New York is a compilation of different neighborhoods that unite to form the most famous city in the world. Each place you go has a specific culture, architecture, crowd, and vibe. Learning how to roam around each neighborhood—and more importantly, where to eat in each one—is essential for understanding the complexity of New York. So let’s get into it with the best Midtown restaurants!
Midtown Manhattan is the most famous neighborhood for visitors to New York City. It goes from 35th Street up to 58th, covering 2nd Avenue to 8th. It is an enormous rectangle of rich culture, art, shops, and many tasty restaurants!
So while you’re visiting Times Square, seeing Rockefeller Center, or roaming down 5th Avenue to do some shopping, look for one of these Midtown restaurants to have lunch or dinner.
The Grill is one of the best restaurants in Midtown Manhattan for fancy, a la carte dining. Here you’ll find martinis and succulent cuts of meat in one of the most classic landmarks in the city: the Four Seasons Hotel.
The menu is eclectic, offering dishes from prime ribs with deviled bones to clams with tabasco and honey mustard duckling. Their eye for detail—whether in the service provided or the midcentury decor—is also worth a mention, with tall cathedral-style windows that illuminate the salon during lunchtime. Although a bit expensive, the food mixes classic flavors with authentic ingredients and presentation.
Empellón is the fancier Midtown version of downtown restaurants Taquería and Al Pastor. Their larger tables, white sculptures decorating the environment, and 8,000-square-foot space reflect its popularity. The tacos are a must-try, filled with pastrami, mushrooms, or lobster.
They make their tortillas in house, guaranteeing the freshness of every ingredient used in their Mexican fusion dishes. Sea-urchin queso covers crab nachos, and an avocado parfait is a popular dessert option.
The Modern is located inside the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and it’s the perfect spot to grab lunch after a visit to the premises. The restaurant overlooks the museum’s sculpture garden and catches the sunlight during lunchtime—its minimalist decor pairs with delicate and well-decorated dishes.
The fixed menu is constantly adapted to specific shows. It includes delicacies such as lobster in champagne sauce, Porsche knives to carve into juicy servings of meat, and well-balanced cocktails to match the space’s artwork.
One of the few places that still serves old-school and traditional French food, with some touches of modernity. Opened in 1962, La Grenouille offers dishes like lobster ravioli, Dover sole with lemon and hollandaise sauce, and pan-seared duck with foie gras. It’s located close to Rockefeller Center and decorated with flower arrangements to capture the essence of French royalty.
This is the perfect spot for those who want to taste authentic French cuisine. The pink undertones of the small restaurant match the flowers and the soul of the place.
This restaurant is named after its Michelin-starred chef, Gabriel Kreuther. Overlooking Bryant Park and not too far from Grand Central Station, this is a dining experience for those into fine French cuisine with a unique approach to flavor and presentation. Kreuther brings to New York dishes from the French region of Alsace, like truffled liverwurst and tarte flambée.
There’s also a shop where you can purchase chocolate, perfect for the chocoholics out there. You can also buy Kreuther’s cookbook on your way out if you get the chance.
Sushi Yasuda is one of the best sushi restaurants in all of Manhattan. They’ve recently won a Michelin star and serve a menu that is constantly adapted to seasonal flavors and trends. Their yellowtail sashimi is buttery and melts in your mouth, and the amberjack and unagi are just as popular.
At Sushi Yasuda, they try to keep original sushi traditions, respecting the original flavors of the fish and advising customers not to dip it too much in soy sauce. Since 1999, they’ve been leaders of the sushi scene in New York, with customers that always return for more.
Aquavit is a restaurant specializing in Scandinavian cuisine with many Nordic dishes and influences. Although it has changed its location a couple of times, the establishment maintains its reputation as one of the best in the area. The chef today, Emma Bengtsson, was a former pastry chef, so pay attention to the desserts and try at least one of them.
Located in the Park Avenue Tower, the restaurant has white tablecloths and different shades of blue decorating the environment. They serve a fixed tasting menu, where you can taste halibut, scallops, and beef with black garlic. Also, make sure to end your meal with a shot of the house Aquavit.
Sakagura is one of the most unexpected Midtown restaurants, hidden in the lobby of an office building near Grand Central. Their lighting creates a calm environment, and the decor takes you to a traditional Asian ambiance.
Once you’re inside, order lots of sake to pair with Japanese dishes like chicken meatballs, sashimi from many different fish options, and rice bowls with uni. (Pairing the sake with the dishes is the house specialty!)
La Pecora Bianca
La Pecora Bianca is a traditional Italian restaurant that has been enchanting New York since it first opened its doors not too long ago. Today, they have over three units in the city; the one in Midtown East is small, casual, and delicately decorated in white. The pasta dishes are made with homemade dough, and the antipasti menu offers creamy burrata and other classic Italian foods.
Here, you can grab a seat by the bar or at one of the small and casual tables in the dining room. There are plenty of winners on the menu, but we have to give a special shoutout to the framigna pasta.
Totto Ramen has different venues spread across town, but this one in Midtown Manhattan deserves a special mention. It’s renowned for being one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite hangouts in the city, and the small second-floor venue looks like it was shipped straight from Tokyo to New York.
Totto is famous for its casual, chicken-broth-based noodles. The chicken paitan is a popular option, and you can make it as spicy as you want. If you want a quick, traditional, and informal ramen dish, this is the place to go.
Grand Central Oyster Bar
The Grand Central Oyster Bar is one of the most classic Midtown restaurants. Located inside the station, this establishment shelters people waiting for their trains and wanting to indulge in fresh oysters and seafood. Their $9 martinis are famous during happy hour, and perfect with lobster roll pasta.
The restaurant is so famous it can be considered a landmark in the city, and many locals frequent it so often they are already familiar with the staff and the menu. The Oyster pan roasts, with some paprika sprinkle and Worcestershire sauce splash, are a classic.
Casa Lever serves classic northern Italian dishes. They are famous for their quick lunchtime menu, where many people tend to go for the grilled cheese sandwich. The house also offers early morning, Italia-style breakfasts and a fixed menu, including New York strip steaks and carbonara pasta.
Many New Yorkers come here for an after-work glass of Italian wine. Saffron risotto with osso buco, bolognese, and crudo appetizers also charm the menu.
You can find Marea facing Central Park South. It is an Italian seafood restaurant specializing in dishes from the Amalfi Coast, including over 10 different raw fish options. The famous red wine-braised octopus and beef tagliata are some of the stars on the menu.
The venue also has a weekend brunch menu and a smaller one for those quick corporate lunches on weekdays.
This admiringly decorated environment provides a calm break from the noises of the city. Le Bernadin serves seafood dishes in a fine-dining atmosphere. The extensive wine list and well crafted cocktails also make this restaurant so famous.
Urban Space at 570 Lex
This food hall has a rich selection of foods from some of the best restaurants in Manhattan. Here, you can find an array of different cuisines to pick from—and maybe taste them all. Make sure to try the baos, the egg sandwiches, and the pasta dishes from these venues.
The environment is casually decorated in an industrial style that looks like a food market. LED lights hang to adorn the surroundings, and the large tables in the middle invite people to sit, grab a drink, and taste every option available.
Camila has lived in New York for over six years. Writing about food, drinks, and travel, she has moved around the city gathering tales, flavors, and restaurant recommendations for her fellow explorers. A lover of bars and baos, Camila can introduce you to the most famous and best-kept secrets of New York!