15 Awesome NYC Restaurants Owned and Run by Women
New York City may have more women-owned businesses than any other city in America (yay), but it’s still far from an equal playing field in many industries (boo). Which is why it’s especially inspiring to see female chefs, restaurateurs and entire teams killing it in the city’s hyper-competitive food scene. And while you should absolutely visit these spots to support the sisterhood, you should also go just because you’ll get a really, really great meal. Here, 15 female-fronted restaurants we love.
Three queens run the show at this downtown bistro: chef Clare de Boer, chef Jess Shadbolt and general manager Annie Shi. King presents the type of gorgeously plated, flawlessly prepared food you’d expect at a chic European café, with a daily-evolving dinner and lunch menu inspired by southern France and Italy. Deceptively simple yet hugely flavorful dishes can include tagliarini twirled with slow-cooked tomato sauce, wild halibut with grilled asparagus, lentils and anchovy and the recently Insta-popular pink chicory salad.
18 King St.; kingrestaurant.nyc
Helmed by wine director and owner Samantha Safer and chef Claire Welle, this Clinton Hill neighborhood bistro fills up nightly with familiar neighborhood faces eager to munch on beef fat-fried chickpeas (before they sell out) and gulp down a unique glass of natural wine, per Safer’s expert suggestion. Specials are abundant and the menu shifts with availability and seasonality, but dorade served with crispy skin in a lobster-based sauce, as well as the end-of-the-night cheese plate, shouldn’t be missed.
930 Fulton St., Brooklyn; otwaynyc.com
Owned by Harlem native Yvette Leeper-Bueno, this Harlem restaurant is not only run by a team of women—Executive chef Mimi Weissenborn, bar director Ashley Lugo Brown and consulting wine director Chelsea Carrier—it’s also dedicated to boosting other female entrepreneurs, by spotlighting small-batch distillers and wine producers. A Northern European-inspired menu includes several dishes that pair well with wine (really, though, what doesn’t?), including whole burrata salad, spicy veal meatballs and rosemary-laced pappardelle in lamb ragu.
2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; vinaterianyc.com
Chef Esther Choi started slinging Korean-inspired ramen in Chelsea Market in spring 2015, and barstools were quickly filled with diners hungry for gravy-soaked disco fries and gochujang-pork broth. Last year, Choi expanded with Mokbar BK, a larger outpost where she offers upscale renditions of the Korean comfort food she grew up with in New Jersey, including a jip-bap (“home meal”) set menu, a range of homemade mandu (dumplings) and a “saucy” (as opposed to “brothy”) bulgogi ramen.
Two locations; mokbar.com
A park bench at the corner of Manhattan’s Hudson and Jane streets marks the starting spot of chef Megan Johnson and partner Jen LaPorta’s relationship, and although their restaurant is in Fort Greene, their relationship is cemented in its name. The all-day eatery kicks off mornings with breakfast sandwiches and vanilla-custard French toast sticks, followed by hefty melts and salads for lunch and comfort food staples like bacon-wrapped cheese curds and a grass-fed burger for dinner.
360 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn; hudsonjane.com
Beloved for its tiny size, massive flavors and East Village mainstay status, Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune deserves every accolade it gets (and there are many). Reserving one of the few tables is notoriously difficult but worth waiting for in order to stick a fork in Hamilton’s deep-fried sweetbreads, delicate homemade pastas and changing roster of entrées, like a recent short rib braised in pho broth or whole grilled branzino doused in infused fennel oil. Bar snacks should also not be ignored, like the camera-ready Turkish disco pistachios, lit aflame at the table.
54 E. First St.; prunerestaurant.com
Chef Amanda Cohen’s legendary restaurant might be the most fun you can possibly have with edible plants. Two tasting menus, The Vegetable Patch ($58) and The Vegetable Garden ($84), offer optional wine pairings and present a spread of uniquely prepared greens, like a salad composed of foraged produce, broccoli prepared in the style of hot dogs, kale matzo-ball soup and some seriously creative desserts (like whatever this wizardry is).
86 Allen St.; dirtcandynyc.com
Founded by the “Queen of Soul Food” herself, Sylvia Woods, in 1962, this restaurant has become a Harlem staple and a destination for visitors from all over the world. Still run by Woods’s family (her niece runs her own soul food spot, Melba’s, also in Harlem), Sylvia’s doles out hearty breakfast platters until afternoon, Southern-style fried chicken and seafood, as well as sides worthy of making a meal out of: buttered corn, okra gumbo, baked mac and cheese and many, many more.
328 Malcolm X Blvd.; sylviasrestaurant.com
A fast-casual pasta spot unlike any other, the Sosta is co-owned by chef Ali LaRaia and creative director Samantha Wasser (of by CHLOE fame). The millennial pink-clad restaurant in Nolita may draw in curious Instagrammers, but they return for the homemade pasta, created in shapes like bucatini and gemelli and served in a deep bowl with arrabiata, bolognese, pesto or pomodoro sauce. Gelato, rainbow cookies and a slew of sandwiches, salads and other seasonal dishes round out the menu.
186 Mott St.; thesosta.com
Pearl Oyster Bar
Those $1 oyster happy hours you hit up as often as humanly possible after work on a warm night? You have Rebecca Charles to thank for that. She founded the West Village’s perpetually crowded Pearl Oyster Bar over 20 years ago, revolutionizing the concept of a seafood bar in NYC—and bringing Manhattan its first verifiable lobster roll. (P.S. It’s still one of the all-time best in the city.)
18 Cornelia St.; pearloysterbar.com
Originally from Thailand, chef Suchanan Aksornnan (aka Chef Bao Bao) studied French culinary technique, and she effortlessly fuses the two cuisines into upscale yet approachable pan-Asian fare at her Greenpoint restaurant. Dim sum, bao and hot pots are all on the menu, but noodle dishes, like seared duck-breast ramen in black truffle consomme and rib-eye pho in bone marrow broth best show off Chef Bao Bao’s technique and creativity.
614 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn; baoburg.com
Downtown restaurateurs Rita Sodi and Jody Williams (of I Sodi and Buvette, respectively) partnered up for this charming hub for pasta and veggies, born out of the chefs’ shared love for Italian food. The cacio e pepe is known to be life-changing, as are the various elegantly prepared seasonal vegetables, like grilled raddicchio with goat cheese, currants and pine nuts.
51 Grove St.; viacarota.com
New York’s first and only Druze restaurant is run and owned by Gazala Halabi, an immigrant from Israel and one of very few Druze people to ever to permanently leave the Middle East. Familiar Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare, like stuffed grape leaves, crisp falafel, tangy labne, bourekas the size of your face and super-thin pita are all made by Halabi herself.
709 Ninth Ave.; 212-245-0709
As of this month, Chopped winner Adriana Urbina takes over as executive chef at this hyper-trendy café in Nolita, stepping into a post previously held by chef Camille Becerra, who launched the spot with creative director Grace Lee in 2017. Eating a full day’s worth of meals here would be easy, starting with the tropical fruit-topped chia pudding, followed by a round of scallop crudo and turmeric potato gratin to round out the evening.
19 Kenmare St.; demarianyc.com
Owner Maiko Kyogoku works with chef Emily Yuen to create an elegant, refined Japanese menu in the heart of lower Manhattan. And while shareable dishes like uni-topped crispy rice and tempura udon shouldn’t be missed at dinner, the brunch is seriously unique: Think Wagyu steak and eggs, eggplant shakshuka with miso tofu labne and Japanese-style pancakes with black sugar syrup.
5 Bleecker St.; bessou.nyc