In any city, having a restaurant is a difficult business. But in NYC restaurants are in their own category.
The competition is ubiquitous and you are only as good as your last meal. Most New Yorkers eat out more often than they eat in, they are unflinching with their opinions and have high expectations. Thus seeing a restaurant in business over 5 years is quite the accomplishment. Having lived in NYC for ten years I could make this list 100 deep. But I will spare your waistline. Requirements to make the top ten: I need to have dined there more than 3 times, each time I left I will need to have thought “holy shit that was delicious”, and it needs to be the best food in that category. Here we go:

 

Watch Andrew Tarlow’s picks: 
1.  Roberta’s. Bushwick, Brooklyn. $$. Casual hip. Pizza / Italian.
Yes, Roberta’s is deep in Brooklyn. And yes there are hipsters everywhere. But get over yourself. They have their own garden, radio channel, bakery and slang some of the best food in Brooklyn or Manhattan for that matter. Both Mario Batali and Dana Cowin told me that Roberta’s was their favorite restaurant in NYC. Their brunch is a winner too (try the sticky bun!).
2.  Diner. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. $$$ Casual hip. New American / Brunch.
The original Andrew Tarlow restaurant. Diner helped put Williamsburg-cool on the map. They possibly have the best brunch in the 5 boroughs. Everything is fresh made and their baked goods are out of control delicious. Be sure to check out Marlow & Sons next door.
3.  Saltie. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. $ Take out. Sandwiches.
When a fine dining chef leaves their esteemed job to pursue something as “low brow” as sandwiches, you can just about guarantee that you will find something a little different. And oh how different Saltie is. Go. Get the Scuttlebutt (and not just because it is fun to say Scuttlebutt), a baked delectable and watch the parade of Williamsburg eye candy as they walk down Metropolitan.
4.  Franny’s. Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. $$$ Casual. Pizza / Italian.
Franny’s gets less hype being in Prospect Heights than other restaurants in North Brooklyn. Though, perhaps that is a good thing. That being said it has been the location of some of my most memorable meals in NYC. There is a reason it is Alice Waters’ favorite NYC restaurant. The pizza is fantastic but so are the other dishes.
5.  Battersby. Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. $$$$ Brooklyn fancy. New American.
The last meal I had here left me in a state similar to that of a runners high. Except a lot less thin. Battersby is emblematic of the restaurant trend where the chefs at serious Manhattan kitchens abandoned the city and took their skills to the neighborhoods of Brooklyn where locals support highend cooking.
6.  Ippudo. East Village, Manhattan. $$ Casual. Japanese / ramen.
Steamed buns and ramen are the star of the show at Ippudo. In the midst of a ramen trend, the reason Ippudo stands out is that they make their noodles in the basement. Don’t be shocked if lines are 2 hours plus. Put your name on the list and go shoot pool at Amsterdam Billiards. Return and enjoy.
7.  Russ and Daughters. LES, Manhattan. $ Take out. Bagels.
R&D is Old School NYC. It’s a little Jewish appetizing place that specializes in smoked fish. They have the best lox in the city with over 30 options and their baked good are second to none. My favorite is the super herb: whitefish, wasabi roe and horseradish cream cheese on a pumpernickel bagel. Don’t leave without picking up a chocolate babka. Seriously.
8.  Parm. Nolita, Manhattan. $ Casual. Italian sandwiches / lunch spot.
The first time I ate lunch at Parm it made me reconsider the potential of a sandwich. The turkey is sliced from whole turkeys they roast every morning. Their chicken parmesan makes you wish you were Italian. Do yourself a favor, the next time you are in Nolita or Soho around lunchtime, eat there.
9.  Buvette. West Village, Manhattan. $$ Casual. French / wine bar.
Buvette is exactly the type of restaurant I want to stumble upon while walking on the left bank in Paris. The only problem is that the patrons don’t speak French. Great date spot.
10.  Danji. Hells Kitchen, Manhattan. $$$ Casual hip. Korean.
Danji is a modern Korean tapas restaurant. Perfect lighting, excellent cocktails and inventive food make this place the perfect spot. The only downside is the location.