New York City

manhattan

When I moved here, I couldn't believe I lived in the West Village! I was living in a movie set!  As the years passed, I slowly developed some hardened New Yorker traits: complaining about the weather (too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter), the dirt, the traffic, the lines, how much we pay for rent. But it's still a magical place. I now live in Brooklyn Heights, and have never been happier in New York. Check out my Brooklyn guide here.

I am obsessed with recommending the perfect place, depending on what you need. Sometimes you want a casual West Village spot where you won't wait for two hours. Other times, you may want to dress up and go all out. You might feel like a relaxed East Village night or a fancy night on the Upper East Side. Or you might be all about Brooklyn. And what about that elusive perfect lunch spot in Midtown? 

I have been a licensed New York City tour guide for years and read the local papers and blogs like it's my job (well...it kind of is). I like knowing the details of everything happening and opening in the city, but I love small neighborhood restaurants best of all. This city has changed my life, it is my heart and soul, and I always get butterflies when I see the skyline again after being away.

see/do/shop 

The High Line - A beautiful urban park built on an old elevated train track that completed the transformation of the far West side/Meatpacking district. 

Top of the Rock - A membership paid for itself with the number of family & friends I’ve brought up here. It is better than the Empire State Building because you SEE the Empire State Building in the view.

Gramercy Park - This gorgeous park takes you back to New York in the early 1900s. You can only get in if you have a key to the park, which are for people that live on the park only. Still, it's lovely to stroll around. Eat at Danny Meyer's Maialino for breakfast or lunch on the park. Or go to lunch at one of New York's best (and expensive) places, Gramercy Tavern.

New York Public Library - You could spend hours in the Rose Main Reading Room devouring books - but I usually just pop in to show visitors how stunning the room is. It's mind-bogglingly beautiful and reopened in fall 2016 after extensive restoration work. Don’t miss the original Winnie-the-Pooh dolls, owned by Christopher Milne, on display in the Children's Library.

The Metropolitan Opera - All of Lincoln Center feels so grand and I have grown to love operas and the sheer scale of talent that sings from the stage here. Go on a Saturday night, book 6:30pm dinner at The Met's Grand Tier - everyone is dressed up, swilling champagne, basking in two giant Chagalls, and having a ball. First and second course before the opera begins, but get dessert and coffee at intermission. It's a beautiful, only-in-NYC night. 

One World Trade Observatory - A bittersweet, emotional view from the top after a 60-second elevator ride to the 102nd floor. It is incredible to see the city from this vantage point. Pro tip: Buy tickets online ahead of time and you'll go right in. Standard reserved admission is enough, you don't need to spend double for priority or VIP entry. 

Bookstores

The Corner Bookstore (Upper East Side): The neighborhood bookshop which inspired Nora Ephron for You've Got Mail. Stop at Eli's Essentials nearby for lunch or wine. 

Three Lives & Company (West Village): It's on the most perfect corner of the Village, on 10th Street. Great staff recommendations. 

McNally Jackson (SoHo): The two-floor bookstore has a cute cafe and tables of carefully curated books. I love their magazine section, too. 

The Strand (Union Square): NYC's most famous bookstore (home to "18 miles of books") offering new and used books. Impossible to leave without a few books in hand and maybe a souvenir bag. Impressive collection of cookbooks. 

BookCulture (Upper West Side): There are three locations but I like the one at Columbus and 81st St - a great stop before or after Central Park. 

MUSEUMS

To be totally honest, after 1.5 hours in a museum I start hunting for the museum cafe. But I do love them and New York showcases some of the greatest treasures in the world. 

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art & The Cloisters - have a drink or lunch at the Petrie Court wine bar. 
  • MoMA once in awhile
  • The Morgan Library - They display Charles Dickens' original manuscript for The Christmas Carol every holiday season but it's all about the majestic 1906 library. It's one of the most beautiful historic interiors in the city. 
  • The Frick Collection - (my personal favorite in NYC) for a taste of how old New York lived
  • Neue Galerie to take me back to Austria and Germany. A slice of cake and coffee is a must at Cafe Sabarksy. 
  • Lower East Side Tenement Museum for an interesting tour on how immigrants lived in the city (hint: it wasn't luxurious).
  • American Museum of Natural History for fossils, rocks, and stalking Ross Gellar (though the museum feels like it needs a major cleaning and some exhibits feel circa 1960)
  • The new Whitney Museum of American Art downtown is gorgeous, designed by Renzo Piano.

Move

Flywheel Sports: Flywheel is an incredible spinning workout. Their TriBeCa studio is beautiful. I love Danielle and Ruth the most - also Allison C., Natalie C., Wendy W, Kara, and Todd Mendiola.

SoulCycle: If you want some therapy with your spin session...SoulCycle can be the most inspiring 45 minutes. The instructor is everything. I love Noa (BEST!), Rachel W., Sean, Stevie, Janet, Laurie, Rique, and Mantas.

Hudson River Park: A great (but can be crowded) bike trail from the southern tip of Manhattan all the way to the Upper West Side or up to 181st St if you're in the mood. 

In Brooklyn: Bike the Prospect Park loop - it is the perfect 45-minute workout with a glorious downhill and a challenging uphill climb. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge for the classic experience or the Manhattan Bridge for the best views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

Restaurants


Upper East Side

If I had to pick one...Eli's Table for brunch, Antonucci for dinner. 

Andre's HungarianNora Ephron was right about most things. And she was right that this tiny shop on the Upper East Side has divine savory cabbage strudel. The apple strudel is delicious too, if you have a hankering for the Alps. 1631 Second Ave b/t 84th & 85th St

Antonucci: With a Venice-born chef and owner at the helm, this two-room neighborhood spot evokes the best Italian trattorias. 170 E. 81st St nr. Third Ave

Beyoglu: Super fresh, delicious Turkish food, like the meze platter, Greek salad, and falafel. Always loud inside, great sidewalk tables. 1431 Third Ave at 81st St

Bistro Chat Noir - Great for dinner, super close to Central Park, on the bottom floor of a beautiful old town house. 22 E. 66th St nr. Madison Ave

E.A.T. by Eli Zabar: It's all about the Tuscan Peasant Soup and grilled cheese. 1064 Madison Ave b/t 80th & 81st St

Eli's Table: Shop at Eli's Manhattan gourmet food store to feel like you're in a beautiful European market. They recently renovated the restaurant that is attached to the store and it's a wonderful place for brunch (the insane bread basket comes with a huge jar of homemade jam). 1413 Third Ave nr. 80th St

Glaser's Bake Shop - Open since 1902 (that is before the Titanic sank, before WWI...), this is a total throwback. Try the small black and white cookie (although William Greenberg has better, more addictive ones), lemon melt-a-ways, Viennese butter pecans, and any of the little Linzer cookies. 1670 First Avenue nr. 87th St

JG Melon - Classic UES burger joint - the atmosphere is pure preppy 70s/80s NYC. 1291 Third Ave at 74th St

Orsay: Love coming here for brunch on the weekends - great outdoor seating and good omelets, salads and other French-inspired food. 1057 Lexington Ave at 75th St

Sfoglia: Quiet and romantic, Sfoglia (in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Carnegie Hill) serves market driven Italian dishes. 1402 Lexington Ave at 92nd St

Three Guys: It makes me feel like I've stepped into the Upper East Side of the 80's. Good option after a stroll through Central Park.  960 Madison b/t 75th & 76th St

Two Little Red Hens: Adorable, classic bakery with the best mini red velvet cupcakes. 1652 Second Ave at 86th St

Via Quadronno - Close to Central Park and a wonderful cappuccino. This is for major people watching and great paninis - snobby but fabulous European atmosphere. 25 E. 73rd St between Madison & Fifth Ave

Times Square/Hell's Kitchen

If I had to pick one...Orso for dinner. Schnipper's Quality Kitchen for a super casual lunch or late-night eats. 

Esca: One of Mario Batali's places & perfect for pre or post-theater dining. Love the pomegranate bellini. 402 W. 43rd St at Ninth Ave

Orso: My favorite classic place to eat pre- or post-theater. 

Chelsea/Meatpacking

If I had to pick one...The Red Cat for lunch, Pizzeria Co. for dinner.

Cafeteria: Great for lunch - comfort food in a bright, white, airy oasis. 119 Seventh Ave at 17th St

Catch: So delicious for sushi and can't-miss crispy shrimp. You'll probably wait 45 min-1 hour even if you have a reservation-they're "cool" like that. But the shrimp is still addicting, as is the Cantonese lobster & truffle fries. 21 Ninth Ave nr. 13th St

Chelsea Market: This used to be one of my favorite hideaways on a blistering hot summer day or a blizzard-y winter day. Now, it's always a zoo. But I still like it - I buy frozen chicken pot pies from The Green Table (you have to ask), imported Italian ingredients from Buon Italia (don't miss Setaro pasta from Italy, very hard to find in the U.S.!), and incredible seafood from The Lobster Place. FYI: The Food Network studios are in the same building, so you may see Rachael Ray wandering around. 75 Ninth Ave nr. 15th St

City Bakery: Great place to meet for coffee - the huge chocolate chip cookie isa sweet, salty, chocolate-y masterpiece, unlike any other chocolate chip cookie you've had. People love their pretzel croissants but it's not my favorite. 3 W. 18th St nr. Fifth Ave

Cookshop: Seasonal, always-changing menu. Fun atmosphere and right across from one of the entrances to The High Line. 156 Tenth Ave at 20th St

Da Umberto: A great upscale Italian trattoria that caters to a locals-only mix of smartly dressed European transplants and New Yorkers. 107 W. 17th St nr. Sixth Ave

The Red Cat: Wonderful spot for a Mediterranean-meets-American lunch - I've had a lot of business lunches here. 227 Tenth Ave nr. 23rd St

The Standard Grill: If you can snag a table outside on a gorgeous night at this always-packed bistro, there's nothing better. Walk the High Line and eat here. Book ahead. 848 Washington St nr. 13th St

Union Square/Greenwich Village

If I had to pick one...Il Cantinori or Union Square Cafe. 

15 East: A special occasion sushi place with a glowing, Zen-like dining room. 15 E. 15th St at Union Square

Baked by Melissa: Bite-size, addicting cupcakes the size of a quarter. There's always a mini of the month. Several  locations in the city. 7 E. 14th St nr. Union Square

Breads Bakery: Insane chocolate babka and a great, spicy Tuna Tunisien sandwich with spicy harissa sauce, eggs, olives, tomato, and sliced potatoes. 18 E. 16th St nr. Union Square  

Il Cantinori: On my favorite street in Greenwich Village, 10th Street, & great old-school Italian. I like sitting in the back room. 32 E. 10th St nr. University Place

Minetta Tavern: It's especially festive at Christmas and a great brunch spot - the Black Label burger is worth it.  

num pang: In a city with zillions of sandwich spots, there are surprisingly few great ones. This is one of the greats. Go to the original on E. 12th St, order a watermelon juice and coconut tiger shrimp bahn mi, and enjoy on a bench in Union Square. They use amazing toasted semolina flour bread, homemade chili mayo, pickled carrots, cilantro & cucumbers on every sandwich. Even if that combination sounds weird, TRY IT. 28 E. 12th St nr. University Place

Otto: Great for an inexpensive, group meal (let's say your cousins and their kids are in town) but reserve far in advance. Perfect spaghetti carbonara and olive oil gelato. 1 Fifth Ave at 8th St

Union Square Cafe: My favorite for when it's a rainy day & I want to meet someone for a long lunch. NYC classic. The original location closed in December 2015 but the new location is wonderful.

The Smith: This original location is a great, casual spot to meet friends for brunch or dinner. 55 Third Ave nr. 11th St

East Village/NoHo

If I had to pick one...Jewel Bako for sushi. 

Fresca Gelateria: Fantastic gelato. The owner had a gelato shop in Greece for five years and the space is designed to evoke beautiful, white Greek design (with reclaimed wood from Coney Island). They have some unique flavors like goat cheese and rose water (not my thing), but I loved the salted caramel and peanut butter. 138 Second Ave nr. 9th St

Indochine: You couldn't get in in the 80's - it was THE hotspot in NYC. Today, it's still hopping and a bit of a time warp. I feel like I could see Billy Joel & Christie Brinkley on one of their first dates. Try the Chilean sea bass, sticky rice, and Asian crab cakes. 430 Lafayette St nr. Astor Place

Davey's Ice Cream: Oh, the cookies and cream here is SO GOOD - they use real chunks of Oreos instead of just cookie crumbs. 

Ngam: Exceptional Thai food - vegetable spring rolls, kale fried rice, pad thai. I just wish they had one in Brooklyn.  

Bar Primi: This place proves that people still eat gluten - a pasta bar from Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch, Locanda Verde, Lafayette) - it's super popular so there will be a line but tables move quickly. 325 Bowery at 2nd St

Shabu-Tatsu - So much fun! The waiter told us "Shabu-Shabu" means "Swish Swish" which is exactly what you do with thinly sliced raw meat or fish that is brought to your table. You place it in boiling hot water at your table that has been filled with fresh vegetables and noodles. This is the perfect first date spot though I loved coming with friends. Get the prime rib shabu-shabu and/or shrimp. 216 E. 10th St nr. Second Ave

Jewel Bako - The name says it all - a jewel box of a restaurant in the East Village with a gorgeous interior design. Great for any occasion - date night, dinner with friends, celebrations. Any time you crave fresh, perfect sushi! 239 E. 5th St nr. Third Ave

Motorino - Some of the most delicious pizza in NYC, not served by the slice. The meatball appetizer is also great. 349 E. 12th St nr. First Ave

 Chinatown

If I had to pick one...Vanessa's Dumplings for a super casual dumpling fix. 

Joe's Shanghai - Come here for the famous soup dumplings & be prepared to share large round tables with other friendly patrons.. Only-in-Chinatown experience. (Update: The last time I was here, there was a big "C" rating on the window - ew! - and the food was not very good. There is much better Chinese food to be found in NYC.)   9 Pell St, nr. Bowery

Nom Wah Tea Parlor - A vintage space open since 1920 - some of NYC's best dim sum. 11-13 Doyers Street

Vanessa's Dumplings - My personal favorite dumplings in NYC - specifically the fried chive and pork dumplings. Don't miss the sesame pancake vegetable sandwich - the bread is SO good and it's filled with shredded carrots, cilantro, cucumber, and  scallions. If that sounds strange to you, try it anyways. At $2.50, you won't lose much! The vinegary soy sauce on the table is the best part - swirl your dumplings in and then inhale. Pair with a cold peach bubble tea. 118 Eldridge Street

Hong Kong Supermarket - I feel phantom jet lag here - it feels so much like you're in Asia. I came here to buy shaoxing rice wine and chili bean paste to cook some Asian recipes. Set aside at least 30 minutes to explore all the weird, wonderful food - shredded squid, dried sweet potatoes, bun flour, cooked duck eggs, a million soy sauces. It's a giant space with two floors. I just can't look at the live frogs - I feel so bad for them. 157 Hester Street

SoHo/Little Italy/Nolita 

If I had to pick one...Ballato's.

Angelo's: Open since 1902, Angelo's is where you go on a cold winter night if you want great, rich Italian food and kind of love the idea of eating in Little Italy (I personally love it, cheap souvenir shops and all). Go to Ferrara for a cannoli after - open since 1892. 

Balthazar: I could live at Balthazar, I really could. It's all about long breakfasts, eggs, and croissants for me. 80 Spring St nr. Crosby

Ballato’s: I always recommend Ballato's to people - it's close to Little Italy but in a slightly odd spot on Houston Street. There’s also potential for major celebrity spotting (Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Neil Patrick Harris, Tom Hanks, and Kelly Ripa all love Ballato's).  It’s the perfect date spot and there’s not usually a long wait, but there is always a crowd. I have spent many nights here. 55 E. Houston St nr. Mott

Black Seed Bagels: The bagels here draw inspiration from a Montreal-style bagel. They're smaller and denser than a giant New York-style bagel. You can get the typical bagel-and-cream-cheese combo but they have the best menu of sandwiches - try the tuna & swiss sandwich on an everything bagel. 170 Elizabeth nr. Kenmare

The Butcher's Daughter - Super healthy/delicious spot - love their cold-pressed juices and the entire menu. Just wish the seating was slightly more comfortable. 19 Kenmare nr. Elizabeth

Charlie Bird: My favorite new restaurant in the city - it is worth the hype. Try the farro salad, raw scallop, gnocchi, roast chicken with crispy bits, and chocolate budino with olive oil gelato. 5 King St nr. Sixth Ave

David Burke Kitchen: On a beautiful day, the outdoor seating and garden is perfect for lunch and feels almost like you are in L.A. 23 Grand St nr. Sixth Ave

Di Palo: Italian deli open since 1925 in the heart of Little Italy. Bestmozzarella made daily and fresh pastas and sauces. 200 Grand St at Mott

The Dutch: Andrew Carmellini's (from Locanda Verde) cool SoHo spot. 131 Sullivan St nr. Prince

Vesuvio Bakery: Vesuvio was a SoHo institution for years and is now under the Birdbath brand umbrella of green, eco-friendly bakeries.  The chocolate chip cookies are enormous and to-die-for and can also be found at The City Bakery in Chelsea. 160 Prince St nr. Thompson

Kelley & Ping’s: There's never a wait here for fantastic Asian food and I love the cobblestone SoHo street it’s on. 127 Greene St nr. Prince

Lure Fishbar: It’s on everyone’s must-eat list in SoHo and for good reason.  Great fish, sushi, and calamari. 142 Mercer St at Prince

Raoul's: You're transported to the 70's when you walk in to this fabulous French bistro. I've come here at 10:00pm for a late dinner several times. 180 Prince St nr. Sullivan

Rubirosa: The vodka pizza is a must. On a super cute NoLita street. 235 Mulberry St nr. Prince

Upper West Side

If I had to pick one...always Cafe Luxembourg, any time of day. 

Cafe Lalo: I mean, it's the You've Got Mail cafe. 16-year-old Annie comes here to geek out. 201 W. 83rd St nr. Amsterdam

Cafe Luxembourg: I come here almost every time I'm on the Upper West Side. Local crowd, great bistro atmosphere. 200 W. 70th St nr. Amsterdam

Caffe Storico: Another favorite lunch spot on the Upper West Side, right on Central Park West in the New-York Historical Society. Gorgeous, light-filled space with long shelves of chic white tableware. The small plates, or cicchetti, took me back to the cicchetti bars in Venice. 170 Central Park West/W. 77th St

Good Enough To Eat: It's all comfort food here - like great home cooking. The place is packed at brunch, so go at dinner! Their quesadillas are great and I love the Migas - scrambled eggs with tortilla chips, peppers, onions, cheese & tortillas. 520 Columbus at W. 85th St

Peacefood Cafe: I guarantee that the most devoted carnivores will find something to eat at this vegan restaurant. The chickpea fries, soy nuggets, focaccia sandwiches, and vegetable sides are delicious. Service is eh. 460 Amsterdam Ave at 82nd St

Midtown East & Midtown West 

If I had to pick one...PizzArte for lunch - it's a Midtown hidden gem. 

21 Club: Truly classic New York. Ask them to show you the wine cellar. 21 W. 52nd St nr. Fifth Ave

Adyar Ananda Bhavan: You won't just find yourself at the corner of 59th & 1st Ave - you have to really want to come here. It's so worth it for fantastic South Indian vegetarian dishes. Order the Mumbai Royal Thali - the yellow dhal (lentils), palak paneer (spinach with cheese), and channa masala (chickpeas with tomatoes/spices) are SO delicious. This is one of those places that makes you so happy to live in New York - feels like a secret find. 

Artisanal Bistro: For incredible fondue & gougeres as an appetizer. I spent Christmas Eve here once and it was perfect.

Bergdorf Goodman (BG), 7th Floor: Classic ladies-who-lunch spot with views of Central Park. It's all about the Gotham Salad.

Grand Central Oyster Bar: 

Le Bernardin: All hail Chef Eric Ripert - perfect seafood.

Lexington Brass: A great Midtown lunch spot at 48th and Lexington.Truffle fries are not too truffle-y and they have great salads. 

Keens Steakhouse: Old-school NYC steakhouse (since 1885!) & a fabulous ambiance. 72 W. 36th St b/t 5th & 6th Ave

Marea: The fish selection is the absolute best - inspiring, delicious dishes on Central Park South. Great for lunch or a celebratory dinner. 240 Central Park South nr. Broadway

Parker & Quinn: To answer the awful question - "Where should we meet near Penn Station?" - this is it! The Refinery Hotel's ground-floor restaurant and bar has a buzzing, friendly crowd and great energy in an otherwise unimaginative part of town. 64 W. 39th St nr. Sixth Ave

PizzArte: The name is terrible but this is a major Midtown hidden gem. Owned by two Italians with great taste, the walls are lined with artwork that you can buy. But the food is what matters - and it's fantastic. 69 W. 55th St near Sixth Ave

The Smith: Perfect, casual Midtown lunch away from clogged Fifth Ave. 956 Second Ave at 51st St

Trattoria dell'Arte: One of my favorite lesser known spots in Midtown for lunch across from Carnegie Hall. Most delicious thin-crust pizza. 900 7th Ave nr. 57th St

Gramercy/Flatiron/Madison Square

If I had to pick...Maialino for breakfast, ABC Kitchen for lunch or dinner.

ABC Kitchen (by Jean-Georges): I can't have lunch here for less than three hours. Just perfect in every way but not pretentious. You have to check out the $125 coffee mugs and $85 wooden spoons after lunch at ABC Carpet & Home, adjacent to ABC Kitchen. Do not miss the squash toast, which is also amazing when you make it at home

Casa Mono: I just had brunch here on the first real spring day in New York. Part owned by Mario Batali, it is a small space with a great bar. With the windows fully open onto Irving Place and great Spanish tapas (pan con tomate, ensalada mono, burrata, crudo), it was one of those magical Sundays in New York. I'd recommend it for anything - visiting family, third date, dinner with friends. 52 Irving Place nr. 17th St

Gramercy Tavern: Beautiful & classic - for special occasions, even if it's just a really long, lazy lunch. 42 E. 20th St nr. Park Ave

ilili Restaurant: I could eat only the brussels sprouts (with grapes, fig jam, walnuts & mint) here but every one of these Lebanese small dishes is great. Best hummus, mouhamara, black iron shrimp. Close to Madison Square Park.

Eleven Madison Park: The ultimate, perfect only-in-New-York place. If you have one blow-out meal in NYC, Eleven Madison Park is flawless. 

West Village

If I had to pick one...The Little Owl or Cafe Cluny any time of day. 

Anfora: A wonderful wine bar that feels like a sexy hideout.

A.O.C.: Great spot for brunch without a long wait in the Village - perfect outdoor garden & seating! 314 Bleecker St nr. Grove

Buvette: It's tiny, adorable and strikes the perfect NYC meets Paris vibe. In fact, a Buvette outpost just opened in Paris! Go early on the weekends to avoid the crowds or treat yourself to a weekday breakfast here. Ask if they are serving blood-orange juice when you go. Don't miss the croque madame.

Claudette: It feels like you've stepped into a Nancy Meyers movie! Just two blocks north of Washington Square Park and really lovely.

Café Cluny: Idyllic West Village corner - great for any time of day but I really love having breakfast here. I do a lot of meetings (business & friends) here.

Dell'Anima: Super small and always crowded - a perfect date-night place (just make sure you book ahead). Rustic, delicious Italian. Right next to Anfora Wine Bar, if you want to start there for a drink. 

Highlands: If you have a hankering for Scottish food, come here! Yes, there is haggis but also great bangers & mash and beef wellington. Crowded and casual. Easy to get a last-minute reservation. 150 W. 10th St nr. Waverly Place

I Sodi: A sliver of a place serving some of the best Tuscan fare in New York. Another perfect date night spot. The chef/owner, Rita Sodi, grew up on an Italian farm. 105 Christopher St nr. Bleecker St

Joe’s Pizza: Best slice in the city. Walk it off on Bleecker Street (and please skip Magnolia Bakery). 7 Carmine St nr. Sixth Ave

Karahi: Delicious Indian in a small, humble Christopher Street space. 118 Christopher St nr. Bedford

L'Artusi: Contemporary, fabulous Italian on a picturesque Village Street - also great for brunch. 228 W. 10th St nr. Bleecker St

Lifethyme Natural Market: My favorite local organic/natural market. Their juice bar is great & I love the green champagne juice (kale, celery, spinach, cucumbers, ginger, lemon, apple!).

The Little Owl: One of my top five favorites in NYC. It’s at the base of the “Friends” building and it’s just perfect in every way, for brunch, lunch or dinner. Meatball slider a must.

Market Table: I can't count how many times I've come to lunch here - I love the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the Village and the seasonal menu.

Molly's Cupcakes: Forget Magnolia - if I'm craving a cupcake, I come here. They're known for the "center-filled" cupcakes, like with cookie dough or cake batter in the middle. 

Morandi: Great brunch, breakfast (toasted rustic bread, spread with fresh ricotta & topped with stewed fruit - SO GOOD), and dinner. Just always good. If you can snag an outdoor table on one of those perfect spring days, there's nothing better. Thanks, Keith McNally, for another perfect New York spot.

Patisserie Claude: It doesn't look like an idyllic French bakery when you walk in, but this no-frills spot churns out some of the best croissants in New York, which are almost always warm from the oven. One bite, and you're in Paris.

Perry Street: In the far West Village across from the Hudson River, this sleek spot by Jean-Georges feels like a glamorous yet relaxed oasis. Great for lunch.

Piccolo Angolo: In a city full of cozy Italian joints, this is one of my favorites, with brick walls and carafes of wine on tables. Great for family dinner.

Brunetti Pizza: A pizzeria from Westhampton on Long Island with a new outpost in the Village. Super casual and delicious.

Rosemary's: An all-time favorite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Great ambiance. Visit the rooftop farm!

Taim: The best falafel in NYC, hands-down. I love the green kind. When I lived in the Village, I got take-out here all the time. No seating.

Tertulia: Spanish tapas in the Village - lives up to the hype.

Varsano's Chocolates: Simply the best dark (and milk) chocolate sea salt caramels ever. Say hi to Marc, the owner!

Westville Diner: Heaping plates of vegetables and Southern cooking in a tiny hole-in-the-wall on West 10th Street (there are other locations now too).

Rafele: If you're craving perfect Italian in the W. Village (the owner is from Naples) but don't want a ridiculous wait, come here. It's definitely locals only. Start with the small margherita pizza to share and don't miss the carciofi (crispy artichokes), cavolfiore (cauliflower with currants & pine nuts) or the spinach ravioli.

LOWER EAST SIDE

El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette: A tiny coffee shop that also serves incredible, healthy-slanted food, like awesome avocado flatbread with two poached eggs and the best kale salad I've had in New York.

The Stanton Social: Even though this was the hot spot in 2011, I still like it. Small plates, good for groups. 99 Stanton St nr. Ludlow

 

Tribeca/Financial District

If I had to pick one...Locanda Verde. 

Bubby's: Go early to avoid a wait and stroller gridlock, but it's one of TriBeCa's best spots for family brunch. Famous pancakes are a must.

Little Park: In my opinion, Andrew Carmellini is a restaurant genius (Locanda Verde, The Dutch, Bar Primi, and Lafayette). This is his newest spot and is so delicious. Everything is designed to be shared, and during a recent lunch, a friend and I split the big eye tuna, crispy brussels sprouts, black kale ravioli, and celery root schnitzel sandwich.

Locanda Verde: You can never go wrong with brunch (or any meal actually) here, like the lemon ricotta pancakes or any of the egg dishes. It remains an instant NYC classic.

Marc Forgione: This is a neighborhood restaurant with serious culinary game. The setting is perfect for a winter night: brick walls, candles, and a Hudson Valley farmhouse feel. If you pick one TriBeCa restaurant, make it this one.

Square Diner: I love this diner and its greasy griddle-meets-hot-coffee smell. Not the best food you'll ever have, but it will remind you of what TriBeCa used to be. The setting is movie-set perfection: a vintage train car.

Tiny's & The Bar Upstairs: This is a great spot to meet friends for a cool vibe, reasonable prices, and food that is pretty good (though not memorable).