New York City is home to over 25,000 restaurants, so it goes without saying that deciding where to eat is one of the hardest decisions you'll have to make. Hot dog stands, old-school American diners, quaint health-conscious cafes, famous bakeries, trendy restaurants and some of the top-rated Michelin-starred restaurants on the world culinary circuit all meet here, and they complement each other perfectly. If there’s anywhere in the world that you can indulge in seconds without a hint of guilt, it's got to be NYC. So explore the gastronomical portions on offer bite by bite, starting with these fabulous spots to eat.
Best for... fine food that’s affordable
Foie gras and truffles don’t need to cost the world and nor should ‘a la carte’ be a dirty word (or three). At NoMad, fine food meets modern flair at the hands of the same celebrated duo behind Eleven Madison Park, a critically-acclaimed Michelin three-star rated restaurant. Rooted in the same culinary traditions, the American-European fusion extends from butter-poached lobster with squash and cranberries to slow-roasted cod and a wonderful tortelloni with celery root and black truffle. Located on the ground floor of the NoMad Hotel, the ambiance is perfect too. It’s not your typical white-cloth fine dining experience but a vibrant, character-laden affair beneath an airy, sunlit atrium inspired by the great courtyards of Europe.
Best for... a typical Aussie breakfast
There’s a new breed of Australian cafes cropping up across the city and Bluestone Lane’s Collective Cafe is at the fore, leading the pack with a breakfast menu that goes all day long and spans all the usual suspects you’ve come to know and love. Think avocado smash, toasted banana bread, granola, pumpkin and feta fritters and a healthy dose of baked beans and eggs. There’s even vegemite on toast on the menu! But there’s something else Australians quickly start to miss in NYC and that's seriously good coffee. The Americans just don’t do it the same, but here you’ll find that flat white, latte, cappuccino, mocha, long black, macchiato or iced latte you’re craving. Inspired by the thriving Melbourne coffee culture, where fabulous coffee and good food merge under the one roof, Bluestone Lane is the brainchild of a Melbourne restaurateur so you can trust it’s classic Aussie through and through.
Best for... deliciously sweet treats
Chocoholics, sweet tooths and calorie-counters beware: these are no ordinary bakery goods. The second your eyes land on the quaintly frosted, sugar-dusted and rich sauce-oozing goodies, the sugar might as well already be pumping through your veins because temptation reigns supreme. The proof is in the proverbial pudding: curiously long lines trail out the doors of stores dotted across the city. A chain of bakeries founded in NYC, Magnolia Bakery is an iconic local institution and their decadent range of specialty cupcakes are easily the most famous pick from the cabinet. But just as hard to resist are the cakes, muffins, cookies, brownies, cheesecakes and perfectly constructed pies. From peanut butter and jelly cupcakes to their famous banana pudding with layers of vanilla wafers, fresh bananas and creamy vanilla pudding, prepare yourself.
Best for... nibbles with a view
You don’t have to fork out hefty wads of cash for a bite with a darn good view. Opt for more of a ‘snack’ and fill up on a serious side of skyline at Press Lounge, the 16th floor rooftop bar at boutique hotel Ink48. The house-made hummus, marinated olives, baguettes, delicious cheeses and trusty mixed nuts should tie you over for an hour or two (accompanied by some diluted grapes, perhaps?) while you ogle, ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ at the unobstructed NYC panoramas. The beauty of this Manhattan-edge location is that you won’t have to crane your neck to see it. The lofty heights, shapes and colours of this famous skyline literally roll out before you – not around you – and if you turn around, you can also appreciate the beautiful water views across the flowing Hudson River.
Best for... the ultimate splurge
Why go for one Michelin star when you can have three? Only six NYC restaurants were awarded with the highest star ranking in 2015 and Per Se is one of them. Dining here is like going to the culinary Oscars. The only catch is that, celebrity or not, you will pay top prices for it; this is one of the most expensive eateries in New York. But if your pockets are deep enough or the occasion special enough, Thomas Keller’s classic French technique will quickly wash away any hint of inhibition – as will the 2,000-bottle-strong wine list of old, limited and boutique drops. Indulge in Keller’s signature starter, oysters and pearls, before tucking into the daily tasting menu or the a la carte version, which touts everything from bacon-wrapped jade tiger abalone to charcoal grilled French leeks with bluefoot mushrooms and green almonds. Top it off with the irresistible five-course dessert tasting menu, of course.
Best for... an iconic bite on the run
What started out as a simple hot dog cart in Madison Square Park quickly won over the hearts of New Yorkers and became a permanent fixture on the local foodie scene. With its no-fuss menu of burgers, hot dogs, crinkly fries, shakes and frozen custard, Shake Shack was born. Since then, the burger range has exploded and the art of each flavour perfected. Today there are over 10 locations in NYC alone so there’s no excuse to miss this iconic and reliable favourite even when you’re on the run between tourist attractions. If you can plan it though, don’t miss the chance to dine at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Nestled beneath a leafy canopy of trees lit up by strings of ambient light bulbs, it holds a very special spot in this green oasis encircled by a concrete jungle.
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