The most wonderful time of the year didn’t end back in December—it’s just getting started. That’s right: from January 23 until February 10, Restaurant Week is upon us! Ahh, that annual gastro-centric celebration when New Yorkers descend on the trendiest restaurants in town they’d never otherwise visit. With prix fixe three-course menus set at a guaranteed $29 for lunch and $42 for dinner, you can get a taste of uptown at downtown prices (or maybe it’s the other way around these days).
No matter what your restaurant week end-game is, these top picks will certainly satisfy—and still have reservations available! So dress up in your finest and check out these foodie-favorite hot spots, without spending all your rent money.
For impressing your most jaded friends: Beauty & Essex
Lower East Side
There are a lot of speakeasy-style spots in the city, but this one could drop the jaws of even the most blasé socialite (if they haven’t been there yet). Beauty & Essex is a tiny high-end pawn shop whose back door leads to a shockingly large two-story restaurant and lounge, decked with a massive chandelier and showcasing a menu that’s just as sumptuous and trendy as its environment. After dinner, hang out in one of two bars or just sip champagne in the ladies’ restroom. Seriously.
For when you can’t decide on just one cuisine: Brasserie Séoul
Has this neighborhood changed in the last few years or what? You might think a restaurant in the lobby of the Downtown Brooklyn Holiday Inn would not be the best place to spend your Restaurant Week budget, but you’d be wrong; Brasserie Séoul is a beautiful, delicious French-Korean fusion restaurant that’s not at all contrived. From braised pork belly with chicken congee to parmesan-crusted flounder with a soy-lemon sauce, this prix fixe menu gives you the opportunity to try their perfectly blended French-and-Korean-inspired dishes without emptying your wallet.
For the foodie who couldn’t get into ABC Kitchen: ABC Cocina
That’s entirely a joke; I mean, ABC Kitchen has been booked up for Restaurant Week for a long while, but its eclectic sister restaurant, ABC Cocina, isn’t just a second choice. It’s a little less Bobo-chic and a little more casual-glam, but ABC Cocina’s Latin-inspired menu is equally inventive, seasonal, and sustainable, with ingredients sourced from small farms whenever possible.
For upping your Instagram game: Fig & Olive
With greenery, golden tea lights, and olive oil you can purchase right off the shelves, Fig & Olive’s airy decor looks straight off a highly followed Pinterest board. But the food is the real star: fresh Mediterranean food gets a modern remake in dishes like salmon crudo with pomegranate, truffle risotto with parmesan, and fig and olive chicken tagine. Best of all, it’s beautifully plated, so you won’t have to do much to get the perfect shot.
For the best view: Beaubourg at Le District
Battery Park City
Inside Le District, Brookfield Place’s French version of Eataly, sits a new French restaurant that features ingredients pulled fresh from the market every day. With three weekly prix fixe menus featuring frisee salad, pâté de campagne, and roasted skate, it’s almost like dining in Paris. Grab an early weeknight dinner and watch the sun set over the Hudson river. The food is French, but the view? Entirely New York.
For the carnivore: Empire Steak House
Sure, there are vegetarian-friendly options on the menu, but that’s not why you go to one of NYC’s secret-favorite steak houses. You go for the New York sirloin, the filet mignon, or boneless rib-eye. Or maybe the lobster ravioli, thick-cut bacon, or cheesecake. And you definitely go during Restaurant Week, where each three-course meal costs the same or less than an individual entree during the rest of the year.
For keeping it chill: Buttermilk Channel
It’s best-known for its long lines at brunch (and, related, its ability to convince your snooty friends to travel south of Williamsburg on Sunday mornings), but Buttermilk Channel has an equally comforting New American dinner menu and some great selections for Restaurant Week. The spot isn’t quite as hopping during the week, but with dishes like duck meatloaf with Brussels sprouts hash, or hand-cut fettuccine with roasted squash and buttermilk ricotta, it’s the perfect place for an imaginative, soul-soothing meal at an excellent price.
For pretending you’re an extra in a film about Anna Karenina: The Russian Tea Room
The Russian Tea Room is one of those legendary old-New-York establishments that everyone knows about, but most of us can rarely afford. Decorated in red upholstery with a giant bear-shaped aquarium and a Venetian-egg-bearing golden tree, The Russian Tea Room will take you to the world of 1920s moneyed socialites on a steady diet of caviar and vodka. And with prices that normally double those on the prix fixe menu, going during Restaurant Week is a total steal. Treat yourself to a weekday lunch or dinner and soak in the sumptuous vibes.
For stepping it up on the poke bowl trend: Noreetuh
Instead of waiting in line for a sub-par bowl of raw fish with a choose-your-own marinade, make a reservation at Noreetuh, a delicious new high-end Hawaiian spot in the East Village. Dishes include two types of poke, uni tagliatelle, and black angus steak, and unlike some other restaurants, even the desserts are killing it: select from a chocolate haupia-inspired sundae, a brûléed Hawaiian pineapple, or a bread pudding with rum raisins and pineapple ice cream. Add a wine pairing for $25 and this cold New York winter night might just feel like a tropical paradise.
For a guaranteed great dinner: The Clocktower
Everything about The Clocktower is perfectly particular, from the beautifully designed space to the classic British and New American menu by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. Even the Restaurant Week menu is incredible. It’s not a pared-down version of their regular menu like many high-end spots tend to dole out; it’s an entirely new collection of dishes, offered at a relatively low price. Shellfish ravioli, duck sausage cassoulet, 36-hour braised pork belly, Atlantic cod with anchovies, sticky toffee pudding with pear-ginger sorbet… If you can’t decide on a restaurant, this one would be a hard choice to beat.