Best Restaurants In New York For First Time Visitors

Best Restaurants In New York For First Time Visitors featured image

Visiting New York for the first time and wondering where to dine in the city that never sleeps? Navigating New York's dining scene can be as daunting as it is exciting, with its endless options ranging from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants.

This guide to the Best Restaurants in New York for First Time Visitors aims to take the guesswork out of where to eat, ensuring you have a culinary experience that's as unforgettable as the city itself.

Key Takeaways

  • Variety of Cuisines: Discover restaurants offering a taste of the world, reflecting New York's multicultural heritage.
  • Iconic New York Dining Experiences: Learn about eateries that are quintessentially New York, from classic delis to upscale dining rooms.
  • Budget-Friendly Options: Find out that enjoying New York's food scene doesn't have to break the bank, with selections that offer great value.

Whether you're craving an iconic New York slice, a bagel breakfast, or a fine dining experience with a view, this list has got you covered.

Dive into the heart of New York's culinary delights and make your first visit truly memorable by reading on for our top restaurant picks.

Top 20 Restaurants in New York for First Time Visitors

New York City, a melting pot of culinary excellence, offers an overwhelming array of dining options, especially for first-time visitors. In this section, we've curated a list that encompasses the essence of the city's gastronomic scene.

From iconic eateries to hidden gems, these selections promise an unforgettable introduction to the diverse flavors that make New York a food lover's paradise.

Whether you're craving classic New York pizza, sophisticated Michelin-starred dining, or innovative culinary creations, our guide ensures a memorable culinary journey across the Big Apple.

Continue reading to explore the must-visit restaurants that define New York's vibrant food culture.

1. Xi'an Famous Foods

Xi'an Famous Foods

Photo credit: IG@XianFamousFoods

Nestled in the heart of New York City, Xi'an Famous Foods stands as a testament to the rich and savory flavors of Xi'an cuisine.

This restaurant chain has carved a niche for itself by offering a unique blend of traditional dishes, characterized by hand-pulled noodles, spicy cumin lamb, and innovative cumin-flavored lamb burgers. It's a go-to destination for food enthusiasts craving an authentic taste of Xi'an.

Quick, Affordable Meals

Xi'an Famous Foods is celebrated for its efficiency and affordability. With meals averaging around $17, patrons can enjoy flavorful dishes like spinach dumplings and the much-lauded lamb burger without a long wait.

The combination of speedy service, cleanliness, and value for money makes it an ideal spot for those in a hurry or on a budget.

Authentic Flavors

The essence of Xi'an cuisine is alive in the bold, spicy flavors that define the restaurant's menu. From the spicy lamb dishes to the signature cumin-flavored offerings, each meal is a vibrant testament to Xi'an's culinary traditions.

While the liberal use of spicy sauce may overpower for some, it's a genuine reflection of the region's love for heat and spice.

2. Barney Greengrass

Barney Greengrass

Photo credit: FB@Barney Greengrass

Barney Greengrass, an iconic Jewish deli located in the heart of the Upper West Side, has been a beacon of traditional Jewish cuisine for decades.

Renowned for its exceptional smoked fish, bagels, and a plethora of classic delicacies, this establishment offers more than just a meal; it delivers an authentic New York dining experience that has stood the test of time.

Unmatched Quality and Flavor

Patrons of Barney Greengrass can attest to the unparalleled quality and flavor of its offerings. From the perfectly smoked fish that many claim is the best they've ever had, to the latkes with just the right amount of onion, every dish is crafted with care and expertise.

The menu is such that there's no wrong choice—everything promises to be a delight. The dedication to using high-quality ingredients is evident, with prices reflecting the superior taste and overall dining experience.

A True New York Institution

Often described as one of NYC's top spots for lunch or brunch, Barney Greengrass lives up to its reputation. It's a place where the old-school charm meets the hustle and bustle of the city, offering a cozy yet vibrant atmosphere.

Despite the potential for crowds, the service remains impeccable, with kind and attentive staff ensuring a memorable visit.

It stands on a par with other New York legends like Katz's, yet without any pretense, offering a genuine slice of the city's culinary heritage.

3. Sadelle's


Photo credit: IG@Sadelle's

Located in the heart of Soho, Sadelle's has emerged as a premier destination for those seeking an exquisite breakfast or brunch experience.

Known for its high-quality bagels and breakfast sandwiches, this cafe doesn't just stop there; it extends its culinary delights to include a vast selection of pastries, bread, salads, sandwiches, and egg dishes that cater to a variety of tastes.

Coupled with a range of beverages from coffee and tea to cocktails, Sadelle's ensures every guest finds something to savor.

A Culinary Haven in Soho

Guests at Sadelle's are greeted with generous portions of delicious food, served in an environment that's both elegant and welcoming.

The restaurant's design, which exudes an old vintage charm, transports diners to a bygone era, all while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere that Soho is known for.

The blend of sophisticated decor and a lively vibe makes Sadelle's a unique spot that attracts a diverse crowd, from locals to tourists.

Expectations Surpassed and Varied

While some may come with the expectation of a traditional breakfast joint, Sadelle's offers much more. Despite some limitations in beverage options, as noted by patrons looking for espresso or iced lattes, the food quality remains top-notch.

From well-prepared omelets accompanied by excellent salmon to delicious benedict eggs, the culinary expertise at Sadelle's is evident.

The price point, ranging from $30 to $50 per person, reflects the quality of ingredients and the care put into each dish.

Navigating the Buzz

Sadelle's popularity means that it can get quite crowded, especially during peak hours. This bustling environment underscores the cafe's appeal but also means that reservations are recommended to secure a spot.

The friendly service complements the dining experience, with attentive staff ready to accommodate requests, such as packing leftovers to go, ensuring that no guest leaves unsatisfied.

  • Website: Sadelle's
  • Address: 463 W Broadway, NY 10012

4. Frankel's Delicatessen

Frankels Delicatessen

Photo credit: IG@Frankel's Delicatessen

Nestled in Brooklyn's vibrant landscape, Frankel's Delicatessen has established itself as a go-to spot for deli enthusiasts.

Located conveniently at 631 Manhattan Avenue, this delicatessen offers a cozy yet straightforward setting for those in pursuit of classic deli fare with a modern twist.

Frankel's prides itself on serving up hearty, flavorful dishes that cater to both breakfast and lunch crowds, with their pastrami, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich being a standout favorite among patrons.

Classic Deli Fare with Convenience

Frankel's Delicatessen strikes a perfect balance between quality food and convenience. Its proximity to the G train and nearby bus stops makes it an ideal location for commuters looking for a quick yet satisfying meal.

The simplicity of the interior, coupled with limited seating, suggests that Frankel's is perhaps best enjoyed as a takeout option, allowing customers to savor their delicious offerings wherever they please.

A Menu That Satisfies

The pastrami, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich is a testament to Frankel's commitment to flavor and satisfaction.

Each bite offers a taste of meticulously prepared pastrami, perfectly complemented by the richness of egg and cheese, all encased in a fresh bun.

This item, among others on the menu, underscores the delicatessen's ability to deliver traditional tastes with a level of craftsmanship that elevates the dining experience, even for those on the go.

A Note on Amenities

While Frankel's Delicatessen focuses on delivering exceptional food, it's important for visitors to note the simple setup.

The lack of restroom facilities and the minimal seating arrangement highlight the establishment's emphasis on quick service and takeout options.

This straightforward approach ensures that the focus remains on the quality and flavor of the food, making every visit memorable for the right reasons.

However one big criticism aimed at Frankels is the price, sometimes a sandwich will cost you up to $20+ per sandwich!

5. Luke's Lobster

Lukes Lobster

Photo credit: IG@Luke's Lobster

Luke's Lobster has firmly anchored itself as a premier destination for seafood enthusiasts across New York City.

With locations sprawled from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn, this chain is celebrated for bringing the quintessential Maine lobster roll experience to the urban landscape. 

The commitment to quality, freshness, and sustainability is evident across their outlets at 426 Amsterdam Ave, 124 University Pl, 242 E 81st, 265 William St, 207 E 43rd St, and 11 Water St.

A Taste of Maine in the Heart of New York

Visitors to Luke's Lobster are immediately greeted with a menu that sings praises of the sea. The lobster roll, a sublime concoction of fresh lobster meat served on a perfect bun, is a testament to the simple yet sophisticated approach Luke's takes towards seafood.

The friendly and welcoming staff add to the experience, making everyone from first-timers to regulars feel at home.

The insider tip? Don’t miss out on the punch card, a benefit exclusively available at brick-and-mortar locations, offering perks that delivery just can't match.

Beyond Lobster Rolls

While the lobster roll might be the star, Luke's Lobster's menu boasts an array of seafood treasures. From the creamy lobster bisque to the hearty mac n' cheese, each dish is crafted to perfection, providing a variety of options for different tastes.

The shrimp roll and clam chowder are particular standouts, offering a delightful taste of New England’s best.

For those looking to sample a bit of everything, the Lobster Flight is an excellent choice, ensuring a comprehensive taste of Luke's offerings.

The Space: Cozy and Functional

Luke's Lobster outlets are designed with a focus on functionality and movement, featuring limited seating that encourages a quick dining experience or takeout.

This setup reflects the fast-paced nature of the city while maintaining a cozy and inviting atmosphere. 

Each location, despite its small size, manages to capture the essence of a seaside shack, thanks to its maritime-themed decor and the unmistakable aroma of fresh seafood.

With prices ranging from $20–$30 per person, Luke's Lobster offers an accessible slice of Maine's culinary heritage.

Whether you're a local or just passing through, a visit to Luke's promises not just a meal, but an experience that's both friendly and fast, with the tastiest lobster rolls you're likely to find in the city.

As the reviews suggest, whether for dine-in or takeout, Luke's Lobster stands out as a must-visit for seafood lovers.

  • Website: Luke's Lobster
  • Address: 426 Amsterdam Ave, NY 10024; 124 University PI, NY 10003; 242 E 81st NY 10028; 265 William St NY 10004; 207 E 43rd St. NY 10017; 11 Water St Brooklyn NY 11201

6. Gotham Restaurant

Gotham Restaurant

Photo credit: IG@Gotham Restaurant

Nestled in the heart of New York's vibrant dining scene, Gotham Restaurant at 12 E 12th Street is a culinary landmark that has been enchanting food enthusiasts with its innovative and exquisite cuisine.

This iconic establishment is renowned for its sophisticated ambiance, impeccable service, and a menu that showcases the best of contemporary American cuisine with a creative twist.

Culinary Excellence and Innovation

Gotham Restaurant stands as a testament to culinary artistry and innovation. The menu is a carefully curated selection of dishes that blend classic techniques with modern flavors, ensuring a unique dining experience.

Each dish is meticulously prepared with the freshest ingredients, sourced from local producers and artisans to guarantee quality and taste.

The restaurant's dedication to culinary excellence has made it a must-visit for anyone seeking an unforgettable meal in New York City.

An Elegant and Welcoming Ambiance

From the moment you step inside Gotham Restaurant, you're greeted by an atmosphere that is both elegant and welcoming.

The interior design combines classic elements with modern aesthetics, creating a space that is sophisticated yet comfortable.

Whether you're enjoying a casual dinner or celebrating a special occasion, the ambiance at Gotham Restaurant is designed to make every visit memorable.

A Destination for Food Lovers

Gotham Restaurant has earned its place as a beloved destination for food lovers from around the world. The menu features a diverse range of dishes that cater to a variety of tastes and preferences.

From succulent meats and fresh seafood to innovative vegetarian creations, each dish is a celebration of flavor and creativity.

The restaurant's extensive wine list and selection of artisan cocktails complement the menu perfectly, offering the ideal accompaniment to your meal.

Experience Gotham Restaurant

Located in the bustling heart of New York City, Gotham Restaurant is easily accessible and provides the perfect backdrop for any dining occasion.

Whether you're looking for a place to enjoy a leisurely brunch, a business lunch, or an intimate dinner, Gotham Restaurant offers an experience that combines fine dining with a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.

With its commitment to excellence, innovative cuisine, and warm hospitality, Gotham Restaurant continues to set the standard for dining in New York City.

Gotham Restaurant is more than just a place to eat; it's a destination where every meal is an opportunity to indulge in the art of fine dining.

Whether you're a local or a visitor to the city, a meal at Gotham Restaurant is an experience not to be missed.

7. Le Bernardin

Le Bernardin

Photo credit: IG@Le Bernardin

Located at 155 W 51st Street in the heart of New York City, Le Bernardin is a paragon of fine dining, epitomizing the quintessence of a premier culinary experience.

With its three Michelin stars, the restaurant is a testament to its unwavering commitment to excellence, offering an impeccable blend of delicious dishes, refined service, and an elegant atmosphere.

Classic Elegance in Fine Dining

Le Bernardin is celebrated for its mastery in delivering an authentic fine dining experience. It honors traditional values of haute cuisine with a menu that showcases a conservative approach to flavor, focusing on the natural beauty of high-quality ingredients.

The chef's renowned expertise ensures that each dish is a work of art, balancing rich, sophisticated flavors that cater to those with an appreciation for timeless culinary craftsmanship.

A Temple of Seafood Cuisine

The restaurant specializes in seafood, bringing the treasures of the ocean to the plate with unparalleled finesse.

Each dish, from the perfectly balanced Dover sole to the rich and flavorful lobster and scallop offerings, is a testament to Le Bernardin's dedication to seafood excellence. 

While some dishes, like the halibut, may occasionally fall short of perfection, the overall dining experience remains sublime, with signature dishes leaving a lasting impression.

Service and Atmosphere

The service at Le Bernardin is nothing short of exceptional. Attentive and discreet, the staff ensures a dining experience that is seamless and sophisticated. The atmosphere of the restaurant is one of quiet elegance, providing a backdrop that is both luxurious and intimate.

Although the quietude of the dining room may not cater to those seeking a lively vibe, it underscores the restaurant's dedication to a refined and dignified dining experience.

With its exquisite menu, stellar service, and an ambiance of understated elegance, Le Bernardin is a must-visit for those seeking the pinnacle of fine dining.

Whether it's for a special occasion or to savor the art of classic cuisine, the experience is undeniably worth the investment.

While its conservative culinary approach may not suit every palate, Le Bernardin remains a luminous beacon of excellence in New York's dining scene.

  • Website: Le Bernardin
  • Address: 155 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019, United States

8. Thai Diner

Thai Diner

Photo credit: IG@ThaiDiner

Nestled in the bustling streets of Nolita at 186 Mott Street, NY 10012, Thai Diner is a vibrant gem that brings the heart of Thai cuisine to New York City.

With its no-reservation policy, this eatery may require a bit of a wait, especially on a lively Tuesday evening, but the culinary delights that await are well worth the patience.

A Fusion of Traditional and Modern

Thai Diner stands out for its innovative approach to Thai cuisine, seamlessly blending traditional dishes with contemporary twists that surprise and delight.

From the tantalizing disco fries, a novel take on a familiar snack, to the aromatic turmeric roti paired with pumpkin curry, the starters alone set the stage for a memorable meal.

Main Courses to Remember

The mains at Thai Diner offer a generous exploration of flavors and textures. The crab fried rice is a standout, featuring ample, fresh meat that’s perfect for sharing.

The Chicken Banana Burger introduces a unique flavor profile with its juicy chicken and crisp onion, making it a must-try for adventurous diners.

For those who prefer something a bit more subtle, the rice noodles with chicken offer a delicate and satisfying option.


The friendly, attentive staff enhances the adventure, offering insights into the menu and ensuring each guest’s visit is as enjoyable as it is delicious.

Their guidance through the diverse and dynamic menu adds a personal touch to the dining experience, making Thai Diner not just a meal, but a journey through the flavors of Thailand.

Ambiance and Price

Thai Diner’s atmosphere is as inviting as its food, with a modern twist on traditional Thai décor that creates a warm and welcoming environment.

The price range of $30–50 per person ensures that you can enjoy a full and satisfying exploration of the menu without breaking the bank.

  • Website: Thai Diner
  • Address: 186 Mott Street NY 10012

9. Roberto's


Photo credit: IG@Roberto's

Tucked away in the heart of the Bronx at 603 Crescent Ave, Bronx, NY 10458, Roberto's Restaurant offers an authentic Italian dining experience that stands out in New York City's vibrant culinary scene.

Known for its intimate ambiance, exceptional service, and meticulously prepared dishes, Roberto's has earned its reputation as a must-visit destination for Italian cuisine enthusiasts.

Authentic Italian Cuisine

Roberto's takes pride in offering a menu that reflects the rich traditions of Italian cooking, with each dish prepared using only the freshest ingredients and a commitment to authenticity.

The menu is a delightful exploration of Italy's diverse culinary regions, from hearty pastas and succulent meats to fresh seafood dishes that evoke the flavors of the Mediterranean.

Signature Dishes and Fine Wines

While the entire menu at Roberto's is worthy of praise, there are a few standout dishes that regulars recommend. The pasta dishes, in particular, are lauded for their authentic flavors and perfect al dente texture.

Additionally, the restaurant boasts an impressive selection of fine wines, carefully curated to complement the menu and elevate the dining experience.

Service with a Personal Touch

What sets Roberto's apart from other Italian eateries is the exceptional level of service. The staff goes above and beyond to ensure that every guest feels welcomed and valued, offering personalized recommendations and attending to every detail of the dining experience.

This commitment to hospitality is a hallmark of Roberto's and a key reason why many guests return time and again.

  • Website: Roberto's
  • Address: 603 Crescent Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

10. Sylvia's


Photo credit: IG@Sylvia's

Nestled in the heart of Harlem at 328 Malcolm X Blvd, NY 10027, Sylvia's Restaurant is not just a place to eat; it's a destination that offers a soulful dining experience.

Known as the "The Queen of Soul Food," Sylvia's has been a beacon of warmth, family, and delicious Southern cuisine since its opening.

This legendary eatery draws both locals and visitors alike, promising a meal that's as comforting as it is delectably memorable.

A Taste of Home

From the moment you step into Sylvia's, you're embraced by an atmosphere that feels like coming home.

The welcoming staff, many of whom have been part of the Sylvia's family for years, treat every guest with kindness and a genuine smile. It's a place where you're not just a customer, but a friend coming over for a meal. 

The soulful ambiance is matched by the food, which is lovingly prepared and brings the essence of Southern comfort food to the heart of New York City.

Culinary Delights

Sylvia's menu is a testament to the rich culinary traditions of the South, with each dish offering a taste of home-cooked perfection.

The catfish is a standout, perfectly seasoned and cooked to a crispy finish, while the vegetarian collard greens could convert even the staunchest meat-lover with their flavorful depth.

The grits and cornbread are soul food staples done right, and the peach cobbler is a sweet finale that feels like a warm hug.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Cure

It's not every day that food is described as a cure for seasonal affective disorder, but Sylvia's has achieved just that. The exceptional quality of the meal, from the stunning collard greens to the comforting embrace of the peach cobbler, has the power to lift spirits and brighten days.

It's a culinary experience that touches more than just the taste buds; it's a feast for the soul.

  • Website: Sylvia's
  • Address: 328 Malcolm X Blvd, NY 10027

11. One-If by Land Two – If by Sea

One-If By Land Two – If By Sea

Photo credit: One-If By Land Two – If By Sea

Located at the historic and charming 17 Barrow Street, NY 10014, One If By Land, Two If By Sea is more than just a restaurant; it's a testament to love, history, and exceptional dining.

Celebrated for its romantic ambiance and exquisite culinary offerings, this restaurant is a beacon of elegance in the heart of New York City.

Celebratory and Romantic Ambiance

One If By Land, Two If By Sea is the quintessential destination for those special, life-celebrating moments. Whether it's for a birthday, an anniversary, or a heartfelt declaration of love, the restaurant's atmosphere is imbued with a romantic essence that is both inviting and enchanting.

The historical richness of the place adds a unique depth to the dining experience, making every visit memorable.

Impeccable Service

The service at One If By Land, Two If By Sea is nothing short of stellar. Patrons frequently laud the attentiveness and professionalism of the staff, with special mentions often made of individuals like Nick, who go above and beyond to provide a personalized and engaging service.

From guided tours that enrich the dining experience with historical anecdotes to thoughtful gestures like complimentary desserts for special occasions, the staff ensures every moment spent is special.

A Menu to Remember

The tasting menu is a journey through a variety of beautifully flavored and meticulously presented courses. Unlike some establishments, the pacing of the courses here allows guests to savor each dish fully, enhancing the overall dining experience.

While the restaurant falls on the pricier side, it is considered well worth the investment, particularly given the quality of the experience and the culinary delights on offer.

12. Katz's Delicatessen

Katzs Delicatessen

Photo credit: IG@Katz's Delicatessen

Located at 205 E Houston Street, NY 10002, Katz's Delicatessen isn't just a restaurant; it's a living piece of New York City history.

Since its inception in 1888, Katz's has been serving up some of the best deli sandwiches in the world, becoming a cultural landmark and a beacon for food lovers everywhere.

The Quintessential Deli Experience

Walking into Katz's, you're immediately struck by the bustling atmosphere that defines New York's vibrancy.

The walls, adorned with photos of celebrities who've dined there, and the buzzing crowd, create a backdrop for an authentic deli experience. It's a place where tradition is not just preserved but is a part of the daily menu.

Legendary Sandwiches

Katz's is renowned for its hand-carved pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, piled high on rye bread with a smear of mustard. These sandwiches are not just meals; they're culinary adventures.

The meat, cured and cooked to perfection, offers a melt-in-your-mouth texture, coupled with flavors that have been refined over a century. It's a testament to Katz's commitment to quality and tradition.

More Than Just Meat

While the pastrami and corned beef might steal the show, Katz's menu is diverse. From knishes and matzo ball soup to a variety of other deli classics, there's something for everyone.

The portions are generous, ensuring that no one leaves hungry, and the quality of every dish speaks to the deli's dedication to maintaining its high standards.

13. Peter Luger Steakhouse

Peter Luger Steakhouse

Photo credit: Peter Luger Steakhouse website

Peter Luger Steakhouse, with its locations in Brooklyn, NY, and Great Neck, NY, stands as a pinnacle of traditional steakhouse dining, blending history, quality, and flavor in a way few other restaurants can.

Esteemed for its dry-aged steaks, particularly the porterhouse, Peter Luger offers a dining experience that is both classic and exceptional, making it a must-visit destination for steak enthusiasts around the globe.

The Quintessence of Steakhouse Charm

Walking into Peter Luger, guests are immediately enveloped in the quintessential New York steakhouse ambiance – wooden furnishings, simple yet elegant décor, and a bustling atmosphere that speaks of decades of culinary history. It's a setting that primes you for a meal rooted in tradition and excellence.

The Porterhouse Phenomenon

The dry-aged porterhouse steak is the crown jewel of Peter Luger's menu. Known for its juicy, flavorful, and perfectly cooked meat, the steak is a testament to the craftsmanship and care put into every dish served. It's not just a meal; it's an experience, one that captivates your senses and leaves a lasting memory.

The steak's quality, combined with its reasonable pricing (ranging from $50 to $100 per person), sets Peter Luger apart in the competitive landscape of NYC steakhouses.

Service that Shines

The staff at Peter Luger adds another layer of excellence to the dining experience. Friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive, they ensure that every visit is special.

Celebratory occasions, such as a 60th birthday, are made even more memorable by the impeccable service. 

Servers like Lorenzo are mentioned by name in guest reviews, highlighting the personal touch that Peter Luger brings to the table.

  • Website: Peter Luger Steakhouse
  • Address: 178, Broadway Brooklyn NY 11211; 25, Northern BlvdGreat Neck NY 11021

14. Zero Otto Nove

Zero Otto Nove

Photo credit: IG@Zero Otto Nove

Zero Otto Nove, with its locations in Armonk, Tuckahoe, Manhattan, and the original spot in the Bronx, represents a cornerstone of Italian culinary tradition in New York.

This restaurant offers an authentic slice of Italy through its diverse menu, featuring dishes from the heart of Southern Italy.

Each location provides a unique yet consistently delightful dining experience, showcasing the rich flavors and culinary craftsmanship that define Italian cuisine.

Signature Dishes and Unique Flavors

At Zero Otto Nove, the menu is a testament to the variety and depth of Italian cooking. The Polipo alla Griglia is a standout appetizer, lauded for its perfect grill marks, crispy exterior, and succulent interior, making it a favorite starter on many tables.

Another highlight is the La Cirilo Pizza, notable for its chewy crust and harmoniously balanced toppings, offering a gourmet take on the classic Italian staple.

The Risotto alla Pescatore impresses with its flavorful broth and generous serving of seafood, capturing the essence of Italy’s coastal cuisine.

Meanwhile, the Mafalde in Cartoccio stands out as a signature dish, marrying rich, creamy flavors with a lightness that defies its decadent texture.

A Culinary Experience in the Bronx and Beyond

Zero Otto Nove's Bronx location is celebrated as a little gem, where the pizza transcends traditional expectations.

Unique combinations, such as sweet potato puree with mushrooms and truffles, alongside classics like the four-cheese pizza, showcase the kitchen's creativity and dedication to quality. 

The Cacio e Pepe with artichoke is another dish that earns high praise for its divine simplicity and flavorful execution.

Ambiance and Service

Beyond the food, Zero Otto Nove charms its guests with a warm and inviting atmosphere, reminiscent of a traditional Italian trattoria.

The staff across all locations are known for their sweetness and attentiveness, enhancing the dining experience with genuine hospitality.

Whether visiting when the restaurant is bustling or enjoying a quiet meal in a more serene setting, the service remains impeccable.

Price Point and Recommendations

With a price range of $30 to $50 per person, Zero Otto Nove offers a dining experience that is accessible yet feels indulgent, reflecting the quality and care put into each dish.

It comes highly recommended for those seeking an authentic Italian meal, whether it's for a casual dinner or a special occasion.

  • Website: Zero Otto Nove
  • Address: 55 Old Rite Armonk NY 10504; 16 Depot Square, Tuckahoe NY 10707; 15 W 21st St. NY 10010; 2357 Arthur Ave, the Bronx NY 10458

15. Absolute Bagels

Absolute Bagels

Photo credit: NYC Tourism

Absolute Bagels, located at 2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, is a testament to the classic New York bagel experience.

Known for its no-frills atmosphere, this bagel shop may not win points for decor, but it certainly captures the hearts of bagel aficionados with its authentic, high-quality offerings. 

Despite its unassuming appearance, the charm and draw of Absolute Bagels lie in the craftsmanship and taste of its bagels, making it a beloved destination for both locals and visitors.

The Queue and Atmosphere

Visitors to Absolute Bagels should be prepared for a straightforward, no-nonsense experience. The shop's exterior and interior might leave something to be desired, with comments about it being "run down" and less than "presentable."

However, the consistent line out the door speaks volumes about the quality of bagels awaiting inside. The queue moves quickly, a testament to the efficiency of the staff and the high demand for these bagels.

Service and Recommendations

The service at Absolute Bagels is noted for being friendly and welcoming, adding a positive note to the visit.

The shop operates on a cash-only basis, and while there are no tables for dining in, patrons can enjoy their bagels outside, embracing the hustle and bustle of Broadway.

For those looking to try the Nova (smoked salmon) with garlic and chive cream cheese, it's worth noting that while delicious, it may come at a higher cost.

16. The Modern

the modern

Photo credit: IG@The Modern

The Modern, located at 9 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, stands as a testament to the pinnacle of dining excellence in Manhattan.

Offering a two-star Michelin experience that transcends the typical standards of even its three-star counterparts in the city, The Modern delivers an unforgettable journey through taste, service, and atmosphere.

A Michelin Experience Redefined

Patrons of The Modern describe their dining experience as exceptional, noting it as a true embodiment of what a two-star Michelin rating should represent.

Unlike some establishments that may lean on celebrity status, The Modern earns its accolades through sheer quality and innovation.

The restaurant presents an adventure for the senses, with culinary twists that surprise and delight—such as the unconventional timing of serving bread after the third course, enhancing the dining narrative.

Service Excellence

The service at The Modern is unparalleled, with guests highlighting the exceptional attention to detail. The diverse team of servers contributes to a rich dining experience, reflective of New York City's vibrant culture, all while ensuring the prominence of the head server remains intact.

This meticulous orchestration of service complements the flawless execution of dishes, creating a seamless and engaging dining environment.

Culinary Masterpieces

The chef's tasting menu, paired with exquisite wine selections, is a highlight for many guests. Although the price point is acknowledged as high, the consensus is that the experience justifies the expense.

The Modern's menu is a celebration of both innovation and tradition, with each dish crafted to perfection and presented as a piece of art.

The culinary offerings are a testament to the kitchen's commitment to excellence, with each course building on the last to create a symphony of flavors.

Atmosphere and Aesthetics

The Modern's ambiance strikes a delicate balance between serenity and sensory richness, providing a backdrop that elevates the dining experience to new heights.

The thoughtful design and layout of the restaurant complement the impeccable service and culinary artistry, making every visit memorable.

  • Website: The Modern
  • Address: 9 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

17. Kochi


Photo credit: IG@Kochi

Kochi, nestled at 652 10th Avenue, New York, NY, is not just a restaurant but a culinary revelation that has captured the hearts of food enthusiasts.

Garnering acclaim for its distinctive approach to dining, Kochi offers an unforgettable experience that goes beyond the ordinary expectations of a Michelin-starred establishment.

With its focus on a tasting menu that mesmerizes with every course, Kochi stands out as a beacon of innovation in New York City's vibrant food scene.

A Tasting Menu That Captivates

Kochi's tasting menu is a testament to culinary excellence, designed to take diners on a gastronomic journey through perfect portions and an array of flavors.

The menu's exceptional quality and the thoughtfulness behind each dish suggest that Kochi is well-deserving of a second Michelin star.

Patrons leave satisfied, not just by the exquisite food but by the warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes even the coldest New York winter feel inviting.

Reasonably Priced for the Quality

With a price point of $100+ per person, Kochi positions itself as a reasonably priced option within the realm of high-end dining experiences, especially considering the quality and variety of its 8-course tasting menu.

The balance of flavors, textures, and ingredients speaks to a carefully curated menu that aims to surprise and delight from the first bite to the last.

  • Website: Kochi
  • Address: 652 10th Avenue, New York NY

18. Upland


Photo credit: IG@twohungrygurls

Upland, located at 345 Park Avenue South, New York, NY, stands out as a beacon of culinary excellence, offering a dining experience that is as warm as it is inviting.

With its attentive staff, cozy ambiance, and a menu that tantalizes the taste buds, Upland has become a cherished destination for both locals and visitors alike.

A Warm Welcome on a Chilly Day

From the moment you step into Upland, the warmth of the restaurant offers a pleasant respite from the brisk New York chill. The ambiance is immediately inviting, creating an atmosphere where diners feel welcomed and valued.

The staff, from servers to bussers, are consistently on their game, ensuring that every aspect of the dining experience meets the highest standards of hospitality and care.

Culinary Delights That Impress

Upland's menu is a treasure trove of enticing options, making the choice of what to order a delightful challenge. A recent lunch experience highlights the vodka pizza and the lobster cavatelli as standout dishes.

These selections not only provide the perfect portion for sharing but also showcase the kitchen's ability to deliver flavors that are both intricate and satisfying.

The vodka pizza, a nod to a beloved NYC staple, and the lobster cavatelli, with its rich and savory notes, are testaments to Upland's commitment to culinary excellence.

  • Website: Upland
  • Address: 345 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010

19. Jing Fong

Jing Fong

Photo credit: IG@JingFongNY

Jing Fong, with its locations at 380 Amsterdam Avenue and 202 Centre Street, NY, stands as a beacon for those in pursuit of authentic dim sum in the heart of New York.

Despite the Chinatown location's closure, Jing Fong continues to serve its loyal clientele with a blend of traditional flavors and friendly service, now also on the Upper West Side.

Satisfying Cravings with Authentic Flavors

Patrons come to Jing Fong with high expectations for dim sum and leave thoroughly satisfied. The siu mai dumplings are a highlight, known for their flavorful filling and perfectly steamed wrappers.

The chicken pan-fried noodles, with their generous serving of veggies and intriguingly crispy texture, are another must-try dish.

For a refreshing complement to the meal, the lychee soda is a popular choice, offering a sweet, aromatic reprieve, especially on warm, sunny days.

Quick Service and a Cozy Atmosphere

Jing Fong is praised for its quick service, ensuring that diners can enjoy their meal hot and fresh. The ambiance, particularly at the Amsterdam Avenue location, is welcoming, with a very friendly team of servers who are eager to make your dining experience memorable.

For those who appreciate dining al fresco, the Upper West Side location boasts a large, pleasant outdoor space that enhances the experience with its relaxed setting.

A Nostalgic Nod to Chinatown

Long-time patrons who remember the original Chinatown location will find the same tasty offerings that made Jing Fong a beloved destination.

The transition to the Upper West Side has been seamless, with the kitchen continuing to dish out dim sum that rivals the flavors and quality of its downtown predecessor.

  • Website: Jing Fong
  • Address: 380 Amsterdam Avenue, NY 10024; 202 Centre Street, NY 10013

20. Superiority Burger

Superiority Burger

Photo credit: IG@Superiority Burger

Superiority Burger, located at 119 Avenue A, NY 10009, has made a name for itself in New York's vibrant food scene, known for its innovative approach to vegetarian and vegan cuisine.

While it has evolved from its original "vegan hole in the wall" to a more established vegetarian sit-down spot, the restaurant continues to stir mixed feelings among its patrons, with its highs and lows reflected in their experiences.

A Mixed Bag of Culinary Experiences

The collard focaccia sandwich and a variety of sides come highly recommended by visitors, showcasing the kitchen's ability to turn simple ingredients into delightful dishes.

The eponymous Superiority Burger, however, receives a lukewarm reception, described by some as good but not extraordinary, with comparisons to lentil paste by others.

This contrast in the quality of main dishes highlights the hit-or-miss nature of the menu.

Sweet Spots in the Dessert Menu

Where Superiority Burger seems to consistently shine is in its dessert offerings. The date shake, noted for its sweet yet slightly salty flavor, and the cardamom ice cream are standout choices for those with a sweet tooth.

However, opinions diverge with the special desserts like the “ice cram” pistachio cake, which was reported as inedible by one patron, while the banana cake, though not cake-like, was found to be tasty.

Service and Atmosphere

The service at Superiority Burger is generally described as adequate, with no significant complaints from diners.

The transition from a small, casual spot to a more established restaurant seems to have maintained a balance between informal dining and attentive service.

Summary - Best Restaurants In New York For First Time Visitors

Dining in New York city is a delightful mosaic of tastes, customs and creativity. Finding the best restaurants in New York is part of the first-time visitor exploration. 

Whether you prefer eating in a top-notch fine dining restaurant or to taste the sweetness of some little hidden local place, it will surely be an experience to remember.

By fully embracing the vibrant food customs in New York, you will make life-long memories and enjoy what it means to be part of a city that never sleeps.

Hermillis H.
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