Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Sep 16, 2012 09:09 PM

Classic Restaurants in Manhattan

If you wanted to time-travel in Manhattan were would you eat? I'm looking for suggestions for outstanding classic New York restaurants. Ideally, I'd like a place that is brimming with history, great food, and atmosphere...a gem that has withstood countless trends and eras, served all types of people, and won their hearts and stomachs. I'm envisioning an Italian restaurant or steakhouse, but I'm really quite open with food type. A place that has never heard of celebrity chefs, foodies, and lasers. A place that would would have felt familiar to my immigrant great-grandparents. Can't wait to see where my DeLorean will take me!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Do you mean restaurants that still exist? If so, I would caution you (as a long-ago history major) that you can't avoid history. Most of the Old Skool places that still exist are just not very good -- they've been superseded.

    Having said that:


    Despite what millions of people are going to tell you in this thread, most of the Old Skool Italian places in New York actively suck. I usually feel like I've been robbed when I exit. And most of the Old Skool French places that still exist are nothing more than massage joints -- you might feel nice when leaving, but there's no substance to it. Anybody who'd rather eat in La Grenouille than Le Bernardin is a person whose taste I question.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Sneakeater

      Oh, the Grand Central Oyster Bar is great -- as long as you don't order anything cooked (beyond chowder and pan roasts).

      1. re: Sneakeater

        Thank you! You have raised a very crucial point: I am looking for a place that still exists. Whenever I'm in NY, I tend to eat at the "latest place". I'd love to take a step back on my upcoming visit.

        1. re: historyfood

          In that case, Katz's is the place to go.

          1. re: historyfood

            How much are you willing to spend? A lot of the old school places can be very expensive.

            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks. Another great point! I'm happy to splurge on a good meal.

            2. re: historyfood

              Whenever I see/hear this question asked Keen's literally pops into my thoughts, like it has been intrinsically connected to my vision of Ol' NYC. I swear if you got everyone in the place to dress in 60's style clothes you could seriously mess with someone's mind...

          2. Looking for "old school" restaurants with old fashioned American comfort food

            Need a GOOD Old School New York Suggestion

            Best "Old New York" Restaurants stuck in the past

            1 Reply
            1. re: kathryn

              And another recent topic with some good suggestions:

              Manhattan nostalgic restaurant bucket list


            2. How old does it have to be to qualify as Old Skool?

              I think Keen's is right up there.

              Old time pizzeria would have to be Arturo's.

              Sorta old skool Italian would have to be in Queens at Parkside.

              1. La Grenouille is as perfect an old school French grande cuisine experience as one can get. But at a very steep price!

                3 Replies
                1. re: swannee

                  Old Homestead, Delmonico's, Keen's, Fraunces Tavern, Bridge Cafe

                  1. re: bronwen

                    Right. But just thinking as a poster on a food board -- someone who cares about food -- would you actually recommend that anyone actually eat at Fraunces or Delmonico's? To me, it's just throwing away money.

                    1. re: Sneakeater

                      Delomico's is on livingsocial and open table you can get a nice bargain. They do a nice beef wellington as does harry's at hanover another NYC classic down the street. Delmonico's grill still gets a big crowd.

                      As far as Frauncis, it had an overhaul 2 years ago and is completely different than what most remember. Completely different. It was taken over by Brendan B7G on w.37th which has a good reputation. It has a great beer selection as well. If you haven't been there in past 2 years, check it out. I'm not saying either is worthy of four stars but not bad either (anymore)

                      Bridge Cafe is a good choice and for bar food the Paris cafe is one NYC oldest establishments.