I can’t believe that this is my final week in New York! We leave for Paris on Wednesday night and get back the following weekend to road trip to Dallas (more on that later!). I’ve shared many of my favorite restaurants on my blog over the years but I thought it would be worthwhile to condense it into one ultimate Design Darling New York City guide of 20 do-not-miss places for readers who are considering moving here or just planning a quick visit. I even ranked them in order of which ones I’ll miss the most.

A friend of mine recommended that I include what I like to order at each place so I’ve tried to include that information as well (recognize that I’m a fairly picky vegetarian eater and you really can’t go wrong at most of these!). These are also the places I’m most excited to revisit during my own future trips to the city so hopefully it will serve as a handy tool for all of us!

design darling new york city guide

(Helpful hint: pin the image above for future reference!)

1. Palma
No trip to New York will ever be complete for me without a trip to Palma in the West Village. Request to sit in the back garden (it’s covered in the winter) and order the spinach agnolotti and a glass of rosé (you can thank me later).

2. Rosemary’s
An “only in New York” ambience with globe lights and a rooftop garden. The lemon linguine is the perfect light dinner.

3. Buvette
A charming little French bistro that’s worth the wait. Go for breakfast, sit at the bar, and order the rosewater waffle — it will change your life.

4. Freemans
The best spot to hunker down on a rainy day. Oh how I will miss their spinach artichoke dip!

5. Comedy Cellar
Okay, the food here is actually pretty subpar so make reservations elsewhere before or after the show. I love celebrating special occasions like anniversaries or birthdays with a good laugh in this Greenwich Village institution.

6. Café Clover
A new spot in the West Village and one that I wish had opened a long time ago. I will be trying to recreate their slightly sweet, perfectly spicy Brussels sprouts for the rest of my life (or at least until they write a cookbook!).

7. Tipsy Parson
A gem of a restaurant in Chelsea, perfectly situated for tired fashion week feet and decorated with the perfect Instagram in mind. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, the Tipsy Palmer with vodka never disappoints.

8. Club Monaco flagship
This is one of the few stores where I insist on shopping in person for the full experience. I would move in if I could. If clothes aren’t your thing (or you’re dragging a begrudging boyfriend along), you’ve got The Strand bookstore and Toby’s Estate coffee in the same beautiful building.

9. The Commons Chelsea
I’ve ordered lunch from here so many times the delivery guys know me by name. They make my favorite avocado toast in the city and the roasted cauliflower salad is not to be missed.

10. The Smith
I have so many fond memories at the Midtown East location. Don’t miss the mac and cheese (served in a piping hot skillet) or the photobooth downstairs (my fridge is covered in their photostrips!).

11. Agave
A casual spot for fish tacos and margaritas with outdoor seating in the summer.

12. Mermaid Inn Oyster Bar
My favorite place for a girls’ dinner where everyone orders the same thing: the lobster roll.

13. Aria
A cozy West Village favorite that’s perfect for grabbing a glass of wine with girlfriends.

14. Café El Presidente
Less crowded than its sister restaurant Tacombi, with killer margaritas and lobster tacos.

15. Francois Payard
Their Upper East Side location is a good spot for a cappuccino — and I never leave without a couple vanilla bean macarons.

16. Café Cluny
Good for brunch, dinner, and an occasional celeb sighting. We ate brunch next to Julianne Moore one morning and I could have died from happiness.

17. North River Lobster Co.
A boat in the Hudson River where you can spend a summer night eating lobster rolls as the sun sets. Because, really, who doesn’t want that?! If you’d rather stay downtown, try Grand Banks for an equally charming experience.

18. Nourish
A great spot for a quick and healthy meal. I get the detox kale salad and the farro to go… or to bring to a dinner party and pass off as my own 😉

19. Maison Kayser
So many brunches at their Upper East Side spot! I get the asparagus tartine almost every time but the French onion soup is amazing if you come for lunch or dinner.

20. Momoya
A simple but delicious sushi spot where you won’t have to wait for a good seat near the windows, which open up to the street in the summer.

A few runners up because writing this list felt like ranking my favorite dogs or shoes (read: impossible) — Bluestone Lane, Jeffrey’s Grocery, and Lafayette for brunch, L’Artusi for Italian, ABC Home for interior inspo, and Pearl Oyster Bar for a great lobster roll and even better French fries. Obviously this list doesn’t even touch on museums (I love the Met and the Whitney), parks (no visit to New York is complete without a stroll through Central or Bryant Park), or Broadway shows… There’s just so much to love about New York!

Do you love any of these as much as I do? (No, seriously, get thee to Palma. This isn’t sponsored but I sure as hell wish it were.) What are your favorite spots in New York? I can’t wait to discover a whole new list of favorites when we get to Dallas!


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  1. Thanks for posting this list! My husband and I just bought tickets to NYC for our anniversary this year, and I’ve been pinning restaurants to visit in NYC like crazy! This list will surely come in handy. 🙂

  2. Love this list — I hope to visit NYC again soon! You’re seriously my favorite blogger…informative, real and funny all in one post. Good luck on your move!

  3. I love your NYC guide! One of my favorite brunch spots is Jack’s Wife Freda. I love their menu. The original location is tiny but it’s just SO good every time. I feel like all the NYC bloggers are fleeing the city lately!

  4. This list is so perfectly “you”. While reading through, I could easily recall fond memories shared with you from most of these locals. Won’t be the same without you!!!

  5. I just wanted to say thank you for your recommendation of Tipsy Parson! I remember reading about it here first over a year ago and have made a trip each time I’m in New York – it’s to die-for! Enjoy Paris and best of luck with the move.

  6. This is a great list! My Mom and I are headed to the ‘Big City’ in June for a girls’ weekend, and we’ll be sure to check into some of your recommended spots.

    I hope Dallas offers you as much enjoyment as NYC obviously has. 🙂 Also, have a wonderful trip to Paris!