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

By Zagat Staff
March 11, 2014
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
 
 
 
David Burke Fishtail

Seafood • East 60s

Food24 Decor23 Service22 Cost$67
 
 
 
The John Dory Oyster Bar

Oyster Bar • Nomad

Food21 Decor19 Service17 Cost$61
 
 
 
Oceana

Seafood • West 40s

Food25 Decor23 Service23 Cost$77
 
 
 
Balthazar

French • SoHo

Food24 Decor24 Service21 Cost$61
 
 
 
Aquagrill

Seafood • SoHo

Food27 Decor20 Service23 Cost$65
 
 
 
Blue Ribbon Brooklyn

American • Park Slope

Food24 Decor18 Service22 Cost$61
 
 
 
 
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