Food & Drink

Everywhere You Need to Eat and Drink in NYC Right Now

Updated On 09/04/2019 at 04:47PM EST Updated On 09/04/2019 at 04:47PM EST
Khiladi
Khiladi | Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Khiladi | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

NEW & NOTEWORTHY

Clockwise from left: Filet o' fish, spaghetti, tinned sardines, muffuletta, and chopped steak | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

The Jones

Noho

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue(fish) 
Famed restaurateur Gabriel Stulman’s latest venture is a gracious second act for the beloved Great Jones Cafe, which occupied The Jones’ space from 1983-2018. If you’ve heard anything about the new place, you’ve heard that Stulman is keeping the restaurant’s familiar bright orange facade and sidewalk-facing Elvis bust, and that there’s a filet o’ fish on the menu. Like the fast food staple, The Jones’ fried fish sandwich is topped with American cheese and tartar sauce, but this take is about twice the size of its assembly line kin, fresh, flaky, and more reminiscent of Montauk than the golden arches.
 
Manila clams hark to the seaside, too -- their perky broth is best enjoyed hot with the accompanying baguette before you dig into the generous heap of shellfish. The menu also includes a refreshing salmon crudo with avocado in a tomatillo broth, spaghetti studded with sardines, and a bluefish tartine. Chopped steak under a blanket of raclette, a muffaletta with pungent olive spread, and standard breakfast items will satiate the seafood-averse. The bright, beachy interior seats a few dozen for lunch and will add dinner service and a wine list in the coming weeks.

Reverence

Harlem

A West Coast chef's event dining destination lands in NYC
Chef Russell Jackson’s new NYC restaurant elevates the act of going to dinner. This is an evening to prepare for. The 18-seat chef’s counter is reservations only, and guests must book online, choose a five-course protein or non-protein based tasting, and pay upon booking ($98). An expertly calibrated beverage pairing that recently included an infused vodka aperitif, two white wines, a sake, a rosé, a red, and a dessert wine can be added in advance or upon arrival ($89). A non-alcoholic pairing is also available for the same price.
 
Reverence’s sleek space is open and lofty with soaring ceilings and an air of excitement. Every seat in the house has a view of the constant action in the exposed kitchen. It’s the kind of scene you’d want to hashtag, but photography is prohibited. So how will you remember courses like the corn chowder with a wisp of smoked Arctic char that practically melts in your mouth, the texturally dynamic fermented posole with clams, uni that, to use a phrase attributed to the chef, is like kissing a mermaid, even more Arctic char dressed up with vibrant roe, beautifully plated chicken with frisee, and a nectarine tart with crème fraîche and rich caramel? You’ll just have to commit to truly tasting them.

Mosquito cocktail, beef skewer, short rib, shrimp cocktail, fluke aguachile, tuna tostada | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Paloma

Midtown

A slip of calm in the mid-Manhattan storm
New to the ground floor of the Hotel Hendricks, Paloma is just far enough away from the chaos of Times Square to its north and frenetic energy of Herald Square to its south to make it a peaceful option when you can’t avoid Midtown. The dining room’s neutral, glossy color palette creates a calming, vaguely aquatic effect. On warmer nights, they open the doors to a narrow back patio and the splashy sounds of an outdoor water feature punctuate the soothing scene.
 
Hotel bars are typically spendy, but cocktails like the Mosquito (mezcal, Campari, ginger), paloma (grapefruit, ginger), Goldcrush (hot honey, citrus, bourbon), and Peppi (lime, chili, gin) all run (a relatively affordable) $15. Pair them with guacamole and house-made chips, crunchy tostada with avocado and salsa macha, tender short rib with pineapple chutney and grilled jalapeño, or design your own de facto tasting with a selection of skewers and tacos, each available in four varieties.

Electric Lemon

Hudson Yards

Wellness-adjacent hotel dining with a view
The Equinox Hotel’s sprawling 24th floor restaurant opened during a fraught time for the brand, and tables were very easy to come on a recent visit. Even now that it’s after Labor Day and the city’s supposedly back to school, reservations are abundant. The as yet sparsely populated space is outfitted in neutral tones and a few lighting flourishes that don’t compete with lovely views of a wide swath of Midtown and The Vessel down below. In spite of its fitness empire provenance, Electric Lemon’s atmosphere skews more expense account dinner than spin class.
 
Its food and “zero waste philosophy” beverage program, however, groggily nod toward the notion of wellness. The La Dera (Chareau aloe liqueur, fino sherry, blanc vermouth, orange bitters, melon) is named for Oprah’s purportedly favorite spa, and the Kyle Knall, Y’all (mezcal, Xila ancho, sorrel, sal de gusano), named for EL’s head chef, looks more like a post-workout tonic than a cocktail. Neither are particularly strong. The bar, of course is also adept at making classic libations, so pair your old favorites with the beef tartare rolled into delicate egg crepes, slow cooked duck dumplings in bone broth, tender, perfectly medium rare strip loin, and DIY black bass tacos with poblano and salsa verde.

L: Nacho Chat | R: Indian chili dog | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Khiladi

East Village

South Indian fare in a subtly stylish space
Before sundown, tall, wide windows let natural light illuminate a sexy mural covering half of this corner spot’s northern wall. The other half is left blank for ambient evening film screenings in the Edison bulb-lit 60-seat dining room. The menu is also divided in two: one side details dishes like saag paneer, tikka masala, and pork vindaloo. The flip side includes novel spins on South Indian street market fare and dishes inspired by owner Sruthi Chowdary’s mother’s home cooking.
 
You could make a meal out of starters like the idly nuggets (gently spiced, bite-sized steamed lentil cakes) kerala chicken fry (chickpea-battered, crispy chunks of lean meat), and Indian chili dog (masala-fried shichito peppers), but you wouldn’t want to miss Khiladi’s shareable plates. The “OG” pulao combines fluffy rice pilaf with veggies, ginger, masala, and optional chicken, all topped with a sunny egg. The kothu parata marries Indian flatbread with stir-fried carrots, peas, beans, broccoli, and egg, with the option to add ground beef or lamb. Everything is prepared on the milder side with an option dial the heat up or down, and beer and wine should be available later this month.

ALL-TIME BEST

L to R: Short rib for two, complimentary pull-apart olive bread, The Gin Cocktail, The Vodka Cocktail, gruyere fritters | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Crown Shy

Est. 2019 | Financial District

An instant classic and emerging standard for downtown dining
Located on narrow Pine Street in the somewhat sleepy-after-sundown Financial District, Crown Shy strikes an intimate, secluded chord, in spite of its soaring ceilings, theatrically lit open kitchen, and 120-sea capacity. Entering through the marble, Art Deco lobby is like arriving at a clandestine celebrity wedding where invitations go out the day of and never mention nuptials. The food and drinks, too, are fit for a celebration: punchy “Crown” cocktails are topped with regal garnishes, complimentary olive bread will give you the rare dining sensation that you’re getting away with something, the warm, rich gruyere fritters are fit for a king, and Crown Shy’s crown jewel -- the braised short rib for two -- will inspire you to book your next reservation before you’ve even signed the check. 

Wayan | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Wayan

Est. 2019 | Nolita

A new kid on the block from a culinary dynasty
Even without the family name, a visit to Cedric Vongerichten’s French-Indonesian Spring Street spot would still be worth shaking up your dining out routine. Novel cocktails like the Greater Galangal Sour (Scotch, chickpea water, galangal) and South-East Sweet Tea (bourbon, red tea, honey, smoked salt) are speedily prepared in the urban-beachy bar area. You’ll be satisfied from any seat in the house, but scoring a booth in the similarly fashioned back room is like hitting the jackpot. Start with small but hearty plates of plump shrimp satay, peekytoe crab cake, and clams, followed by larger dishes of lobster noodles, and falling-off-the-bone baby back pork ribs.

Sofreh | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Sofreh

Est. 2018 | Prospect Heights

One of last year’s best openings in the US, right here in NYC
Thrillist named this freshman effort by chef Nasim Alikhani one of the nation’s 13 best openings last year. Alikhani honed her home cooking for decades before bringing Persian fare like kofteh (beef, tarragon, rice, and split pea meatballs), braised lamb in an onion and turmeric broth, and pomegranate beef ribeye kabab to a bright, beachy northwest Brooklyn venue. [Reservations - by Open Table]

Frenchette | Courtesy of Frenchette

Frenchette

Est. 2018 | Tribeca

A neighborhood brasserie suited for special occasions -- if you can get a table
If Frenchette shot to the top of your must-go list when it opened in 2018, the good news is you have excellent taste: it shot to the top of nearly every NYC critic’s ‘Best Of’ list by the year’s end. The bad news is, if you didn’t go then, you may have to wait until the neutral-hued, understated restaurant’s lingering buzz flatlines. Plan a visit for spring, 2021 -- or, try your luck at scoring a walk-in table for a chance to try the rich liver pâté on charred bread, perfectly pink, perfectly fatty duck and accompanying frites, carefully curated wines, and novel cocktails.

Oxomoco | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Oxomoco

Est. 2018 | Greenpoint

Michelin-starred Mexican with one of the city’s best steaks
Oxomoco earned its Michelin star at lightning speed, and it only takes one visit to understand why. The grilled maitake, chicken al pastor, pork cheek carnitas, and lamb barbacoa fillings make every taco Tuesday an affair to remember, and frozen cocktails infuse the tightly packed, but relaxed, airy, space with even more levity. The steak for two cements this as one of the best restaurants in New York City. The star of 32-oz dry aged bone in ribeye is its fat, which has a silky, bone marrow-like, melt in your mouth texture.
 

Laab Ped Udon | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Ugly Baby

Est. 2017 | Carroll Gardens

Thai worth waiting for in one narrow, kaleidoscopic room
Occupying a seemingly “doomed” storefront on Smith Street in South Brooklyn, Ugly Baby appears to have broken its location’s spell. Crowds abide a no reservations policy and long waits to test the average human palate’s spice tolerance. Assume everything here will be hot: the five spice pork leg stew will be hot; the duck salad will be hot; and the southern dry eye round curry will be “brutally spicy.” Cool down with selections from the wine and beer menu.

Lillo | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Lillo

Est. 2017 | Cobble Hill

Italian home cooking in a kitchen that’s probably smaller than your own
A cafe by day, Lillo is easy to love in spite of itself. It doesn't take reservations, so aspiring guests line up outside for shots at about a dozen and-a-half seats. After a brief, unofficial BYOB period was kiboshed, it’s a dry house. There is no bathroom. But the place and its eponymous owner are so effortlessly charming that every plate of cacio e pepe, fettuccini with speck and zucchini, and whole branzino seems special.

Olmsted | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Olmsted

Est. 2016 | Prospect Heights

A rotating menu that never misses in flora-forward environs
The hottest ticket in town circa 2016, Olmsted’s popularity has barely cooled. You’re maybe 10% more likely to nab a table than you would have been three years ago -- but it can be done if you’re willing to sample the decadent duck liver mousse, perky sweet potato and uni pierogies, and bouillabaisse hot pot off-peak. Skip the basic cocktail names (pine, lavender, rosemary, apple) and scan their descriptions for the base spirit you want to sip (gin, bourbon, mezcal, and rye, respectively). [Reservations - by Open Table]

Sushi Nakazawa | Evan Sung

Sushi Nakazawa

Est. 2016 | West Village

Super-spendy sushi worth saving up for
A trip to Nakazawa might ruin you for sushi forever. One bite of the omakase menu featuring a rotating selection of sea urchin, scallops, fatty tuna, prawn, and yellowtail perched atop the platonic ideal of sushi rice will convince you you’ve been eating an inferior species of fish your whole life. Expect to pay around $500 for a party of two if you add the sake pairing to your multi-course sushi tasting experience. [Reservations - by Open Table]

L: The Lychee Cocktail; R: Kyoto Ramen | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

ROKC

Est. 2016 | Harlem

Outlandish cocktails that actually taste good, and even better ramen
The wait times at ROCK have dwindled from 2.5 hours even in freezing weather to a far more manageable 30-some-odd minutes since its 2016 opening. That’s enough time to have one drink nearby without getting blotto before your pork belly, chicken, or veggie ramen dinner. Blow that unintentional sobriety on aesthetically pleasing cocktails like the smoke (served literally smokin’), pineapple (set alight), and lychee (sipped out of an upturned lightbulb).

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co.

Est. 2014 | Greenpoint

A breath of sea air without the trip to the shore
Catch Montauk vibes without leaving the five boroughs at Greenpoint Fish & Lobster, where no fewer than six varieties of oysters bathe in ice atop a marble bar. The decor -- all non-porous, gleaming white surfaces -- is as antiseptic as you’d hope a place in a place dealing with so much raw fish would be. Sidle up to the bar and wash down those bivalves, cups of chowder, mussels, and whole steamed lobsters with cans of Narragansett and micheladas.

La Vara | La Vara

La Vara

Est. 2012 | Cobble Hill

Small plates you’ll want to share
We know, tapas are kind of a rip-off and nobody wants to share. But La Vara may be the exception to the scam. Plates of stuffed rabbit loin, chicken hearts, lamb meatballs, and suckling pig, can be a challenge to divide by a party of four, but you can always treat yourself to a solo night out and keep them all to yourself with a pitcher of sangria or a more modest glass of tempranillo. [Reservations - by Open Table]

Astoria Seafood

Est. 2012 | Long Island City

DIY catch of the day
Astoria Seafood allows would-be seamen to choose their own fishventure without committing to the sailor’s life. Expect long lines for affordable plates of fresh-as-it gets scallops, calamari, shrimp, octopus, and whole fish catch of the day, that you’ll choose from a bin and send to the kitchen to get baked, pan seared, or fried. Only the bravest will test the limits of Astoria Sea food’s BYOB policy and start sipping from plastic cups outside while they wait.

Cafe China | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Cafe China

Est. 2011 | Midtown West

Michelin-starred Chinese food worth traversing tourist central
As evidenced by the teeming crowds, Cafe China is worth a trip to Midtown -- even if you have to push past the Herald Square shoppers or Grand Central commuters to get there. The casually stylish Michelin-starred restaurant has been turning out perfect plates of ma po tofu, fiery three pepper chicken packed with chili peppers, delectable duck dishes, and ambitious cocktails since 2011 with no signs of slowing down.

Minetta Tavern | Emilie Baltz

Minetta Tavern

Est. 2009 | Greenwich Village

The best Keith McNally restaurant in a city full of 'em
Balthazar. Morandi. Augustine. Odeon. Lucky Strike. Every New Yorker has a favorite Keith McNally restaurant, and, since Schiller’s closed, this is the best one. Minetta encapsulates the McNally empire’s exclusivity and everyman appeal all under one roof. Well, maybe not everyman. Minetta’s entry level burger clocks in at $25. Its black label burger runs a cool $33. Both are delicious, and if you can tell the difference you’re probably one of the finance bros who started populating the heavy wood, black and white tile, red banquette interior more than a few years back. No matter. McNally acolites don’t mind rubbing elbows with you over the bone marrow, escargot, and burgers (labeled or otherwise) you’re likely expensing. [Reservations - by Open Table]


Irish coffee and the All American Breakfast | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Fort Defiance

Est. 2009 | Red Hook

The best Irish coffee in NYC, if not “the known world”
Lists of the best restaurants in Red Hook are a laugh riot. There are only like 10 of them. But Fort Defiance is truly the best, and it’s great for brunch in particular. Pair the bracing best Irish coffee “in the known world” with the All-American (two eggs any style -- get them scrambled -- toast, and the most delicious hash browns ever created by humans) before you switch to an Other Half so you can actually get something done over the weekend.

L to R: The Vinegar Hill Cocktail, Country Pork Chop, Halibut, Natural Wine, Little Gems | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Vinegar Hill House

Est. 2008 | Vinegar Hill

A hidden gem, 10 years after the fact
Next to nothing in New York City is off the beaten path, provided you’ve got a smartphone and access to some form of transportation, but Vinegar Hill House comes close. If you haven’t heard of Vinegar Hill, it’s the one next to Dumbo. If you haven’t heard of Dumbo, welcome to town, and this is the first stop in Brooklyn off the F train. Vinegar Hill House personifies the neighborhood, nodding at nautical design elements without veering into themes, with plenty of “reclaimed” materials and even a damn cherry tree out back. But its preciousness seems incidental rather than cloying, the food is better than good, and the one-step-less-than-convenient location will impress your out of town -- or even out of borough -- guests. Get the pork chop and a rye-based Vinegar Hill cocktail.

Cherin

Est. 2007 | East Village

Affordable sushi with an even more affordable -- and rare -- perk
This is the best cheap-ish sushi in town, and it’s BYOB. Who knows how long it takes to get even one little sushi roll named after you here (apparently 10 years is too soon), but bites of the the Owen roll (eel, “crunch,” and crab meat), Hal n Nancy roll (spicy tuna, shrimp, avocado), and Helen roll (salmon, avocado) are enough to allay any jealousy. Pair them with a cheap bottle of whatever cures what ails you and you’ll have a great lunch or dinner for a song.

Lucali

Est. 2006 | Carroll Gardens

Some of the best pizza in the US, if you can stomach the wait
“Show up before 5. Put your name on the list. Go have a drink. We’ll call you when your table is ready,” reads Lucali’s website. Surely you jest, is a reasonable reply. But even after more than a decade in operation, Lucali still draws throngs willing to congregate at nearby bars for a taste of barebones pizza with basic toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and hot peppers. Is it good enough to merit a possible 3-plus hour wait? At least once.

Tacos El Bronco | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Tacos El Bronco

Est. 2007 | Sunset Park

Craveable tacos in a casual setting
Don’t let anybody tell you this isn’t a taco town. We’ve got oodles of options, and Tacos El Bronco is the one to beat. Pork skin, veal head, tongue, and tripe varieties, as well as your more basic options like steak, chicken, chorizo and barbacoa will only set you back a few bucks, and the enchilada, flauta, and burrito platters that sprung from the spot’s food truck origins are each feasts fit for for a king.

L: Rabbit with black olives and creamy polenta; R: Risotto with roasted scallops, corn, and thyme | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Al Di La

Est. 1998 | Park Slope

An enviable neighborhood spot worth going out of your way for
Every neighborhood has a great local treasure, and you’d be lucky to call this yours. It’s a little too pricey to be an every night affair, but it’s an ideal choice for date night, a milestone celebration, or a visit from the parents. Elegant orders of oxtail, rotating risotto, and braised rabbit betray shabby-chic, intentionally distressed interiors.

Congee Village

Est. 1996 | Lower East Side

An emporium of “gruel,” where you can skip the gruel
Congee Village is an all around good-time palace, great for groups and a solo lark alike. Some cocktails arrive hilariously neon-hued, but are drinkable nonetheless. Ironically, the congee (a “gruel of boiled rice and water”) is far from the best thing on the menu. Try it if you must, but be prepared to leave more than a few bites on the table and move onto orders of abalone, sea cucumber delicacies, relatively uncommon duck blood and goose intestine dishes, and pork, chicken, steak, shrimp, and scallop standards.

L to R: Fried anchovies, grilled octopus, grilled fish, fried baby shark | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Taverna Kyclades

Est. 1996 | Astoria

The city’s best Greek food in a neighborhood rich with competition
It’s no secret that Astoria is home to the finest Greek food in NYC, and Taverna Kyclades is the best of the best. After more than 20 years in operation, you’ll still wait for a table unless you can sneak off to Queens on your lunch break. Come by whenever you can for tender bites of grilled octopus, unforgettable swordfish kebab, the neighborhood favorite anchovies, baby shark to write home about, and a half carafe of the house wine if you plan to get back to the office -- or a full one if you don’t.

Petite Crevette

Est. 1996 | Cobble Hill

Simple seafood dishes in an authentically boho environment
Did Petite Crevette’s owner "throw" a live lobster at a patron who’d complained about his order’s freshness? Kind of!? Hit an ATM (it’s cash only: boo) and a wine shop (it’s BYOB: yay!) and go anyway, as the excellent, eclectically decorated (rather than designed) little eatery does not seem to have endured (enjoyed?) such a dramatic display in the intervening decade. Order the expertly prepared whole fish, scallops, soft shell crab (when it’s in season), or even the lobster cioppino -- if you dare.

Gramercy Tavern | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Gramercy Tavern

Est. 1994 | Gramercy

A Manhattan classic where every seat in the house feels like the best
Let’s keep Gramercy Tavern’s best table a secret, because every seat in this Manhattan house is a good one. Even at the bar. Cop-a-squat and order à la carte items like the grilled sea bass, duck meatballs, and $32 tavern burger, or settle in for the tasting menu for some of the best beef tartare, sea bream, roasted scallops, pork belly, and lamb loin you’ve ever had. And whether your preferred spirit is bourbon, gin, or that other clear one, you can trust the pours from Gramercy’s confident bar. [Reservations - by Open Table]

Raoul's | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Raoul’s

Est. 1975 | Soho

One of those bells that always rings
A visit to Raul’s is akin to “a trip to the moon on gossamer wings” -- transporting you to a time and place that may have only existed in a nostalgia-fueled dream. It’s a glimpse of what Soho once was, could have been, and maybe never was, via oysters, oxtail consommé, chicken the way it was meant to be roasted, and wine bottle recommendations you can trust. [Reservations - by Open Table]

Sylvia’s

Est. 1962 | Harlem

Southern comfort food with specials every day of the week
A classic since 1962, Sylvia’s serves the best corned beef and eggs, southern fried chicken and waffles, fried catfish, shrimp, and grits in any borough. Mondays bring stewed chicken and dumplings, Tuesday and Wednesdays are replete with meatloaf and oxtails, Thursdays deliver turkey wings and cornbread dressing, and weekends are rich with chitterlings. Treat yourself to a slice of sweet potato pie any, or every, day of the week. [Reservations - by Open Table]

Veselka | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Veselka

Est. 1954 | East Village

Better late-night bites than your drunk self probably deserves
Nobody’s here to judge, but if you’re out in the East Village past 3am here’s a bit of wisdom: Nothing very good happens after 2:45; there are not secret parties raging without you; and a little comfort food will probably do you some good. Gird yourself against tomorrow’s hangover with a pierogi smorgasbord, latkes, and borscht. And maybe stick to water, chief.

Peter Pan Donuts | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Peter Pan Donuts

Est. 1953 | Greenpoint

Any way you spell it, these donuts are straight out of the old world
The smell of sweets, the caffeine kick, and the powdered sugar that’s likely to stick to your nose and eyelashes are all in the air at this old-school doughnut shop. Peter Pan’s puffy delights in every variety known to man somehow still clock in at under two-bucks each, the coffee is as strong as it is cheap, and the service is as quick as you need it to be in order to catch the G train back to wherever you came from.

21 Club | Courtesy of 21 Club

21 Club

Est. 1929 | Tribeca

The ur-speakeasy in a city full of imitators
A proto-speakeasy from a time when alcohol was actually illegal, 21 had a lot of lives before it settled into its present home on West 52nd Street 90 years ago. It bounced around a couple of locations downtown and into one elsewhere on the west side all before prohibition was even repealed. The one-time super cool gin joint turned stuffy mid-century, but loosened up again in recent years, all while retaining its special occasion, Old New York vibe. Famously guarded by the jockey figurines poised outside, just try cutting off the hooch here today. [Reservations - by Open Table]

Defonte’s

Est. 1922 | Staten Island

Sandwiches your father-in-law will love
My father in law saw this nearly century old mainstay on the Food Network and the family keeps promising we’ll go next time they’re in town from Philly. Sorry, Big Tom. Soon, we’ll order the Vinny D (grilled Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, grated parm and ricotta), the Italian stallion (prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, fried eggplant, roasted peppers), and the Nicky special (ham, capiolia, salami, provolone, and fried eggplant). And we won’t even compromise and go to the slightly more convenient Brooklyn location instead.  

Bamonte’s

Est. 1900 | Williamsburg

Italian favorites from the wayback machine
This classic red-sauce joint predates Williamsburg as we know it. The cozy, legitimately unpretentious bar up front is worth visiting even outside of a throwback Italian dinner, and the large dining room looks like it was designed by a '50s-era teenager shooting for elegance: bedazzled chandeliers bathe the space in light, paintings of dubious origin hang beside dramatically draped windows, and white tablecloths dare you tangle with family-style plates of chicken parm, veal marsala, and spaghetti and meatballs.

Katz's | Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Katz’s

Est. 1888 | Lower East Side

A New York classic with star quality
Katz’s isn’t exactly the Empire State Building of NYC restaurants. Maybe it’s more like the Brooklyn Bridge: an iconic tourist magnet that also benefits locals. The schtick here -- they track towering, 30-day cured corned beef, pastrami, brisket sandwiches, and anything else you order on a paper ticket that you must present to exit -- has probably outlived its usefulness, but you try changing once you’re 130 years old.