14 Legendary NYC Restaurants to Put on Your Bucket List
It’s not your imagination: The cute Italian café you loved is now a gluten-free ice-cream shop, and the Laundromat next door is now a bar that only serves ice cubes made of vermouth. We love how the city is always changing, but sometimes we just want to sit back and experience New York the way it used to be—50, 75 or even 100 years ago. Behold, your old-school-restaurant bucket list. Remember, fro-yo shops come and go, but these institutions will outlive us all.
Guys. This is where New York pizza was born. The pizzaiolos of olde New York learned their craft from Mr. Lombardi and his coal oven before they opened their own spots. And the pizzeria recently celebrated its 110-year anniversary.
32 Spring St.; 212-941-7994 or firstpizza.com
Want to feel like you’re feasting next to the Sopranos? Welp, this is the place.
32 Withers St., Brooklyn; 718-384-8831
GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR
A haven for mollusk worshippers and harried New York commuters for more than a century, the seafood spot is still as epic as its iconic white-subway-tiled arches.
89 E. 42nd St.; 212-490-6650 or oysterbarny.com
PETER LUGER STEAK HOUSE
A historic atmosphere and a convivial crowd are always present at this packed Williamsburg stalwart. Customers in the know order the porterhouse for two…and always with a side of bacon.
178 Broadway, Brooklyn; 718-387-7400 or peterluger.com
Celebrity caricatures line the walls at this iconic Theater District restaurant, where a legendary past is served with a side of Broadway lore—and a damn good martini.
234 W. 44th St.; 212-221-8440 or sardis.com
Pretty much every classic American dish ever created was invented here. If you don’t want steak at NYC’s oldest steak house, then get fancy with an order of lobster Newburg (followed by a Baked Alaska for dessert).
56 Beaver St.; 212-509-1144 or delmonicosrestaurant.com
Sure, it’s touristy. But if you haven’t walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to find beautiful, molten mozzarella from this 100-year-old institution waiting for you on the other side, you haven’t lived.
1 Front St., Brooklyn; 718-858-4300 or grimaldis-pizza.com
Home of “I’ll have what she’s having” and the best pastrami money can buy. Be sure to tip your sandwich guy a buck for the best cut.
205 E. Houston St.; 212-254-2246 or katzdelicatessen.com
Remember Grimaldi’s? This is the joint created by Patsy Lancieri, Grimaldi’s uncle. Patsy’s changed owners in 1991, but the thin-crust, coal oven pie at its original East Harlem location is still one of the greatest in the city.
2287 First Ave.; 212-534-9783 or thepatsyspizza.com
Brick walls, dark wood, old black-and-white photos and the quintessential New York burger. You can have it all right into the wee hours of the morning, just like Sinatra used to do.
915 Third Ave.; 212-317-1616 or pjclarkes.com
THE OLD HOMESTEAD STEAKHOUSE
This 1868 relic is rumored to have invented the “doggie bag” to pack up its massive portions. Chow down on a giant cut of Kobe beef and a cauldron of truffle mac and cheese.
56 Ninth Ave.; 212-242-9040 or theoldhomesteadsteakhouse.com
Go for the glorious garden and traditional old-world Northern Italian food. It’s still owned by the same family that started it in 1906 and is still just as romantic.
321 W. 46th St.; 212-246-9171 or barbettarestaurant.com
This chophouse has been a Theater District mainstay since 1885, when it quickly became a go-to for the area’s actors and playwrights. Its signature mutton chop is legendary, as is its first female patron, Lillie Langtry, who took Keens to court in 1905 for the right to dine at the then-gentlemen-only spot. (We salute you, Lillie.)
72 W. 36th St.; keens.com
This former speakeasy opened in 1930 with a disappearing bar and hidden wine cellar. Prohibition may be over, but the bar remains as intriguing as ever. Pro tip: Take in the large art collection and toys hanging from the ceiling as you sip on a gin rickey. (Note: The restaurant is currently closed for repairs but is scheduled to reopen in March 2018.)
21 W. 52nd St.; 212-582-7200 or 21club.com