photo by jakub at foodiesfeed
My favorites now share a new tag: commuter-friendly. Restaurants that aren’t terribly difficult to travel to from most locations in Manhattan thanks to their proximity to major subway lines, midtown businesses, and Wall Street clients. Spots that serve up memorable meals, often with newer twists on American cuisine or ethnic options you just can’t find done well in New Jersey. And when you’re done, you can hop in an uber and into the Holland Tunnel in minutes, or find yourself on a quick walk or subway ride to the Path or Penn Station.
My current favorite? American Cut in Tribeca.
American Cut $$ Steakhouse
If you’re entertaining clients, celebrating a special occasion, or just want a fantastic meal, American Cut is the place to go. Yes, it’s a steakhouse, which can get a little overdone. But this one is different, starting with the gorgeous Art Deco decor, the attentive and personal service, and unusual menu items that cover the traditionalist, the adventurist, and the extravagant eater alike. book it on open table
photo by Semenov Ivan via unsplash
Looking for more international fare? A more central location for those commuting north? Here’s my entire list. Many have been Manhattan favorites forever, and some are newer on the scene. All have consistently delivered a dining experience worthy of one of the greatest food cities in the world. So get going. Don’t let New York City dining be that amazing destination that’s right in your backyard, but you never go.
[Price point indicators are as per Zagat or OpenTable standard ratings.]
Thanks to a client base on Wall Street and Gary working in the neighborhood, Tribeca is my home away from home, culinarily speaking. No surprise, the majority of my commuter-friendly recommendations are here.
Khe-Yo $$ Southeast Asian
Span the entire region, with a focus on Laotian cuisine, and enjoy the distinctive spicy heat found in most dishes. The menu is designed for sharing and family style eating. Fun, date night vibe, or bring a group to sample more of the fresh and unique menu items. book it on open table
Distilled NY $$$ Contemporary American
The name says it all — it’s all about the drinks here. Great for your craft beer loving friend or client, or if you want to try some new adult beverage options such as mead (a honey-based wine). The menu is upscale comfort food to help you soak up all the alcohol; bring friends so you can sample the many varied plates. book it on open table
Racines NY $$ French
Known for the wine list, and a solid Parisian bistro menu — no surprise as it’s the American outpost to the Paris restaurant of the same name. Go for the tasting menu to sample the best they have to offer. With a large wine bar area, it is also perfect to meet for a drink or a casual, minimal fuss dinner with clients, colleagues or friends. book it on open table
Bâtard $$$ European
Loyal readers will recognize this one from my date night post. Known for their tasting menus that can be customized to your appetite and laid-back but highly competent service. While not “cheap”, Bâtard combines food, service, and ambience on par with the highest priced spots in the city with a much more reasonable tab. book it on open table
Sushi of Gari Tribeca $$$ Japanese
The place to go for Omakase — the Japanese version of a tasting menu. The word translates to “respectfully leaving another to decide what is best”, and at Sushi of Gari, that is the only way to dine. If you’re not prepared to leave yourself in their capable hands, this place is probably not for you [and not worth the price]. You can get decent rolls in far more accessible places. book it on open table
photo by Kuba Boski via unsplash
Hell’s Kitchen Restaurants
I need to spend more time in this evolving neighborhood, especially as it is convenient to many of my colleagues who park near Port Authority and work in midtown. For now, I have two local favorites.
44 & X $$$ Contemporary American
I like this one for a crowd or a client dinner, as the menu has something for everyone. Good service, good wine list, and an all-around good time. Worth the trip west for a far better pre- or post-theater meal than you’ll find in the theater district. book it on open table
Marseille $$ French
A little on the edge of Hell’s Kitchen, but that makes it convenient for a theater evening. A truly authentic French bistro experience, with casual French food and a slight mediterranean influence. I like it for lunch too, especially the kind that involves a glass of wine. book it on open table
I don’t typically choose SoHo for an after-work gathering, but it’s often a weekend destination for shopping or other city activities.
Lure Fishbar $$$ Seafood
A trendier spot that’s a little past its peak but still good. Excellent sushi for those that want it and plenty of seafood options for those prefer it cooked. Can be a bit noisy, but otherwise good for a client or work gathering as it’s far from romantic, and a nice break from the shopping crowds on the weekend. book it on open table
Grand Bar & Lounge at the Soho Grand Hotel $$$ American
This is more of the bar that happens to serve food variety; it’s all about the cocktail hour here. A good pre-dinner drink meeting spot, or stay for a light meal to complement whatever you’re drinking. We like the Soho Grand Hotel for a quick night away or a place to crash when we have a late night event in Manhattan. book it on open table
SoHo West/Hudson Square Restaurants
Apparently, this is a neighborhood now.
Union Bar & Kitchen $$$ Contemporary American
Classic American food, but with global influences from Japan, Mexico, and France. Perhaps not the top of the list in terms of food, but you can’t beat the neighborhood for those heading in or out via the Holland Tunnel. The menu has something for everyone, and it’s a good spot for a brunch to start a day in the city. book it on open table
photo by Cel Lisboa via unsplash
Another spot I need to spend more time exploring, as it already houses some of my favorite restaurants and most memorable evenings.
Socarrat $$$ Spanish
One of my all-time favorite restaurants in the city, because I. love. paella. This place is named for the best part — the rice that gets crispy and super-flavorful at the bottom of the paella pan. And this place does it just right. It is nearly all communal seating in this location. book it on open table
El Quinto Pino $$ Spanish
My go-to suggestion when I’m asked for a Tapas bar recommendation. It is the most authentic replica I have found of the many, many Tapas bars Gary and I sampled during our three-week Spanish adventure. Cozy and warm, perfect for both a romantic date night or a gathering of friends. book it on open table
OCabanon $$$ French
It sounds like an Irish pub, but it is French. It’s named for the Provence region word (cabanon) for authentic, regional specialities cooked by mothers and grandmothers at home. This one makes the list for proximity to Penn Station, and the food is quite good. I know, not exactly a rave review, but those of us who frequent that neighborhood need a reliable option when time or geography take priority. book it on open table
Meatpacking District Restaurants
I don’t like the Meatpacking District, but sometimes you have to go there. There are a few popular restaurants that don’t make my list because I cannot stand the rude-on-purpose service. Many of the best ones have closed up shop. Here are the two that remain in rotation.
Valbella $$$$ Italian
This is a special occasion treat, both for your wallet and your waistline. The pasta is worth every carb, and the wine list is superb. There are other locations in Manhattan and Connecticut. book it on open table
Cull & Pistol $$ Seafood/Raw Bar
This tucked-away spot in Chelsea Market focuses on delivering fresh seafood, simply prepared and always delicious. Casual and elegant, you’re left to focus on the pleasures of life — like fresh oysters and bubbly champagne. book it on open table
photo by Marie-France Latour via unsplash
Greenwich Village Restaurants
A little harder to navigate to and from, but worth the trip for so many delicious [and often less expensive] restaurants.
Jane $$ American
I’ve been frequenting Jane since my pre-child days. I love it with my best girlfriends for a much-needed evening of good drinks, good food, and good conversation. It’s a sophisticated girls night out kind of place. book it on open table
The Malt House $$ Comfort Food
Another “bar that happens to serve food”, this one is a must-try for the craft beer lover on your list. The menu is designed for beer pairing and focuses on local producers of seasonal fare. A rustic tavern atmosphere with some outdoor seating, it’s a great place for a larger group that doesn’t mind a little noise. book it on open table
The Spotted Pig $$$ British Gastropub
Still going strong as the favorite of many a New Yorker, it is more than just celebrity hype. It is really, really good food. My food-loving sister-at-heart from across the pond, Kerry, an expert in British cuisine, gives it her seal of approval. This place will always have a special spot in my heart, and I look forward to any opportunity to return. website
West Village Restaurants
My fantasy pied-à-terre would be in the West Village. Mostly for the food.
Greenwich Project $$ Contemporary American
A little eclectic, but very approachable; a good way to try out more creative eating in a low-fuss atmosphere. Great for dinner with a friend or colleague, it’s reasonably quiet and easy to have a conversation while enjoying a lovely meal. book it on open table
The Waverly Inn $$$ American
Sometimes described as “clubby” but I don’t personally get that vibe. The historic feel, cozy fireplaces, and charming outdoor space attracts celebrities, maybe they like to dance? I like this one for date night. book it on open table
Boucherie $$$ French
A newer option, the menu is decidedly Parisian bistro with a focus on steaks and cocktails. A transplanted French friend declared it “just like home”. The French cafe feel is romantic enough for date night, but the open, casual environment would work for dinner with friends or clients as well. book it on open table
Vin Sur Vingt $ Wine Bar
I am a big fan of choosing a separate location for a pre-dinner drink. It sets the tone that we will take the time to enjoy our evening; yes, the food, but also the wine, the conversation, and the company. Vin Sir Vingt is the perfect spot to start any evening in this neighborhood; it will transport you straight to France, where every night is date night. website
Do you have a favorite I missed? Help your fellow commuters out with a recommendation in the comments below — I’d love to add it to my list.
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