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Four volumes of SUITCASE Magazine, with a new issue delivered to your door each quarter
New York City is a place where establishments open and shut with each new day. Leave for a couple of years and you’ll find a neighbourhood that you used to know well feel completely alien. We’ve hit up all of our most in-the-know contacts (we’re not keen on the word “coolest”, but this is a time to use it) in the city to bring you this list of the crème de la crème of New York restaurants. From the new and much hyped to the mainstays that make up the fabric of the city, these are the places to put on your hit list. Catch us dashing between Michelin-starred Korean, Wes Anderson interiors and Williamsburg‘s hottest pizza joint.
Founded by 19-year-old wunderkind Flynn McGarry, Gem is the first word on all NYC foodies’ lips. This literal gem in the Lower East Side is only available for two 12-person seatings (at 6pm and 9pm) a night, making a seat at Flynn’s table a coveted one. Giving celebrity chef a whole new meaning, the teen superstar focuses on seasonal items, personally stopping by the city’s Union Square Greenmarket himself to hand-pick the finest daily produce. Expect a creative tasting menu of 12-15 courses – so go light on lunch that day.
Pasta queen Missy Robbins of Williamsburg’s Lilia just opened her latest hotspot, Misi, a block away from the East River this September. With a glass-enclosed room specifically dedicated to making 10 different types of noodle, guests can catch glimpses of their dinner being made from scratch from the dining room. From there, bring on Misi’s varied pasta dishes that are near-impossible to pick between: there’s spinach- and mascarpone-stuffed tortelli in unctuous brown butter, hand-pulled strangozzi with pork sugo and nutmeg, al dente malloreddus served under a blanket of clams, sea beans and saffron… the list goes on. To set off a carb-heavy main, opt for grilled baby artichokes with mint and salsa verde or slow-roasted tomatoes drizzled with hot honey as sides.
This vegetarian Korean restaurant smack in the middle of K-Town keeps even the most devout carnivores coming back time and again. Take off your shoes upon entry before slipping into your cushioned seats around low-to-the-ground tables. If you’re trying to behave yourself, stave off cocktail cravings with divine freshly-made iced ginger tea that’s poured into wide stone cups. Get a sampling of starters for your group, and make sure to include the spicy kimchi mushroom pancakes and sweet-potato fritters. For mains, any of the stone bowl rice dishes topped with tofu or mushrooms are to die for.
$10 pasta lunches by day (a near impossibility in Manhattan) and Bagatelle-style dance parties by night, this Soho favourite juggles it all – and successfully so. The tiny space it occupies on Prince Street is certainly true to its name, and the intimacy lends to Piccola’s charm. It would be a sin to dine here without ordering one of the restaurant’s famed pasta dishes served in a pot, so do yourself a favour and go for the pasta alla Norma or the simple but impeccably done penne al pomodoro. You might think you can’t finish it upon first glance, but don’t be surprised if you manage to devour the entire thing between hearty glasses of red and impromptu dance-offs with the staff.
When all of the other patrons in a Provençal restaurant are French, you know you’ve got to be doing something right. Having made itself a home in the old West Village mainstay Café Minerva’s space, it’s impossible not to feel drawn in by the golden light and animated conversations held over small wooden tables crowded with carafes of Côtes du Rhône and marinière mussels.
Mexican at its finest, ATLA plays little sister to NYC establishment Cosme (although we secretly prefer this one to its more renowned counterpart). Enrique Olvera’s brainchild, ATLA adds to the ever-expanding network of prime dining locations in NoHo. A small, sleek space with a sidewalk seating area for people-watching on sunny days – Gigi Hadid does live just a block away, after all – the mix of concrete surfaces and leafy decor makes it a chic spot to stop for a bite when exploring downtown Manhattan. The light portions are a welcome alternative to Chipotle’s newborn-size burritos, and we love the plant- and seafood-focused angle of many dishes. Items on the menu that aren’t to be missed include the arctic char and farmer’s cheese tostada, herb guacamole served with a giant chip and mushrooms with salsa verde (which we return for time and again).
Located on Bond Street, which seems to be a centre of gravity for good food these days, Fish Cheeks is a fun and colourful Thai spot that most clients seem to count among their absolute favourites after just one visit. Come with a group and order the coconut crab curry, Manila clams stir-fried with sweet basil and steamed striped bass with chilli and lime.
The best sushi in New York City. Period. For a no-expenses-spared night out, this is where you’ll want to be. Flocked by a crowd of downtown It girls and modern-day Chuck Bass replicas, BONDST is the place for unearthing your chicest cocktail dress. If you sit at the sushi bar, you’ll be treated to endless gags from the chefs, while all of the intimate tables in the dimly-lit main restaurant are low-slung and seductive. Order the black sesame dark and stormy from the glitzy bar to get started, and get a sushi selection to share à table. We also seriously insist on getting BONDST’s famous truffled big eye tuna tarts (you’ll likely want to order a second round) and the sizzling mushroom crispy rice bowl served with an egg.
Fit for brunch à la Gossip Girl, this is an old-school staple that feels classically New York. Each meal begins with pillowy (and endless) sourdough and spicy olives, and the courses to follow are always dependably delightful. The pasta dishes are beloved by locals who stop in for Thursday night catchups with friends, and the fish is consistently delicate and perfectly prepared. Brunch at USC is always a good choice, and is a low-stress alternative to the endless queues at Instagram hotspots in Soho that don’t take reservations. Get the griddled pumpkin bread and blueberry corn cake for the table to share, and then make a choice between the likes of fail-safe scrambled eggs, brioche French toast with butter roasted apples and duck-confit omelette.
Malaparte is a long-standing West Village favourite (well, a seven-year lifespan is long in New York terms), and is not going anywhere anytime soon. Stop by here for deliciously al dente rigatoni with pesto and creamy carbonara, and get a bottle of red to share. An authentically New York Italian restaurant, Malaparte will never go out of style.
We’d call this the best French restaurant in New York City, but don’t really want the secret to get out. Always buzzing with Parisians who bounce from table to table and all seem to know each other, it’s a miniature space for those who are in the know. With a gorgeous white marble wall and cheeky nipple print on the bathroom wallpaper, MIMI certainly knows how to maximise design impact in a small space. Run by the affable Louis Levy, he’ll likely stop by your table to see how you’re enjoying your Beau Soleil oysters, sea trout crudo with strawberries or Parisian gnocchi with escargot and dill butter, all ordered off the hand-scrawled menu. Insider tip? Order the airy baba au rum (it varies seasonally), always served with a beautiful matte rum bottle so you can serve yourself more. If you’re sitting at the bar, MIMI’s expert bartender does one of the smoothest Penicillin cocktails in the city.
Nur is the Manhattan go-to for modern Middle Eastern cuisine. Located just a few blocks away from the Flatiron building, its easy-to-access location means it’s a great spot to group together to start the night on a weekend. Offering up everything from Jerusalem bagels to lamb chops with couscous, it’s got a great mix for people with varying diets. The sleek bar is also an ultra-cool place to take a date, so settle in at the corner seats and order a few plates to pick at together. Our absolute favourite is the signature smoked aubergine carpaccio with feta, raw tahini, dates, pistachios and rose water.
The city’s newest hot spot for an incredible view, Manhatta is a chic glassed-in fine-dining restaurant helmed by Danny Meyer of Shake Shack and Gramercy Tavern fame. Meyer jokes that they “want the view to be the worst part of Manhatta.” While we certainly wouldn’t go that far, the food is indeed mind-blowing, with the snack list alone featuring fried oysters. The wagyu bavette with pommes Anna and lobster quenelle definitely don’t disappoint either.
The brainchild of the husband-and-wife team behind NoMad’s beloved Atoboy, Atomix is a hotly anticipated addition to the neighbourhood. Already recognised with a Michelin star, it’s the place to be for top-notch Korean fare where taste and experience are everything. There are two tasting menu seatings per evening, each of which begins with two snacks in the cocktail lounge. Next, descend the staircase and take a seat around the 14-person chef’s table to watch founder and chef JP Park craft the remaining eight courses and duet of desserts. You’ll get to select your own chopsticks designed by Korean artists to go along with the meal. Post-dinner, you’ll be able to take home the 10 illustrated menu cards that accompany each course. If you can’t manage to snag a coveted tasting menu spot, stop by here for pre-dinner nibbles consisting of cacio e pepe-style beef tartare, chicken wings stuffed with fried rice and and fried baby squid with egg-yolk sauce. Naturally, a Korean cocktail pairing is a must. And attention all selfie lovers: The infinity mirror in the upstairs bathroom is worth the visit alone.
One of the most in-demand restaurants in New York’s food scene, Frenchette is a must when visiting the city if you can secure a reservation (or don’t mind eating at the bar). Offering a unique take on the French classics, this is a place where originality and top-notch hospitality are seamlessly intertwined. Enjoy a cocktail at the bar almost immediately upon arrival, and then drool over the exciting menu options such as the rotisserie lobster, smoked trout beignets and duck frites. We won’t even get into the bragging rights you’ll garner after spending an evening here.
Set in a gorgeous, bright and airy space that used to be an auto-body shop (you would never know), Lilia is the older sister of Missy Robbins’ other Williamsburg eatery, Misi. With logs stacked in the walls, exposed brick painted white and a steely bar, Lilia is a minimalist interior designer’s dream where a super sleek space somehow manages to make you feel completely cosy.
Suzume looks like the kind of sushi joint that the girls of Sex and the City would squeeze into before a night on the town. A sleek space with dark wood, snug tables and hanging lamps and chandeliers, it’s perfect for a date night consisting of hot sake and spicy tuna rolls. If you want to mix it up rather than sticking to sushi, we recommend the pea shoot bok-choy salad with cashew tuile, fish tacos or spicy butter wings. It’s right in Williamsburg, and is one of the best places to start the night before venturing to one of the countless surrounding bars.
Michelin-starred and a favourite among the fashion set for good reason, the warmly lit and painfully sophisticated Le Coucou is the only place you’ll want to be for an anniversary or birthday dinner. Grab a drink at the heavily Instagrammed blush bar and don’t feel embarrassed to capture the Sleeping Beauty-esque willow branch print on the walls – they somehow feel like they’re shadows from actual trees. Once your candlelit table is ready, sidle into your sage-green velvet chair and fawn over the endless wine list. The sole Véronique with grapes and mushrooms in a buttery sauce is to die for, and the experience wouldn’t be complete without the lemon crêpe soufflé to top it all off. There’s French music playing in the loos, the service makes you feel like the only person in the world and you’ll likely be sitting next to an ex-CEO of Dior – there’s really nothing to complain about except how hard it is to secure a spot here. Brunch is equally fabulous and the waiting list to get a table is certainly less extensive.
abcV is the vegan alternative to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen. Focused on produce sourced from nearby family farms, abcV is an icon for sustainable, artisanal cooking. While remaining undeniably healthy, the menu is heaving with more-ish dishes. We adore the smoky aubergine with tomato chutney and green chickpea hummus with Thai basil to start, and everything from the butternut squash with tahini to the mushroom walnut bolognese in the mains are highly creative and equally delectable. “Healthy” desserts like matcha crême brulée and coconut custard are go-tos as well.
For a New York experience that you really can’t find anywhere else, go to Roberta’s. This East Williamsburg pizza joint has a sprawling outdoor space where you can enjoy a couple of pints from the bar while waiting for your pie (in good old-fashioned Brooklyn terms). The pizzas, with names like Cheesus Christ and Beastmaster, are so good you might not want to share, but this is the place to come with a big group, order a bunch and sample as many flavours as you can.
While Los Angeles might be the US city you automatically associate with great Mexican food and Tacombi is your usual go-to in New York, Rosie’s is a local East Village spot that we can’t get enough of. Their hibiscus margarita and fried chips with guac are delightful, and you really can’t go wrong with the rest of the menu. The Al Pastor and Pescado tacos served on a wooden board are delectable, and the kale enchilada is a healthy take on a classic. If you manage to save some room, the churros are also fantastic.
The Bombay Bread Bar is chock-full of quirky, colourful design, and there’s no mystery behind that – Kris Moran, a set designer for Wes Anderson (who created the magical Darjeeling Limited design), is responsible for every detail. Marigolds and pink and green walls make for a fun environment in which to have a big group dinner. Share everything from the garlic naan to the palak paneer, and make sure to have a sampling of their cocktails such as the Elephant Lime Mule and Tamarind Margarita.
An adorable little spot hidden away on 1st Street in the East Village, Prune manages to make pocket-sized enviable. There are fuchsia barstools and Parisian-style mirrors lining the walls, and the open kitchen is in close proximity with the tables in a way that will make you feel like you’re a guest in somebody’s home rather than at a restaurant. The menu is pared-back and creative with a focus on the season, but generally features simple vegetable dishes without fussy trimmings and beautifully prepared meat dishes. Dessert is always eye-catching, with offerings including ricotta and honeycomb ice cream with shortbread cookies and lemon semifreddo with extra-virgin olive oil and Maldon salt. Come here with a close friend for a night spent catching up and relishing Prune’s food that brings fine dining to a relaxed setting.
If Chloë Sevigny, Emma Stone et. al. choose this spot time and time again for brunch and dinner, there’s got to be a good reason. Nestled in at the intersection between 4th and 12th Streets in the West Village, this rabbit-hole French bistro feels neighbourhood-y while serving extremely high-quality food. The risotto (usually on the special menu, with flavours varying from season to season) is some of the best we’ve had in the city, the tuna burger is spectacular, and the waiters are lively and always up for a chat. This is also the perfect place to start a weekend night before drifting to a nearby speakeasy for cocktails.
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
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