New York City restaurant guide: Fifteen Favourites

It’s probably impossible to distil all NYC restaurants down to the best 15, but I’m ambitious so I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway.  Besides, it’s my blog so I can take it back if I change my mind.

These restaurants are the top-15 that really impressed me in the 10 months I’ve lived here. They say in New York you needn’t go to any restaurant more than once because of the sheer number of them. That statement is true – the exception being those restaurants that are for whatever reason good enough to frequent (enter my favourite fifteen).

As always click on the map below and check out the full list of my NYC favourites that haven’t quite made the cut but are still definitely worth checking out.


*Tips for using the map: Clicking on the printer icon in Google Maps will bring up a list with images and details that you can print and take with you on your trip. You can also send the link to yourself and use your phone browser to view the map on the go – remember caching the map is the best thing to do to avoid spending a lot of money on data roaming!




My first love in New York is Ippudo. I’ve only ever ordered 2 things on their menu and been there at least 20 times. Those 2 things are so satisfying that all of my friends and I are not tempted to even try anything else (see proof in the picture below)

Best Bit: Starting with a pork bun and ending with Akumaru Modern Ramen with a seasoned soft-boiled egg and braised pork belly. The hot tip – don’t fill yourself up with the sliced pork that comes with the noodles, just eat the good stuff (braised pork belly).

Ipuddo New York


Acme is today’s Indochine – where the fashion crowd converge and eat. Best known for its head chef Mads Refslund, a founding chef from Noma, Copenhagen and its owners who all come from Indochine, Bond St or Boom Boom Room stock.

Best Bit: The vibe. It’s so “downtown New York” in every way making you feel like an extra in a movie about fashion week.

Acme NYC


I realised after eating at Pig and Khao a couple things: Hip Hop and pork ribs go really well together and the Filipinos like pork (as much as I do). When you go, make sure you order 2 things: the special pork ribs (they fall off the bone) and the crispy red curry rice salad (it’s not really a salad but face it, you’re not really there to eat salad, are you?).

Best Bit: In summertime you’ll find me enjoying ribs and hip hop in their outdoor terrace.

Pig and Khao NYC


Zabb Elee scores major points with me because I haven’t eaten such good Thai food since I last visited Sydney. You won’t find the usual Pad Thai here, what you will find is very authentic north-eastern Thai food that you can guarantee is very spicy (so be prepared). I don’t think Thai is NYC’s strongest point so this one is definitely a gem.

Best Bit: They deliver!!!

Zabb Elee NYC


Salume specialises in Milanese Panini and you can tell they pride themselves on it. Every ingredient is so well thought out, sourced, placed in perfect quantity and precision in your bread roll and presented to you in such a way that makes your hand reach for your iPhone to begin instagramming.

Best Bit: Considering the quality of the food, its strangely easy to get a seat at the restaurant.

Salume NYCSalume 


Spoil yourself with a meal at Gramercy Tavern. There are 3 levels of spoiling that can be done here: medium level spoiling where you eat in the tavern, high level spoiling if you eat in the dining room and order from the degustation menu and next level spoiling when you get matching wines. You might be a bit broke afterwards but it’ll be worth it.

Best Bit: The restaurant is proper quality.

Gramercy tavern NYC


A little while ago Mikee and I went to see Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster speak at the New York Public Library (check out the full video here). His passion for integrating his Swedish and African roots with his affection for Harlem and its local community took Red Rooster to the top of our must-try list. One visit on a very significant day (President Obama’s inauguration) for many of Harlem’s dapper locals took Red Rooster to the top of my favourite restaurants list.

Best Bit: Seeing everyone in their Sunday best – I couldn’t take my eyes off almost everyone in the restaurant!

Red Rooster Harlem


Let the skilled sushi chefs of Blue Ribbon amaze you with their creativity and order the omakase menu, which allows the chef to create a gorgeous platter of the best fish for the day.

Best Bit: The moment your eyes light up when the waiter brings this to your table – and the huge sake list.

Blue Ribbon Sushi


Sometimes I just get a hankering for Sydney food and honestly I think the only place you can get close to that outside of Australia is at Betel NYC. Betel serves that very particular brand of modern Southeast Asian food that reminds me of warm nights in the Surry Hills neighbourhood of Sydney drinking cocktails and eating Betel leaves at Longrain. All this reminiscing is probably helped by the fact that head chef Adam Woodfield is ex Longrain.

Best Bit: $50 for a delicious 10 course tasting menu? You do the math.



Writing about Sushi Yasuda again is impossible. As soon as I start to write anything I just get annoyed that I’m not eating there right now. Best sushi I’ve ever eaten.

Best Bit: Omakase, omakase, omakase

Sushi Yasuda


If this place were in Manhattan, you’d never be able to get in. The restaurant mixes American heirloom ingredients with traditional Japanese cooking methods, which results in something that leaves the whole table fighting for who gets the last piece.

Best Bit: The owner’s passion comes through, especially when you get a taste of the Pork Betty and some of those famous sushi bombs.

Momo Sushi Shack


Even in the winter, stepping into Tacombi feels like stepping into the summertime – the vibe here is what makes the restaurant special. Just add white sangria and a group of your friends and you’re in for a fun night.

Best Bit: The corn esquites – grilled corn and deliciousness in a cup – is really a must have at Tacombi.



The Fat Radish serves up farm-to-table British fare with a modern twist. Maybe it’s the food or the beautiful light, bright loft space but there’s definitely something about this restaurant keeps attracting all the pretty young things in NYC.

Best Bit: After tasting The Fat Radish scotch eggs, I’m spoiled for life.

fat radish


Yet another NYC restaurant attracting all the pretty young things, but this time the crowd follows more of a female skew.  Here you can enjoy healthy fare and fresh juices of the green and red variety and leave feeling good about what you just ate.

Best Bit: Lone lunching at the weekend. Grab a book and a stool by the window and enjoy your meal – it’s what everyone else in the restaurant is doing!

The Butcher's Daughter NYC


By far the best Vietnamese food I’ve eaten in NYC. There’s a real attention to detail I don’t normally see in Vietnamese restaurants – they really do all the little things right. Take the Vietnamese sandwich as an example – the roll is toasted to perfection and each ingredient is so perfectly positioned in the roll that every bite gives you that optimum bread to filling ratio.

Best Bit: You can have the Zon sandwich at lunch time and the Grilled pork patty rice plate at dinner time

Banh Mi Zon

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12 Responses to “New York City restaurant guide: Fifteen Favourites”
  1. Thanks for sharing the guide to us. I’m a new yorker but I’m not much acquainted with the restaurants in town. this will eventually help me.

  2. NEEZA ADENAN says:

    I wanna go to ALL these places when I come visit!

    • jennynoowyn says:

      the question is – when are you coming to visit me!!! we have to do an LA guide when I come see you later… start thinking of some restaurants to take me to!!! xx

      • neeza says:

        oh dont u worry, I have an LA list ready for you to try! 🙂 and yes, must get to NYC this year. absolutely! couple more weeks before I shall see you, SOOOO excited!

  3. Tai says:

    Thanks Jenny for the great article from all of us @ Banh Mi Zon

  4. Michelle Dang says:

    We need a Banhmizon in houston!

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  1. […] been about 6 months since our last NYC restaurant round up… in New York time that is worth at least a year’s worth of restaurant research! So, it’s time […]

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