Best of Manhattan 2023: Food & Drink

| 12 Dec 2023 | 12:16



Super Taste

1502 1st Avenue


While the Upper East Side’s dining scene is more diverse than most outsiders realize, it hasn’t had a great Chinese noodle shop before. Now it does. Long a beloved, albeit tiny, fixture on Eldridge Street in Chinatown, this new outpost—opened by Johnson Yan, son of Super Taste founder Steven—brings the best of downtown. Essential: hot and spicy beef noodle soup; steamed pork and chive dumplings; hot sesame noodles.


Nasrin’s Kitchen

35 W. 57th Street


The remarkable brainchild of Iranian-born owner-chef Nasrin Rejali, Nasrin’s Kitchen brings the distinct, and relatively unknown, tastes of homestyle Persian cooking to the people of Manhattan as never before. Located on the second floor of a building, above a deli, its menu—which is halal—includes soups, stew, breads, and stunning biryani, and kebabs. Must try appetizer: a delectable egg dish called kuku sabzi.


Cecchi’s Downtown

105 West 13th Street


Occupying the former home of the storied Café Loup, Cecchi’s is the intriguing, unpretentious creation of veteran NYC maître-d’ and restaurant industry memoirist, Michael Cecchi-Azzolina. Serving its version of American comfort food in a convivial, Art Deco-inspired setting with exceptional care, Cecchi’s is both a throwback to an era of casual elegance and forward looking in the care taken to invigorate old favorites like North Atlantic swordfish and grilled Australian rack of lamb. Cecchi’s burger is a favorite, likewise the off-menu martini. Enjoy the food, relish the experience.





1439 2nd Avenue

212 899-8995

The rich, creative flavors of Bangkok burst to life at Thep—a Thai word meaning god, or supreme, god-like. If that’s a high bar to clear, Thep makes it seem easy, and without pretension too. While Thep can get busy, that’s the price of a great reputation and, though it takes no reservations, one can usually get a seat without waiting too long. Especially recommended: khao soi, a noodle soup made with bone-on chicken and crispy egg noodle; Chive Dumpling Massaman; Spicy Udon noodles; pineapple fried rice; the astonishing Purple Peanut Dumplings.


Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi

10 Lincoln Center Plaza


Opened in late 2022 and hugely praised ever since, Tatiana is a sterling addition to the world-famous arts complex which never had an on-site restaurant of this quality before. Located inside David Geffen Hall, and named after the sister of James Beard-award winning, chef Kwame Onwuachi, Tatiana’s menu features a stunning array dishes reflecting both Onwuachi’s Afro Caribbean Bronx heritage, and the cosmopolitan diaspora. Must try: braised oxtails; short pastrami suya; brown stew chicken.


Da Andrea

35 W. 13th Street


Originally opened on Hudson Street, this relocated Northern Italian favorite, now with new ownership, is still happily thriving in the West Village. Quality across the board is excellent: excellent bread, an exceptional Caesar salad, pappardelle, Ravioli di vitello, zuppa di pesce—Sicilian seafood stew. Must try: Spaghetti Alla Carbonara. Prices are more expensive than they are in Italy but you more than make it up in savings on airfare.





202 E 70th St


While some locals may claim this or that food truck as “the best,” for great tacos in a clean, casual restaurant with regular hours, Tacombi is the spot. Founded in Yucatan in 2006, Tacombi’s genius has been a hit in New York, where it now has eight locations in Manhattan alone. As its name suggests, tacos here are king including Baja Crispy Fish, Pollo Yucateco (roasted chicken and spicy red sauce), and, should vegetarian be of interest... Black Bean and sweet potato.


Los Tacos No. 1

229 West 43rd St New York


Lines can get long at this popular taqueria on the ground floor of the old New York Times building but they move quickly, and attest to the deliciousness that awaits. (The same is true for their four other Manhattan locations, including Chelsea Market.) Served on flour or corn tortillas, the pollo asado (grilled chicken); adobada (marinated pork) and nopal (grilled cactus) are all notable. Chips, salsa, guacamole and excellent quesadillas are also available.


Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery

215 Avenue A


Some of the city’s best tacos come not from restaurants or the sometimes ubiquitous taco trucks but a place even more utilitarian: the Mexican grocery store with a grill inside. So it is with East Village standout, Zaragoza. Family owned and operated, burritos, sopes, tostadas, enchiladas. Pick hits: anything with barbacoa goat, and for adventurous palates, lengua (tongue).





217 E. 86th Street


Unpretentious, consistent, and delicious, Mimi’s thrives as both a convenient slice joint and a more than solid option for take out—which is a good thing, since there isn’t much seating. The square, Sicilian-style slices are especially praised, with Grandma, margherita, denso pepperoni among other favorites. One unusual offering is a cauliflower crust, $1. Open late— and extra late on Fridays and Saturdays.


Song e Napule Pizzeria & Trattoria

464 Amsterdam Avenue


We’ll admit it: rarely has the Upper West been a pizza destination. Yes, there were good slices, and good pies, scattered about, but few places that inspired one to tell their friends, “hey, come on over—for pizza!” Song e Napule, which specializes in the cuisine of Naples, Italy, changes that, dramatically. On a menu full of intriguing pastas, salads, their Neapolitan pies are a standout. Try the Diavoloa, topped with spicy Calabrian salami, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil from Sicily.


Joe & Pat’s

168 1st Avenue


Joe and Pat’s has been a legendary institution for decades—in the Castleton Corners neighborhood of Staten Island, which few New Yorkers even know exists. Happily, with the 2018 opening of a second Joe & Pat’s in the East Village, some of the greatest thin crust pizza in world became much more accessible. So brilliant is Joe’s thin—but not crispy—crust that even their plain cheese pie is tangy and fantastic, and the pepperoni even better. Anchovies? Absolutely!





308 E. 78th Street


Rightly legendary and beloved, Orwasher’s is a destination that’s always worth the trip. Billing itself as “New York’s original artisan bakery,” it must be said that Orwasher’s other baked goods are wonderful: challah, rye bread, hand-filled jelly donuts, rugelach, babka, cookies, more. On the bagel side, the perfect sesame is first among equals, whether plain or as part of a sandwich. An Upper West Side location also on Amsterdam Ave is similarly great.



2245 Broadway


Let’s be honest: for something as personal—as intimate—to a New Yorker, as a bagel, no two people will agree. Pumpernickel isn’t poppy seed; and bialys—which are a must—are another species altogether. Enter the beloved Jewish grocery Zabar’s and, if any one variety of bagel might not be your favorite, it’s likely that the “whole schmear” of the Zabar’s experience—crowded, loud, passionate— will be.


Russ & Daughters

179 East Houston Street


Some legends are fully justified and so it is here. Established in 1914, Russ & Daughters which stands as both one of the city’s great bagel shops but its roots as an Eastern European Jewish “appetizing” store—essentially the fish and dairy version of meat-oriented delicatessen. While all its bagels are excellent, the pumpernickel is standout, as the onion bialys are also. Order nova lox also and you’ll see, these aren’t just shop workers but true deli professionals upholding a remarkable tradition. Although take out only, they have a breakfast and lunch café around the corner at 127 Orchard Street. In July 2023, a second Russ & Daughters appetizing store opened at 502 W. 34th Street at Hudson Yards.




Variety Coffee Roasters

1269 Lexington Avenue


Originally based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—their coffee is still roasted there—Variety now has three excellent Manhattan locations; the others are in Chelsea and the Financial District. Besides its wide assortment of coffees—and beans you can bring home— Variety distinguishes itself with good hours, good seating and a good bathroom, a feature than many other coffee shops lack. Top notch scones too.


Daily Provisions

375 Amsterdam Avenue


A superb café and bakery, Daily Provisions is a rare example of the coffee shop that does everything right. Besides its excellent range of coffee drinks, as well as tea and other beverages, there are also breakfast sandwiches (the sausage, egg and cheese is especially praised), snacks, salads (including a health inducing kale Ceasar salad), and lunch and dinner options too. If it sometimes gets crowded, this is New York, what do you expect? Daily Provisions has three other Manhattan locations, good seating and a bathroom too—a coffee shop must for anything but take out.


787 Coffee

66 Pearl Street


A jewel on Pearl Street, 787 Coffee is so pleasant and colorfully quirky that, upon their first visit, most people would likely exclaim “Holy moly! What a great and unique place...” Well, that’s true but it turns out, lots of other people feel the same about their 787 location—of which there are seventeen others in New York City, five in Puerto Rico. For a company that began in 2017 as a coffee farm in 2017, this is astonishing but the system works: the brew, the baked goods, the seating. the clean bathroom—they even have breakfast tacos.




Bemelmans Bar

35 East 76th Street


Located inside the Carlyle Hotel, Bemelmans is an old New York drinking class landmark. Its ambiance is unmatched, from its murals by Ludwig Bemelmans—creator of the famed Madeline children’s books—to the red coated bartenders to the live jazz trio. The food is solid too. Signature cocktails include the Red Jacket, JFK Daquiri, Jackie O, and The Essayist (Drumshambo Gunpowder Sardinian Citrus Gin, Pear Liqueur, Rosemary Syrup, Lime Juice, Grapefruit Juice). Try them all.


Da Capo Columbus

322 Columbus Ave

A delightful café by day, and a cocktail bar at night, Da Capo does so many things well, it’s a wonder how they manage it. On the mixology side, signature drinks like You Didn’t Say Goodbye (Gin, lemon grass syrup, lemon juice, mint, cucumber and cava) and Winter Sonata (whisky, amaro, pear liquor, maple syrup and orange bitters) rub shoulders with Big In Japan, Espresso Self, and Angels Envy Manhattan.



9 Doyers Street


Located in the historic heart of Chinatown—literally at the bend of Doyers Street—this small, highly praised lounge is must for those on the downtown cocktail circuit. Ingredients are house-made daily and organic and its menu is divided into six categories: Health & Beauty, Aphrodisiacs, Pain Killers, Stimulants, Euphorics, Stress Relievers. For classicists who love their Homer, Siren’s Call is especially intriguing: gin, roasted seaweed, ginger, lime, smoked lava salt rim, candy pearl.