Best Chef's Counters in NYC

Front row seat
February 20, 2015
by Zagat Staff

Brace yourself for a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience. The highly-regarded chefs at these places are prepared to serve you the unexpected at the elusive chef's counter, so put your trust in them and see where they lead your tastebuds.

Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare
Japanese · West 30s · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.7

An “off-the-charts” gastronomic “showcase” , chef Cesar Ramirez’s 18-seat counter in an “industrial” Downtown Brooklyn kitchen presents “exquisite” , Japanese-inspired French dishes via 15-plus-course tasting menus served with “Swiss-watch” form; if you’re “lucky enough” to score a reservation (and manage the “over-the-top” set price), “the phenomenal experience will stay with you for years” ; P.S. jackets required.
Momofuku Ko
American · East Village · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.6

A “phenomenal experience” for an “open-minded foodie” , David Chang’s East Village “event” provides a “fascinating tour” of Asian-inspired American cuisine via “extraordinary” tasting menus crafted at a sleekly “comfortable” chef’s counter; the “steep” price tag is considered “well worth” it, so reservations are still as “tough” as “getting past heaven’s gates.”
New American · Bushwick · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.5

Set in a sleek, “industrial yet intimate” space behind Bushwick hit Roberta’s, this “culinary tour de force” from Carlo Mirarchi presents a “simply unreal” New American tasting menu – 20-plus “playful” courses – at a 12-seat counter facing the kitchen; prepare for “special-occasion pricing” ($195 a pop, not including wine), but it’s one for “any serious eater's NYC list.”
Japanese · TriBeCa · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

David Bouley and Osaka’s Tsuji Culinary Institute present “sublime” kaiseki menus in an atmosphere of “serene” “elegance” at this “splurge-worthy” TriBeCa Japanese, where the “picturesque plates” (including “melt-in-your-mouth” sushi) are also offered à la carte; if you’re really “prepared to shell out” , try chef Eiji Ichimura’s “world-class” omakase at his “intimate” 12-seat bar.
Japanese · Murray Hill · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.6

This wood-lined, “Zen” -like Japanese vegetarian in Murray Hill is a “hushed” oasis for “excellent” ancient Buddhist shojin cuisine, served kaiseki-style at dinner by an “impeccable” staff (and priced “as if it were Harry Winston jewels” ); the more casual first-floor adjunct goes by the name Kokage, and offers non-vegetarian, à la carte dishes for lunch and dinner.
New American · TriBeCa · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.7

“Creativity at its peak” is in evidence at this tasting menu–only TriBeCa “delight” , where a “fun-loving” staff delivers chef Ronny Emborg’s “phenomenal” New American cuisine to diners seated at a kitchen-facing counter; the “unforgettable” experience is “as high as high-end gets” , but to most it’s “worth every dollar” – assuming “you can secure a reservation.”
Bar · Greenpoint · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

They “keep your palate entertained” at this Greenpoint New American (set in the “intimate back room” at Tørst), where the “incredible” , Scandinavian-inspired creations out of an open kitchen are offered in tasting menu format only ($125); the “original” beer pairing option and “amazing show put on by the chefs” make it a natural for a foodie “special occasion.”
Portuguese · Flatiron · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

George Mendes’ “superb, creative twists” on Mediterranean cuisine come in “chic” , “grown-up” confines at this Flatiron “gem” , where sitting at the kitchen-facing counter makes for a “really fun” meal; “attentive” service is another plus, so while “expensive” , it's a “true dining pleasure” .
Italian · West Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.2

“Exceptional pastas” come out of the “tiniest of open kitchens” at this “energetic” West Village Italian, where a “fun” chef’s counter gives “lucky” diners a glimpse of the “show” ; “small” dimensions result in waits, but you can always pass the time in its adjacent wine bar, Anfora.
American · East Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

“Given new life” after an update to its menu and space, Marco Canora's upscale East Villager still “delivers” via “gutsy” , “market-driven” Tuscan-American plates with a “more healthful” bent; the “subtly redone” room has the same “lively” vibe, complete with a “caring staff.”
Hecho En Dumbo
Mexican · NoHo · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.6

A generally “innovative” take on Mexican cooking can be found at this NoHo hang where “elevated” small plates are paired with “amazing” margaritas; maybe it’s no longer the neighborhood “star” it once was, but it’s still “good for groups.”