NYC recommendations




Updated 2022-08-14

Friends often ask me for recommendations of what to visit in NYC, so I collected my recs here. I’ll try to keep it up to date, but I make no promises that everything on this list is still around when you visit. Bars and restaurants are closing like crazy.

This list primarily focuses on Manhattan, since that is where most people visiting NYC stay. If you want other boroughs, let me know!

Big things to hit (restaurant ideas and parts of the city broken out below):

  • Times Square
  • Empire State Building
  • Grand Central
  • A show on Broadway
  • Central Park
  • The Met
  • Statue of Liberty
  • 9/11 Memorial
  • High Line
  • Chelsea Market
  • Wall Street Bull
  • Guggenheim
  • Cloisters
  • High Line
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Intrepid Air and Space Museum
  • MoMA
  • New York Public Library
  • Bryant Park
  • Shopping on 5th Ave

Upper East Side (Around The Met):

  • Papaya King (Great NY hotdogs. Get a Papaya drink, too.)
  • Lady M (high quality dessert)
  • Bemelmans Bar (inside is decorated by the same artist who did the Madeline books)
  • The Met Museum
  • The Guggenheim
  • The Frick
  • J. G. Melon has great burgers and oysters


  • Grand Central
    • Food court in the entrance and in the basement
  • Empire State building
  • Chrysler building
  • Urbanspace food hall
  • Num Pang Sandwiches
  • Xi’an Famous Foods (Great noodles)
  • Milk Bar (great desserts!)
  • Oyster Bar in Grand Central
  • Kalustyan’s – Herb and spice emporium. Lots of great curry around here, too. 
  • Koreatown is on 32nd st – We like the Korean BBQ at Jongro.
  • FAO Schwarz toy store
  • Radio City Music Hall & Rockefeller Center 
    • For sightseeing, going to the top of the Rock is cheaper and has shorter lines than the top of the Empire State building
  • Keens Steakhouse – If you are looking for a classic NYC white tablecloth steakhouse but dont want to trek over to Brooklyn for Peter Luger, we love Keens. My favorite dish is the mutton chop, but the steak is excellent, too.
  • NY Public Library
    • There are often cool exhibits here.
    • Across the street is Muji, a fun design-oriented store with well-designed products.
    • Behind the NYPL is Bryant Park, a good place to relax and eat lunch on nice day.

Hell’s Kitchen:

  • Intrepid air and space museum
  • Gotham West: Chicken sandwiches, burgers, ramen, coffee, oysters – Something for everyone
  • Room Service (great Thai)
  • Totto Ramen

Flatiron & Madison Square

  • Eataly – Fun italian food market + food stalls and restaurants
  • Blue Smoke
  • Shake Shack (original location in the park)
  • Museum of Mathematics
    • Really cool hands-on exhibits for kids

Union Square

  • Union Square Cafe (Highly recommended!)
  • The Strand (incredible bookstore)
  • Hu Kitchen (paleo restaurant)


  • Chelsea market (shops and food)
  • Spotted Pig (April Bloomfield’s first NYC place)
  • Frankies 570 Spuntino
  • High Line
    • The High Line is a fantastic walk – Old train tracks turned into a park above the city streets

Lower East Side:

  • Katz’s Deli (huge sandwiches, cash only. Where Harry Met Sally!)
  • Raclette – They cover your food in delicious cheese. We love it.
  • Baohaus
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar
  • Momofuku Ssam Bar
  • Milk Bar
  • Amor y Amargo (My favorite bitters bar in the city)
  • Crif Dogs
  • PDT (Inside Crif dogs through the telephone booth – Speakeasy style)


  • Cafe Habana (Cuban)
  • Tacombi (street-style tacos served out of a VW van parked inside a restaurant)
  • Lombardi’s (first pizza in U.S.)
  • Prince St Pizza – Great spicy pepperoni slice
  • Rice to Riches – Fun rice pudding shop

Greenwich/West Village:

  • Murray’s Cheese
  • Stonewall Inn
  • Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
  • Employee’s Only bar
  • Fat Cat Jazz Club
  • Big Gay Ice Cream
  • Takashi (Japanese yakiniku)
  • Dominique Ansel Bakery (home of the Cronut and other great things)
  • Via Carota and their sister bar across the street, Bar Pisellino. Excellent rustic Italian food. Better than anything in Little Italy, which is a tourist trap in the worst way.


  • There is a great food court in Brookfield place that has a Fuku in it. Excellent fried chicken sandwiches from David Chang. Good resting place after taking in the 9/11 memorial.
  • 9/11 memorial
  • Staten Island Ferry
    • Budget at least 2 hours for the ferry, and when you board, find the steps to the upper deck ASAP and go outside. It will be fantastic. You can see the statue of liberty from the ferry!
  • Wall St Bull
  • Walk in Battery park
  • Alexander Hamilton’s gravesite in Trinity Churchyard


  • Amy Ruth’s
  • Harlem Shake
  • Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken

Even further north, Ft. Tryon Park

The Medieval wing of the Met, The Cloisters. If you are into that, it is worth the cab ride. They have the Unicorn tapestries there!


  • The Great NY Noodletown
  • Xi’an Famous Foods

Good food guide:

Bonus food guide from Zeldman:

Welcome to NYC, don’t miss this! (Food Edition)

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