New York City is one of the world’s top foodie hubs. Home to people from all corners of the world, it’s the ultimate melting pot, and the food here is a reflection of not only the city’s diversity, but its energy and passion. With over 25,000 restaurants scattered throughout NYC, deciding where to eat can be a difficult task – and, as the food scene is constantly evolving, things get even trickier!

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or frequent flyer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with just how many options there are. Even if you narrow it down to one of the five different boroughs, you’ll still have a dizzying array of mouthwatering eateries to choose from. But, to make things a little easier, there are some restaurants that most local foodies will agree you just can’t miss.

More good news is that the best restaurants in New York City are vastly different when it comes to cuisine, location, budget, and style, meaning there’s something for everyone.

So, if you want to take a truly great-tasting bite out of the Big Apple, here are 15 of the best restaurants in New York City.

1. Katz's Delicatessen, Lower East Side, Manhattan ($)

Katz’s Delicatessen is a place that’s just as popular with locals as it is with tourists. This iconic deli has stood on the corner of Ludlow and East Houston since 1888 and while, originally, it was the city’s thriving European Jewish community that kept it busy, these days you’ll find Katz’s packed with people from all walks of life.

The cafeteria-style dining room is almost always heaving, so it pays to be assertive. Once you’ve got your ticket, place your order at the counter, and use your ticket to pay at the end. The most popular menu items are the sandwiches, particularly the Reuben, pastrami, or corned beef, usually on deli rye bread. For maximum authenticity, pair it with a bowl of matzo ball soup.

2. Via Carota, West Village, Manhattan ($$)

NYC isn’t short of Italian restaurants, but Via Carota is one of the best – especially if you’re looking for simplicity. Warm and inviting, this West Village restaurant is the brainchild of chef power couple Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, so it’s no surprise that it’s become so popular. The downside is that reservations are few and far between, so if you arrive at peak times you can expect a long wait.

The food is worth it, though, and the rustic menu is packed with tasty dishes that will make your heart swell. The homemade pasta is world-class, and the cacio e pepe tonnarelli, wild boar ragù pappardelle, and parmigiano and prosciutto tagliatelle are classics. Or, if you’re in the mood for something lighter, the crisp, towering salads are just as delicious in their fresh simplicity.

3. Win Son, Williamsburg, Brooklyn ($)

If you’re a fan of Asian food, then Taiwanese American restaurant Win Son is a must-visit. This laidback eatery boasts so many ‘must-try’ dishes that it makes sense to order small plates: the fried eggplant with black vinegar, pan-griddled pork buns, and scallion pancakes are a great choice! Or, for something larger, you can’t go wrong with sesame noodles and roasted oyster mushrooms.

If you’re on a budget – or just fancy something more casual – why not forgo the restaurant and cross the street to the bakery? The Win Son Bakery has a whole array of delectable pastries on the menu, from custard toast to fermented red rice doughnuts. If you’re in the mood for something savoury, the salads and sandwiches will tick the box. The jiucai pancake and veggie milk bun are popular options if you’re not sure what to go for.

4. Raoul's, Soho, Manhattan ($$)

Located on Soho’s Prince Street, Raoul’s is a New York foodie institution. Opened by two French brothers in 1975, the restaurant has been popular ever since, and the bar and dining room boast a beautiful collection of antique fixtures and nude paintings that look even more atmospheric under romantic lighting. Luckily, however, Raoul’s isn’t a case of style over substance.

The most popular items on the menu are the steak and the burger, although the roast chicken with truffle risotto, mussels with saffron and parsley, Dover sole with hazelnut, and roast cauliflower with pomegranate also fly off the menu. Wine enthusiasts will be suitably impressed with the extensive wine list, too, especially the selection of deep French reds.

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5. Astoria Seafood, Long Island City, Queens ($)

Fans of seafood and unique dining experiences should check out Astoria Seafood. Tucked away on the corner of 37th Avenue and 33rd Street in Queens’ Long Island City, this family restaurant originates from three generations of Greek tradition. Owner Spyro Christakos’ grandfather owned a fish market in Greece, and the family’s passion for all things seafood is still prevalent.

What sets Astoria Seafood apart from other restaurants is that you can browse from counters of raw tuna, sardines, snapper and shellfish, and tell the chefs how you like it cooked. The freshest fish only needs a few garnishes – maybe some lemon and parsley – and you can mop up the juices with garlic bread. The restaurant is bring-your-own-booze (BYOB), too, so it’s perfect if you’re on a budget.

6. The River Café, Dumbo, Brooklyn ($$$)

If you’re looking to push the boat out, then few dining experiences are more romantic and luxurious than The River Café. Located on the water beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, The River Café has been one of the most exclusive NYC restaurants since it opened in 1977, and it’s gorgeous views and intimate atmosphere have caused it to become known as one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world.

This isn’t a meal for people on a budget, but you’re not just paying for food and views; you’re paying for seamless services, stunning flower arrangements, and live piano music too. The Michelin-starred menu is elegant and modern: think Nantucket Bay scallops, handmade chanterelle mushroom ricotta gnocchi, and wagyu steak tartare. If you’re looking to dress up and feel glamorous, it can’t be beaten.

7. Szechuan Mountain House, Manhattan ($$)

Fans of spicy, pungent Szechuan cuisine can’t miss Szechuan Mountain House, located on St. Marks Place near the East Village. As soon as you enter this fun, laidback restaurant, you’ll be greeted with the scent of garlic and peppercorns – and soon after, you’ll be greeted by complimentary homemade pickled cabbage (and each meal ends with a bowl of complimentary cold mung bean soup!).

The mapo tofu is one of the most popular items on the menu, as is the pork belly with garlic, which involves paper-thin slices of meat strung up like sheets on a line. If you don’t like spice, this isn’t the restaurant for you – although an icy bottle of Tsing Tao goes a long way to offset the heat. The desserts are fabulous too; try the peach resin rice ball or the sweet drunken jelly!

8. L&B Spumoni Gardens, South Brooklyn ($$)

The Big Apple is known for doing great pizza, and if you ask a group of locals which restaurant serves the best slices in the city, you’ll probably get a bunch of different answers. But L&B Spumoni Gardens is a name that will very likely crop up at least once, and if you’re a pizza devotee, then heading to this historic Sicilian-style, south Brooklyn pizzeria is a pilgrimage worth making.

While this casual restaurant began life as a shop back in 1935, it’s grown into a restaurant that’s nearly as famous for its ice cream as its pizza. These square slices are incredibly moreish, with layers of molten cheese and tangy tomato sauce baked into a satisfyingly chewy focaccia-like crust. Why not make like a local and drink Chianti by the carafe, then finish with an order of the tricolour ice cream?

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9. Mr. Taka Ramen, Lower East Side, Manhattan ($)

New York is teeming with Japanese restaurants and ramen bars, but Mr. Taka Ramen has a cult following for a reason. This Lower East Side spot has been popular since its opening in 2015, and the menu has something to please everyone. The two owners met at college in Japan, and after years of travelling across their motherland researching cuisine, combined forces to create this restaurant.

Whatever broth you go for at Mr. Taka Ramen, you can be sure it’s always perfectly on point. Choose from tonkotsu ramen, tan tan ramen, miso ramen, or vegan ramen (or spicy versions of each), or try something totally different, like spicy cheese chashu tonkotsu ramen. The sides are also excellent: go for the crispy Brussels sprouts, purple sweet potato tempura, and either the pork or veggie gyoza.

10. Blossom, Upper West Side, Manhattan ($$)

The food scene in New York City tends to be pretty heavy and decadent, so if you’re in the mood for something lighter and brighter – or if you simply don’t eat animal products – then Blossom is for you. Since its launch in 2005, this vegan restaurant has carved out a reputation for serving delicious plant-based food that’s just as kind to animals and the environment as it is to your own body.

All food is locally sourced, healthy, and organic – but none of that means it doesn’t taste luxurious! Expect dishes like mushroom calamari in a spicy arrabbiata sauce, cashew cream ravioli with smoked tempeh, curried stuffed sweet potato, and jackfruit tacos. Be sure to save room for dessert too. The tiramisu is a real crowd-pleaser, as is the chocolate ganache and cashewtopia ice cream trio!

11. Kiki’s, Chinatown, Manhattan ($)

Chinatown might not seem like the obvious location for a Greek restaurant, but this low-key yet excellent taverna is a true gem. Since its opening in 2015, Kiki’s has been popular with locals, hipsters, and of course, Greeks looking for a taste of home, and behind its Chinese-signed awning and olive green doors, you’ll find one of the city’s most authentic and intriguing restaurants.

Happily for purists, its trendy location hasn’t affected the menu, as this is traditional Greek food at its reasonably priced best. Expect comforting squares of moussaka; cheesy, honey-dripping saganaki or soft giant beans in a tomato sauce; and classic sides like zucchini fries, tzatziki and melitzanosalata with pitta, and the obligatory Greek salad. If you’re not totally stuffed, the baklava is excellent too.

12. Gage & Tollner, Downtown Brooklyn ($$$)

Gage & Tollner might be well over 100 years old (it opened in 1892!), but it also somehow manages to feel like a thoroughly modern and buzzing Brooklyn restaurant. The restaurant itself is beautiful. Swathed in crimson velvet and adorned with gilded mirrors and brass chandeliers, it feels very fancy. If you’re looking to sip a cocktail in a quintessentially New York City restaurant, this is where to come.

Menu items include steakhouse classics like New York strip steak, fried chicken, and shrimp cocktail, although the twice-cooked cauliflower steak and the soft-shell clam sandwich are also popular. The baked Alaska is an absolute must-order if you have a sweet tooth too. The layers of dark chocolate and cherry ice cream, chocolate cookie crunch, and toasted Swiss meringue are a joy.

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13. Taqueria Ramirez, Greenpoint, Brooklyn ($)

Mexican food is in a league of its own across the pond. And while there are many excellent Mexican restaurants throughout the Big Apple, if you’re looking for tacos, most locals would agree you’ll find the best of the bunch in Greenpoint. Taqueria Ramirez may be small, but its tacos pack a serious punch. Plus, at $5 a pop, you can get a four-course meal for $20 – a rarity in New York City!

Owned by a Mexican couple, Taqueria Ramírez is incredibly authentic – so much so that their classic taco (the suadero) is made from a cut of beef rarely seen on menus outside of Mexico. The tripa taco (blow-torched tripe) is also popular, as is the pastor, which is served with pineapple. For veggies, the nopales taco is packed with sauteed cactus topped with onion, garlic, and cotija cheese.

14. Contento, East Harlem, Manhattan ($$)

Peruvian cuisine is widely accepted to be the most diverse and delicious in all Latin America, and, if you’re a fan – or just want to try it – be sure to head to Contento. Not only is the menu of this stylish restaurant wonderfully sophisticated, but the restaurant itself is unusually accessible. Two of the five partners use wheelchairs, so the whole dining experience has been carefully considered.

Lima-born chef Oscar Lorenzzi plates up the very best dishes – some Peruvian, some fusion. There are two ceviches on the menu (one classic, one scallop), sea bass served with pearl barley, crispy yuca with aji amarillo emulsion, and mirasol roasted carrots with ricotta and spicy tahini. The desserts are also delicious and very reasonably priced; the arroz con leche cheesecake is a favourite.

15. Sushi Nakazawa, Greenwich Village ($$$)

New York isn’t short of excellent sushi restaurants. But, while restaurants like Domodomo and Ki Sushi are exceptional, if only one can make this list, it has to be Sushi Nakazawa. It’s not cheap (though it’s also definitely not the most expensive in the city!). Yet, if you’re looking for a sushi adventure you’ll remember for years to come, this Michelin-starred restaurant ticks the box.

The slick, contemporary Sushi Nakazawa serves a whole array of flavourful and fatty cuts of fish – everything from Hokkaido cherry salmon to Massachusetts sea scallops with citrus and salt. Whatever fish you order, the texture and temperature will be absolutely spot on, the accompanying rice will be perfectly cooked and seasoned, and a dollop of wasabi will pack just the right amount of punch.

Final thoughts…

If you’re visiting New York City, there’s no chance you’ll go hungry – and with so many brilliant restaurants scattered throughout this bustling metropolis, it’s safe to say there’s something for every taste preference and budget.

While this is a notoriously expensive city, there are still reasonably priced restaurants to be found – and some of the best are on this list! Whether you’re planning on grabbing a couple of tacos, a slice of pizza, some Taiwanese pastries, authentic Greek food, or an iconic deli sandwich, not every meal here has to break the bank!

But, of course, if you are looking to push the boat out, you’re in the right place! From the wonderfully romantic River Café to sleek sushi joints and classic steakhouses, the city that never sleeps is a fabulous place to enjoy a glamorous meal out.

If it’s your first time in New York, it’s fair to say that the dining scene is more indulgent than you might be used to – and the portions are usually much larger too! But eating in local restaurants and trying delicious new dishes is one of the best things about visiting the Big Apple…and having to loosen your belt on your return is just a sign you’ve made the most of your trip!

For more foodie content, why not check out our article; 11 of the best foodie destinations around the world?

Are you thinking of visiting any of these restaurants? Or perhaps you’ve been to some before? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.