manhattan restaurant guide // week 6

As most of you know by now, the kind folks at OpenTable asked me to write about a few of our favorite restaurants in the city and I decided to turn it into a six week series over this summer.

We're down to our sixth and final week of my favorite Manhattan restaurants! What a tour it has been. We're closing out with a very popular location for tourists, and an often loathsome spot for locals - Midtown. I don't despise Midtown like some people, but it is a bit congested. But  that's not to say we don't spend time there. Al and I both work in Midtown, we like to walk Lily up to Bryant Park and we'll occasionally catch a Broadway Show. All good reasons why we've fished out the best restaurants in the area. Now you have no reason to go to any of those chains in Times Square.

Check out a few of our favorites below. To make reservations, click on over to the OpenTable New York City Restaurants page.

::: Where to Eat in Midtown :::

Brasserie Ruhlmann ::: This place can seem sort of touristy since it's smack in the middle of Rockefeller Center, but the french brasserie food is delicious. It's got a great view of the Christmas Tree and skating rink in the winter and in the summer they have tons of out door seating perfect for sipping a glass of rosé after some shopping.  

Butter ::: For all you Chopped fans, this is Alex Guarnaschelli's spectacular American restaurant. It's a gorgeous space with lots of natural light, and in the warmer months the garden is open with a lighter (less expensive) lunch menu.

China Grill ::: This is a great place for a big group dinner. Huge family style portions of both traditional and modern Chinese fare are passed around the table. We like to go before seeing a show across the street at Radio City Music Hall. They also have a great $25 lunch.

21 Club ::: This place oozes old-school New York style. Go for cocktails in the Lounge followed by a more casual dinner in the Bar Room or an all-out fancy affair Upstairs at 21. Club 21 has been in a ton of movies and TV shows, including Sex and The City (the episode where Big eats a steak before his heart surgery).

Del Frisco's ::: If for the rest of my life I were allowed to eat steak from only one place, this would be the place. A massive restaurant with great views of 6th Avenue, it's food matches its impressive square footage. The steaks are perfectly cooked with the best sear on them and the side dishes are incredible. Plus, it's not too stuffy. The staff is incredibly friendly, the sommelier helpful, and just an all around great experience. Walking distance to several of the Broadway theaters too so a great pre- or post- theater option.

Esca ::: Another gem from the Batali-Bastianich empire. Coastal Italian food is served elegantly in a cozy town-house setting. Another great option for a pre-theater meal and you must get try a few of the crudo (like Italian sashimi)

Grand Central Oyster Bar ::: This place is an institution. Seriously, it's over 100 years old! It's one of Al and his dad's favorite spots. Slurping oysters and shelling seafood while sitting underneath Grand Central Station. It's a pretty neat experience. And they also do well with large parties.

Kingside ::: A new spot on 57th street from Marc Murphy (also on Chopped), this is the vibe and food that midtown often lacks. A fantastic menu and even better cocktail selection, it's great for after work or on a weekend. And they have a great rooftop bar too!

Koi ::: Fresh and fun sushi combinations served in a club-y atmosphere across from Bryant Park. I loved it a few years ago, but now I find it a little loud. But still, for a birthday party or a bachelorette dinner this is a really fun spot. And the food is phenomenal.

Marea ::: Someone asked me recently for my number one restaurant in NYC and I told them Marea. All of it is so darn good. It's a Michael White restaurant (same chef as Osteria Morini, another of my very favs) that serves incredible Italian food. White tablecloths, elegant wait staff, and oh goodness the food is just like nothing else. And whatever you do, don't leave without ordering the Garganelli  squid ink pasta.

Momofuku Má Pêche ::: The only David Chang restaurant where you can get a reservation without winning some kind of internet lottery. Modeled after dim-sum, fantastic modern-Asian food rolls by the tables on little carts throughout the restaurant. It's a very fun (albeit expensive) experience.

The National ::: Al and I go here occasionally for an after-work cocktail. The bar area is cozy and just full enough with people. The restaurant side is brighter and serves great steaks, chops, and seafood all done elegantly, but not fussy. And I should mention, it's head by yet another Chopped judge (what's with me?!), Geoffrey Zakarian. 

Pampano ::: It would't be a favorites list without one Mexican restaurant. Light, "breezy", fancy Mexican food. It sounds weird, but it's really very good. I've only been for work lunches, but I'm sure dinner is stupendous. Also, one of the best margaritas I've ever had.

Quality Italian ::: Think of a large pizza. Now imagine a chicken parmesan pounded and covered in sauce and cheese the size of that large pizza. I'm not joking. It's huge! And it's just one of the reasons to visit Quality Italian. 

The Smith ::: Clearly, by now, you can see we love all locations of The Smith. But especially  when in Midtown wherethings can get a bit touristy and plastic-tasting, it's nice to have a go-to that you know will serve you some legit food. And I love how big the menu is - it covers several types of cuisine so everyone can be happy.

Wow! We covered almost the whole island! (Sorry Upper East Siders and FiDi foks, I just don't eat there frequently enough to include you in the list. Maybe next year.) What an incredible and fun task it has been to think through all the amazing meals we've had in this city. I hope you've found a few new favorites to add to your lists!

Check out the previous posts in this series:

Thanks to OpenTable for reaching out. The OpenTable New York City Restaurants page is always my first stop when planning our dining.

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