Restaurateur Danny Meyer's family of restaurants are some of the most popular and influential in New York. And the greatest influence of all are the many restaurants established in the master's mold by Union Square Hospitality Group alumni.
A very fine seafood restaurant in midtown, Oceana largely caters to corporate clients, but it's worth a special trip at night. The room is not exactly bewitching but the place is usually full, and the reason is that it's a kind of Le Bernardin lite, an extremely refined kitchen that spares no expense in sourcing fish from around the world. You can usually get a seat at the bar.
Seattles o's once and future steakhouse is as famous for its near-legendary wine program as for its steaks, and even more so for its famed Canlis salad, now in the hands of Eleven Madison Park alumni Jason Franey.
Get it straight: there isn't a better, more straight-forward chef in New York than Marco Canora, whose restaurant is utterly committed to simple, perfectly prepared season food of the very highest order. Also, don't miss out on pasta, which is the open secret of Hearth's greatness.
A small place, a committed chef, a lot of pork and seasonal produce served with the utmost simplicity: Trestle on Tenth is a very humble restaurant, but also a very good one. It's in a remote part of town on the far west side, and isn't much to look at, but if you love good cooking and wholesome ingredients it's worth going out of the way for.
The house cocktails are world class at this most elaborately secretive of all New York speakeasies. But I go there to have perfect Manhattans, Sazeracs, and Vieux Carre's.
Out on the outer rim of civilization, you might be suprised to find this craft cocktail bar, which also happens to serve some really delicious comfort food.
The ultimate "cork dork" wine bar, Terroir goes so far down founder Paul Grieco's Riesling-slicked rabbit hole that it comes out the other end as the coolest place on Earth to learn about wine.
Everyone talks a big game when it comes to seasonal cooking, but to my mind this place and Gramercy are the final word on the subject. I'm not completely in love with the room but the food is good in winter, glorious in spring, inspiring in summer, and very good in fall.
A very fine example of the "lardcore" or modern southern restaurant; certainly the most refined. It shares with its brooklyn sibling, Char No. 4, an extensive bourbon selection.