New York City
It's always possible to stumble upon an unforgettable meal in New York City -- an oven-fresh slice of perfect pizza, delicious dumplings in Chinatown or a haute-cuisine dinner by candlelight. And dining out here need not break the bank, with restaurants and food stands to suit literally every budget. If you're going to one of the more popular places in town, it's worth calling ahead for a reservation, especially if you're going on a weekend or your party is larger than two. Listings below are just the tip of the iceberg; check out nymag.com/restaurants for more dining news and recommendations.
Looking to treat yourself? Daniel boasts two Michelin stars and features to-die-for French cuisine in an elegant location on the Upper East Side.
Aldea is a Portuguese offering in the Flatiron neighborhood. Main dishes (which change frequently) include options like whole-roasted kohlrabi and the restaurant's signature dish, arroz de pato (rice, duck confit, sausage and olives).
Spice Symphony, located in the Kips Bay neighborhood near Midtown, describes itself as "traditional Indian cooking with a twist and Chinese with an Indian accent." It all adds up to ultra-flavorful (and affordable) takes on dishes like channa masala and lamb rogan josh.
At Casa Lever, you can experience inventive Italian dishes in a futuristic setting in the landmark Lever Building. Traditional caprese salad, lobster linguine and breaded veal Milanese are just a few of the mouth-watering options. Reservations are a must.
Greek lovers will want to book a table at Nerai, which presents dishes like spinach pie and duck moussaka in a beautiful, Greek Isle-inspired setting. Seafood is a specialty; think Cretan spiced scallops and lobster pasta.
Eat your veggies at Candle 79, a self-styled "vegan oasis" on the Upper East Side. Nosh on zucchini enchiladas, a wild mushroom crepe or a Moroccan-spiced chickpea cake. There are numerous gluten-free options on the menu.
The Oyster Bar at Grand Central is the one and only and has been stationed at this location -- on the terminal's lower level -- since 1913. It's famous for its daily selection of oysters, fresh fish and rich pan roasts. Diners have a choice of eating at the oyster bar -- a long, zigzag counter with checkered tablecloths -- to watch the preparation or in the handsome wood-paneled saloon and bar.
Dining out in Harlem -- casual or not-so-casual -- is a no-brainer these days. Consider Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for finger-lickin' ribs, wings and brisket. It's still hard to get a table at Rao's (southern Italian), and Amy Ruth's has what some say is the best Southern cooking north of Virginia.
In warm weather, Gigino at Wagner Park offers terrace dining facing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The view could not be better, and the moderately priced Italian food lives up to the setting. In the off-season, the tiny inside dining room retains a view from behind glass.
The Food Court at Grand Central Terminal opened after the complete restoration of this magnificent 1912 railway terminal. The tile-valuted lower level houses a long line of ethnic food counters -- Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, Italian, Japanese and more. Kosher sandwiches and soups are also available. Patrons sit at tables decorated with railway memorabilia. It gets very busy at lunchtime, but the terminal is a quintessential destination itself.
Say what you will about this beloved 24/7 joint, but some say Gray's Papaya is a rite of passage, even for locals. It serves up the best slim and snappy hot dogs in the city, along with frothy fruit drinks. It's located on the Upper West Side (Broadway and 72nd Street).
There are countless places to get good pizza in New York City. Our favorites include Carve, a great pre-theater option near Times Square; Keste, offering wood-fired Neapolitan pies in the West Village; Rubirosa, with unique options such as pizza with vodka sauce; and John's, which has three locations (including Times Square).