have to book for.
Olmsted is a welcoming, neighbourhood restaurant which anyone would be mega-chuffed to find at the corner of their street. They are the James Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant finalists, which says it all really – and if it doesn’t, what do you reckon to a plate of “Kale Crab Rangoon with sweet and sour sauce” or “English pea falafel with cardamom labneh, mint and peata”?
Coast & Valley is on the list for a second time too, because who could forego the offer of a glass of any of their wines? Usually the by-the-glass offerings are the boring, popular and cheap end of the winelist, so bars can guarantee shifting the rest of the bottle. Not here. They also serve up dinners, with plates like “Poached chicken, avocado and charred cucumber with sauce of ginger and buttermilk”, “Chicken liver mousse with green pepper mostarda, microgreens and crackers” and “Pan-seared scallops, MP asparagus, peas, preserved lemon, tahini yoghurt and peashoots”. Yum.
Best Snacks New York
Because sometimes eating is best done on the move!
Russ & Daughters
Time Out Market
Russ & Daughters, Yonah Schimmel
If you’re from the UK, you’re probably unlikely to hail from anywhere whose local delicacies are the stuff of Orthodox Jewish cuisine – so that is something you have to sample whilst in the Big Apple. And you need to get googling, because everywhere serves up bagels, but part of the fun is searching out those historical institutions; the places everyone “in the know” goes. Get to Russ & Daughters’ old-school deli for a bagel (we went Everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and pastrami-cured salmon) and a slice (or better, a loaf) of Babka (a heavy, cakey, doughy, layered thing that definitely constitutes breakfast, if you want it to. Choose from chocolate or cinnamon). If you’ve still got space (or your appetite has gone all American on you), head down to Yonah Schimmel’s for a potato knish (pretty much the heaviest potato-dough, salty mouthful you’ve ever tried. Turn the comfort food dial up to 10).
Forget Flat Whites and Cortados in New York. Even the classy places we had them served up coffee that was no match for the best baristas in the UK right now. (Go on, prove me wrong! Where did we miss?) New York is massively partial to a nitro-brew/cold brew coffee, and we were won over. Get to a decent coffee shop with good beans, and a nice chilled coffee full of clinking ice is the perfect accompaniment to a stroll down the Highline.
Feeling a calorie deficit? Grab something from Milk. Another feature on Netflix’s Chef’s Table, Milk is the brainchild of Christina Tosi, and everything you eat from there seems to be 90% butter and sugar. Try their soft-serve icecream made from cereal milk (yup, that sugary, corny milk left at the bottom of your bowl), which they serve crusted with sweet cornflakes, or the infamous Crack Pie – the milk bar pie which tastes like oaty crust filled with pure butter and sugar. Warn your waist.
Time Out Market
Time Out is famous for knowing all that’s happening in the city you’re visiting, and they just proved it in New York. Their second bricks-and-mortar market after Lisbon, Time Out Market in Dumbo unites pop-ups from some of New York’s most exciting foodies right now, all under the same roof (perfect for when it rains). Get up to the terrace for amazing views across to Manhattan over the Hudson, framed by the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, whilst you enjoy a massive range of great foods.
We had deep-fried softshell crab tacos, followed by buttermilk-fried chicken and pickles on biscuits (again, the Deep South kind). That many calories means you pretty much go into a coma, so pick up a drink and sit on the terrace for a bit to take in that New York view, and your new Manhattan body.
Oops, did we almost manage to get through a whole blog on the US without a party political allegiance message? Just to be clear, f*ck you Trump. F*ck you very much.