The Definitive West Village Dining Guide

the definitive west village dining guide
Empellón Taqueria | Alexis Bendjouia
Empellón Taqueria | Alexis Bendjouia

The West Village is the epitome of straight-out-of-fiction, charming New York. It’s the New York of gorgeous brownstones and equally gorgeous people going out to brunch, the New York of Friends and Sex in the City. And being so quintessentially New York, it’s also a neighborhood where you can find great restaurants of every stripe, from cozy BYO bistros to upscale sushi spots to iconic gastropubs.

the spotted pig
Zoran Jelenic

<h2>Best gastropub: <a href="; target="_blank">The Spotted Pig</a></h2>

<em>314 W 11th Street</em><br />
Even after 13 years, it’s still hard to get a table at Chef April Bloomfield’s OG gastropub/celebrity magnet, thanks to a strict no-reservations policy. Still, the wait is worth it for the famous <a href="…; target="_blank">Roquefort burger</a>, chicken liver toast, deviled eggs, and silky sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi. To beat the line, go late -- the kitchen is open until 2am every day.


<h2>Best French bistro: <a href="; target="_blank">Buvette</a></h2>

<em>42 Grove Street</em><br />
This tiny all-day cafe from Chef Jody Williams is a cozy French bistro in its ideal form. The small plates here are simple but elegant, whether it’s soft scrambled eggs with prosciutto and Parmesan for breakfast, steak tartare for dinner, or a wedge of mahogany-colored tarte Tatin for dessert.

Evan Sung

<h2>Best fancy tacos: <a href="; target="_blank">Empellón Taqueria</a></h2>

<em>230 W 4th Street</em><br />
If you want $2 tacos, go to a taco truck. If you want fancy tacos, go to Empellón Taqueria. Chef Alex Stupak uses some very traditional Mexican ingredients and techniques, but also fills his tortillas with things like short rib pastrami or lobster. Whether you go for those, or something like lamb barbacoa, the result is always worth the steep price tag.

Courtesy of Taim

<h2>Best falafel: <a href="; target="_blank">Taim</a></h2>

<em>222 Waverly Place</em><br />
Chef Einat Admony’s fast-casual Israeli spot makes some of the best falafel in the city. Get it in one of three different flavors -- harissa, olive, or green (i.e., herb) -- on a pita generously loaded with hummus, Israeli salad, tahini, pickles, and more, and you’ve got one of the greatest lunches $7 can buy in this otherwise pricey neighborhood.


<h2>Best chicken: <a href="; target="_blank">Barbuto</a></h2>

<em>775 Washington Street</em><br />
All too often, chicken is the most boring thing on a restaurant’s menu, put there for the least adventurous diners. Not so at this beloved Italian staple, where chef Jonathan Waxman’s pollo al forno, roasted with lemon and served with an anchovy, caper, and herb salsa verde, is legendary. Plus, when the garage door windows open up in the summer, Barbuto becomes an ideal spot for those warm, breezy nights when all you want to do is sip wine outside.

<h2>Best fancy burger: <a href="; target="_blank">Minetta Tavern</a></h2>

<em>113 Macdougal Street</em><br />
The Black Label Burger at Minetta is rightfully renowned as one of the <a href="…; target="_blank">best burgers in town</a>. The juicy dry-aged patty needs no cheese, just a mound of caramelized onions on top, a buttery brioche bun, and a heap of shoestring fries on the side. Yes, $33 is crazy-expensive for a burger, but you won’t regret shelling out at least once for this masterpiece.

Yakiniku Takashi

<h2>Best weird eats: <a href="; target="_blank">Takashi</a></h2>

<em>465 Hudson Street</em><br />
How do you feel about beef tendon casserole? What about grilled stomach? If the answer is “Sure, why not?”, head to Takashi. The menu is full of eccentric eats like calf’s brain cream served with caviar, or “testicargot” (that’s cow testicles cooked escargot-style in garlic shiso butter), but if you’re not feeling brave enough for that, there’s also options like mini foie gras-stuffed Kobe burgers, and a late-night ramen special on Fridays and Saturdays.

Sushi Nakazawa
Daniel Krieger

<h2>Best sushi: <a href="; target="_blank">Sushi Nakazawa</a></h2>

<em>23 Commerce Street</em><br />
Daisuke Nakazawa is, famously, a disciple of Jiro Ono -- the Jiro of <em>Jiro Dreams of Sushi</em>. That means you can expect to pay a considerable amount to dine here ($150 at the bar, $120 in the dining room), assuming you can even get a reservation. But it’s worth it for the 20-course Edomae-style <a href="…; target="_blank">omakase</a>, prepared with incredibly fresh fish and simple seasoning.

joe's pizza
Nick Krueck/Thrillist

<h2>Best slice: <a href="; target="_blank">Joe’s Pizza</a></h2>

<em>7 Carmine Street</em><br />
Picture the kind of New York slice joint you see in the movies, with wobbly round tables, old snapshots all over the walls, and big, beautifully greasy pizzas. That’s Joe’s. Every neighborhood needs a source for late-night pepperoni and cheese, and around here this is it.

beatrice inn
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

<h2>Best for meat lovers: <a href="; target="_blank">Beatrice Inn</a></h2>

<em>285 West 12th Street</em><br />
Under the new ownership of Chef Angie Mar, the once-clubby Beatrice Inn has become a meat-eaters' paradise. There’s whole smoked rabbit and ox heart au poivre, a duck &amp; foie gras pie, and a mammoth 120-day aged tomahawk ribeye. Even dessert involves beef, in the form of a bone marrow creme brûlée.

<h2>Best Italian: <a href="; target="_blank">I Sodi</a></h2>

<em>105 Christopher Street</em><br />
I Sodi is pretty much the ideal neighborhood Italian restaurant. The space is warm and welcoming, and Chef Rita Sodi serves hearty, rustic dishes like fried chicken with fried artichokes and fried bread, spinach and ricotta ravioli cooked in cultured butter, and a legendary multi-layered lasagna. It’s also probably the only restaurant around with seven different Negronis on the menu.

mary's fish camp
Logan Hodson

<h2>&nbsp;Best seafood: <a href="; target="_blank">Mary’s Fish Camp</a></h2>

<em>64 Charles Street</em><br />
Save for a couple of salads and dessert, absolutely everything on the menu at Mary’s Fish Camp involves seafood. The vibe is very summer in New England, but the food ranges far beyond a (great) lobster roll to include everything from Louisiana crab au gratin to red snapper posole.

<h2>Best BYOB: <a href="; target="_blank">Tartine</a></h2>

<em>253 W 11 Street</em><br />
BYOBs are few and far between in New York, which is part of what makes this tiny French bistro such a treasure. Grab your favorite $15 bottle of wine, order a big bowl of steamed mussels or a classic steak au poivre, and you’ll understand why people keep lining up for a spot at one of these cramped tables, even after 20-plus years.

Perla Cafe
Perla Cafe

<h2>Best brunch: <a href="; target="_blank">Perla Cafe</a></h2>

<em>234 W 4 Street</em><br />
When restaurateur Gabriel Stulman, whose small empire of beloved West Village restaurants also includes Jeffrey’s Grocery and Fedora, moved his Italian restaurant Perla to West 4th, he rechristened it Perla Cafe. The space is lighter and brighter and, as the name suggests, much more conducive to daytime eating. In other words, it’s the perfect brunch spot, with dishes ranging from Parmigiano biscuits topped with poached eggs, Italian sausage, and broccoli rabe pesto to spaghetti carbonara, plus a great bloody mary.

Joseph Leonard
Joseph Leonard

<h2>Best neighborhood restaurant: <a href="; target="_blank">Joseph Leonard</a></h2>

<em>170 Waverly Place</em><br />
Another neighborhood staple from restaurateur Gabriel Stulman, Joseph Leonard is a French bistro that manages to be great every time of day. At breakfast there’s croque monsieur and avocado toast, at dinner there’s steak frites and oeufs mayonnaise, and in between there’s lunch and late-afternoon snacks. The kitchen even stays open until 2am, serving a late-night menu that ranges from a burger to a goat cheese omelette. All in all, it’s one of those rare restaurants guaranteed to feed you well no matter when you show up.

La Bonbonniere
La Bonbonniere

<h2>Best old-school diner: La Bonbonniere</h2>

<em>28 8th Avenue</em><br />
New York’s classic diners are dwindling, but luckily there are still holdouts like La Bonbonniere, a narrow, wonderfully divey greasy spoon on 8th Avenue. In a neighborhood full of fancy brunch options, this is your go-to for a stack of fluffy pancakes, an omelette the size of your plate, or a good old-fashioned BLT.

corner bistro burger
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

<h2>Best bar burger: <a href="; target="_blank">Corner Bistro</a></h2>

<em>331 W 4th Street</em><br />
This dark old tavern is usually packed at night, full of people waiting for a fat, bacon-and-cheese-topped Bistro Burger. The burger is rightfully famous, and attracts its fair share of tourists, but Corner Bistro is still a total New York dive, with no-nonsense bartenders and beers under $5 on tap. If you really want to avoid the line, just go during the day.


<h2>Best Peking duck: <a href="; target="_blank">Decoy</a></h2>

<em>529-1/2 Hudson Street</em><br />
Sure, there are cheaper Peking ducks in Chinatown, but the crispy-skinned, $78 version at this subterranean offshoot of RedFarm is worth every penny. The duck is cooked to order and super juicy, the stack of pancakes is homemade, and the whole thing comes with a round of duck consomme shots.


<h2>Best tapas: <a href="; target="_blank">Tertulia</a></h2>

<em>359 6th Avenue</em><br />
When it comes to tapas restaurants, Tertulia is about as authentic as you’ll find in NYC. Opt for big platters of paella simmered in the wood-fired oven, or two-bite options like jamon iberico and a classic tortilla (Spanish omelette), paired with a glass of dry, nutty sherry. The big bar up front and the warm wood banquettes in the back made this place equally ideal for a solo meal or a cozy date.

<h2>Best meatballs: <a href="; target="_blank">The Little Owl</a></h2>

<em>90 Bedford Street</em><br />
This tiny neighborhood mainstay has plenty of great, Mediterranean-leaning dishes on the menu, but it’s best known for its meatballs. Specifically, the gravy meatball sliders, made from a tender blend of beef, veal, and pork, doused with tomato gravy, and squeezed between two halves of a tiny garlic roll.

Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.

Marguerite Preston is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. Her idea of a great date is going to Minetta Tavern and splitting the Black Label Burger as an appetizer, followed by steak.