One of the best things about living in New York City was the access to amazing restaurants. I would keep a long list of places I wanted to dine at and try to get to all of them at some point, whether it was for lunch or dinner. For the most part, I chose restaurants south of 23rd street due to the number of high-quality establishments and closeness to my apartment. Even though new buzzy restaurants are hard to get into, they usually save a few seats for walk-ins and at most establishments (such as the ones below) you can dine at the bar, which I actually prefer to do. Here’s a glimpse into my 10 favorite downtown NYC restaurants:
Uncle Boons — The dark-paneled walls feel as if you are hanging in your grandma’s basement, but it all comes together with vintage Thai movie posters and funky furnishings. I literally can eat here every week and never get tired of it—it has some of the tastiest, most inventive Thai cuisine and yummy cocktails (try the tamarind margarita) in the city. It gets really busy, but if you go early you can probably snag a table as they save a bunch for walk-ins. The grilled fish with dipping sauces is out of this world and so are the different types of curries.
Barbuto – Everything at Barbuto is always delicious. It’s a neighborhood spot with consistent good food and a great vibe—plus I love how the industrial space is open and airy and perfect in the warmer months. They serve the most amazing roasted chicken accompanied with fresh salsa verde and a killer bucatini carbonara that is an absolute must.
Dirty French — The food and drinks at this LES bistro hotspot are amazing, and so is the vibe (they have the best playlists) that it feels like you get dinner and a night out experience all in one. It’s hard to snag a reservation, but if you plan ahead it’s a great spot to go with friends or other couples.
Malaparte — This was our go-to neighborhood spot when we wanted a nice atmosphere, nothing too expensive and a good quality meal. They serve simple Italian cuisine such as lasagna bolognese, grilled branzino and a variety of pizzas, plus have a decent Italian wine list.
Santina — I used to live right by this buzzy restaurant, which serves fresh, delicious Mediterranean meals with loads of gluten-free options in an airy, bright space right under the High Line.
The Spotted Pig — I’ve always been a fan of this popular west village spot. The food is super-tasty and I love the vibe, plus they make the most delicious salty dog (vodka with grapefruit juice) and burger with Roquefort cheese.
Rosie’s — This East Village spot is always crowded serving small and large gourmet Mexican favorites such as fish tacos, queso fundido and enchiladas. It’s fun to go with friends and if you can’t get in at night, it’s open for lunch.
Lupa — This restaurant has been around for a while, but it’s one of those old standbys that serves high-quality Roman-inspired dishes in a great atmosphere. The wine list is extensive and they make the best vodka gimlets (my favorite in city). I like to go here with a small group and share a bunch of antipasti and pasta such as the carbonara. It’s always a hit!
Via Carota — This no-reservation village Italian serves up delicious small and large seasonal plates such as fried artichokes, panzanella, peas with prosciutto and grilled octopus that are meant for sharing.
RedFarm — Eclectic Asian cuisine in a lively atmosphere with a menu that offers tons of variety such as shrimp dumplings, black cod and crab noodles with a really good cocktail list. It’s always packed and can be a bit loud, but it’s so worth it!