With spring top of mind in New York City, we’ve got parks on the brain–and what park more coveted than Gramercy? This little plot of private land is for local residents only. Those without the keys are left to hang around the wrought iron bars and stare in longingly. Its exclusivity is, of course, part of its appeal, and has kept the park about as pristine any New York City park can get. (Even the squirrels here are better groomed.) Take comfort in strolling its surrounding sidewalks and, because no one can tell you you can’t, grab a bite at one of the neighborhood’s tasty restaurants just to the west. Herewith, your guide to bites beyond the garden walls.
The world “institution” comes to mind and, indeed, Gramercy Tavern has long been a white tablecloth staple of the nabe. Danny Meyer opened it in 1994 and, in many ways, GT feels as though from another era. The space is split in two, with a casual tavern serving meals à la carte on one side and a more formal dining room with prix fixe and tasting menus on the other. It’s the perfect place for a power lunch of seasonal American fare. And the stunning flower arrangements everywhere? Simply par for the course.
42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003
Union Square Cafe
Danny Meyer’s original downtown effort, Union Square Cafe opened in 1985 at a location just down the road. (It moved in 2016.) Another white tablecloth joint, here the food skews upmarket traditional with international influences. Pasta, polenta, Peking duck: the menu runs the gamut. But, as always, whatever Union Square Cafe does, it does well.
101 E 19th St, New York, NY 10003
Vegggie lovers, rejoice. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s most recent addition to his ABC empire is just as exquisite as the rest. AbcV (the “V” is for veg, as you might have gathered) is the kind of place you can bring your staunchest meat-eating friend and you will both leave satisfied. Dishes are inventive and unique, from the whole-roasted cauliflower to the morel mushroom wontons. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Pick and meal and fill up.
38 E 19th St, New York, NY 10003
When it comes to cheap omakase, there is no better deal in town than Sugarfish. Chef Kazunori Nozawa’s Los Angeles chain recently arrived to New York City and the lines have been out the door ever since. Given its popularity, we suggest coming here just before peak hours at lunch or dinner. And, as always, go with one of their “Trust Me” options.
33 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003
Simon & The Whale
Gabriel Stulman really knows how to create a vibe. The restaurateur is behind some of the most charming restaurants in the West Village (Joseph Leonard, Bar Sardine, and Fedora, to name just three). With Simon & The Whale, Stulman takes it a bit further uptown. The menu is a tasty mishmash culled from chef Matt Griffin’s travels. Expect colorful cameos like chicory tonnato and pork collar milanese.
23 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010
Nur turns out Middle Eastern feasts with a decidedly elegant flair. Everything is done with exquisite attention to detail, and even chef Meir Adoni’s za’atar-covered Jerusalem bagel alone has drawn patrons to the restaurant. (As it happens, all of the breads here are must-trys.) With this menu, it’s all about sharing. Gather your friends and tuck into dishes like scallop ceviche pani puri, Palestinian tartare, and Baharat spiced lamb.
34 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003
Photo courtesy of Siniz Kim