Our Favorite Restaurants in Manhattan

OK, I can’t believe I’ve held out on you this long.  I mean, shouldn’t all NYC bloggers provide their list of the BEST places to eat?  Yes, they should.  Because New York is all about the food.  And it’s just a shame to not share our favorite places.

In honor of Alt NYC which will take place this week in New York, here are our mine and Danny’s favorite places to eat in Manhattan (our fav Brooklyn places, which are many, will be posted in the near future):

Clinton Street Baking Company – best pancakes!  Worth the wait. Plus they’re on the Food Network and all that…..but most importantly, they meet the approval of every New Yorker.

Joe’s Shanghai – Best soup dumplings (dumplings filled with soup!) A must try!  And the turnip shortcakes.  And, you MUST go to the location in Chinatown for the full experience.  If it’s winter time, even better.  Soup dumplings = warmth in your tummy on a cold day.

ABC Kitchen – awesome place to dine for a lunch date….when lunch dates call for dining,  which hopefully is often. 🙂  Organic and local.  Keep your eyes peeled for designers and celebrities.

Jane Restaurant –  Ok. Vanilla Bean French Toast.  Go there now and have some for me.  Plus, enjoy the setting near two of my favorite New York neighborhoods:  Soho and Greenwich.

TacombiThis place serves tacos.  It’s kind of like a warehouse feel – in Nolita – and they serve tacos out of a van which resides indoors.  Strings of lights hanging overhead.  Yes.  It’s cool like that.  You’ll feel like you’re in Mexico at a taco shop.  And their branding is awesome. 

Patsy’s Pizza – go here for amazing New York pizza.  I love their pepperoni, the Insalata Siciliana, and cannoli’s.  And I love the west side location the best – super cozy (61 W. 74th St.)  Also, on Sundays watch for lots of single Mormons pouring in here after church and breaking the Sabbath.  Yikes.  I guess it’s hard to resist.  🙂

Levain’s Bakery – um, the best chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips – ever.  74th St. on the Upper West Side.  I once snuck out of work and took a cab across town and through Central Park to get some of these cookies.  Danny and I also went here the very first weekend we met…. 🙂  I was in la la land 🙂

Stand UPDATE: THIS PLACE HAS CLOSED!!!! BOO!!!!! Oh man, roasted marshmallow shakes.  One of our favorite things EVER.  Not. to. be. missed.  Special trips just for the shakes are worth it.  We take all our out of town guests here.  And then before their trip is over, they always sneak back there on their own and get another one.  Every person has said it’s like one of the best things they’ve ever eaten.  They really are THAT good!!  You have to trust me on this one.  (And that’s from a girl who doesn’t really have an affinity for marshmallows.)

Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem – The best BBQ ribs.  The best pulled pork.  The sides are amazing.  The place is huge which makes it feel like you’re not in NY, but in some sprawling  restaurant in Texas.  Best day trip:  ride bikes along the Hudson River bike path, then go to Dinosaur for an early dinner, which is right off the path at 125th St…. doing this was one of my favorite NY experiences.


La Esquina – Really great Mexican food near Soho.  Love the vibe.  Love the “Employees Only” sign on the door which actually leads to a private party space downstairs for VIPs.  Watch for Beyonce and Jay-Z.   🙂  Or hedge fund owners planning going away parties for their friends (I planned that once for my boss. 🙂

Momofuku – Love those pork buns!  Very cool setting.  Family style eating.  Great conversations with strangers in the waiting.

Shake Shack – Must get a shack burger and for sure some custard (unless you’re dairy free like me).  I used to love either the flavor-of-the-day or a vanilla custard sundae with CARAMEL.  It’s a good caramel.  I love the Madison Sq. Park location the best, esp. in the summer/fall/spring.  Can’t beat eating outdoors among the trees in such a great setting, with lights hanging overhead.  SUMMER ROMANCE!  And the line is worth it. 

Cafe Habana in Soho.  Best Cuban sandwiches.  And LOVE the shredded pork platter with rice and beans.  And the cuban corn on a cob.  OK, and the lemonade.

                                                                                                      (photo via nummynims)

Rosa Mexicana – Must get fresh guacamole.  Perfect place to eat dinner after Lincoln Center (also where lots of Mormons visit after going to the Manhattan Temple.)  

Eataly – Ok, I shamefully have not been here yet.  But everyone I know and trust has been here.  And they LOVE the place.  So, tourists and NYers alike – go there and enjoy all the cheese and bread and pizza and gelato for me!!  And check out these two awesome blog write ups for some visitor guides by La Buena Vida & Linsey Laidlaw.  (photo by Nicole Franzen)  Cause yes, this place is so cool it’s worthy of a ‘visitor guide’.

Hecho en Dumbo – this amazing place moved from Dumbo to Manhattan (Lower East Side).  Please come back to Brooklyn where you belong!  The food is authentic – as in straight from Mexico.  And their tortillas are homemade.  Tacos are to die for.  And shredded beef anything.

Nyonya Malaysian Get the Indian pancakes thingies that you dip in curry, and you’ll be glad you visited.  Plus, enjoy a stroll around charming Little Italy.

Creperie NYC– Lower East Side hole-in-the wall.  Really great crepes, just like the streets of Paris.  Snag a seat on the bench out front with your date and share a crepe.  Nutella kisses would be nice 🙂

Geisha – love their sushi & tuna tartar salads (with fresh mint)! 

[This was one of my go-to lunches from my hedge fund days.  Yes, we got lunches paid for.  🙂  Kind of ridiculously awesome. ]

Taim – in the West Village.  GOOP says it’s the best falafel in the world.  That’s good enough for me.  The line is worth it.  Danny and I love this place.  Also, it’s VEGETARIAN!

Pipas Tapas –  The perfect date night.  Chandelier lit setting.  Great food in lots of little courses.  Music and dancers performing.  All you need are two sets of knees under the table and you’ll have one romantic evening.

Quintessence – For some healthy fare, which I love, go to Quintessence.  The place is so tiny and cozy on the Lower East Side on such a charming street.  The entire menu is made from raw food.  You just wouldn’t believe how tasty and flavorful everything is.  My sister-in-law is a raw foodie blogger and treated me to this place when she was in town for BlogHer.  Do. not. skip. dessert.  It’s amazing.

Macaron Cafe – I adore these things.  Yes, they’re way better than cupcakes. 🙂  And just so pretty!  Love the salted caramel.  But every flavor tempts me.  Across from my old work place in Midtown (on 59th Ave.)  Hello, work break.

Laduree – It is the dessert dream of my life to go to Laduree.  It’s straight out of Paris and fairly recently opened in New York.  I actually haven’t been yet, but I am sure those macarons are divine (also, made with almond flour so they’re gluten free!)  This location is near my old stomping grounds on the Upper East Side, where I used to work.

Carnegie Deli – Ok, I know this place is touristy.  But it’s legit.  I love the fresh strawberry cheesecake.  And the pastrami sandwich, which seems an entire foot high.  One sandwich and one slice of cheesecake can feed a family of four.  (Trust me 🙂  Oh yes, and I go crazy over those fresh pickles (luckily those come for free with your $16.95 sandwich.)

Bar Pitti – I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of authentic Italian food (my former boss had an Italian cook!) and when I tasted the food at Bar Pitti, I’d have to say it tasted pretty darn good.  You may be sitting next to a celeb.  But better yet, hopefully you’re with someone you can’t take your eyes off of 🙂

City Bakery – LOVE their baked mac & cheese (which they are famous for).  LOVE their choc. chip cookies.  Some of the best around.  They have delicious little tarts in various flavors (chocolate and passion fruit are delish).  And they have some of the fluffiest most tasty sugar cookies you could imagine.  Oh, and AMAZING hot chocolate – super thick & rich- practically like pudding!  And if you’re having a little party or wedding or something that requires catering, call and book them ASAP.  (I got to do this once and it was worth it completely.)

Jacques Torres – Speaking of hot chocolate, they have some of the best.  Get the “wicked”.  It will not disappoint.  And a small one is fine – – it is so rich it will be running through your veins slowly for a while.  I especially love the location in Dumbo…get some hot chocolate on a cold afternoon and then walk to Dumbo Park or across the Brooklyn Bridge…it could be your best day ever.

The Spotted Pig – get the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi with Basil Pesto.  To die for.  Worth going just for that.  Roasted carrots are yummy, too.  And combine this cozy little restaurant with a stroll on the nearby High Line and you’ll have one of the most romantic dates in NYC.  (I know, because Danny and I did that very thing for our second date ever.  I couldn’t stop smiling the entire night.  Danny was totally holding my hand under the table.  I really was about to die. 🙂

The Modern –   The Modern is inside the MoMA.  Danny and I were spoiled rotten and received two full course dinners at this restaurant for our wedding by one of our dear friends.  Is that not the best gift?  It was so wonderful to dine there as husband and wife.  We went for our first anniversary, which was such a fond memory.  The food was divine, the setting was spectacular.  This place is a MUST for your anniversaries or birthday dinners.

Oh so many, what did I miss?  Please add to the list!

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  1. Charlotte August 21, 2012 at 10:12 am - Reply

    You just made me so so hungry! I'm very intrigued by the dumpling soup balls.. they sound amazing! Do you get to choose what kind of soup you'd like inside or is it a one size fits all deal? (if it is, what's the flavour?)

    Looking forward to more posts like this x

    • mara August 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      The soup is a broth – similar to the broth from a wonton soup or something…but even more flavorful. And I don't recall that you can specify the kind of soup…

    • Charlotte August 22, 2012 at 8:24 am - Reply

      Sounds delicious 🙂

    • LES Mom April 13, 2013 at 2:09 am - Reply

      We prefer soup dumplings at Shanghai Cafe on Mott St.

  2. Rik August 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Wow, this made me want to make a trip up to NY right this second!! We usually head to the Manhattan temple when visiting family in the Hudson valley, so I'll have to slowly check these off my list.

  3. Nora August 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    YAY!!! THank you both SO much for this list. I will be spending a day in Manhattan next week (and will hopefully get to meet up with the two of you while I'm in BK) and this eatery list was so timely! I can't wait to try that crepe place…xoxoxo

    • mara August 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      yay! Nora- we absolutely want to meet. We need to get our act together and write you back.

  4. Mariko August 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the list! I wish I would have had it when I was there in June. Market Table is one of my favorites. (http://markettablenyc.com) By the way, I emailed to see if you were up for a visit before I came and never heard from you. Perhaps it went into spam?

    • mara August 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      Mariko – – oh, I'm so so sorry we missed you. I think you wrote during a time when we were crazed with travel and classes. And we just didn't get back in time. I hope to have more help soon so we can keep up with responses. Thanks so much. And glad to hear about Market Table. Sounds delicious!

  5. Utah Girl Am I August 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Junior's! For the best. cheesecake. ever! (I recommend the devil's food.) 🙂

    • mara August 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      I'm with you….Junior's is amazing. This will be on our Brooklyn list for SURE. thx for writing in.

  6. Anonymous August 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Blue Hill. Most romantic place, cozy just below the street level, nice area to walk around, the best food most from their own farm. Love!!

    • mara August 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      I LOVE Blue Hill – though I've just been to the Stone Barns location and have been dying to visit the Manhattan location. I'm glad you reminded me of it. It sounds just like my perfect kind of place. Thanks for writing!

  7. Shiloh August 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Oh man, I should have talked to you about restaurants before I moved from Brooklyn!!! There are so many greats I missed. Always has plans for Cafe Habana, but never made it. I did discover Taim before we left (thanks Christy S.) and went twice! with plans to go a 3rd time, but we ended up at Beechers instead, also a delicious place, grilled cheese sandwiches….yum. Anyways, when I make it back to NY, you can bet I will be calling you for a list of places not to miss!

    • mara August 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Oh, I miss you, Shiloh!!

  8. McKenna Ryan August 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this post!! The next time I am in New York will have to try out some of these delicious restaurants.

  9. Nicki Clark August 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    I LOVE Cafe Habana! The Diablo knocks my socks off.

  10. colesathome August 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Gah! What a list! Makes me wanna ditch my sandwich I brought for lunch and eat 10 macaroons instead. Might as well throw in some tacos while I'm at it.

  11. Kirrily August 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing, we have a few of the same jotted on to our "top 10 list" for when we arrive next week, will definitely be adding more – and especially that toasted marshmallow shake!

  12. aubry. August 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    when i came in may, i found a new "best thing i've ever put in my mouth" at eataly. it was a ricotta ravioli with spinach {sounds so ordinary so far} topped with a lemon butter sauce and crushed pistachios. i've tried to recreate the lemon butter, but i think my jiminy cricket prevents me from scooping that much butter into the saucepan!

    but that levain cookie! i would pay big bucks for a freshly flown levain cookie to my doorstep!

  13. Carolee August 23, 2012 at 12:42 am - Reply

    how do you stay so skinny? I just learned my son is in NYC for some interviews and I sent him this link, so maybe he's trying one of these places tonight. Sure wish I could…..

    • mara August 24, 2012 at 3:59 am - Reply

      Hi Carolee – well, in New York we walk a TON! And portions here are actually smaller than other parts of the country. But also, as of a year or so ago I have been completely dairy and gluten free. So I actually can no longer eat the shakes,pizza, cannolis, pancakes, cookies, hot chocolate, cheesecake and sandwiches and pretty much everything listed here. Yikes. I try not to think about it that much. I've had to give up so many great loves. BUT I do feel a ton better/healthier without eating dairy/gluten. More energy, etc. So for me it actually feels worth it. Otherwise it would be really hard to give up that stuff.

  14. Anonymous August 23, 2012 at 1:59 am - Reply

    Great list! Thanks!

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    Best soup dumplings (dumplings filled with soup!) A must try! And the turnip shortcakes.
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