What do you think are the best New York City restaurants and why?
It was difficult to pick "best" so mine is a mixture of best of each type of food, or "favorite". For example, Aqua Grill isn't as fancy and formal as Le Bernadin, but I have enjoyed many seafood meals there more than my last meal at Le Bernadin.
15 East fits both categories for best and favorite sushi.
Katz's certainly is not in the gourmet category or the formal ,fancy category. But I love their pastrami sandwiches and love going there.
Jungsik is creative, comfortable, delicious and one of a kind.
Jean-Georges fits into the gourmet formal fancy, but it never fails. Always consistently great.
So that's my picks,,I left out Italian because since my favorite place Ennio and Michael's closed, I cannot find a perfect Italian or "best" restaurant. Al Fiori is good but not everything about it. Babbo has good dishes but some are weak. Bar Pitti has good food but it's crowded and not too friendly, Da Andrea is good but it's missing something. Marea maybe a "best". Anyway I left out Italian food for next time, maybe by then I will come up with a "best".
I find this kind of question too difficult to answer really well, because there are different categories of restaurants. (For example, I like Crispo very much for a mid-priced meal but find it bizarre to put it on a "best of New York" list with much more elaborate restaurants like Ai Fiori that use superb ingredients.) And the main problem I have is that I haven't been to most of the higher-end restaurants, among which, I presume the best restaurants are to be found (not that mere expense makes a restaurant good, mind you). That said, instead of giving a list of "the best," I'll give a list of favorites:
Tocqueville (I feel comfortable rating them on two superb lunches)
I think I have to end the list there because I'm not confident I can rate restaurants I've been to only once and not had tasting menus or even dinner at. I'm also including only restaurants I've been to within 2 years at most.
Momofuku Ssam Bar
Inexpensive (c. $25 or less plus tip):
Szechuan Gourmet (56th St. and 39th St. locations)
Great NY Noodletown
Katz's for pastrami
Taim, especially for their sabich
This list inevitably tips toward the restaurants near where I live, near where my girlfriend lives, near where I used to live in 2010 and 2011, and toward the price points and cuisines I eat most often. I would happily recommend any of these restaurants for good food, but in no way would I suggest this is a list of the best restaurants in New York. It also excludes some great restaurants in Queens that would be off-topic for this board.
Jungsik - Everything, simply amazing.
Per Se - The salon, having the possibility to dine in one of the most delicious restaurant in the world without making a reservation and a la carte it's just great. Food is always perfection on a plate.
Jean-Georges - the best everyday-special-occasion lunch, top food and service.
Perry Street - Great food, great location, reasonable prices, I think it's one of the most under rated restaurant in NY.
Marea - Not a big fan of the place but I love their food and the quality of the ingredients is terrific.
David Burke Kitchen - I keep going back because the food is always consistent, good, creative enough but still straightforward.
My apartment - The best risotto and the best pasta of New York, especially when my girlfriend is around.. ;-)
(I never went to Le Bernardin... But from what I hear I think it is going up there next year...)
1. Eleven Madison Park (tied) - creative and inventive food with incredible service in a beautiful atmosphere.
1. Per Se (tied) - perfectly executed dishes, flawless service
3. Blue Hill at Stone Barns - wonderfully creative use of the freshest ingredients available, beautiful dining room on a beautiful property, fantastic service
4. Jean George - just all around great food
5. Picholine - great food, treats vegeatarian as equals to carnivores