Milos (I’ve always known it as Estiatorio Milos) in midtown is my favorite Greek restaurant. I’ve loved Greek food ever since we honeymooned in Greece in 2006! It’s difficult to compare to restaurants in Greece, but Milos does…it’s that good! The restaurant is also stunning. All of this comes at a price, BUT you can always go for lunch and order off of the $32.00 three-course prix fixe menu. It might just be the best deal in town!
I’ve never trusted a person who doesn’t eat pasta. My love for Italian food knows no boundaries, except for cannolis and tiramisu, which I don’t really care for. For Italian cuisine, I really couldn’t limit my favorites to one. So I’m giving you three.
Marea is everything wonderful that you could imagine. Why? Because they serve two of my favorite things—pasta and crudo—and they do it like no other. But that’s not all. Want oysters on the half shell? Check. Caviar? They have that, too. And all of the cooked fish and pasta you could want but never knew you needed. They offer a four-course prix-fixe menu that is a bit steep, but a la carte is also an option.
Emilio’s Ballato on Houston Street doesn’t even have a website. They don’t need one. They also don’t take reservations, unless your name is Alec Baldwin, who we saw the last time we dined there. But they take walk-ins, and as luck would have it, we went on a very cold night around 9 pm and didn’t wait at all. They serve all of the classics like spaghetti and meatballs, which are the best you’ll ever have and smell sooooo good. But they also have nightly specials, and I recommend trying those, as well. It’s worth the wait if there is one.
If restaurants gave out frequent flyer miles, I’d have a ton at Lupa Osteria Romana. When we lived downtown, I think we ate there at least twice a month. Owned by Joe Bastianich (started as a partnership with Mario Batali, who is no longer involved), it’s the best Roman cuisine at a reasonable price. They also have daily specials, and you’re a fool if you don’t order one or two because they are masters at preparing seasonal ingredients.
Strip House Downtown is the place to go for steak. For this restaurant, I think location matters a lot. Downtown’s red and dim interior gives it a sexy vibe to go along with the delicious food. The midtown location is too corporate. Fabulous steaks, an outstanding wine list, and raw oysters are a few of the reasons it’s been on my tops list for years.
There is no shortage of fabulous sushi restaurants in NYC. Thankfully. Because if it wasn’t for the fear of mercury poisoning (and my budget), I think I’d eat sushi every day. Right next to Lupa on Thompson Street in the West Village is Tomoe Sushi. You’ll know it when you see the line down the sidewalk because they don’t take reservations. Besides Lupa, I think I’ve been to this restaurant the most out of any in NYC. You go to Tomoe for the fish, not for the ambiance or decor. It’s nothing fancy. But I promise you will not be disappointed with the sushi. They only accept cash and American Express. And it'’s difficult for them to accommodate parties larger than five.
Also in the West Village is Neta. I’m usually a gal who likes her sushi simple. But Neta dresses up raw fish better than anyone. The best part is that every server we’ve had has been spot on for recommendations. So if you’re not sure what to order, fingers crossed you get someone just as knowledgeable. But to be safe, sit at the sushi bar. Those guys know what’s up.
When I worked in the food industry, the account rep at the agency we hired was a huge foodie. He introduced me to Jewel Bako, and I’ve never looked back. While it’s a hike from our present home on the Upper West Side, it’s worth the trip to the East Village. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s a sexy setting and the sushi doesn’t get much better. As with Neta, it’s wonderful if you can snag a seat at the sushi bar.
I don't know if it’s just me, but I’ve never found great French food that comes cheaply. So when I want good French food, I usually reserve it for a special occasion. Hands down, Daniel is the best I’ve ever had. The entire experience is top notch. The restaurant is gorgeous, the service impeccable (they even give you a little stool on which you rest your handbag), and the food is what I’d request for my last meal on this great Earth. It’s a special occasion type of place (I went for my 40th birthday), but if you’re visiting, I think that’s a special occasion. Go for it! And get all gussied up. It’s not a jeans and t-shirt type of place. But the service is not stuffy.
I went to Gabriel Kreuther to celebrate another birthday. I wanted to kiss Chef Gabriel after my meal. As with Daniel, perfect food, service and ambiance. It’s also right at Bryant Park, so taking a stroll before or after dinner just adds to the experience.
As I was typing this section title, I was about to write “Burger Joints.” That’s kind of funny because a favorite burger joint of mine is called The Burger Joint, and it’s off of the lobby of the Parker Hotel (formerly Le Parker Meridien). You enter through a thick velvet curtain. It’s dark but not depressing. You order at the counter and find a seat while you wait for them to prepare your food. You’re going for burgers, fries and a milkshake. Oh, and onion rings.
We used to go to Corner Bistro in the West Village a lot when we lived a few blocks away, but we haven’t been for years. That said, it used to be a favorite, so if you’re in the ‘hood, I’d say it’s worth a shot.
Anyone who knows NYC might think this is a no-brainer, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t include Gramercy Tavern. I don’t know of any other restaurant that has consistently fired on all cylinders for so many years running. The tavern where you enter is gorgeous…like something out of a fairy tale…perfectly rustic and chic all at the same time. The food is perfection and the service superb without being stuffy. Reservations are hard to come by, but the Tavern is walk-in only, so go early and fall in love.
Tocqueville’s website says it’s French-inspired, but it’s New American in my book. The food is outstanding. Years ago, one of my girlfriend’s boyfriends rented out the private dining room for dinner with her parents. Someone was trying a bit hard, don’tcha think? So I was reluctant to try it, thinking it would be too stiff for me. And while I wouldn’t refer to it as a hip restaurant, it’s lovely and the food is outstanding, and I consistently return, year after year. Not in the private dining room…in the main restaurant. (Insert wink emoji.)