The Best Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes in New York City (according to me!)

Happy New Year everyone!

I thought I’d kick this year off right: with restaurant recommendations. I’ve lived in New York City for over 14 years and I’ve been able to spot the gems here and there. I wanted to put it all in one spot for you to reference in case you plan on traveling to New York City in 2019 (which you totally should). Here goes:

Upper East Side:

  • Heidi’s House: This little hole-in-the-wall (literally) is located on East 78th Street, just east of 2nd Avenue. You’d probably miss it walking by but it’s a teeny-tiny little wine bar that also makes outrageously good mac’n’cheese. I’ve been venturing here for their mac’n’cheese since, at least, 2010, and it’s always worth the trip. There is seating at the bar and then maybe 5 other small tables. Check this place out and you’re welcome in advance.

Times Square:

  • Glass House Tavern: Times Square is a vacuous neighborhood in midtown that most New Yorkers avoid – unless they’re seeing a show – but if you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood and need somewhere to go to get a drink and some really decently priced (and delicious) food, head over to 47th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues to Glass House Tavern. This place has been home base with my good friends for years and we’re pretty sure that if it ever closes, we’re boycotting eating in midtown. My #1 recommendation: the risotto balls.

Vegan Eats:

  • Urban Vegan Kitchen: This hip little spot on Carmine Street in the West Village is my absolute favorite vegan spot – it’s my Watercourse Food in New York. The mac’n’cheese is delicious (see a trend here?), the decor is funky, and the space inviting. Everyone, no matter what your dietary preferences are, should give this place a try.

Harlem:

  • Pisticci: On a little street called LaSalle, between West 123rd and West 124th is a little restaurant called Pisticci. It’s named after the farm that grows the produce in Upstate New York. I stumbled upon this place in June-ish and immediately fell in love. It’s great for brunch or dinner, and probably any other time in between. On Thursdays, the Pisticci Farm brings down buckets of it’s produce and they set up a little farm stand outside the restaurant. It’s really decently priced and thus is really popular with the college students who attend Columbia and Barnard around the corner.

Brooklyn Brunch:

  • Juliette: I’ve only been here twice but it’s always been great and since I don’t venture too often to Brooklyn, I thought I should highlight at least one of the spots that I have been to. This is a great place for brunch, although it can get kind of crowded. It’s located right in Williamsburg off North 5th so it’s easily accessible by the L (while the L is still running, which I’m not sure it is). The decor is really rustic and homey and the food is well-priced and tasty. You can check out their menu here.

Upper West Side Drinking Hole:

  • The Hamilton: Also a tiny hole-in-the-wall on Amsterdam between 109th and 110th, there have been at least 3 bars located in this spot in the last 5 years, but The Hamilton has resided there for at least 3 of those years and hopefully it will continue to do so for years to come. I’ve been a regular there since it first opened. It’s named Alexander Hamilton because he went to Columbia University which is a mere 6 blocks north, and owner is Scottish, which I believe Hamilton was, too. They have snacks and really tasty cocktails. The bartenders are always awesome and you can probably find me here any time I decide to go out and don’t want to stray farm from home.
  • Honorable Mention: Marlow Bistro: This is more of a restaurant, and aside from the pizzas, the food is pretty overpriced and tasteless, but I really enjoy sitting at the bar here sometimes. The bartenders are all really friendly and they keep negroni barreled and on tap.

Cheap in the West Village:

  • Joe’s Pizza: In case you’re in the village and can’t afford Urban Vegan Kitchen, I’d highly suggest you go down the street to Joe’s Pizza, also on Carmine Street. It’s the best slice you’ll get anywhere and there are three locations downtown. I think slices are around $3.
    joespizzanyc.jpg

Downtown Brunch:

  • Odeon: This 80’s hotspot of cocaine and booze as memorialized in Jay McInerny’s Bright Lights, Big City, is now a respectable and pricey restaurant on West Broadway in Tribeca. West Broadway was my favorite street to hang out on in college, but this place was usually out of my price range. The few times I’ve gone back since graduating, with a paycheck and all, the Odeon has yet to disappoint. The food is fantastic and you’ll be within walking distance of the Freedom Tower and Canal Street afterwards. Check out their menu here.

Coffee:

  • Irving Farm: There are now various locations on this coffee shop all over the city, but if you want to hit up the original, you can find it downtown, a block east of Union Square. Be prepared to wait in line. For some reason, there is ALWAYS a line and it’s always really slow. (More information here.)
  • The Hungarian Pastry Shop: I haven’t had coffee in almost two months, but when I was drinking coffee, this is the spot that took all of my money. They’re a Morningside Heights institution that’s been there since the 1960’s on Amsterdam Avenue between 110th and 111th across from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It’s cash only so bring cash, but it’s totally worth it. Many a famous writer has sat and written in this space.
  • Joe Coffee Company: There are also locations all over the city, but the original one is on Waverly and Gay Streets in the West Village. Joe has repeatedly won the award for ‘best coffee’ in NYC for years. I think a regular coffee will run you around $3.
    joecoffeeshopnyc
  • Maman: This was a spot that I first ventured to when I was working on the Bowery and it’s a cozy little spot to drink your coffee, write on your laptop, read a book, or enjoy a pastry (or perhaps all four at the same time). The original location is down on Centre Street between Grand and Broome, but there’s also one now on West 25th between 5th and 6th Avenues.

So there you have it. Those are all my favorite recommendations, with at least a few that would you never read about in a guidebook. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments below and if you live in New York City, let me know what you favorite neighborhood spot is!

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