Fancy Restaurants in NYC
New York has so many options for dining out. Whatever you want you can find. But sometimes, an occasion calls for something special, and if you're looking for somewhere to celebrate, Kiki Aranita has got you covered with her list of the fanciest restaurants in NYC.
photo by Pete Herron
“There are a lot of dining options in NYC, but Francie is the only one where you can hear ‘the Lords of Acid’ in the loo,” says John Winterman, owner of Francie, Brooklyn, which won its first Michelin star in 2021, barely a year into opening, and despite being subject to the vicissitudes of indoor dining shutdowns in the city. Francie is a restaurant that will envelop you in luxury, especially if you order their now-signature dish of a whole dry-aged and roasted duck, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Chef-owner Chris Cipollone also serves up indulgences like soufflé cakes dotted with caviar and Gotham Grove seaweed butter, lobster ravioli and a 30-day dry-aged cotes de boeuf for two. I asked Winterman to tell me about the ethos of Francie and he said emphatically, “We’re an egalitarian restaurant with the convivial feel of a neighbourhood brasserie. We want you to come in and indulge and have fun. We’re not just a place for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is just Tuesday.” That said, Francie also is the backdrop for a dozen different birthdays and anniversaries each night.
Phot: Courtesy Cosme
Sometimes I slide into the sleekly designed Cosme for mezcal cocktails, sometimes it is for a succession of tostadas decorated with jewel-cut vegetables and fresh, glistening fish and sometimes it is solely for that decadently smashed cornhusk meringue that dominated Instagram feeds for months and is possibly more delicious than it is beautiful. And it is beautiful. We can’t always hop on a plane to chef Enrique Olvera’s stunner Pujol in Mexico City, so New Yorkers are blessed to have its equally elegant Cosme, serving up dishes that are inspired by Mexico but bursting with originality.
Midtown’s Hutong, which also has iterations in Hong Kong, London and Miami, injects the NYC dining scene with Northern Chinese dishes, southern Chinese dim sum, complex five-spiced and Sichuan-peppered cocktails and a heavy dose of worldly glamour. For an extra-fancy experience, book a reservation for chef Martin Mak’s coveted flame-engulfed duck, spiced with chiles and carved tableside.
photo: Daniel Krieger
When the dishes come to your table at Le Bernardin, your fellow diners will slow their conversations to a hush. Everyone is served simultaneously as if dinner were a ceremony, choreographed with the utmost grace. Le Bernardin will make you feel treasured, worthy of each impeccably plated morsel of fish set down on the white tablecloth in front of you. Le Bernardin sets a standard for service that will set your standards for service for every meal you will ever have following this one. Seafood stars at Le Bernardin and you’ll tuck into exquisite fluke ceviche, sautéed langoustines with uni sauce and dover sole, swept up into the waves beneath the most stunning of seascapes, painted by Ran Ortner.
Photo: Courtesy Casa Dani
On a recent night, my phone lit up with message notifications from my friend Gabriela Guaracao, the founder and creative director of AMERICAE and also the person I follow most closely to keep tabs on what’s currently most fashionable and decadent. Gabriela sends me a string of “wows” from her table at Hudson Yards’ new Casa Dani. After twenty or so messages reading “wow”, she elaborates: “Exceptional and incredibly authentic Spanish cuisine. Ingredients are stellar. Music on point, atmosphere perfect.” Casa Dani’s show-stopping 160-seat space was designed by architect David Rockwell, who along with the Rockwell Group, have created an environment that transports the diner to Andalusia. The open-kitchen is designed like a glass-enclosed theatre, to show off the confident Spanish cooking of decorated chef Dani Garcia. Feast on Southern Mediterranean tapas and mezzes, whole fish cooked over an open fire and a series of paellas.
Photo: DITTE ISAGER
Walking into Soho’s Le Coucou is like waltzing into a dreamy oil painting, if oil paintings depicted chandeliers against an open kitchen. I found out much later after visiting that the elegant Roman and Williams-designed interior of Le Coucou, featuring a hand-painted mural, was actually based on the work of 18th century French landscape painter Hubert Robert. Fitting. American chef Daniel Rose had only cooked professionally in France - all over France - prior to teaming up with Stephen Starr for Le Coucou and thus, the menu is boldly French in both traditional and modern ways. So come to Le Coucou to indulge in delicacies like foie gras poché au Sauternes, ris de veau à l’estragon and homard à la Parisienne.
Photo: Phoebe Ogawa
Kajitsu means 'fine day', or 'day of celebration' in Japanese, and the name was chosen in anticipation that dining here would be a special occasion for their guests. Kajitsu serves shojin ryori, a style of vegetarian cooking that has its roots in Zen Buddhism, and in turn is the foundation of kaiseki cuisine. This is the only restaurant in New York that focuses on philosophy-driven shojin cuisine, and it does so according to rigorous standards, which makes experiencing a meal here all the more extraordinary. Shojin restaurants are rare even in Japan. Hyper seasonal and locally sourced vegetable-based dishes are served serenely and ceremoniously on dishes crafted by both modern ceramicists and master Japanese potters 200 years ago.