Gaby’s Guide to NYC

 

Before we jump right into my favorite things to do in NYC I must start by saying I’m a California girl through and through, but I LOVE a week in NYC. The energy, the food, the hotels, it’s the best! Pre-pandemic I was there once a quarter or so for work and I soaked up every single minute of it. After dozens of trips and copious amounts of research, here are my all time favorite places to eat / drink / stay!

Browse by Area:

Downtown

COFFEE:

  • The Elk – A cute neighborhood coffee shop. They’ve got the best matcha and coffee as well as breakfast and lunch. | Neighborhood: West Village
  • Happy Bones – COFFEE! One of my favorite places to re-fuel in between meetings! | Neighborhood: SoHo

BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

Sadelle’s
Clinton St. Bakery
  • Sadelles – If you’re looking for things to do in NYC on the weekend, Sadelles is the ultimate spot for brunch or a bagel to-go. | Neighborhood: SoHo
  • Lafayette – A power breakfast spot with incredible pastries!! | Neighborhood: NoHo
  • La Mercerie – The most fabulous French restaurant. Feels like a slice of Paris in the middle of SoHo. | Neighborhood: SoHo

LUNCH:

Ruby’s Cafe
Banter

DINNER:

Italian

Via Carota
  • Via Carota – One of my favorite meals in recent history! Honest to goodness incredible food with a neighborhood vibe! | Neighborhood: West Village
  • Morandi – More Italian. Because I’ll take it where I can get it until I devise a plan to move to Italy. | Neighborhood: West Village
  • Don AngieMore Italian food that is beyond dreamy! Coming here for dinner is one of my favorite things to do in NYC. | Neighborhood: West Village
  • I Sodi – One of those places that takes me back to Tuscany. | Neighborhood: West Village

Pizza

Joe’s Pizza

Burgers + Steakhouses

Fairfax
  • Fairfax – A cozy neighborhood spot with the most incredible burger and tater tots! | Neighborhood: West Village
  • Emily – Everyone will tell you to go for the pizza, but the burger is LEGIT!!! | Neighborhood: West Village

Mediterranean + Israeli

12 Chairs
  • 12 Chairs – One of the most incredible restaurants in NYC. It’s a no fuss type of place, with amazing food, and a cozy atmosphere. You’ll want to order everything on the menu (the areyas are a must if you like lamb.) | Neighborhood: Soho
  • Balaboosta – The most amazing pita and hummus! Their octopus is also phenomenal. | Neighborhood: West Village

Sushi

Blue Ribbon Sushi
  • Blue Ribbon Sushi – Incredible sashimi and sushi and the cedar booths are so cozy. | Neighborhood: Soho

French

St Tropez Wine Bar
  • Buvette – Love everything about this place including the fact that it’s open late and it’s a great place to grab a night cap and a small bite or two or three 🙂 | Neighborhood: West Village
  • Pastis – Go for the french fries but stay for everything else. Their Croque Madame is other worldly! | Neighborhood: Chelsea
  • Dirty French – Such a fun night out! Drinks / food / service the whole nine yards. It’s loud though, so maybe don’t bring your grandparents. | Neighborhood: Lower East Side
  • Frenchette – I mean, if you want a glass of french wine and some french food… this is it!! | Neighborhood: Tribeca
  • Raouls – Bistro life at it’s best! | Neighborhood: SoHo

Seafood

The Mermaid Inn

Mexican

  • ABC Cocina – One of my favorite places of all times. Sophisticated Mexican food – into it!! | Neighborhood: Flatiron

Californian + Modern American

American Bar
  • American Bar – Everything about this restaurant is fantastic, from the food to the ambiance. You can’t go wrong here. | Neighborhood: West Village
  • Barbuto – I’ll never tell you to order chicken at a restaurant (it’s easy enough to make it at home) but THIS place is the exception! And the sangria. EVERYTHING. (It’s closing shortly – so go if you have time! And I’m leaving it on here in hopes that they re-open in a new space ASAP) | Neighborhood: West Village
  • Family Meal by Blue Hill – One of the most special places in the entire city! Catherine introduced me to it years ago and it’s still at the top of my list for most incredible meals of all times. | Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
  • Upland – Great for a fun night on the town. The dinner is phenomenal! | Neighborhood: Gramercy
  • Estela – All about the small plate situation and ordering everything on the menu with a handful of friends! | Neighborhood: Nolita

Thai + Laotian

Wayla
  • Thai Diner – Best Thai food in all the land. Go V early though and put your name down for a table then waltz around Nolita and Soho till your table is ready. | Neighborhood: Nolita
  • Khe-Yo – This Southeast Asian inspired restaurant with Laotian roots CANNOT be missed! | Neighborhood: Tribeca

DRINKS + DESSERTS:

Dominique Ansel Bakery
Morgenstern’s
  • Dominique Ansel Bakery – ONLY worth going if there is no line… but get the chocolate chip cookie. It’s truly one of the best I’ve ever had. | Neighborhood: SoHo
  • Bar Pisellino – A classic Italian bar which serves espresso and aperitivi alongside a few light appetizers and desserts. Grab an apertivo and enjoy it outside at a cute table on the sidewalk. This bar is truly fabulous. | Neighborhood: West Village

STAY:

  • Four Seasons Downtown NYC – Best hotel ever. And the room service menu is to die for. And that’s saying a lot because who really does room service well? The Four Seasons Downtown NYC… that’s who! | Neighborhood: Tribeca

Midtown

  • Danji – Really incredible Korean rice bowls right in the middle of mid-town! Perf for a quick lunch! | Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen – That’s all I’ve got for you for Midtown. I know, it’s not a comprehensive list. But let’s be honest – midtown isn’t a hot spot when it comes to food.

Uptown

COFFEE:

Ralphs Iced Latte
Ralph’s Coffee
  • Black Press Coffee – A locals spot with some of the best coffee and matcha on a cute block in the UWS. One of the fun things to do in NYC is going on a walk through Central Park and this coffee shop is only a block away. | Neighborhood: Upper West Side
  • Plant Shed – A relaxing cafe and floral/plant shop hybrid. Try their Freddo cappuccino, a traditional greek frothed espresso over ice topped with cold frothed milk and sweetened with brown sugar. | Neighborhood: Upper West Side
  • 787 Coffee – A cozy Puerto Rican farm to cup coffee shop that grows, processes, and roasts their own coffee. | Neighborhood: Upper East Side

BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

Orwashers
Orwashers
  • Maman – A beautiful French cafe serving incredible pastries, coffee, breakfast and lunch. They’re famous for their nutty chocolate chip cookies. Thinking about adding the search for the best chocolate chip cookie in the city to my list of things to do in NYC. | Neighborhood: Upper West Side & Upper East Side
Maman
Maman

LUNCH:

Hutch + Waldo
Hutch + Waldo
  • Hutch + Waldo – A healthy Australian cafe that serves breakfast and lunch. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. | Neighborhood: Upper East Side

DINNER:

The Mermaid Inn
Felice

Italian

  • Parm – Chicken parmesan, meatballs, and vodka pasta… what more could you want?! | Neighborhood: Upper West Side
  • Uva – A delicious Italian restaurant! Ask to sit in the back garden, it’s so cozy. | Neighborhood: Upper East Side

French

Burgers

  • Penrose – Come here for an old fashioned cocktail or a glass of beer and grab a burger. It’s also worth noting the seasonal salad is always amazing. | Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Pizza

  • Emmy Squared Pizza – Part of the Pizza Loves Emily family of restaurants so you know it’s going to be incredible. They serve Detroit style pizza and the famous Emily burger. Which means you can still try the Emily burger even if you can’t make it downtown. | Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Mexican

  • Tacombi – Come for ALLLL the tacos. Their homemade tortillas are some of the best. | Neighborhood: Upper West Side

Thai

Sushi

Seafood

Tapas

American

  • Jacob’s Pickles – Southern comfort food. Think biscuits, fried chicken, mac and cheese, ribs, you name it! Also the mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy are to die for. | Neighborhood: Upper West Side
  • The Milling Room – The menu is focused on seasonal, locally sourced, ingredients. The dining room is also beautiful and has a giant domes glass ceiling. | Neighborhood: Upper West Side
  • ASSET – Located in a modern urban space this New American restaurant has a Mediterranean inspired menu that’s truly next level!. It’s also a wonderful spot for a work dinner. | Neighborhood: Upper West Side

International

  • The Consulate – The rotating monthly menu highlights different cuisines from around the globe, and the atmosphere is just as wonderful as the menu. On days when the weather is nice they open all of the folding doors and it’s so airy. | Neighborhood: Upper West Side

DRINKS + DESSERTS:

Anita Gelato

STAY:

Brooklyn

COFFEE:

  • Butler – They’ve got amazing coffee, baked goods, breakfast, lunch and everything in between. | Neighborhood: Dumbo
  • Neighbors – Located in the lobby of the 1 Hotel this coffee shop is absolutely beautiful. They also serve light bites for breakfast and lunch. | Neighborhood: Dumbo

BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:

LUNCH:

  • Hometown BBQ – Brooklyn style barbecue smoked on wood to perfection, plus all the classic sides like mac and cheese, coleslaw, cornbread, potato salad, and pickles. The line gets pretty long so come early. | Neighborhood: Red Hook & Industry City
  • 12 Chairs – One of the most incredible restaurants in NYC. It’s a no fuss type of place, with amazing food, and a cozy atmosphere. You’ll want to order everything on the menu (the areyas are a must if you like lamb.) | Neighborhood: South Williamsburg

DINNER:

  • Lilia  The Italian food of my dreams. Aperol Spritz and all the pasta. You can’t go wrong with any orders here. It’s the definition of perfection. | Neighborhood: Williamsburg
Lilia
Lilia
  • Misi – Lilia’s sister restaurant, and it’s equally as amazing! Their menu focuses on handmade pasta and vegetable antipasti. You must order the whipped ricotta toast, it is everything! If you can snag a reservation, this is definitely one of things to do in NYC. | Neighborhood: South Williamsburg
Misi
Misi
  • Sobre Masa – Tacos made from what’s truly the homemade tortillas of your dreams! Sobre Masa is also a mission driven restaurant focused on the social and economic impact of corn, partnering with non-profits to ensure a better life for the farmers that dedicate their lives to growing it. | Neighborhood: Bushwick
  • Insa – Korean fried chicken and karaoke what more could you ask for. | Neighborhood: Park Slope

DRINKS + DESSERTS:

  • The Four Horsemen – Part wine bar part restaurant. Grab a glass or two from their selection of natural wine and a few plates of food. | Neighborhood: Williamsburg

STAY:

And that’s a wrap on my favorite things to do in NYC! If you’re looking for more city guides check these out:

Did I miss anything? Shout it out in the comments below so I can go give it a try!! There are too many restaurants and not enough days in the week to try them all. But I’m willing to give it a try!

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42 comments

  1. Jill

    I just mapped out my NYC trip this morning………………back to the drawing board! (In a GOOD way!). Thank You!!!!!

  2. Kitty

    Lower East Side is a blast and so many food options. Agree with many of your choices, others I haven’t tried, but will on future visits. For the best pizza, you left out Speedy Romeos. You will never be disappointed.

  3. Lisa

    Contra, Wildair, Sadelles (amazing bagels and lox too), Maison Premiere and Sauvage in Brooklyn if you want to head out there. Il Buco Alimentari, Le Coucou, Ladybird, Dirt Candy, Loring Place, Sant Ambroeus.

    One I wouldn’t miss is Superiority Burger. Little hole in the wall that is to die for! I would skip Blue Hill unless you can get to Blue Hill at Stone Barns near Tarrytown, NY. The NYC location is overrated in my opinion.

  4. Irene

    Sarabeth’s !- Tribeca or Chelsea Market locations. Her pastries, need I say more? And it’s not just pastries.. all of it is fantastic!

  5. Barbara

    Hi Gaby, Funny you mentioned the Four Seadons Hotel room service …my son Drew met his wife Rosemary while working the room service night shift at the Four Seasons Hotel. They are both Culinary of America graduates and they were working as chefs at the Four Seasons. That was many years ago…..they now own their own catering business in New Jersey…..The Fruited Plain….going on 11-12 years, I think. They have some good stories to tell about some celebrities who used to stay there and would order room service….and the interesting food requests they would have.. Your New York trip sounds fun! Lucky you!

  6. Melissa B

    I LOVE NYC!!My husband and i take semi regular trips, one place i recommend hugely is Morimoto right beside Chelsea Market, it was TO DIE FOR!! Also, Quality Meats (between 58th and 6th) is an amazing steak house.

    We have always stayed uptown Manhattan, maybe next time we will have to give downtown a try!

  7. Amanda

    Balthazar is EVERYTHING. Saturday or Sunday brunch at the bar will make your day!

  8. dana

    Any Vegan places you love? I have a SIL who is Vegan and headed to NYC soon!

    • Lisa

      Dirt Candy, Avant Garden, ABCV, Superiority Burger ( not a burger joint, Monday’s for tofu fried tofu sandwiches)

  9. Shayna

    Williamsburg- Leuca (get pasta or pizza or both), St. Anselm (everything cooked on a grill in an open kitchen, best steak ever and the most unpretentious steakhouse ever), Marlow + Sons (get the brick chicken! Only item that stays on the menu in spite of them changing the menu daily)

    Lower East – Upstate (best oysters I’ve had in NY, also known for the fettuccine with clams)

    Upper East – Flora Bar (downstairs from the Met Breuer, beautiful space and delicate food)

  10. T.

    If you loved Lilia, you will LOVE Llama Inn, Also in Williamsburg and a few blocks down. Similar vibe, amazing cocktails and the yummiest Peruvian food with a twist…

  11. Kendall

    Marc Forgione – Hands down my favorite restaurant in NYC. The experience, the food, the atmosphere…try to get a table outside. You won’t be disappointed. Get the lobster Texas toast, kampachi, and halibut.

    Tetsu – another TriBeCa spot. Incredible. Get the kale salad and ribs.

    Maman – TriBeCa, delicious coffee/cookies, avocado toast and beautiful atmosphere

    Enjoy!!!

  12. Rhonda

    So cool that you recommended Khe-yo. My son-in-law’s restaurant!! I agree that it can’t be missed !!

  13. Gabi Tidhar

    12 Chairs in Williamsburg, you won’t be disappointed!

  14. Hartanov Happy Hour – The food we make for the people we love

    […] leaving and found helpful information from three main sources: Bon Appetit,Smitten Kitchen, and What’s Gaby Cooking. This list below is by no means the best of NYC but rather the itinerary of places we visited with […]

  15. Mimi Alperovich

    Gaby! Is there a hotel you recommend or did I miss this somewhere?

    • Gaby

      omg there are so many!! Four Seasons downtown, The James, Beekman, Gramercy Park are my favs!

  16. Teri

    Where are the places to stay reccomedations?
    Going to NYC for a girls long weekend beginning of November. Can’t wait to try some of your food recs.

    • Gaby

      I love the Edition (not the times square location, Four Seasons and The James!

  17. Jennifer G

    SO happy that you’ve done the legwork for me. If Gaby likes it, it has to be good. Bookmarked for our trip in January.

  18. Beth Good

    Great List! Only addition: Late Night Burger / Bar, cash only: JG Melons, UES

  19. Kathystoob26

    No trip is complete without a stop on the South west corner of 82nd & Madison (1 block east of Metropolitan Museum of Art) for the best Greek diner style food at Nectar Restaurant (my mouth just started watering thinking about their food!!) As a former NYC resident, dining at Nectar feels like at warm hug or being home!!

  20. Nigel

    This is timely , i am heading to NYC for the Easter weekend so will definitely be looking again at your recommendations, like you i enjoy NYC ,have not been since pandemic .
    Thank you

  21. Sue

    Best black and white cookie! William Greenberg Upper East Side A black and white cookie makes the trip to NYC complete!,

  22. Connie J

    Did you actually stop in to each of the restaurants listed? Did you eat too? Did you share? Did you walk and walk and run and run and jog and jog – how did you maintain your weight if you did stop at all of these places? How long were you in NY?

  23. Sheryl Daut

    Informative list, Thank you! A question about Penrose. What is a bear Beer?

  24. Kalee

    Love this list!! Thank you! I would add Celestine in Brooklyn. So delicious and breathtaking views of Manhattan!

  25. Lauren

    Not a restaurant or cafe – but JoMart Chocolates is the best chocolate – they make everything on site – marshmallow, caramel, butter crunch, marzipan, bonbons! They are the oldest chocolate factory in Brooklyn!