Where to eat in NYC? My top restaurants in New York City

I just returned from New York City and wanted to jot some of my favorites places down since I know it’s been awhile since my last post. New York City is one of my favorite places to find great food! This is the 5th time back and though I love exploring new options, there are places I can’t help but return to. So here’s a list of some of my favorite places to grub at.

Lombardi’s Pizza: On a corner in Little Italy, Lombardi’s is the place to go for a delicious crispy, thin crusted pizza. The menu is not overly complicated which makes the place even more rustic.

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Balthazar: Located in Soho, this French bistro is a bustling hub that offers breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner as well as baked goods. We came here twice, once for brunch on Sunday but were told the wait would be at least an hour and a half. We dropped that idea quickly and decided instead to come back the next day for lunch. This time we reserved our spot on their snazzy website. The table beside us ordered the grand seafood tower. Oh how we wish we would’ve ordered that!

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Cafe Boulud: This 1 Michelin star restaurant is inside the Surrey hotel. We were able to reserve a last minute dinner on a busy Saturday night. The atmosphere is casual but elegant. The menu is refined yet fun and creative ranging from a traditional french flare to world inspired dishes. During the time we went, Korean inspired cuisines were offered. The price is very decent for a Michelin star restaurant since you are able to pick and choose your desired dishes. They also offer breakfast, brunch and prix fixe lunch.

duck canard from cafe boulud

lamb and vegetables from cafe boulud

persimmon foie gras from cafe boulud pear white chocolate mousse ribbon dessert from cafe boulud

Xian’s famous noodles: Seriously the tiniest of noodle shops I’ve been in. Luckily we beat the lunch rush and did not have to wait long. There are about 6 or 7 seats at a bar by the window and it’s first order, first seated. We ordered 3 different bowls of noodle soup and the lamb burger. The noodles seemed hand cut and very long and wide which made it a bit hard to eat. But regardless, the ox-tail was delicious!

spicy oxtail noodles from xsan's famous noodles

Eileen’s Cheesecakes: We ordered about 15 different desserts here! Luckily, my friend is a huge cheesecake lover or we probably would not come close to finishing it.

Taiyaki NYC: This place introduces new concept to the old ice cream cone in NYC. The fish cone is made to order and filled with your choice of filling be it custard, red bean, or none! The soft served ice cream is delicious! My favorite combo is the matcha and black sesame. They also offered seasonal flavors when we were there. Finally, it’s topped off with your favorite toppings. Yum!

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Laduree: One of my favorites places of all time. I was originally introduced to Laduree while in Paris. After many years they opened one in NYC and now there’s also one Miami. Many people come here for the macarons. These are by far the best macarons I’ve tasted but I think my favorite treats are their mini desserts. The ispahan, tarte passion framboise, le savoureux, plaisir sucre, and the millefeuille are among my favorite.

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Spot Dessert Bar: A sweet little spot tucked away in East village. We decided to come back on a Monday night because the line on the weekend were way too long for us.

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Cafe Habana: This may seem weird, but I am the biggest corn nut. I love love corn, especially freshly grilled corn. The corn here is only second to my favorite spot in Hawaii. I love the complex taste of zesty lime, spicy and slightly salty seasonings on top the sweet yet smoky grilled corn. This place actually serves up a lot more than just corn and I’m sure it’s all fantastic but I’ve never left with anything else but a bunch of corn.

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SomTum Der: I had this while in Bangkok this past year and I’m hooked! I was so happy to find out the one in NYC just opened. Though we ordered all the papaya salad, the original is still my favorite. Don’t be fooled, the spicy is VERY spicy. The thai tea here is not the same as the one we had in Bangkok which i preferred, but everything else is on point. The pad kee mao was my friend’s favorite dish. While mine still remains the spicy papaya salad. Did I mention this little place also has a Michelin star?!

spicy papaya salad with shrimp at somtum der

spicy laos style papaya salad with shrimp at somtum der

pork larb at somtum der

The Halal Guys: We stopped by here twice before leaving NYC. Their new locations across the US just isn’t the same. We always get the beef and chicken combo with extra white and hot sauce. A local friend told me the trick to skipping the long lines is to pay them double upfront. Who knows, I’ve always been lucky enough to never be that long of a line!

Blue Ribbon: I’m not sure how we managed to stuff ourselves more, but we stopped by here late night after we had Halal guys around 2am. It’s a cozy place that seemed to be filled with locals. We ordered 4 dozens of Kumamoto oysters, 2 orders of bone marrow, 2 orders of fried chicken, and a dozen shrimps were on the house. They pride themselves in making everything from scratch from the bread to the butter and all the condiments and sauces. We thoroughly enjoyed the bone marrow and would definitely recommend it. The shrimps are jumbo, plump and very sweet. The oysters are also succulent and shucked very well without debris remaining. We ended our meal with the hot molten chocolate cake topped with home made ice cream. It was the perfect ending.

seafood tower of oysters and shrimps

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bone marrow and ox tail from blue ribbon

Ichiran: My ultimate favorite place for ramen! We originally tried this in Tokyo which was only solo seatings and once again ecstatic to find it newly opened in NYC. You can eat in a solo booth here or you can be seated at a table. We wanted all of our friends to try it so we went early Saturday morning to beat the crowds. By the time noon rolls around you’ll be sure to be waiting for at least an hour outside in the line. Don’t be sticker shock, it’s a bit pricy at $18 minimum for a bowl, but the ramen is perfect! My fiancé had 4 bowls! My order is always for firm noodles, rich broth, a whole garlic clove, onions and level 7 spicy(which isn’t the slightest spicy). The only disappointment I had was that there was no egg. Apparently this location has not yet perfected the egg like its counterpart in Japan. We will be sure to come back to try.

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Upstate: We can here for happy hour oysters. Among my favorites are the west coast Shigoku and kumamoto oysters. There’s also a variety of east coast ones. The difference I see between east and west is that east coast oysters are usually larger and taste a bit saltier and briny. The west coast oysters for me have been smaller and slightly sweeter. Happy hour oysters include half a dozen oysters with a beer for $12 or wine for $16. We also ordered beer steamed mussels which were okay but not our favorite. We did however love the clam pasta fettucini.

Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin Oriental: One of my favorite place to enjoy the skyline view indoors. My favorite place to see it outdoors is at the Press Lounge preferably in warmer seasons. The Mandarin offers afternoon tea from 2:30pm to 4:30pm daily. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon date with your girlfriends. The scones, desserts and tea selections are delicious!

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Honorable mentions: Kang Ho Dong in Flushings, Ippudo, Joe’s Shanghai, and Trattoria trecolori, Luke’s Lobster, Amorino

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Happy eating!

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