Best Restaurants in Midtown East

July 8, 2018
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by Zagat Staff

A common dining dilemma in New York: where to eat in Midtown East. Whether you work in one of the neighborhood’s many office buildings, live nearby, or are in the area for any other reason, here’s where you should be eating.

Ophelia Lounge NYC
Cocktail Bar · East 40s · $$$

On the rooftop of Midtown’s Beekman Tower, this refurbished lounge (originally built in the 1920s) is decked out with luxe velvet banquettes backed by expansive windows looking out to the skyline and East River. High-end cocktails and snacks complete the picture.
Socarrat Paella Bar - Midtown East
Spanish · East 50s · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.7

These “low-key” Spaniards dish up some of the best paella “this side of Valencia” , along with “hard-to-resist” tapas and “fantastic” sangria choices; the Chelsea original is on the “cramped” side, but there's more elbow room at the East Midtown and NoLita spin-offs.
Empellon
Mexican · East 50s · $$$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.9

“First-rate” ingredients in “imaginative” combinations make for some seriously “haute” tacos and other Mexican plates at these “trendy” spots where the “strong” margaritas are just as “creative” ; “slightly upscale” pricing doesn’t deter those who stir up a “crowded and noisy" scene.
Totto Ramen
Ramen · East 50s · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.2 · Service 3.5

“Perfectly tender” noodles in “powerhouse” broths draw fans to these “fast-paced” , cash-only joints where you go for the “soul-satisfying” ramen, not the “utilitarian” digs; no reservations lead to “crazy” waits, but no one minds given the “cheap” tabs and “real-deal” grub.
Hide-Chan Ramen
Ramen · East 50s · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

The sound of diners “noisily slurping” “cooked-to-perfection” noodles swimming in “flavorful” broth provides the background music at this “authentic” East Midtown Japanese ramen joint; alright, the service can be “a bit rushed” and the setting “cramped” , but “low costs” keep the trade brisk.
Sushi Yasuda
Sushi · East 40s · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.4

“Sushi of your dreams” awaits at this “hidden jewel” near Grand Central, where disciples of the namesake master chef craft “heavenly” traditional cuts in a “spare, Zen” setting run by an “efficiently courteous” crew; “the price matches the quality” , so “be ready to spend a bundle” – especially if you “go for omakase” at the bar.
Aburiya Kinnosuke
Japanese · East 40s · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

A “true izakaya experience” awaits at this East Midtown Japanese, where the “fantastic” non-sushi menu highlights “traditional” robata grill specialties; the style might be “relaxed” , but that doesn’t rule out “hefty” tabs – though there's always the “cost-effective lunch special.”
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Seafood · East 40s · $$$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.7

“Justly beloved” , this “boisterous” seafood “legend” in Grand Central stays “faithful to its 1913 origins” with “terrific” oysters and pan roasts that provide a taste of “true NY” ; a “venerable” sublevel sprawl with a “dramatically” vaulted ceiling, “classic” dining counters and a “throwback” saloon, it’s “not to be missed” even if it “costs a pretty penny.”
Sakagura
Bar · East 40s · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.0

A “portal to Tokyo” “hidden away” beneath an “anonymous” office building near Grand Central, this Japanese izakaya couples “sophisticated” small plates with an “amazing array” of “superb” sakes in a “calm” , bamboo-rich setting; given “dainty” -by-design portions, be prepared to “spend more than you expect.”
La Pecora Bianca
Italian · East 50s · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.1

“Exciting” locavore spins “hit the target” at these comfortable Italians where the “delicious” pastas and other “elevated” dishes arrive in an “airy” “country kitchen” setting; “innovative” cocktails boost the “lively” buzz, and the brunch is “not to be missed.”
NAYA
Middle Eastern · East 40s · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.7

“Appealing” meze leads the “winning” lineup at these “popular” Lebanese stops, also favored for its “amiable” service and “reasonable prices” ; the East Side flagship sports a “clever” , white-toned space while the quick-serve Express stops draw “epic” lunch lines.
The National
American · East 50s · $$
Food 3.7 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.7

A “business lunch” standby, Geoffrey Zakarian’s “cozy” American bistro in East Midtown’s Benjamin Hotel serves “straightforward” American fare that ranges from “solid” to “meh” ; “scattered” service and “noisy” decibels don’t deter the weekday “crowds” (brunch is more “pleasant” ).
The Smith
American · East 50s · $$
Food 3.9 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.7

“Don't expect an intimate conversation” at this “million-decibel” mini-chain that supplies “basic” but “appealing” American grub to “under-35” throngs out to “eat and be merry” ; “especially popular for brunch” , they're routinely “bustling” thanks to “good value” and “upbeat” vibes.
Hatsuhana
Japanese · East 40s · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.1

The “real deal” for “traditional” sushi, this “been-there-forever” Midtown Japanese “still holds its own” with “top-quality” fish “served without flourish” by a “first-rate” staff; the “simple” digs may seem “sparse” , but it remains a “favorite” , especially for the “business crowd.”
Crave Fishbar
Seafood · East 50s · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

“Popular” neighborhood “standouts” , these seafood spots specialize in “fresh” sustainable catch “well prepared” with “interesting” flavors; the “modern” digs host an “energetic” scene, especially during happy hour, when “you’ve gotta love those dollar oysters.”
THE GRILL
American · East 50s · $$$$

In the landmarked space of the former Four Seasons in the Seagram Building, this luxe, second-floor steakhouse harks back to the 1950s with its midcentury style, classic menu by Mario Carbone (highlighting filet mignon, Dover sole and prime rib carved tableside) and a buffet table for charcuterie and other cold appetizers. Variations on the martini are prominent at the bar.
The Lobster Club
Japanese · East 50s · $$$$

This high-end Midtown Japanese in the former Four Seasons, helmed by chef Tasuku Murakami (Sushi Azabu), focuses on sushi from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market as well as teppanyaki dishes. The loungey Peter Marino–designed space feels both retro and slightly futuristic with striking pops of color.
Little Collins
East 50s

An Australian cafe that feels like it could be in NoLiTa or Williamsburg, Little Collins is a 7am-5pm spot that's great news for anybody who works in Midtown. The coffee is excellent, the food is healthy but filling, and the baristas are friendly.