Get Your Bubble Tea in Hot Pot Form
Famously guarded by a band of 35 jockey figurines who probably come alive in the night to do and/or solve crimes, 21 Club is a kick from old New York and an education for anyone who thinks they’ve been to a speakeasy. The ur-joint boldly opened during prohibition, implemented a cartoonish hooch-concealing system of levers and pulleys, and has endured as a destination for vaguely retro dishes like shrimp cocktail, steak tartare, and filet mignon.
The only other time you’d ever visit this ode to old money is maybe for a debutante ball. But, since those have fallen out of fashion for everyone but the most bougie among us, see how the other half wants you to think they live at the St. Regis Hotel’s Astor Court. All the atmospheric pomp is almost enough to make you forget you’re basically in a glorified Marriott.
Downtown New Yorkers love talking about how all Keith McNally restaurants look alike. They don’t. But they do follow a formula, because it works. This venture in the historic Beekman Hotel is appointed with the oversized mirrors, tiled walls, and golden light we’ve come to expect from his Parisianish spaces. Equally expected everyday lunch items like the steak frites, tuna niçoise, and the Augustine burger are comfort food writ lower Manhattan.
Jet-setting chef Sujan Sarkar aims to “make Indian food sexy” with his first NYC spot. Splashy decor, vibrant cocktails, and colorful plates like beetroot murabba, veal sweetbread koliwada, and beef short ribs mingle to bring Sarkar’s progressive take on modern Indian cooking to fruition.
Korean barbecue at Bann is a gastronomic choose-your-own-adventure. This is the one place where Restaurant Week’s no booze included nuisance is a feature, not a bug: You’ll need to keep your wits about you to grill your rib eye, chicken breast, pork loin, salmon, shrimp, duck, pork belly, filet mignon, tuna, or vegetable selection to perfection right at the table. And if you do need a little liquid courage to take on the grill, Bann’s happy hour runs until 9pm at the bar.
Upper West Side
Bar Boulud has a slight edge over the other Daniel Boulud properties participating in this summer’s Restaurant Week (Cafe Boulud across town, DB Bistro Moderne in Midtown, and Mediterranean Boulud Sud are also included). The day-to-day menu here includes French staples like escargots, mussels, and duck confit, the restaurant is offering reservations for both lunch, dinner, and Sundays, and you don’t have to go near Times Square to get there.
The number of Italian restaurants participating in Summer Restaurant Week, surpasses other types of cuisine by several spaghetto. It isn’t easy to stand out among the red sauce spots and their upscale kin, but Bar Primi splits the difference between grandmom’s kitchen and a casual-cool, tablecloth-free downtown barroom.
Depending on the depth of your checking account, Batard’s daily $89 three-course dinner is either a testament to Manhattan’s egalitarian high-end dining scene, or an indictment of the borough’s prohibitive luxury. On paper, it is a better deal than you’ll find at most of its Michelin-starred brethren, and Restaurant Week further expands the accessibly chic spot’s possible guestlist. Reserve on a corkage-free Monday evening and toast to the everyman with the cheapest bottle of wine you can find.
Lower East Side
This is the place to be when you tire of seeing pesky celebrities all over town. Never again will you cry, “Waiter, there’s a Mark Ruffalo in my soup,” or, “bartender, Michael Shannon stole my Sunday Times.” Hidden behind a pawn shop, odds are you’ll be the most famous person there.
A lot of pretty restaurants opened last year, and Bistro Leo might just be the prettiest. It looks like the kind of place where Vespa models would smoke Gauloises over moules marinières and champagne. And on almost any other day of the year, those moules alone will run you $26, so nab these deals while you can.
This enviable neighborhood restaurant is fashioned after a farmhouse. Not the kind of farmhouse where any work gets done -- the kind where you’d marry a Mason jar in a burlap sack. And at $40, the weekly Monday night deal featuring the fan favorite fried chicken and cheddar waffles is approaching Restaurant Week’s monetary ceiling -- so why not pay the extra two bucks and try your luck at the special prix fixe at your leisure?
Popularized by people who get scammed trying to buy Fashion Week tickets on Craigslist and television’s Harvey Levin, Catch is the west side’s bloated answer to Beauty and Essex, but fishier. Daily menu items include poke bowls, lobster rolls, and ‘80s-era seafood towers.
Claudette is a terrific place to wear a white turtleneck. It looks like it was designed by Diane Keaton in a Nora Ephron film about a moneyed, divorced restaurateur’s second act. It’s bright, airy, and appointed with tasteful curios that neither clutter nor collect dust. The pale, beachy interior betrays the kitchen’s vibrant, beautifully plated French/Moroccan dishes. Take someone’s mom; she’ll love it.
Gather ‘round New Yorkers, transplants, and transient undergrads, and take a blast to the past, when denizens of Gotham embraced and, rumor has it, even enjoyed a dining genre then known as California Cuisine. It was mostly just arugula with a spritz of lemon, but Wolfgang Puck greatly improved upon the genre. Raid your local thrift store for early ‘90s garb and enjoy some of the best of the West right here on the only coast that matters.
Alex Stupak’s massive Madison Avenue flagship turns out fast, fun takes on tacos (tortillas are filled with thick-cut bacon, pastrami, or hash browns) for office workers by day, and for theater-goers by night. Stupak’s third restaurant’s first foray into Restaurant Week is a serviceable spot for folks stuck in Midtown without the long lunch hours necessary to travel to farther-flung locales.
Lower East Side
Freemans used to be cool, and now it’s nice, and both are valid things to be. The alley it calls home that once seemed “hidden” to recent NYC transplants is now nearly as well-worn as the Bowery nearby. The rustic, taxidermy-heavy decor that felt edgy-adjacent over a decade ago now reads as quaint, and the place still feels special without the appearance of requiring a password for access.
Maybe because it’s a little closer to Manhattan than sister space Buttermilk Channel, French Louie feels every block of that 1.3 miles more cosmopolitan. The adult crowd skews a bit younger and children are more noticeably out of place here, or otherwise presumed spoiled. Daily menu items include duck au poivre, and brick pressed chicken.
Named for a largely forgotten 1994 film about an unlikely bro-romp between a poet and a postman, in true writerly form, this east side restaurant offers “whatever you like” -- for a price. But there’s a limit to what one can do with pasta. Daily menu items include black linguini with lobster, risotto with radicchio, and veal scaloppine. The place is virtually begging you to test the limits of its prix-fixe.
Rhymes with "it’s a scene," Indochine has stayed buzzy in its spot near Astor Place since the ‘80s. Celebrities pop by for spicy squid, Chilean sea bass, and lotus salad. You won’t see any hiding amid the jungly wallpaper during Restaurant Week, but this is the sort of place people think they need to dress up for, so everyone will look nice enough.
Amid the myriad Italian, French, and American winter Restaurant Week menus, Khe-Yo is the solitary Laotian offering -- and one of only a few of its kind citywide. The restaurant prix fixe is an excellent introduction to the underrepresented regional cuisine. One visit any you’ll be tempted to return for the pig head special.
Named for the Mexican game of chance, La Loteria better hope it never runs afoul of the health department, because, oh boy, the headlines would write themselves. Just kidding, La Loteria, we see your winning, ‘A’ letter grade. You’re great. Double down on the Restaurant Week deal here by booking your reservation on a Margarita Monday, when it’s happy hour on Margos all day, or on a Sunday, when bottles of wine are half-off.
Long Island City
The best views of the city are from outside of Manhattan, and Maiella has one of them -- plus the “Cola” half of Queens’ landmarked Pepsi sign. The lengthy everyday dinner menu includes grilled octopus, pan-seared duck, veal parmesan, and many pastas.
Once a who’s who of who’s that, this current who’s who of who’s that is best for your visiting aunt who looooves the Today show plaza. (Who doesn’t; Hoda’s irrepressible.) Catch all your favorite newspaper columnists expensing cobb salads, black truffle pizzas, and grilled branzino while print still exists.
This 1930s-era good time joint was given new life when 1980s-era good time journalist Graydon Carter took over in 2009. It didn’t take long after the transfer of power for the place to be revealed as a transparent den of ego and elite nepotism. Carter’s clubhouse was criticized for saving the best tables for his pals and hangers-on -- driving the plebes to beg for a spot via email ether. Today, Monkey Bar and places like it have the cover of ubiquitous online reservation platforms to normalize this practice: So now’s your chance! Bring your manuscript.
Live here long enough and you’ll develop a favorite coffee cart, subway spot, and Keith McNally restaurant. Mine was Schiller’s, until it permanently closed in 2017. But you know what? They’re all good (except for one). Each of his venues exudes a warm European vibe that stops short of the dreaded theme trap. This trattoria’s decor naturally skews more Italian than his other spots’ Parisian pulse, but you still know who’s house you’re in. In McNally world, that’s a feature -- not a bug.
Restaurant Week was invented for places like this. No daily dinner menu appetizer and main combination at Morimoto totals less than $45, and it wouldn’t really be worth recommending over equally spendy Japanese joints at its day-to-day prices. Now’s your chance to try this Iron Chef spawn for a song.
Oh man, this place. I don’t know, a person I really like and respect says this is her favorite restaurant, but she moved to LA, so there’s her judgement for ya. Narcissa is in the Standard East. It has outside. It serves fried chicken, oysters, and aged ribeye. At about $15, the cocktails are priced smack dab in the middle of Manhattan-normal. Somebody got mad at them on Yelp once, but another person had a nice time. Why not Narcissa, for the summer?
Food here’s supposed to be good, but people mostly go because they think they’re gonna get discovered by De Niro. Listen, you aren’t. The actor-turned movie-appearer turned-restaurateur is actually a very shy person, not to mention casting is a totally different job. And Nobu has 39 restaurants worldwide, you think De Niro has time to flit around them all? He’s got Fockers to meet. Reserve anyway: Nobu’s lunch prix-fixe is usually $35.
Say Aloha to noreetuh, a Hawaiian restaurant so easy-breezy it doesn’t capitalize its name -- which means “playground” in Korean. Noreetuh’s regular menu includes dishes like pork jowl musubi, big-eye tuna poke, and spicy spam. Book on a corkage-free Sunday, bring a $4, 4-pack of wine, and win Restaurant Week.
Lower East Side
Whoa-ho-ho, THIS place means BUSINESS with the CAPS. Caps on the signage, caps on the menu, caps on the web site, P&K is shoutin’ all the time and we love it. The space, the decor, and the flavors are all loud at this Thai/Filipino mashup. PIG & KHAO’s day-to-day dinner menu includes BBQ baby back ribs, Hainanese duck, and sizzling pork head with chili.
So many celebu-chef restaurants cater to Times Square’s metastasizing tourists, but this one thrives in an actual NYC neighborhood. Red Rooster’s daily prix-fixe is $29 for salad or meatballs, your choice of fried chicken, shrimp and grits, or curry salmon, plus a sweet treat. Save a couple bucks and a few hundred calories with the dessert-free Restaurant Week deal.
Upper West Side
With varying entry fees and drink minimums the other 48 weeks of the year, Restaurant Week is the best time to experience Smoke. Dinner and a show at RW prices in a legacy jazz locale is a steal of a deal. Hear live music every night over bites from a seasonal menu. Reserve Monday-Thursday to avoid an additional Friday night music charge.
Hotel restaurants can be tricky -- do they aim to please a mélange of guests from disparate places, resulting in an ultimately placeless homogeneity, or do they capture the essence of the city? Named in a nod to a nightclub of Village yesteryear, and incorporating ingredients from the Union Square Green Market, Society Cafe seems to fit in just fine. Daily menu items include pasta, pizzas, and all manner of protein.
You’re not gonna plan a trip to Tavern on the Green any sooner than you’d plan a trip to the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty. When’s the last time you’d even thought of Tavern on the Green? Maybe it doesn’t even exist, maybe this is all a ploy to lure you to Central Park and steal your jewels. Have a lark and make a reservation at this perennial throwback. Day-to-day menu items include a salmon burger, warm duck confit salad, and rack of lamb.
Every restaurant that purports to hold tables for walk-ins is really just holding those tables for Beyoncé. The break-in-case-of-Beyoncé tables. Beyoncé’s not coming, guys! The Dutch has been hoppin’ since opening its doors in 2011, and the pace has seldom slowed. If you’ve yet to make it in, take advantage of their Restaurant Week deal on a sleepy summer weekday afternoon. Play it safe: Invite Bey.
Although it’s open to all, The Library looks and feels like the most welcoming private club in town. The comfortable space’s sprawling banquettes are perfectly suited to to striking up a conversation with an actor/musician/writer/neighborhood curmudgeon who won’t shut up about himself, but leaves you with warm feelings nonetheless. Catch a show at the adjacent theater while you’re there.
The Russian Tea Room is like a toddler in high heels or a cat in a tuxedo -- affecting elegance to hilarious effect. Whether the former expat hangout earned its place in NYC restaurant canon in spite of, or because of its garish decor is up to interpretation. They have a 15-foot glass bear. It’s juggling. And it’s all just such a delight, go drink some vodka during the day.
Upper East Side
The name and decor are a little on the nose for a place that occupies former literati haunt Elaine’s, but an homage is an homage, baby. The theme here hangs heavy -- leaning hard on books more carefully arranged you’d find in than any ink-stained wretch’s actual workspace, and framed photos of the sort of folks who used to fill the space with braggadocio -- but it’s a great place for an erudite Instagram post. On the internet, nobody knows you’re not a writer.
A museum restaurant by any other name would have sounded stupid. What if they’d called this thing Café Terrace at Night, we’d have to close New York. Plan your trip to Untitled for a Friday, when entry to the Whitney Museum of American Art is free from 7-10pm. Expect light summer salads and lean proteins in crystal cube like interiors.