It’s finally time to head back to Philly, but before we go we’d like to reminisce about our summer in NYC. We came, we ate, we conquered, and now it’s time for us to impart our deep knowledge of the New York food scene upon you. Without further ado, we present the top 10 NYC restaurants for college kids and post grads (all up on OpenTable!).
Boozy Brunch: Essex
$24 for an entree and 3 strong brunch drinks? Yes please. The Jewish-meets-Mexican dishes are perfect when you’re hungover and need to rally. Try the Mexican matzo-brei or potato pancakes – you’ll be immobile for the rest of the day, but it’ll be so worth it.
Best Brunch: Freemans
Located off Chrystie Street in a place dubbed “Freeman Alley,” Freemans has a way of making you feel hip before you even walk in. This place is home to my favorite bloody mary in the entire world, and one time I was there I had the pleasure of sitting across from Michael Cera. If you don’t order poached eggs, you lose. If you don’t get the artichoke dip, I don’t want to know you.
Sceney But Tasty: Catch
You’re having a great hair day, you’ve been working out and your banker friends are letting you in on their table tonight. These are all causes to celebrate, so do it at Catch, where you can show off your new outfit in front of hoards of even better dressed people (but who cares, you still look great). A light (but not so cheap) seafood dinner will have you feeling good all night, and Catch’s selection of fish is always fresh and perfectly cooked.
For Your “Health-Conscious” Friend: Market Table
She (or he, I suppose) is really going to like the loooong list of vegetable and fish dishes Market Table has to offer. The plates are all clean and organic-y which sounds great for her, but it will also taste great for you. Definitely split a bunch of the veggie sides (especially the cauliflower!)…okay, your friend will probably take a bite and be “so full,” but that just means more for you, right? Unfortunately they don’t have a juice menu too, but hopefully your friend will find a way to survive.
Go-to Date Spot: Pearl and Ash
Pearl and Ash isn’t just a wine bar. They’re cooking up inventive (and gorgeously plated) small plates you and your date can share while enjoying a bottle of extremely reasonably priced wine (remember, this guide is for college kids and not all of us are bankers). If you want to be even more adventurous, go for one of the wine cocktails! Even better, the restaurant is on the Bowery, so you and your date can meet up with friends at one of the 9000 bars nearby after (maybe not B-bar this time?).
Sunday Night Dinner: Apizz
The meatballs. You must get the meatballs. And to go with that, the rocket flatbread. And the funghi con polenta. Basically, this inexpensive Italian wonderland is the perfect way to send yourself into a blissful coma before the workweek begins. P.S.: it’s pronounced ah-beets.
Dinner with Parents: Gato
You need to make a reservation in advance, but Bobby Flay’s new Mediterranean concept will impress the entire family. Unsurprisingly, the food is delicious, and the ambiance is quiet enough that your folks will be able to hear, but trendy enough that they’ll still feel cool. Show your parents why NYC is so great so they understand why they need to keep helping you pay your rent so you can keep living here.
Expensive But So Worth It: Charlie Bird
Classy food at a trendy place. The tuscan chicken liver and roasted chicken are must-orders, along with a bottle of wine (or two, or three). The sommelier is awesome, so don’t feel shy about consulting him before you buy. This is not a place to be frugal – try everything, then try to forget how much it cost.
Girls’ Night Out: Beauty and Essex
If the speakeasy feel when you walk in through a pawn shop isn’t enough, the stylish guests seated in a club like space makes this the best place to impress your friends. Get ready to splurge on awesome drinks (especially the emerald martini) and shared plates all night. Don’t miss the grilled cheese and tomato soup dumplings or the tuna wonton tacos.
When You Find Yourself On The Upper East Side: Maya
First let’s talk about how they just launched a happy hour with $6 margaritas. Now that we’ve established that this place is cool and knows how to get young people through the door, we can talk about the food. It’s a little more expensive than you want to dish out on Mexican, but you really shouldn’t be surprised because you’re on the upper east side. Slide in for happy hour, get some guac and cazuelas, sit back, and enjoy.
When You Don’t Know Where To Go: The Smith
The menu is easy, the drinks are great, and there’s a photo booth in the bathroom. The burrata is killer, but basically anything you order is sure to please. They also give sparkling water for free and there are almost always young businesspeople milling around the bar. For brunch, lunch, or dinner in midtown, the east village, or lincoln center, you’re all set. There are locations in the east village, midtown east, and lincoln center, so no matter where you are in Manhattan, you’re close to a good meal.