New York may be one of the few cities in the world where you can try cuisine from every corner of the globe. There’s nothing you can’t find in the Big Apple, whether you’re craving crispy-chewy Neapolitan pizza, hand-pulled Chinese noodles or a Turkish breakfast fit for royalty.
We’ve rounded up where to go in the city for authentic French, Italian, Japanese, Ethiopian and Peruvian bites. Swap your suitcase for a Metrocard and eat your way around the world without leaving the five boroughs.
You can’t beat Ai Fiori for an exquisite lunch before or after a visit to the Empire State Building. (And if you’re the type to kick off sightseeing at the crack of dawn, reward yourself with breakfast here.) The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Italian restaurant is just three blocks from New York’s most iconic skyscraper, but the flavors of the French and Italian Riviera are so vibrantly refreshing, you’ll forget that the closest body of water is the Hudson.
On the lunch menu is a fragrant bouillabaisse and a piquant spaghetti with blue crab, lemon, bottarga and chilies. For happy hour or a casual light bite, grab a table at Bar Fiori.
New York has no shortage of high-end Japanese restaurants, like Four-Star Brushstroke in Tribeca, but our pick for a casual, cheerful meal is tiny ramen shop Nakamura. The Lower East Side restaurant, named for owner Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura, serves 11 varieties of ramen, including an impressive roster of three vegan options.
Carnivores can’t go wrong with the traditional torigara. This signature dish has an aromatic, smoky chicken broth loaded with chewy noodles, spinach, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), barbecued pork, nori and scallions. The ajitama (perfectly soft-boiled egg) can be ordered separately, as can the lightly fried shishito peppers.
French fine dining in New York is synonymous with chef Daniel Boulud. For an excellent Parisian lunch on the Upper East Side, reserve a spot at Four-Star Café Boulud New York, where the seasonally inspired prix fixe menu includes dishes like chilled carrot-ginger soup and duck confit with a lavender honey glaze, quinoa, fennel and carrots.
Come for dinner on a pleasant summer or fall night and book a sidewalk table, where you can people-watch as you tuck into a meal composed of dishes from each of the menu’s four sections — la tradition (classic French fare), la saison (seasonal ingredients), le potager (the vegetable garden) and le voyage (world cuisine).
East African cuisine is within fork’s reach in NYC when you dine at Awash. Slip into one of three branches of this Ethiopian restaurant — two in Manhattan (East Village, Manhattan Valley) and one in Brooklyn (Cobble Hill) — and you’ll soon be feasting on heaping platters of savory key sir (beets and carrots cooked with ginger, garlic and onions), bozena shiro (ground chickpeas, split peas and beef in a berbere sauce) and gomen besiga (slow-roasted lamb and collard greens seasoned with cardamom), all served atop injera, a tangy, spongy flatbread made from teff flour.
Ethiopian food is fairly accommodating of dietary restrictions — several of Awash’s vegetarian dishes are vegan, and teff is gluten free — and shared platters make ordering easy.
First-generation Peruvian-American chef Erik Ramirez cut his teeth at Five-Star Eleven Madison Park before opening Llama Inn. The contemporary Peruvian restaurant, situated on an unassuming Williamsburg block, has a wall of plate glass windows that flood the space with light. The furnishings skew Scandinavian modern; the rough-hewn plates and bowls were made by a potter in upstate New York and look especially rustic when decorated with the kitchen’s bright, beautiful food.
The ceviches are as delicious as they are pretty and prove ultra refreshing on a late-summer’s day. The beets with goat cheese, mint-like herb muña and gooseberry are delightful in taste, color and texture.
The menu features mostly vegetarian and seafood dishes, but there are a few mouthwatering choices for carnivores, like the short ribs with summer beans, yogurt and fermented aji dulce (sweet peppers).