If you’re game to splurge on mic-drop meals, let us lead you to a galaxy of New York City’s most-starred chefs. These culinary artists work in elite kitchens, most of them starred by the judges of the internationally renowned Michelin Guide. Sadly, the most recent edition misses many of the City’s female chefs. Our advice: try Missy Robbins (Lilia), Rita Sodi and Jody Williams (Via Carota) and Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune) for memorable meals. That issue aside, the Michelin Guide (along with similarly respected ratings sources, like The New York Times) is a good way to discover NYC’s most sumptuous meals; these palaces of luxury will set the bar high for years to come. Read on for more.
Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius uses poetic ingredients, from lichen with preserved pine shoots to langoustine cooked in lavender, creating dishes with spellbinding Nordic flavors found nowhere else in the City. The dark, minimalist 10-table restaurant is in a restored warehouse by the Williamsburg Bridge; all seats offer views of the two Michelin-starred kitchen. Dedicate an evening to the ceremonial but not stuffy 19-course tasting menu ($250). You won’t leave hungry.
Don’t be late to Blanca, a two Michelin-starred speakeasy located on the Bushwick property of Roberta’s, an iconic Brooklyn pizzeria. Wednesdays through Saturdays, the restaurant offers two prompt seatings for a dozen diners to enjoy Carlo Mirarchi’s multicourse menu ($195 per person). (It almost goes without saying: call ahead for reservations.) Working from an open kitchen, he and his team choreograph a fun, creative parade of Italian and Asian flavors while vinyl records play. Dishes vary each night save for a mind-blowing mainstay, porky nduja raviolo.
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
Retaining its three Michelin stars after a move to Manhattan, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare delights diners with French- and Japanese-influenced seafood. Caviar, sea urchin, lobster, black cod, Scottish langoustine—expect the best from oceans around the globe. Bouley-trained César Ramirez might discourage photos—he doesn’t want to ruin the visual surprises for others—but no one will say he lacks passion after enjoying his marathon 18-course menu ($330).
Daniel Boulud’s neoclassical establishment on the Upper East Side is the mothership of his international empire. The famed chef instructs a battalion of cooks to turn out perfections like wasabi-marinated hamachi with white sturgeon caviar; mosaic of guinea hen with dark rum foie gras; and Maine sea scallops with prized matsutake mushrooms. An opulent vegetarian prix-fixe ($151) is an option, as is the ultimate experience: the super-exclusive glass-enclosed Skybox suspended over the kitchen—$1,600 for four.
Eleven Madison Park
Eleven Madison Park does not rest on its laurels, impressive though they might be. The restaurant ranked number one on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and has held on to its three Michelin stars since 2013. Chef/co-owner Daniel Humm works hard daily to keep diners enraptured. Duck is roasted with honey and lavender, and lobster is poached in mushroom butter. His ever-changing tasting menu is $295, ferried out to a handsome room by an attentive staff. Desserts like deep-fried apple doughnuts and black-and-white cookies offer a taste of down-to-earth, vintage New York.
The Flatiron’s lavishly appointed Junoon is the only Indian restaurant in New York City with a Michelin star. Cocktails infused with fragrant spices and herbs are many-faceted affairs, and wine pairings can accompany the tasting menu ($85). Executive chef Akshay Bhardwaj prepares enthralling regional cuisine with spices that are ground fresh daily. Dry-aged Normandy duck breast is swathed in aromatic tellicherry peppercorn sauce, and lamb shank is braised in yogurt curry, black cumin and garam masala.
Over-the-top flower arrangements and ethereal soufflés distinguish La Grenouille, the grande dame of the City’s classic French restaurants. Founded in 1962 by the Masson family, the romantic venue is as incomparable as ever, serving pike quenelles with caviar, lobster bisque, Dover sole, frogs’ legs sautéed in butter and garlic, and finger bowls when needed. The New York Times awarded it three stars, confirming it’s well worth the expense.
Le Bernardin is a timeless, classic NYC restaurant. Since 1986, it hasn’t slipped in quality, service or the stars it’s received from the New York Times (four) and Michelin (three). Co-owners Maguy Le Coze and Eric Ripert keep evolving, so the dining room and lounge feel modern, as do dishes like the lightly seared scallops with bone marrow, and snapper with spiced Persian cucumbers.
Caviar spilling from a runny egg is one of many indulgences at this modern, classy David Chang–owned restaurant with two Michelin stars. He follows kaiseki principles for the $195 tasting menu, primarily sourcing local, seasonal ingredients and employing a variety of culinary techniques. Uni is daringly paired with fermented chickpea puree, and fish gets cooked inside an eggplant. It’s fascinating to sit at the U-shaped counter and watch the cooks’ rigorous attention to detail.
This elegant sister restaurant to Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry offers panoramic views of Central Park. The $325 tasting menu always features the chef’s divine oysters and pearls (oysters and caviar cosseted in savory tapioca pudding), but otherwise meticulously prepared meats, seafood and vegetable courses alter seasonally. Its three Michelin stars are also due to the novella-length wine list with century-old vintages. The staff is beautifully choreographed and happy to guide tours of the kitchen.
Sushi Ginza Onodera
This serene Midtown sushi bar can stand up to any other in the world, according to Michelin inspectors who awarded it two stars for the 2018 guide. Executive chef Masaki Saito’s omakase-only (chef’s choice) lunch menu starts at $100 per person and dinner at $300. Place your trust in him. He seems to have ESP when it comes to reading reactions, producing a menu of items that seems tailored to diners’ desires.