So I eat a lot. Like, a lot. In fact, me and Hector’s favorite past-time is eating. We love good food and Hector in particular loves a good drink or four (I mean, who doesn’t right). Being SO CLOSE to NYC is a blessing and a curse because we have some of the world’s best restaurants right at our fingertips, and I’m so glad that our view from Jersey is so good because I run my ass every day in hopes of keeping my waistline in check from our nights of eating out on the City.
When it comes down to it, we generally lean towards places that are ethnic, we’re not big steakhouse people, and the bartender HAS to make a mean margarita because that’s my drink of choice. If those criteria fit your list of restaurant must-haves too then boy have you found the right list!
I’ve tried to keep this semi-organized broken down by ethnicity, but I can’t rank these bad boys by stars because only 5 star food makes it onto my lists. I promise that every single restaurant below is worth a date-night at least once if you’re in the City and shoot me a pic of your food when you go so I can drool and live vicariously.
Owned by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, this restaurant is totally New York. It has two levels, when you walk in the top level is open and airy but if you’re there with a sig other definitely ask to sit in the lower bar downstairs. It’s like a whole different sexy vibe, you get a whole booth to yourself and it’s much more dark. All of the drinks are amazing but I’m a huge fan of the jalapeño margarita, it’s to die for. Oh warning though, it’s pretty pricey.
Best Late Night
Okay if you’re drunk and it’s after 11pm downtown in Manhattan, go to this wrap place. First, it’s literally a hole in the wall, so don’t expect much in terms of decor but their one redeeming quality is that the windows are punched out and they installed window swings instead. Word. Then the food itself is bomb, and it’s a wrap place. I didn’t even know wraps could TASTE so good you know? My personal fav is the falafel one (I don’t remember the actual name of it) but the shrimp and broccoli raabe one is equally yummy. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Best Cheat Meal
3. Artichoke Pizza
Artichoke pizza is not for the faint of heart. Literally, if you have a weak heart or cholestorol problems don’t go anywhere near this place. The smell alone is enough to clog your arteries. Artichoke Pizza slices are as big as your face (not kidding) and heaven in a bite. The classic pizza is topped with artichoke hearts in a cheesy beschemel sauce that’s life-changing. The dough is super thick to be able to stand up to the toppings and the garlic is so real. If you feel like cheating on your diet, this is the place to do it.
This little joint is easy to miss, when you walk in the first room is literally the size of a closet. Trust me though, walk past the bar on your right and through the curtains in the back and it’s like you’re transported into another romantic world. This place is where you bring your first date for amazing bites and drinks for a decent price. Order a Feathers and claim one of the nooks with your bae, I guarantee you that you’ll forget that you’re in bustling Manhattan in no time.
5. ‘Disiac Lounge
This mediterranean bar boasts amazing food as well as delicious drinks in a fun atmosphere. The owner has been known to break out the sex games on a rowdy Friday night, so be warned this isn’t your typical lounge scene, but the crowd is always friendly. Order the pomegranate margarita and the chicken panini and get to know the bartenders, they really know their shit.
So if you’re like me, you don’t have an italian grandma but you freaking love pasta. Seriously, I’ll choose pasta over any other meal any day of the week. Mercato is like the italian joint that you wish your italian grandma owned. They make everything fresh, from the pasta daily to the tomato sauce with home-grown tomatoes. If you go here, you’d be dumb to not order a pasta dish, my fav is the lasagna. Oh, and the wine selection is amaze, I don’t know shit about Italian wine so I always have them recommend a pairing…they always have a sommelier on hand so you won’t end up with a bad glass.
7. Sotto 13
Ahh brunch. Literally the best thing to happen since sliced bread. I’m a huge fan of brunch and all of the day-drinking wonderfulness that ensues, but I’m also so picky about finding the best food/drink deal in the city because bottomless can get real expensive real quick. Sotto 13 offers an amazing deal where you can get bottomless drinks plus an app plus an entree for like twenty five bucks. It’s unreal and the food is bomb. It’s traditional breakfast-y food but elevated, I didn’t have a single dish that I didn’t like. Bonus, the drinks weren’t watered down, if anything I found them to be a bit on the strong side for 11am.
8. Andaz on 5th
Located right across from the New York Public Library, the food at Andaz on 5th is amazing. It’s farm to table and highlights local fare that’s prepared in a super modern but steakhouse-y way. Like you can get steak here, yes, but it comes with truffled mashed potatoes. If that makes sense. The restaurant upstairs is great, but get there early and go to the downstairs bar for a swanky marg or three…you won’t be disappointed!
Best for Feeling Like a Swanky Reality TV Star
9. Fig & Olive Meatpacking
So meatpacking is well known for being the hot new place to hang for twenty and thirty-somethings these days. Located right near the High Line (which you should also check out) meatpacking is filled with swanky places to see and be seen in, like the Biergarten. Though honestly, that one is kind of wack you should head over to Jersey in Hoboken if you want a REAL Biergarten experience. I digress, Fig & Olive is amazing. The drinks are always on point and the small plates are amazing, expect elevated farm-to-table style food for a really high price. But I promise all of the dishes are totally insta-worthy and you might get a Whitney Port sighting if you’re lucky.
Okay this actually should probably go under Italian or something because the Spaghetti Carbonara here is amaze, it comes with a poached egg on top and nommmms. But, if you go to this place during the summer ask to be seated on the patio. It’s a stunning little hideaway from the noise of Manhattan that comes literally out of nowhere. Anything on the menu is good, the pork shank is mouthwatering but make sure you try the Spiked Arnold Palmer..it’s delish.