Living in New York City is hard. Every time you decide to have a quiet night in, someone is texting you to go for drinks, a show, or a gallery opening. Eating in New York is harder. Every time you think you made a five-star dinner for yourself, you scroll through your Instagram feed and see people eating better and living larger than you. But you shouldn’t have to go through life with a never-ending case of FOMO. Here’s a list of places for every palate where you can treat yo’ self and still be able to pay your rent at the end of the month.
1. The Polo Bar
If you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation, you’ve got to indulge. Start off with one of the handcrafted cocktails. I’d go with the Brown Derby to stay in theme. It’s made with Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Pamplemousse Rose, Honey and Angostura bitters. The food menu changes to reflect the flavors of the season, but if you’re lucky, you might just be eating meat from Ralph Lauren’s Colorado ranch. To finish the meal off, definitely go for the ice cream. The coffee flavor is made from Ralph’s custom blend (he also has a café on the top floor of his flagship store).
Anyone wondering why a sandwich place is splurge-worthy hasn’t known the pleasure you get from paying $20 for Katz’s pastrami on rye. It is the OG family deli, and they let you sample your sandwich meat while you wait at the counter. This is meat that’s been cured for 30 days, as opposed to the mere 36 hours of curing for commercially-prepared meat. And if you think you don’t like pickles, just try their house-made pickles. They may just change your life. Plus, its LES location is prime for late-night eats, as Katz’s is open 24 hours on weekends.
If you don’t get the seafood tower and the “Hit Me” dessert, did you even go to Catch? Sometimes at a place with very theatrical dining experiences, the food just doesn’t live up to the hype. In Catch’s case, the food exceeds expectations. Fresh seafood with creative sauces is a winning formula for this Meatpacking restaurant. If you really want to treat yourself, request to be seated at a rooftop table.
#SpoonTip: Go for brunch for the best lighting. You know you’re going to want to Instagram it.
No, this isn’t just on the list because we all want to be like Chrissy and John (if you want to eat like them though, their favorite splurge meal is the Tomahawk Ribeye for two). The Bowery Meat Company will bring out the carnivore in anyone. The Bowery Steak with Salsa Verde is a can’t-miss, as well as a favorite of Chef Josh Capon. Their wine list was carefully curated to pair with anything on their menu, but I would order the “Gold Digger,” a bourbon, honey and Sriracha cocktail. Plus, if you’re not a big red-meat-eater, they have a great selection of seafood.
Madonna once said that “You can tell how much fun a city is going to be if Nobu has a restaurant in it.” New York has three. Start off with a refreshing Cucumber Martini (Citron Vodka, Cucumber Purée, Lychee & Lemon Juice) while you decide if you’re going to try the multi-course chef’s tasting menu or create your own. Just make sure you don’t leave without trying the Big Eye Tuna Tataki with Ponzu sauce and the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. Complete your Nobu experience with Mochi ice cream or Matcha Tiramisu. If you want to look the part, brush up on your sushi etiquette before you arrive.
A place that describes itself as a molecular gastronomy pub is usually a place I’d make fun of, but The Spotted Pig has been awarded with a Michelin star for the past 7 years. Getting the Chargrilled Burger with Shoestring Fries is a must, although everything from the scallops to the salads are drool-worthy. The Spotted Pig is walk-in only, but well worth the wait. They advise that the restaurant is least busy at lunch. If you go for brunch or dinner, though, they have suggestions on the best places nearby for you to explore until your table is ready.
Carbone is an old-school Italian place where you aren’t served, but led through a dining experience by your captain. The Spicy Rigatoni Vodka is worth ruining your diet for (although gluten-free pasta is available upon request), but don’t miss the Scampi alla Scampi and the Veal Parmesan. Top it all off with the lemon cheesecake, and ask your captain about wine pairings. When you get an Italian craving while you wait a month for your reservation, you can check out Parm, also owned by Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone.
#SpoonTip: Carbone is now open for lunch with a slightly different menu.
You’ve got to start off with a Bellini. Bellinis were invented by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice and Harry Cipriani on 59th and 5th is an almost exact replica of the original bar. Cipriani’s vision was to deliver impeccable service and a luxurious dining experience to everyone who set foot in his restaurants and that tradition continues today. The menu begins with the chef’s recommendations for the day, a daily special, and some of Harry’s Bar classics. You can’t miss the Handmade Tortellini with Panna, Prosciutto and Piselli if it’s available, and for dessert the ice cream is made to order.
What would this list be without the first fine dining restaurant in the country? Delmonico’s steak is so delectable they’ve been serving it the same way since they opened in 1837. Start off with Lobster Newburg before your steak, and finish off with a Baked Alaska — both were created at Delmonico’s during the 1860s. The restaurant has also been updated to match the opulence from when it first opened.
If you get someone’s table rights, you better go splurge and you better bring me with you. Until then, I’ll just be enjoying the sauce.
Of course, a comprehensive list of all the NYC restaurants worth a splurge is near impossible, so leave a comment with your go-to for treating yourself.