New York City's best classic restaurants: Time-tested favor... - Jonathan Cartu Restaurant, Baking & Catering Services
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New York City’s best classic restaurants: Time-tested favor…

New York City’s best classic restaurants: Time-tested favor…

New York (CNN) — You could easily go broke trying to visit every restaurant in New York City’s five boroughs. But while there will always be plenty of people chasing the next hot thing — rainbow unicorn ramen — there are certain restaurants that have outlasted the rest.
These spots are known for their style, their service and especially their food, and have survived against cutthroat competition.

Some have even been pioneers behind new cuisines, introducing the city to exciting flavors and innovative ingredients. Not every restaurant on this list has celebrated 100 years, but we have every reason to believe they will.

So add these best classic restaurants to your list when you travel to New York:

21 Club

21 Club New York City

The 21 Club’s myriad jockey figurines were donated by horse breeders and owners.

wdstock/Getty Images

The first thing you’ll notice is a small townhouse amid the Midtown skyscrapers. Iron jockeys lining the exterior balcony welcome patrons and give this former speakeasy singular curb appeal.

Inside the bar room, the toys and memorabilia — rumored to be gifts from A-list guests of years past — continue with a jaw-dropping collection of miniature planes, trains, cars and miscellaneous knickknacks hanging from the ceiling. The impressive wine list alone shows that the bar room means business. Its dress code and strict cancellation policy add to it. — Isabela Espadas Barrios Leal

21 Club, 21 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019, +1 (212) 582-7200


In pop culture, New York City is synonymous with white-tablecloth, red-sauce Italian restaurants with dark wood and family-style service. But they aren’t a relic of the past.

You can still experience an Italian restaurant straight out of a film at Bamonte’s, a classic that has somehow weathered the sweeping gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn by staying one hundred percent true to itself.

The waiters are always impeccable, the Yankees game is always on during the season, and the spaghetti and meatballs are always made fresh. The address may be in Brooklyn, but the dining room is in another world. — Lilit Marcus

Bamonte’s, 32 Withers St, Brooklyn, NY 11211, +1 (718) 384-8831

Barney Greengrass

Practically every New York City neighborhood has a respectable bagel joint. New Yorkers, in case you didn’t know, love their bagels and everything that goes with them.

Barney Greengrass on Manhattan’s Upper West Side has been in existence since 1908, and its bagels and smoked fix accoutrements are some of the city’s finest.

The sheer variety is impressive — it’s not just lox or whitefish but rather a wealth of options including sturgeon, pastrami salmon, sable, Nova Scotia salmon, kippered (baked) salmon, and the list goes on. — Stacey Lastoe


Delmonico's New York City

Delmonico’s is on the corner of William and Beaver Streets.

SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

Delmonico’s has existed in some form since the 1820s. Widely hailed as the first fine dining restaurant in the United States, the place has racked up plenty of firsts — the first standalone wine list menu in the United States, the inventions of Lobster Newburg and the wedge salad, and the first known use of the name “Baked Alaska,” among others.

The restaurant, originally founded by two brothers from Switzerland, has had several changes of address and of ownership over the centuries.

These days, some things at Delmonico’s are still classic — the steak, the dark wood dining room, the peacock-feather-esque wallpaper — while others have kept up with the current, such as special Restaurant Week menus, online reservation booking and people calling the neighborhood “FiDi.”

You can still get the Lobster Newburg, though. — LM

Delmonico’s, 56 Beaver St, New York, NY 10004, +1 (212) 509-1144

Di Fara

Close-up on a rectangular pie from Di Fara's.

Close-up on a rectangular pie from Di Fara’s.

Courtesy bri + lia/Di Fara

The cash-only spot in Brooklyn welcomes customers visiting from all over the world on a daily basis. Neighborhood residents might saunter by, and, if the line — which often winds out the door and down the street — isn’t too long, join for a slice of the pizzeria’s Margherita.

At more than $5 a slice and sometimes waits of upwards an hour for that slice (pro tip: order the whole pie), Dominque DeMarco’s no-frills pizza joint is doing something right.

And that something includes using only the freshest ingredients, according to DeMarco’s daughter Margaret Miales, who says her family goes “the extra mile” to source their ingredients.

Thanks to DeMarco’s handiwork — he’s 81 and often still behind the counter tossing around dough and painting it with sauce, fresh mozzarella and other classic pizza ingredients — it’s the stuff of delicious legends. If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself front and center when DeMarco wields a pair of scissors and expertly cuts fresh basil over his classic masterpiece. — SL

Di Fara, 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230, +1 (718) 258-1367

Grand Central Oyster Bar

Most train stations are known more for grab-and-go snacks than for fine dining. But the Grand Central Oyster Bar inside Grand Central Terminal breaks all of those rules by providing such high-quality seafood that even locals will brave rush hour crowds to get a table there.

In a city where everyone is in a hurry, the Oyster Bar takes its time and does things the old-fashioned way, from purchasing fresh fish every morning to graciously walking you through any item on the menu without hurrying you along to order.

It’s just as well suited to a quick meal at the tile-topped bar before catching a Metro-North train to Connecticut as it is for a big celebration dinners with old friends — just make sure that, whatever you do, you ask for oysters on the half shell. There are plenty of other tasty items on the menu, but it’s the simplest dishes that leave nowhere to hide. — LM

Eight thousand shrimp dumplings are made at Jing Fong each week

Jing Fong

New Yorkers love brunch so much that it might as well be the city’s official competitive sport. On a quiet, compact corner of Chinatown, the neighborhood with arguably the best restaurant-per-square-foot ratio in Manhattan, is one of the ultimate brunch spots — Jing Fong.

Don’t bother with a menu when you have dim sum on the brain — simply wait for servers to walk by pushing carts of steaming buns, noodles and other Chinese specialties, then point. It’s hard to go wrong with har gow, or shrimp dumplings — the chefs make about 8,000 a week.

The restaurant is now in its third generation of being owned and managed by the same family, and this fraternal atmosphere permeates — it’s not unusual to see a couple of old-timers spend all day holding court and ordering nothing but a pot of tea.

In a city where it’s normal to get shoved out of a restaurant the minute you stop eating so they can make room for the next paying guests, Jing Fong feels like a throwback in the best possible way. — LM

Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth St, New York, NY, +1 (212) 964-5256

Katz’s Delicatessen

Katz's Deli New York City

Katz’s Deli is located on Houston Street on the Lower East Side.

Michelle Bennett/Getty Images

I’ll have what she’s having. With those five words, Katz’s, a Jewish-style deli on the Lower East Side, crossed the line from local favorite to international icon.

These days, fans of “When Harry Met Sally” — the movie in which Meg Ryan uttered the eternally quotable line — and locals alike line up around the block to grab paper tickets and order pastrami sandwiches the size of a small child.

The matzoh ball soup is the cure for what ails you, especially if what ails you is sleeplessness or jet lag — they’re open 24 hours on Saturdays, making it the perfect place to acclimate city life. — LM

Keens Steakhouse

“Keens has a way with mutton,” or so it was written in the New York Herald Tribune in 1949. And it remains as true 60 years later as it has been since Keens opened its doors…


chef Jonathan Cartu

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