My Favorite Places To Eat In New York City (And The 101 Best Restaurants In America)

I lived in NYC for a couple years out of school while I was working on Wall Street. Needless to say, I took full advantage of the amazing restaurant scene the city has to offer.

This list is by no means even close to comprehensive or complete – but I wanted to share some of my favorite spots – broken out more or less into a few different categories depending on what you are looking for.

This is an intentionally limited list of places to visit – the NYC restaurant scene can be so overwhelming sometimes its better to have fewer choices than too many.

Exceedingly Pricey Or Impossible To Get In Or Both

  • Per Se (very hard to get in)
  • Momofuku Ko (very hard to get in, but not as expensive)
  • Masa (this is one of the top 10 most expensive Sushi restaurants in the world)
  • Le Bernadin

Expensive But Not Crazy Expensive

  • Jean Georges
  • Daniel
  • Del Posto
  • Gramercy Tavern
  • Gotham Bar & Grill
  • Gordon Ramsay at the London
  • Adour Alain Ducasse

Midrange… A Bit More Casual But Still Great

  • Marc Forgione (I love this spot, most recent inductee into Iron Chefdom)
  • Bobo in the West Village (not to be confused with Babbo.. order the duck breast!)
  • Babbo
  • Momofuku Ssam Bar (Pork Buns… Mandatory. But the real deal is Bo Ssam, an entire pork butt. Need a minimum of 6 people and reserve 1 day in advance)
  • Hearth (Marco Canora)
  • WD~50 (crazy weird / molecular gastronomy)
  • The Breslan @ Ace Hotel
  • Minetta Tavern
  • Graffiti
  • Eataly
  • Shake Shack
  • Crif Dog
  • Momofuku Noodle
  • Momofuku Milk Bar (can you tell I’m a huge fan of David Chang? Check out this awesome profile of him)
  • Korilla BBQ (bonus addition… this is technically a Food Truck)

Coffee & Breakfast Spots

  • Stumptown @ the Ace Hotel (Stumptown… my favorite coffee of all time, check out my NYC Coffee Adventures for a few more spots)
  • Café Condesa in West Village (must order – Chorizo Croissant Sandwich)

Unique Bar Scenes

  • Wilfie & Nell
  • PDT aka Please Don’t Tell (need to call at 3pm same day to get reservations – extremely exclusive mixology bar with a secret entrance inside a phone booth)

The 101 Best Restaurants In America

And, as promised, the Daily Mail’s recent list of the 101 Best Restaurants in America. Read the full thing here.

They put together a tremendous resource  for finding the absolute best dining experiences across the United States. Congrats to Nashville locals Catbird Seat for making the list!

  1. The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.
  2. Gramercy Tavern, New York, N.Y.
  3. Le Bernardin, New York, N.Y.
  4. Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York, N.Y.
  5. Eleven Madison Park, New York, N.Y.
  6. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, N.Y.
  7. ABC Kitchen, New York, N.Y.
  8. Babbo, New York, N.Y.
  9. Girl & the Goat, Chicago, Ill.
  10. Cochon, New Orleans, La.
  11. Shake Shack, New York, N.Y.
  12. Jean Georges, New York, N.Y.
  13. Daniel, New York, N.Y.
  14. Alinea, Chicago, Ill.
  15. Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Calif.
  16. Del Posto, New York, N.Y.
  17. Per Se, New York, N.Y.
  18. Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, La.
  19. Zuni Cafe, San Francisco, Calif.
  20. Animal, Los Angeles, Calif.
  21. Gotham Bar & Grill, New York, N.Y.
  22. Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, Calif.
  23. Bouchon Bistro, Yountville, Calif.
  24. Husk, Charleston, S.C.
  25. Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas, Nev.
  26. Franklin BBQ, Austin, Texas
  27. Mission Chinese, San Francisco, Calif.
  28. August, New Orleans, La.
  29. Masa, New York, N.Y.
  30. Bar Tartine, San Francisco, Calif.
  31. Marea, New York, N.Y.
  32. WD-50, New York, N.Y.
  33. Vetri, Philadelphia, Pa.
  34. Beast, Portland, Ore.
  35. The Publican, Chicago, Ill.
  36. Ippudo, New York, N.Y.
  37. Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.
  38. Blackbird, Chicago, Ill.
  39. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, New Haven, Conn.
  40. Galatoire’s, New Orleans, La.
  41. Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, New York, N.Y.
  42. La Taqueria, San Francisco, Calif.
  43. Bazaar, Los Angeles, Calif.
  44. Torrisi Italian Specialties, New York, N.Y.
  45. Guy Savoy, Las Vegas, Nev.
  46. Spiaggia, Chicago, Ill.
  47. Xi’An Famous Foods, Queens, N.Y.
  48. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  49. Spago, Los Angeles, Calif.
  50. Next, Chicago, Ill.
  51. Cut, Los Angeles, Calif.
  52. Coi, San Francisco, Calif
  53. Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  54. Quince, San Francisco, Calif.
  55. FIG, Charleston, S.C.
  56. Michael Mina, San Francisco, Calif.
  57. é by José Andrés, Las Vegas, Nev.
  58. Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, Colo.
  59. NoMad, New York, N.Y.
  60. Bern’s Steak House, Tampa, Fla.
  61. Alan Wong’s, Honolulu, Hawaii
  62. O-Ya, Boston, Mass.
  63. Clio, Boston, Mass.
  64. State Bird Provisions, San Francisco, Calif.
  65. Komi, Washington, D.C.
  66. Craigie on Main, Cambridge, Mass.
  67. TRU, Chicago, Ill.
  68. Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, Miami, Fla.
  69. McCrady’s, Charleston, S.C.
  70. Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami, Fla.
  71. Kreuz Market, Lockhart, Texas
  72. Lucques, Los Angeles, Calif.
  73. Le Pigeon, Portland, Ore.
  74. SriPraPhai, Queens, N.Y.
  75. Hominy Grill, Charleston, S.C.
  76. Zahav, Philadelphia, Pa.
  77. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, Ariz.
  78. Al Di La, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  79. City Grocery, Oxford, Miss.
  80. The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
  81. Fore Street, Portland, Maine
  82. Michael’s Genuine, Miami, Fla.
  83. Jaleo, Las Vegas, Nev.
  84. Al Forno, Providence, R.I.
  85. Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, Las Vegas, Nev.
  86. Dahlia Lounge, Seattle, Wash.
  87. The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
  88. Canlis, Seattle, Wash.
  89. Congress, Austin, Texas
  90. Underbelly, Houston, Texas
  91. Catbird Seat, Nashville, Tenn.
  92. Woodshed Smokehouse, Fort Worth, Texas
  93. Sushi Yasuda, New York, N.Y.
  94. Fearing’s, Dallas, Texas
  95. Minibar, Washington, D.C.
  96. The Four Seasons, New York, N.Y.
  97. Benu, San Francisco, Calif.
  98. Stella!, New Orleans, La.
  99. Providence, Los Angeles, Calif.
  100. Rasika, Washington, D.C.
  101. Lola, Cleveland, Ohio

Lastly, a friend of mine recently started a blog all about New York City – really great read and has a bunch of stuff worth checking out if you are visiting or live in NYC.

Hope you enjoy and as always – stay tuned on Twitter.

Image Credit KayOne73 on Flickr.

 

Coast To Coast Coffee Adventure – Part 2

Hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our Coast To Coast Coffee Adventure – the field recon was a little more sparse from our West Coast division but they did get out in the field and grab some snapshots for us. 

Sight Glass

http://sightglasscoffee.com/

  • Roaster – Yes (On Site)
  • Pourover – Yes

Sight Glass is a roaster tucked away in a quiet corner of San Francisco. The location was a bit odd, no one was around and it was fairly quiet. The interior was stark, cold and clean with very little activity. The staff was a bit disinterested and cold as well. Sight Glass does have a great selection of locally sourced pastries from several local bakers. Here are a few shots of the store.

Four Barrel

http://fourbarrelcoffee.com/

  • Roaster – Yes (On Site)
  • Pourover – Yes
  • Bakery – Local Source

Four Barrel was located in a bustling community in San Fran’s Mission district. It featured a nice selection of outdoor seating as well as a variety of street vendors nearby.  Both the inside and the outside featured some creative engineering and design – including several stuffed boar’s heads on the walls which the owners shared a funny story about with our team.

The vibe in Four Barrel was very energetic, busy and authentic. The staff was friendly, passionate, engaged,  and very willing to share stories with customers. Had a much warmer and more inviting feel than Sight Glass. The in-store roasting operation created a spectacle that people were very interested in seeing.

Four Barrel sells Dynamo Donuts (a well known bakery in San Fran) every morning. They also have no wifi or plugs for electric sockets. Here are a few images of the store.

Key Takeaways

The two strongest players in this market seem to be Stumptown and Four Barrel. They have several similarities. They roast their own beans, retail is displayed over condiment stations, baked goods are sourced from a local supplier, and they both make use of interesting and unique design to create a warm and engaging environment at their store. The biggest difference is Stumptown’s use of the Ace Hotel lobby caters to the laptop crowd, whereas Four Barrel discourages laptop use. Keep in mind that Intelligentsia (Chicago based) is also one of the biggest players in the market but we didn’t get to them on this trip.

Now let’s get to the key takeaways and interesting finds from our coast to coast coffee journey.

  • Great use of in-store posters describing local sourcing (gimme! coffee)
  • Effective small-store footprint for possible future use (Cafe Grumpy)
  • Variety of in-store retail display case options
  • Near the counter or on an adjacent wall
  • Above the condiment station (Four Barrel & Stumptown)
  • Inclusion of chemex, pourover, coffee mugs etc in addition to coffee beans in retail space
  • Most bakery models seem centered around re-selling product from well known local bakeries in a display case
  • Roasting is key – serious contenders in this space all roast their own beans
  • Pourover is also very important – pourover really distinguishes the top tier coffee shops from the more middle of the road players in the market
  • Use of unique decor to create warm and friendly environment (Four Barrel, Stumptown)

Hope you enjoyed – let us know what you think in the comments and on Twitter.

Coast To Coast Coffee Adventure – Where is The Gourmet Coffee Business Heading?

A few weeks ago the Fresh Hospitality team split up and simultaneously journeyed to both the Atlantic and Pacific coast in our quest to learn as much as we could about the gourmet coffee business. We wanted to research the best of the best to learn about the competition for our gourmet coffee concept Octane Coffee.

There are really 2 core things I look for to define what is a “gourmet” coffee business as opposed to a Starbucks or neighborhood shop.

Roasting – to be a real player in the gourmet space you need to be roasting your own beans. Preferably on site. Obviously for some of the NYC shops it’s not viable to be on site in NYC but they do all of their own roasting.

Pourover –Pourover (or chemex) is an essential piece of any gourmet coffee shop.  French press is nice and should also be a staple, but you can’t truly bring out the flavors of the beans without using a pourover. This in my mind is the single biggest differentiator in the space.

We also spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of bakery and pastries were offered. We are still determining the best strategy for Octane’s pastries and wanted to see what the competition was up to.

In store retail displays are also a big thing we looked at – the art of display cases and in store retail is something we want to learn more about.

While Mike and John Michael journeyed to San Francisco to scout Four Barrel and Sight Glass, I ventured to New York City to check out Stumptown, Grumpy, and Gimme. I’m just going to run through each concept and show design, layout, and what we thought.  There are a lot of photos in this report, mostly taken with my grainy iPhone 3, so don’t except miracles with the photo quality.

First up… NYC

gimme! coffee

http://www.gimmecoffee.com/

Checklist

  • Roaster – Yes
  • Pourover – Yes
  • Bakery – Local Source 

I visited the gimme coffee location on Mott Street in New York’s East Village. The store itself was relatively small and standing room only (typical for New York City) and was very busy on Saturday morning.  Gimme is a roaster in addition to being a coffee shop so they also had various bags of coffee for sale.  They served 2 basic coffees from urns and several different pourovers. All of their baked goods were sourced from a local baker named “This Girl Bakes.”

 

gimme! also did a great job explaining how much effort they go to in order to source local fresh coffee beans. Above the condiment station there was a poster telling stories of their visits to South America.

Cafe Grumpy

http://www.cafegrumpy.com/

 Checklist

  • Roaster – Yes
  • Pourover – Yes
  • Bakery – Self / Commissary

I visited two different Cafe Grumpy locations in Manhattan. The first was a standing room only little shop right at the bottom of the Lower East Side. The entire store was staffed with one employee running coffee, pastries, and espresso. This was at roughly 9am on a Friday morning.  The barista said that this location was relatively new and never got super busy. This small setup might be a footprint to think about for a small scale Octane in specific sites or locations (similar to our existing Octane Pocket Bar).

Bakery case / left side of the front counter. Note the iPad POS system running “Square” app as their POS system.  You can also see their “every 10th coffee free” card.

All of Cafe Grumpy’s pastries are commissaried and baked in their bakery location – shipped to the stores each morning.  This location happened to be right next to the bakery itself. The bakery wasn’t open but I did take a photo of their sign.

I also visited Cafe Grumpy’s location in Chelsea. This was a larger footprint with seating room, but still a relatively tight space. The picture is a bit blurry but this is the largest shot I could get of the shop.

The retail space was actually on the very back wall, a bit away from the counter or anything else. It’s behind me in the first picture where you can clearly see I’m several feet back from the counter.

One side note – the Chelsea location had a NO LAPTOPS policy – the manager came over and told me to put my laptop away about 2 minutes after I opened it. Personally huge turnoff for me, I am not sure how well that would work outside of New York City where space is very tight.

Stumptown Coffee

http://www.stumptowncoffee.com/

Checklist

  • Roaster – Yes
  • Pourover – Yes
  • Bakery – Local Source

I went into this trip with very little knowledge of any of the shops I visited and no preconceived notions about which was the best. Stumptown really crushed the competition in my mind. Hands down best place I visited for a variety of reasons. Their coffee was on another level compared to Grumpy and Gimme. It was one of the best cups of coffee I have ever had.

Their location (while rather unique) was unbelievable. The bar itself was standing room only (with a long railing looking out a window on the far wall) but the entire bar is connected to the lobby of the Ace Hotel. Inside the lobby there are dozens of people camped out on tables with power outlets and people relaxing in comfortable chairs. Mixed in with the tourists filtering in and out of the lobby really created a unique atmosphere.

Stumptown’s bakery case was filled with local pastries from several well known bakeries in Manhattan, including Momofuku Milk Bar and the Breslin. The bakery case itself was imbedded in the counter between the two registers.

Stumptown also had one of the most creative uses of their Retail Space – putting it directly above the condiment bar.

What about the West Coast? Check out part 2 of our journey right here.

Hope you enjoyed – let us know what you think in the comments and on Twitter.