When one thinks about Tribeca—a portmanteau for Triangle Below Canal (Street)—a few things come to mind: cobblestone streets, fancy clothes shops, Robert De Niro. And oh yeah, there also happens to be a lot of nice restaurants in this handsome lower Manhattan neighborhood.
The Tribeca restaurant scene is mostly known for its splurge-worthy spots, some of which are Michelin-starred and/or have prix-fixe menus. But sprinkled into the mix are some lesser-frills eateries that are worth trudging down those cobblestone streets to seek out.
Here are the 11 best restaurants in Tribeca.
Ronny Emborg, who worked in the kitchens in elBulli and Mugaritz, is the talented man in the toque at this Michelin two-star, prix-fixe restaurant (77 Worth St). His forte is “sensory dining,” so expect to taste with your olfactory glands almost as much as your taste buds.
The tasting menu, which will cost you around $300 (and maybe your pinky finger) isn’t cheap but the experience is a quintessential Tribeca dining experience.
New Yorkers generally don’t care much for outsider restaurants prancing into the Big Apple, thinking they’re going to make a big splash. That’s kind of what happened when this Chicago burger import planted itself at the end of a Tribeca alleyway in spring 2019. And predictably, New Yorkers gave a collective shrug.
But Au Cheval, one of the best Tribeca restaurants, is worthy of more than that. Housed in a dimly lit space with leather booths, wood floors, exposed brick walls, Au Cheval is like a steakhouse that serves burgers. With steakhouse prices to boot. The signature burger, for example, will set you back three Hamiltons (and that’s without fries), but it’s definitely worth the splurge.
Bâtard has all the trappings of a fancy French restaurant: a quiet, minimalist, low-lit dining room, super-attentive care from the servers—some of whom may even have a Gallic accent—and a prix-fixe menu of edible French delights, including foie gras, beef tartare, pâté de campagne, and dover sole bathed in a meunière sauce.
Plus, the 800-bottle French-leaning wine list is a doozy. But the real surprise: it won’t cost you an arm and a leg (or even a finger) to eat here: the four-course dinner costs just $99.
It’s a little weird to name your Indian restaurant after this holy city on the Ganges River (also known as Varanasi), a place that has more of a reputation for its spirituality and extreme chaos than it does about the food people consume there.
Whatever the case, Benares (the restaurant, not the city) serves up spectacular food. The long list of Indian staples are excellent, especially the cardamom-spiked Gujarati rogan josh (lamb curry) and the spicy Goan staple shrimp vindaloo.
One of the least pretentious Tribeca restaurants, Bubby’s is a true neighborhood classic. And it happens to serve fine no-fuss fare as well. Since it opened in 1990, it’s been the place to go for weekend brunch.
The pancakes, which you can get any day of the week, could rival Clinton Street Baking Company on the Lower East Side for the best in the city. The rest of the comfort food fare here—fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, for example—is solid and consistently satisfying.
This Gallic-accented eatery has been perpetually packed since the first day they fired up the burners in 2018. And for good reason. Think of the menu here as somewhat elevated feel-good fare, like if you had a French grandma who was pretty fancy and knew her way around the kitchen.
Duck frites, for example, is a crispy duck breast pregnant with luscious juice sitting alongside even crispier fries. The wine list, heavy on funky natural varieties, is one of the best in the city.
Have a hankering for Korean? You could go to Koreatown in Manhattan or, even better, trek out to the Murray Hill section of Flushing, Queens to explore the giant (and off-the-radar) K-Town there. Or you could settle into this two-Michelin-starred Korean spot and be prepared to 1) pay a lot of money and 2) consider it one of the finest Korean meals you’ve ever had.
This is a marriage of Korean ingredients and French technique and you’ll say “I do” very quickly.
Laotian food is seriously underrated—perhaps because its cool kid neighbor Thailand gets all the attention. But Laotian cuisine, not too dissimilar to the cuisine of Issan in northern Thailand, is excellent. And at Khe-Yo, one of the (if not the only) Laotian eateries in New York City and one of the best Tribeca restaurants in general, the spicy fare is stellar.
Think: luscious noodle soups bobbing with pork belly and flavor-popping charred salmon doused with a coconut green curry sauce. It’s good enough that you end up involuntarily nodding your head as you masticate and then wondering: why aren’t there more Laotian restaurants in New York as well as the United States?
Laughing Man Cafe
Not really a restaurant but worthy of being on such a list, Laughing Man was begun by actor Hugh Jackman in 2011 after an enlightening trip to Ethiopia. The cafe initially only peddled fair trade coffee from this East African nation but now has expanded to carry coffee from Peru and Colombia too. All profits go back to the coffee farmers from these communities to help promote health and well-being.
Since opening this solid Italian restaurant in 2009, chef Andrew Carmellini has built a small empire of eateries around the city, but Locanda Verde is always worth revisiting again and again. The menu often changes with the season, but Carmellini is especially good at Roman classics such as bucatini all’Amatriciana and tonnarelli cacio e pepe.
Chef Marc Forgione knows a thing or two about American fare. His father, Larry, is considered the father of New American cuisine. Which kinda makes Marc the son of New American fare.
He is definitely carrying on the torch at his eponymous eatery, one of the best Tribeca restaurants. The emphasis here is on simplicity and using high-quality seasonal ingredients. It works splendidly. The tomahawk steak (big enough for two) is one of the best in the city.
David Farley is a West Village-based food and travel writer whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Food & Wine, among other publications. He’s the author of three books, including “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town,” which was made into a documentary by the National Geographic Channel. You can find Farley’s online homes here and here.