Entertainment in New York City

Pubs, Cafes and Restaurants in New York City

Home > Expat Guides > North America > Usa > New York City

Restaurants in New York

New York City's diversity and long history of immigrants is highlighted in the wide variety of food found in the city. Because of this, New York City has become one of the leading cities for fine cuisine and NYC classics.

But...Where to eat when visiting New York City? There are some 30,000 restaurants located in NYC. Here are some guidelines of what to eat plus restaurants, for all preferences, that you need to visit when in NYC.

What to Eat in NYC


One of New York City's most have foods is its pizza. There are whole food tours dedicated to the best sites in the city. Everyone has a favourite place for a slice (or a whole pie), but here are some recommendations:

  • Lombardi's Pizza - Established in 1905, Lombardi's claims to be America's first full-fledged pizzeria. Traditional red checked tablecloths and old-world photographs complete the stereotype, but people still come for the coal oven pizzas.
  • Grimaldi's – Expect a line at this popular pizzeria. Luckily, the slices fly out of the coal oven almost as fast as the orders. 
  • Patsy's Pizza – Located up in Harlem, this is another historic coal-oven pizzeria regarded as one of New York's original pizzerias.


Chinatown comes complete with some of the best Chinese food outside of China. There is both Chinese-American favorites like General Tso, and authentic dishes for those in the know.

  • Nice Green Bo - Praised by critics, this popular eatery is always full
  • 88 Palace – A classic best dim sum brunch with low prices.
  • Chinatown Ice Cream Factory – This iconic location doesn't look like much from the outside, but stop by for a free samples of its delicious flavors from tropical longyan, mango, red bean and lychee. Their ice creams and sorbets are the perfect way to stay cool on a hot NYC day.

NYC Favorites

  • Virgil's Real BBQ - Serving everything from chicken to pork, this legendary location is sure to please. Their brisket is smoked over hickory, fruitwood, and oak to get their signature smoky flavor.
  • Sylvia's – The "Queen of Soul Food" offers home cooking in this beloved location. They say the secret to their success are: Love, Family and Hard Work, Love of God, Love of Family, Love of Friends, Customers, and Love of Work. Some of the best fired chicken, collard greens, and mac n' cheese in NYC doesn't hurt, either.
  • Grand Central Station - Home to five fine restaurants and twenty casual restaurants to suit any diner's needs.
  • Dessert Truck - This mobile sweets factory provides a sustainable and organic version of classics with goat-cheese cheesecake and chocolate bread pudding.

Best Restaurants in NYC

For a fancier New York eating experiences, there is no limit. The hottest new restaurant opens every week, with a few classics offering tried and true experiences:

  • The Strip House - Offers what it is probably the best steak in the city with signature side dishes like truffle creamed spinach.
  • Keens Chophouse – Another contender for top steak is this old-world restaurant from 1885. Look up at the ceiling to admire the large collection of churchwarden pipes.
  • Sasubune – A serious Japanese bar and restaurant on the Upper East Side for sushi addicts.
  • Katz's Delicatessen – Dating back to 1888, this is everyone's favorite Jewish deli. Chaotic and cosy, their no-frills environment is also home to slow cured meats like the pastrami on rye. The famous orgasm scene from "When Harry Met Sally" was filmed here.
  • Bouley -  David Bouley's French style restaurant and celebrity hang-out.
  • Momofuku-Ko – The "lucky peach" is an excellent place to have some upscale noodles-and-dumpling.

Sites like tripadvisor and yelp can help you identify restaurants in your area, with the sites like New York Magazine Restaurants, Grubstreet and Eater NYC helping sort the best places to eat.

Vegetarian and Vegan  Restaurants in New York City

Dietary concerns are common and asking for a specific preparation of a dish as well as vegan or vegetarian cuisine is not a problem. In addition, New York's vegan and vegetarian restaurant scene is one of the best in the world, with a endless opportunity of options and top chefs.

Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in NYC:

  • Champs Diner – In ultra-cool Williamsburg, Champs offers diner fare veggis-style.
  • Jajaja – Vegan Mexican food-lovers need not go hungry. Experience beautifully plated tacos and more in their two locations on the Lower East Side and West Village locations.
  • Ladybird – Vegetarian food goes classy in this elegant tapas bar.
  • Hartbreakers – This fast-casual '70s-themed restaurant cooks some of the best vegetarian patties in NYC.
  • Beyond Sushi – This Japanese mainstay gets the vegetarian treatment in this creative restaurant. There are several locations and a stand in Chelsea Market.
  • Dirt Candy – Vegetarian food is served at its finest under the watchful eye of chef Amanda Cohen. Her seasonal menu turns simple vegetables into haute cuisine with the choice of two tasting menus.
  • Blossom – Open since 2005, this is a favorite for vegan New Yorkers.
  • Modern Love – All your fatty favorites like mozz sticks, fondue, and garlic bread get the vegan treatment in this Brooklyn institution.

Time Out Magazine and Eater provide up-to-date list for vegetarians and vegans in NYC.

Drinks in New York

Non-Alcoholic Drinks in NYC

Tap water is in NYC is safe for drink. Old buildings and infrastructure have led to some buildings having water that doesn't taste as clean, but 1 billion dollars in initiatives have been pledged to keeping the city's water some of the best in the world. Nevertheless, some New Yorkers prefer bottled water or an at-home filter.

Restaurants and bars are required to offer tap water for free and it will be served without asking. There are also numerous water fountain and bottle refilling station program to keep New Yorkers hydrated.
Other non-alcoholic drinks that are popular in NYC include:

  • Coffee - Commonly known as "Joe". Coffee culture is serious business with many third wave roasters and ethical coffee beans.
  • Tea - Due to the US's English roots, as well as bubble teas from the Asian influence
  • Sports/Energy Drinks
  • Smoothies – There are many juice bars dedicated to healthy drinks that proclaim to expel toxins

Alcoholic Drinks in NYC

New York is a cocktail city with classics like the Manhattan and cosmo, the latter popularized by the TV show "Sex in the City".  Many bars are dedicated to the fine art of cocktails, from secret speakeasys to iconic New York lounges.

Iconic NYC cocktails:

  • Manhattan: American rye whiskey, vermouth, Angostura bitters, maraschino cherry and a lemon peel twist.
  • Martini: Gin or vodka, dry vermouth garnished with a lemon wedge or green olive.
  • Cosmopolitan or "Cosmo": Vodka citron, Triple Sec or Cointreau, half a lime and cranberry juice to taste which results in a pretty pink color.
  • Classic Old Fashioned: Angostura bitters, bourbon or rye whiskey with orange.
  • The Brooklyn: Rye whiskey, dry vermouth, cherry-flavoured liquor and Angostura bitters garnished with a maraschino cherry and mint leaves.
  • New York Lemonade: Grand Marnier orange liqueur, citrus vodka, soda and fresh lemon juice.
  • The New York Sour: Bourbon with, lemon, syrup and a splash of orange juice. Sweet red wine on the top garnished with a lemon or orange wheel.
  • Appletini: Vodka, green apple and Cointreau garnished with a thin green apple slice.

Craft beers are also extremely popular with many high- quality local breweries. There is a brewery for every borough.

Top NYC Brewers:

 Time Out, Grubstreet, and Eater provide up-to-date lists of the best brewers in the city. 

Liquor Laws in New York

The minimum age for buying and consuming alcohol is 21 years of age. This is strictly enforced at both restaurants and liquor stores. Liquor laws also require bars to stop serving alcohol at 2AM.

The regulation of alcoholic beverages is delegated to each state and local authorities. Therefore, all states have different statutes regarding the selling and buying of alcohol.

For further information visit alcohol.org or NY Liquor Authority

Bars in NYC

As in any other big city in the USA, New York City is home to thousands of bars and pubs to chill after work with a cocktail or draft beer. Around the city, you will find a variety of environments to suit anyone interested in a night out. As usual, Manhattan and Brooklyn are the most popular areas, with no end to your options.

Popular NYC Bars:

  • McSorley's Old Ale House: Opened in 1854, this is the oldest Irish pub in New York and one of the oldest watering holes in the city.
  • The Dead Rabbit: Opened in 2013 above a 1828 building in the Financial District, it has been named the World's Best Bar by Drinks International magazine with the best Guinness in New York.
  • Leyenda: Find the best Latin American and Caribbean spirits at this bar.
  • Maison Premiere: This New Orleanian style bar in Williamsburg is well-known for its cocktails and happy hour. It is also the perfect for Instagram lovers.
  • The Aviary NYC: Located at the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, The Aviary boast one of the best panoramic views over Central Park

Again, New York Magazine  and Eater NYC are excellent resources to find the exact bar you are searching for.

Pub Crawls in NYC

Many big cities have organized pub crawls that act as social gatherings both for locals and tourists. These fun nights out focus on the social aspect of meeting new friends and being introduced to new bars in the city.

A pub crawl usually includes a free drink at each sbar you visit, as well as free entrance. The tour is normally by foot or public transport between each destination and it ends in a discotheque.

Popular NYC Pub Crawl:

Tipping in NYC

Tipping is not just expected at US restaurants, it is informally required. Not just at restaurants, tipping is expected at the hairdressers, when getting a massage, when using a cab, or for just about any other skilled service.

New York State law allows employers to satisfy the minimum wage by combining a cash wage"paid by the employer with a credit or allowance for tips that the employee receives from customers. For example, the minimum wage for food service workers in New York City is $15.00 per hour. Their employers can satisfy the minimum wage by combining a cash wage of at least $10.00 with a tip allowance of no more than $5.00 per hour. More information on minimum wage for tipped workers can be found on laborny.gov website.

At bars, cafes or restaurants, you are expected to tip 15 - 18% of the total bill. For excellent service, tip above that amount. If you are dining in a group, a mandatory gratuity may be added to your bill. This can only be left off for poor service after talking to a manager, but it is appreciated to tip over that amount.

Update 13/02/2020


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest Addthis

Recommended Service Partners

International Movers
International Movers in New York City
Compare up to 5 quotes from our network of moving companies that can help you plan your international move and relocate your entire family.
Expatriate health insurance
Expatriate health insurance in the Usa
Apply online for free quotes on repatriation assistance and expatriate and foreign health insurance.
Hotels in the Usa
You will get discount hotel rates, last-minute deals, hot deals, special offers, with a real-time reservation and on-line booking.


 Soma Sengupta


Delis in NY
Arties on the UWS is a terrific deli!

Do you have comments or personal information to communicate about this article? Add your comment.

Go to the Forum to talk more about pubs, cafes and restaurants in New York City, entertainment.

Find more definitions and general answers on expatriation issues in the Expat FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).