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... particularly after such a trying year for the food industry. And while you should absolutely visit or order from these spots to support the sisterhood, you should also do it just because you’ll get a really, really great meal. Here, 14 female-fronted restaurants we love. (Note: There are many, many more female-led restaurants that we adore in the city—this is just a small selection of eateries that are owned and run by women and that are currently open.)
14 Awesome NYC Restaurants Owned and Run by Women
Helmed by wine director and owner Samantha Safer, this Clinton Hill neighborhood bistro is reopening for dinner mid-March (it’s currently offering outdoor dining until 2 p.m.) and we can’t wait 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 typically 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
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. Currently offering delivery, pickup and outdoor dining.
18 King St.; kingrestaurant.nyc
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. Choi later 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. Currently open for takeout.
Two locations; mokbar.com
4. Dirt Candy
Chef Amanda Cohen’s legendary restaurant might be the most fun you can possibly have with edible plants. Seriously. Some of the current dishes on offer include beet reuben, sweet potato torta, beet chocolate chunk cookie, green goddess cake and kitchen sink salad. Now offering outdoor dining, delivery and takeout.
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. Currently offering indoor dining, outdoor seating, delivery and takeout.
328 Malcolm X Blvd.; sylviasrestaurant.com
6. Pearl Oyster Bar
Those $1 oyster happy hours you can’t wait to hit up as often as humanly possible this summer? You have Rebecca Charles to thank for that. She founded the West Village’s 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. Available for takeout, delivery and outdoor dining.
614 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn; baoburg.com
Owned by Harlem native Yvette Leeper-Bueno, this Harlem restaurant is 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. Currently available for delivery, takeout and outdoor seating.
2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; vinaterianyc.com
9. La Palapa
Born and raised in Mexico City, chef and owner Barbara Sibley has long been a collector of traditional, rare and ancient Mexican recipes. It is these dishes and the recipes that she misses most from her childhood that appear on the eclectic menu (think: flavor-packed tacos, fresh salsas and rich moles). Currently open for pickup, delivery, indoor and outdoor seating.
Multiple locations; lapalapa.com
10. Gazala’s Place
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. Currently offering pickup and delivery.
Two locations; gazalasrestaurant.com
Owner Sruthi Chowdary “is not your typical woman,” she says. How so? Well, for starters she has five tattoos and her favorite beer is a Kingfisher. And most importantly (for us, anyway), she went against the cultural norms expected of South Asian women in today's society and founded Khiladi, the East Village eatery that focuses on homestyle South Indian cuisine ("Khiladi" translates to player). Here Chowdary offers dishes that are inspired by her childhood, as well as street market staples from South India. Now offering takeout, delivery and outdoor seating.
175 Avenue B; khiladinyc.com
This Harlem farm-to-table restaurant is run by Gabriela Davogustto and focuses on produce, meats and fish that is sourced from small, local suppliers. This extends to the bar menu—the wines and spirits also come from small producers.
553 Manhattan Ave.; claynyc.com
13. Via Carota
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. Currently offering outdoor dining and takeout.
51 Grove St.; viacarota.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 teriyaki steak and eggs, kabocha squash shakshuka with miso tofu labne and Japanese-style pancakes with black sugar syrup. Open for pickup, delivery and indoor dining.
5 Bleecker St.; bessou.nyc
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