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Are These NYC's Best Raw Bars? Speak out in Our Restaurant Survey

By Zagat Staff
March 11, 2014

The 10 restaurants below were rated Gotham's best raw bars in Zagat's last survey - do they still hold up? Or are there newcomers who should make the list? Weigh in with your opinion by April 15, and you'll receive a copy of our 2015 NYC Restaurants Guide when it comes out this fall. Click here to get going.

And bonus points for you comedians out there - the five wittiest entries will receive a Nexus 7 tablet. Score!

  • No. 10: Balthazar

    Food: 24
    Decor: 23
    Service: 21
    Cost: $57

    There's "never a dull moment" at Keith McNally's "high-profile" SoHo brasserie, where the "belle epoque" decor, "heady Parisian atmosphere" and "memorable" French fare ("can't-be-beat" breakfasts included) are a "magnet" for a "SoHo microcosm" of "locals", "moneyed tourists" and stray "celebrities"; the "controlled chaos" comes with "rushed" service and "daunting" decibels, but it's a certified "classique."

    80 Spring St.; 212-965-1414

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • No. 9: Ocean Grill

    Food: 24
    Decor: 21
    Service: 21
    Cost: $57

    "There's always a buzz" at Steve Hanson's "popular" UWS seafooder, where crowds pile in for "tasty", "simply grilled" marine cuisine served by a "competent" staff in a "white-tablecloth", "Hamptons-esque" setting; when the "noise level gets too high", insiders escape to the "pleasant" sidewalk seats.

    384 Columbus Ave.; 212-579-2300

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • No. 8: Fishtail by David Burke

    Food: 24
    Decor: 23
    Service: 23
    Cost: $68

    "Fabulous" seafood dished up in "lovely townhouse" digs by a "chipper" crew is the lure at David Burke's UES piscatorium, where "cheerful", "modern" decor distinguishes the downstairs bar ("hopping" at happy hour), upstairs dining room and terrace; it's "pricey" – even factoring in the "complimentary peanut brittle" – but a happy hour menu rewards early birds. 

    135 E. 62nd St.; 212-754-1300

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • No. 7: The John Dory Oyster Bar

    Food: 24
    Decor: 20
    Service: 19
    Cost: $55

    Berthed in Chelsea's Ace Hotel, this "airy" seafooder via April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman offers everything from "succulent oysters" to "inspired" small plates; "guppy-size portions", "hefty" tabs and "disinterested" service are offset by a "happening vibe", kitschy-"cool" digs and "sublime" Parker House rolls; news flash: it's now accepting reservations.

    1196 Broadway; 212-792-9000

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • No. 6: Oceana

    Food: 24
    Decor: 23
    Service: 23
    Cost: $77

    "Business folk" flock to this "cavernous" Rock Center American seafooder for its "pristine fish", "gorgeous raw bar" and "classy" service; though opinions split on the decor ("upper-class" vs. "over-engineered"), all agree on the "hefty" tabs and "habit-forming" cooking.

    120 W. 49th St.; 212-759-5941

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • No. 5: Esca

    Food: 24
    Decor: 20
    Service: 22
    Cost: $73

    The Batali-Bastianich-Pasternack gang "don't disappoint" at this "upscale" Hell's Kitchen Italian seafooder presenting a "splendid repertoire" of "fabulous" fin fare, "excellent" pastas and more, matched with an "impressive" wine list and served by an "attentive" crew; some carp about "pricey" tabs and "tight" seating, but to the majority it's an "excellent pre- or post-theater" pick and an all-around "memorable experience."

    402 W. 43rd St.; 212-564-7272

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • No. 4: Blue Ribbon Brooklyn

    Food: 25
    Decor: 20
    Service: 23
    Cost: $54

    The Bromberg brothers "deserve a blue ribbon" for this "nifty" SoHo New American (with a Park Slope counterpart), rolling out a "sublime" menu that runs the gamut "from foie gras to matzo ball soup"; "personable service", an "unpretentious" setting and "night-owl" hours balance out "loud" acoustics, "pricey" tabs and "long waits" due to the "no-rezzie challenge."

    280 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn; 718-840-0404

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • No. 3: Blue Ribbon

    Food: 25
    Decor: 20
    Service: 23
    Cost: $54

    The Bromberg brothers "deserve a blue ribbon" for this "nifty" SoHo New American (with a Park Slope counterpart), rolling out a "sublime" menu that runs the gamut "from foie gras to matzo ball soup"; "personable service", an "unpretentious" setting and "night-owl" hours balance out "loud" acoustics, "pricey" tabs and "long waits" due to the "no-rezzie challenge."

    97 Sullivan St.; 212-274-0404

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • No. 2: Pearl Oyster Bar

    Food: 26
    Decor: 16
    Service: 20
    Cost: $49

    "Delish" lobster rolls to "dream about" and other seafood dishes with "New England flair" leave regulars "happy as clams" at Rebecca Charles' "lively" West Village "gem"; given the "close quarters" and "no-rez policy", it helps to "get there early."

    18 Cornelia St.; 212-691-8211

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    No. 1: Aquagrill

    Food: 26
    Decor: 19
    Service: 23
    Cost: $62

    "Definitely a winner", this "classic" SoHo seafooder continues to deliver with a "top-notch" team serving up "well-executed fish" ("any fresher and it would still be on the boat") and "oysters galore" from a "superior raw bar"; even given "high" prices, it stays "crowded and loud."

    210 Spring St.; 212-274-0505

    What are your favorite raw bars? Vote in the NYC restaurants survey

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Places Mentioned

Ocean Grill

Seafood • West 70s

Food23 Decor21 Service22 Cost$60
 
 
 
Fishtail

Seafood • East 60s

Food24 Decor23 Service22 Cost$67
 
 
 
The John Dory Oyster Bar

Oyster Bar • Flatiron

Food21 Decor19 Service17 Cost$61
 
 
 
Oceana

Seafood • Midtown

Food25 Decor23 Service23 Cost$77
 
 
 
Balthazar

French • SoHo

Food24 Decor24 Service21 Cost$61
 
 
 
Aquagrill

Seafood • SoHo

Food27 Decor20 Service23 Cost$65
 
 
 
Blue Ribbon

American • SoHo

Food24 Decor18 Service22 Cost$61
 
 
 
Blue Ribbon Brooklyn

American • Park Slope

Food24 Decor18 Service22 Cost$61
 
 
 
 
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