Best Restaurants Around Union Square

April 3, 2018
by Zagat Staff

In New York, all roads lead to Union Square. Or at least, a lot of subways do - and that means you likely eat a lot of meals in this area. Here’s where to get the best of them, whether you’re planning a date, group dinner, or just want something casual.

Italian · Greenwich Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

A “true Italian experience” , this “under-the-radar” Villager is “totally committed” to producing “authentic Neapolitan” pizza and other “high-quality” specialties from the Napoli region; run by a “helpful” crew, the “modern” , high-ceilinged space is at its most “vibrant” during “giant-screen soccer-watching.”
Japanese · Greenwich Village · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

This “tiny” , “special-occasion” Village Japanese limits itself to “phenomenal omakase” , providing either “top-tier” sushi or traditional kaiseki spreads at a “transporting” bar that takes diners “straight to Tokyo” ; options starting at $135 mean “it ain’t cheap” , but the payoff is a real “wow experience.”
Union Square Cafe
Brunch · Gramercy Park · $$$

After relocating from its original digs of 30 years, this Danny Meyer groundbreaker (his first restaurant) is back with a similar New American menu, which includes old favorites alongside new choices; the Park Avenue South space is bigger but retains a familiar warmth, and gratuity is built into menu prices.
SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa
Japanese · Flatiron · $$$

From LA sushi chef Kazunori Nozawa comes this Flatiron instant hit offering a simple menu showcasing high-quality fish, including both à la carte and omakase options. Packed from day one, the elongated space is designed with exposed-brick walls and deeply grained woods.
Babu Ji
Indian · Greenwich Village · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.1

“Full of excellent surprises” , this “hoppin’” Australian import in the Village features “transformative” modern takes on Indian staples – including an “incredible” tasting menu – chased with suds from the self-serve beer fridge; relocated to a new space, it’s a “popular” choice where frequent “waits” are the norm.
Italian · Gramercy Park · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

“Danny Meyer does things right, as usual” at this “love song to Rome” overlooking Gramercy Park, where “sublime” farm-to-table Italian fare and “stellar wines” come in “delightful” , “buzzing” digs via a “welcoming” pro staff; scoring a reservation can be “challenging” (though the “bustling” front bar welcomes “drop-ins” ), and while prices run “high” , at least “the tip is included.”
Gotham Bar and Grill
American · Greenwich Village · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

“Longevity tells it all” at this circa-1984 Village “treasure” where Alfred Portale’s “picture-perfect” New American plates plus “savvy service” and a “gothamy” setting add up to “superior dining with no corners cut” ; longtime fans are “glad to pay the tariff” for an experience that “refuses to disappoint” , and the $38 greenmarket lunch “truly is a steal.”
Gramercy Tavern
American · Flatiron · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

You can rely on “top-class” dining with “no gimmicks” at Danny Meyer’s enduring Flatiron New American, where chef Michael Anthony’s “outstanding” set menus are presented by “eminently suave” staffers in an “upscale-country” dining room arrayed with “gorgeous” flower displays; it’s “not cheap by any means” , though the front tavern offers a “reasonable” à la carte menu in a “colorful” walk-in setting; P.S. gratuity is now built into menu prices.
French · Flatiron · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

“Sophisticated” dining “to be savored” awaits at this “top-of-the-line” Flatiron “oasis” , where chef Marco Moreira’s “knockout” French–New American plates pair with a “wine list that dazzles” in a “pristine” “adult” setting; it runs “expensive, of course” , but that makes a $29 prix fixe lunch even more of “a steal.”
15 East
Japanese · Union Square · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.4

“Inventive” preparations and “top-quality” fish result in “sublime” sushi at this “classy” Union Square Japanese also known for its wide sake selection; “personable” service and a “serene” , “minimalist” setting up its appeal for “adult dinners” , though the tabs have some saving it for “big occasions.”
American · Flatiron · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

“Still inventive, still exciting” , this “grown-up” Flatiron American from Top Chef star Tom Colicchio offers “simply yet expertly prepared” food that’s “perfect for group sharing” , served in “warm, modern” digs by a “terrific” team; though the “one-percenter” pricing suggests “special occasions” , it’s a “worthy splurge” at any time.
ABC Kitchen
American · Flatiron · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.3

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “hip” Flatiron “winner” “still delivers” with “original” , “all-around delicious” American cooking ordered from a “sophisticated” farm-to-table menu; a “stylish” , “airy” space further justifies the “spendy” tabs – and the “challenge to get a reservation.”
Daily Provisions
Gramercy Park · $

The bakery/cafe gets the Danny Meyer treatment at this Gramercy spot serving coffee, pastries and breakfast sandwiches and gougères in the morning, leading into lunchtime sandwiches and salads, and then rotisserie chicken starting at 3 PM. The compact space, accented with deep blue inside and out, also offers a few beers and wines, plus kombucha on tap, while loaves of bread are an all-day draw.
Vegetarian · Flatiron · $$

Jean-Georges Vongerichten goes vegan at his latest venture with ABC Carpet & Home, serving plates based on market veggies, noodles and grains, plus items like dosas and pancakes for breakfast. Banquettes made with handwoven Andean textiles lend warmth to the light-hued space, where there’s also a standing central bar for cold-pressed juices, tonics and kombucha, along with cocktails and biodynamic wines.
Casa Mono
Spanish · Gramercy Park · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

You’ll “feel like you're in Spain” at this “tiny” Gramercy hang where “inventive” Spanish tapas are complemented by a “super-deep” wine list; “quickly escalating” tabs and “cheek-to-cheek” seating are easily “overwhelmed by the out-of-this world food.”
TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie
Union Square · $$

Making a splashy entrance in Union Square Cafe’s former digs, this first overseas outpost of a Japanese noodle chain serves variations on housemade udon plus sushi and tempura. The streamlined dining area has a communal feel and front bar.
Han Dynasty
Chinese · Greenwich Village · $
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.7

“Hot in just the right way” , these “awesome Philly transplants” offer “unapologetically spicy” Sichuan dishes including “knockout” dan dan noodles; the Villager is “always crowded” while the UWS offshoot is much more “spacious” , and though both are “no-frills” , they're priced for “value" ; P.S. a third branch is set inside DeKalb Market Hall, complete with a bar and table service.
Cote Korean Steakhouse
Steakhouse · Flatiron · $$$$

Dry-aged steaks are the focus of this upscale Korean chophouse from owner Simon Kim (Piora), where guests cook the meat over in-table grills and can go for the prix fixe option of the Butcher’s Feast, rounded out with lots of sides and ice cream at the end. The group-friendly setting is accented with dark tones and light woods, and has a central marble bar.
Chinese · Union Square · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.2 · Service 3.7

“Legit” Southeast Asian fare comes with “no frills” at this Union Square stop, home to a “diverse” lineup of “kickass” Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai bites; since it’s “easy on the wallet” , fans put up with “cramped quarters” and a laut of “noise.”
Japanese · Greenwich Village · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.0

Turning out “Japanese comfort food” that’s “consistently delicious” , these “nothing-fancy” branches of a Tokyo-based izakaya chain provide “down-to-earth” favorites like yakitori, soba and soup bowls; given the “reasonable” pricing (and no-tipping policy), the only hitch is the occasional “wait.”
Vegan · Greenwich Village · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

Chef John Fraser (Dovetail, Narcissa) uses a “global palate of flavors and techniques” to craft “delicious, interesting” vegetarian cuisine at this “grown-up” Greenwich Villager; a “fresh” modern space and “conscientious” team boost the “class” factor – “too bad it's already an impossible reservation.”
ABC Cocina
Mexican · Flatiron · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.1

“Complex flavors” elevate the “imaginative” tapas at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “high-energy” Pan-Latin standout in ABC Carpet & Home, where the “beautiful” (if “noisy” ) setting is the backdrop for a “cool scene” ; reservations can be “hard to get” , but walk-ins can always pass the wait time “downing delicious drinks” at the bar.
Middle Eastern · Flatiron · $$$

From Turkey to Israel to Palestine, this Flatiron Middle Eastern puts a contemporary spin on the flavors of the region, serving small plates and larger dishes to share, along with fragrant breads and desserts. Tiled floors, warm lighting and a marble bar set the mood for dinner and drinks.
Strip House
Steakhouse · Greenwich Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

“Sultry” , red-velvet decor provides the backdrop for “off-the-charts delicious” beef and “amazing” sides at these “sexy” steakhouses where “expertly mixed” cocktails help fuel an “animated crowd” ; you’ll need a “fat wallet” , but service is “attentive” , and it all makes for one “darn good” meal.
Mexican · Flatiron · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.1

“Creative, brilliant” contemporary Mexican cuisine from chef Enrique Olvera comes in “chic” , “modern” quarters at this “über-trendy” Flatiron “scene” ; you’ll “spend a bundle” – assuming you score a “hard-to-come-by” reservation – and the “quintessentially ‘buzzy’ room” gets “loud” , but most hardly notice after an “original, delicious” cocktail or two.
Vegan · Greenwich Village · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.7

“Fresh, creative” (and kosher) vegan fare – including “terrific baked goods” – keeps “health-conscious” types returning to these “relaxed” neighborhood joints; though service may be “spacey” , the “affordable” tabs and “guilt-free” feeling are fine as is.
Sushi · Gramercy Park · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.7

“Fresh and delicious” sushi comes in “giant-sized” pieces at these East Side Japanese “gems” ; “cramped” , “plain” quarters are a “downside” , but with the “high-quality” fare coming at a “decent” price, it’s no surprise they’re “always jammed.”