Food & Drink NYC Guides

Iconic Restaurants

You are in luck – there is no place like New York for food! Literally around the corner, you have the best cuisine from all parts of the world. Many famed chefs, both native and international, have restaurants here and if you are on a budget, you will enjoy the greatest options too! This guide only focuses on restaurants you should not miss in New York. There are other guides available based on origin, neighborhoods and ratings, check them out here.

Whether you are just visiting or live here, the restaurants below are a must try for a great iconic New York experience, enjoy!


Tao Uptown, pictured above, is an iconic New York restaurant turned institution you do not want to miss. The first time I visited Tao was in 2005. I still enjoy going. It’s hard to have a disappointing experience at Tao! With an impressive buddha and decor, it has a lounge club atmosphere with turned up music as the night proceeds. The Pan Asian food is still great, even excelling, like their October Wagyu special. I always order the Peking Duck, Lobster, Wagyu Beef, Uni Sashimi, Hot & Sour Soup – all of which do not fail to impress. Nowadays, there’s also a downtown location with smaller menu. For more information and reservations, check Tao’s website. If you like similar restaurants to Tao, try Buddakan as well as newly opened from London; Zuma New York and Hakkasan


Danny Meyer’s beloved New American Cafe, has reopened in a new location by Union Square in Gramercy Park. He has managed to keep the original Union Square Cafe’s charming vibe, a constant New Yorker’s favorite since 1985! This quintessential New York restaurant, will give you a glimpse into the city’s dining scene, that is both formal and relaxed. Danny also runs another iconic New York restaurant worth visiting – Gramercy Tavern. For more information and reservations, check their websites, Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern. Another iconic New York restaurant recently reopened with a new chef; Gotham Bar & Grill. If you like New American cuisine but on a bit of a budget, try Jonathan Waxman’s Jams close to Central Park (Barbuto has still not reopened). Don’t miss to order his famous Kale Salad! 


New York is after all where the very first NOBU was opened in TriBeCa 1994, by actor Robert De Niro and chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. The amazing Japanese-Peruvian fusion food has turned into an institution and worldwide phenomenon. It’s not only an amazing food journey, it’s a great experience in itself not to be missed. My longstanding favorites on the menu is the Yellowtail Jalapeño, Uni & Toro Sashimi, Oysters, Mushroom Toban Yaki, Lobster/Softshell Crab Tempura with Melon, Umami Sea Bass and the best of all – Japanese Wagyu Tataki style! There are two locations in New York, one uptown and one downtown with smaller menu. For more information and reservations, check their website.

NOBU has turned into an institution and worldwide phenomenon and is not only a amazing food journey, it’s a great experience in itself not to be missed!


Pastis is the iconic Parisian-style bistro of Keith McNally (as well as Balthazar, Augustine, Minetta Tavern and others). Back in the day, Pastis was the place to go, popular with A-listers to locals. It still is. McNally has managed to recreate Pastis one street down from its original corner in Meatpacking. It was my go to back in its heyday and is still a favorite as it reopened in 2019. Some things are even better. Like the food. If I want French style steak frites, onion soup and profiteroles, this is the place I go any day of the week! The bar is the original one and is as wonderful, as cool, as it ever was with great service. Meatpacking is in most cases a tourist packed destination, but Pastis remains that cool place preferred by locals with that very special New York feeling. Pastis is located on 52 Gansevoort St in Meatpacking District. Another iconic McNally restaurant to visit is Balthazar on Spring St in SoHo. A classic French brasserie with beautiful decor, great food and vibe!

Back in the day Pastis was the place to go, popular with A-listers to locals. It still is.


Another New York institution that keeps on giving is Indochine. The French-Vietnamese vibe is both in the food and the decor and has been a go to by Astor Place in NoHo since 1984. From A-listers to locals, Indochine is still as relevant as it ever was and gives you a glimpse into a cool New York restaurant with nightlife feeling. For more information and reservations, check their website.


There has to be one steakhouse! Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak serves some of the best steaks in town and gets listed here for its special vibe. If you are looking for a steakhouse and experience in one, this is the place to go. Popular with everyone, from high powered executives and investment bankers to chess masters and visitors from neighboring Rockefeller Center, this large and loud steakhouse is a power scene in itself with lots of New York Midtown feeling. Del Frisco is located on 6th Avenue at 49th Street. If you like Korean style steakhouses, be sure to try upscale, new and trendy Cote Korean Steakhouse. Another new, trendy and upscale Japanese robatayaki, is chef Masa’s Tetsu in TriBeCa.


There are some noteworthy newcomers that are too new to be iconic but still a special experience. Upscale Mexican inspired Cosme in Flatiron District is one of them. Cosme has great food, elegant vibe with beautiful bar and decor. Another newcomer downtown that has quickly gained popularity, is French bistro Le Coucou. For a popular modern Korean, head to Jungsik in TriBeCa.


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