The 7 Essential Restaurants in New York City

Organic and Nutritious

It's both the easiest and most hardest question to answer: "Which restaurant should I visit in NYC?"

A few variables to consider are the type of food, pricing point, outdoor eating choices, neighborhood, and occasion.

Fortunately, there are several alternatives in the five boroughs — including Eater New York's list of 38 excellent restaurants to dine at right now, which we update quarterly.

This carefully chosen list now includes street carts, food trucks, and a well-known pizza in New Jersey.

We've also included newly qualified eateries (Eater 38 venues must be open for at least six months before being considered) that attempt to represent the range of NYC's options.

Banh Vietnamese, Blue Willow, Cervo's, Chez Ma Tante, Chuan Tian Xia, Coszcal De Allende, Dhamaka, Ernesto's, Falansai, Hudson Smokehouse, Ras Plant Based, Ruta Oaxaca, and Tong will be added to the list in July 2021.

To make place, Adda, Bo Ky, Court Street Grocers, Crop Circle, Fiaschetteria Pistoia, Hot Happy Hunan, Jeju Noodle Bar, La Morada, Qanoon, Scarr's, Tony and Tiny's Pizzeria, Xi'an Famous Foods, and Yi Ji Shi Mo have been removed off the list for the time being.

1. Africa Kine

Africa Kine has been in operation in New York City since 1996, with founders Kine and Samba Niang, who grew up in Dakar, operating at several locations.

It relocated north a few years ago into a smaller location with a menu that is oddly larger than the original.

Senegalese favorites such thiebu djen (stuffed fish and vegetables over rice), mafe (lamb or chicken in a peanut sauce), and yassa (chicken or fish in a lemon and onion confit), which are mostly available at noon, are included.

Expect shrimp brochettes, roast leg of lamb, grilled lamb chops, and baked fish for supper.

For the time being, the restaurant solely offers takeout and delivery.

2. Hudson Smokehouse

is located at 37 Bruckner Blvd, Bronx, NY 10454 and can be reached at (718) 872-7742.

The South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven has been bursting with eateries recently, with Hudson Smokehouse being one of the most notable.

It's notable not just for the variety of barbecue styles it offers on its fun menu, but also for its commitment to heavily smoking the meat using a lot of wood.

Brisket is an example, but so are spare ribs, chorizo, and pork belly burned ends.

The space also serves as a large beer garden promoting local breweries, with both indoor and outdoor sections.

3. Fieldtrip

109 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10026 (917) 639-3919

Chef JJ Johnson's rice-focused concept has now extended to Long Island Community and Rockefeller Center, but the Harlem original remains a quick casual gift to the city.

A superb brisket bowl with Texas brown rice, cream cheese-laced crab pockets, and a wonderfully hot seafood gumbo that combines scallops and shrimp with Chinese lap cheong sausage — for a smoky-sweet finish — are all on the menu.

For dessert, don't miss the light and delicious vegan hibiscus rice milk soft serve.

4. Bánh Vietnamese Shop House,

942 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10024 (917) 639-3151

Over the last five years or so, the Vietnamese cuisine scene in New York City has evolved dramatically – for the better, no doubt. It's not only about pho and banh mi anymore (though we can never get enough of those staple items). This Upper West Side newcomer is part of a new trend of eateries providing lesser-known (at least to many Americans) delicacies like sticky banh chung chien (fried, crispy rice cakes) and substantial pha lau (an offal stew served with a baguette). There are lots of traditional Vietnamese meals on the menu, including a variety of noodle soups, but the smaller plates are the stars.

5. Sushi Noz 

917-338-1792 181 E 78th St New York, NY 10075

In a city brimming with expensive omakase alternatives, a dinner at Noz is a stunning place to begin.

Chef Nozomu Abe has used his bar as a platform to dismember live king crab, grill eel over eucalyptus, and create delicate slices of nigiri since the restaurant's inception.

Abe has introduced a variety of takeaway and delivery alternatives to Sushi Noz's acclaimed menu in the last year, including a $525 temaki kit and chirashi choices starting at $35 for one plate.

6. Blue Willow 

(212) 213-2299 40 W 56th St New York, NY 10019

Midtown has long been a refuge for ambitious and sometimes costly Chinese restaurants, but few, with the exception of the rare Sichuan establishment, have focused on a regional cuisine other than Cantonese.

Blue Willow, named after a 19th century crockery design with Europeanized Chinese patterns, specializes on Hunan cuisine and its repertoire of sour and spicy tastes, as well as the use of preservation methods such as drying and pickling.

Imagine this a stone's throw from Trump Tower, with an interior adorned with ancient woodwork.

7. Mexican Cuisine Ruta Oaxaca

(929) 349-1228 35-03 Broadway Queens, NY 11106
The 38 Essential Restaurants in New York CityEater NY

The intricate historic moles of Oaxaca have gotten a lot of attention in New York City over the last decade, but they've never seen such a thorough treatment as at Ruta Oaxaca.

The Astorian restaurant, heralded by a hot pink exterior structure, specializes on moles painted in lovely hues of yellow, green, red, and the deepest brown, but it also focuses on mezcal, a beverage often associated with Oaxaca.

The restaurant serves exuberant platings that will transport you to a beach holiday or the Sierra Madre del Sur.

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