When you walk through the West Village, you’re bound to think a few things. “This neighborhood is very charming,” for example, and, “There are a lot of Marc Jacobs stores here.” You’ll also see an absurd number of restaurants.
Many of them are fantastic, and some just look fantastic - remember, brick walls and tiny wooden stools instead of chairs do not actually guarantee the food will be any good. With that in mind, here are the West Village restaurants that are absolutely worth your time. And when you’re done, check out our list of the best bars in the West Village, too.
When you want the best of the best Italian food in the West Village, go to I Sodi. This small, minimally-designed restaurant is always packed (but never too loud), there’s an entire negroni menu, and the super traditional food (cacio e pepe, brick chicken, lasagne) is excellent across the board. Reservations are nearly impossible, but just stop by, put your name in for a seat at the bar, and find somewhere to drink for an hour or two. This place is worth it.
If and when you manage to get a table at 4 Charles Prime Rib, come prepared. Prepared to eat meat, drink something strong, and not once think about the field of cardiology. Order a few big hunks of prime rib, a glorious burger, and make sure to dip your fries in creamed spinach. In case you’re hoping to have dinner in a space that looks like someone’s rich uncle’s private drinking den, it doesn’t get much better than this.
If you’re still waiting for Herman Miller to process your refund for that fiberglass stool, then you might want to skip Nakazawa - check out Katsuei instead. For $60, you get a handroll and about ten pieces of really good fish, like firefly squid, ocean trout, and toro. In terms of quality and variety, it’s probably the best sushi option in the city for the price.
Via Carota is pretty much always busy, and there are several reasons why. First, the Italian food is exceptional - especially the pasta. It’s also in an attractive space decorated like an Italian farmhouse, and it’s in the center of the West Village. Plus, they don’t take reservations, so everyone has an equal chance of getting in. Waits can stretch up to four hours, but just put your name in early and get a drink at one of the many bars within walking distance.
The owner here literally saw Jiro Dreams Of Sushi and decided to bring one of his disciples to New York. The result is Sushi Nakazawa, a high-end sushi spot serving fish that’s both excellent and expensive (you’re going to pay around $150 for an omakase). Make sure to sit at the sushi bar, and hopefully bring someone else’s wallet.
Faicco’s is the legendary Italian deli that you should scream about to everyone you eat lunch with regularly. It’s been around since 1902 (and has been operated by the same family throughout its entire existence), and they make one of the best chicken cutlet sandwiches we’ve ever encountered. This thing is probably about half the size of The Rock’s forearm - so plan accordingly. Split it with a friend or be prepared to be catatonic for the rest of your day.
It would be understandable if you wrote Toriko off after learning that dinner costs $85 or $100 and almost all of the food is chicken. But it would also be a mistake. This yakitori spot serves two omakase menus focused on various grilled chicken skewers - like wasabi-topped tenderloin and intensely rich chicken oysters - and it’s chicken that you should definitely go out of your way to eat as soon as possible. Sit at the chef’s counter, and you’ll be treated to some enjoyable dinner theater, too, since all of the skewers are grilled and seasoned right in front of you.
Llama San isn’t the only Nikkei restaurant in NYC, but it is the only Nikkei spot where you can eat duck nigiri, lobster with beef heart, and hamachi tiradito with uni and matcha foam. This Japanese-influenced Peruvian restaurant (from the people behind Llama Inn) serves food that’s equal parts inventive and delicious, and the space is full of plants, blonde wood, and conspicuously nice candles. Bring someone for an impressive dinner or brunch that you’ll think about for several weeks after.
L’Artusi is a long-time favorite of ours. Sure, we technically like I Sodi and Via Carota slightly more - but this place is still incredibly good at what it does. The pastas are immaculate, the kale salad is perfectly dressed and not nearly as boring as it should be, and the roast chicken is a must-order. If you’re looking for a special occasion spot in the West Village, this is one of your best choices.
Fedora is owned by the same people behind Jeffrey’s Grocery and Bar Sardine, and it’s a dark little space in the bottom of a townhouse that’s perfect for when you want to remember why you like the West Village so much. There are some tables along the wall, but we prefer sitting at the bar, and we always order the chicken.
In some ways, Anton’s feels like it’s been around for at least 100 years. Maybe it’s the martinis and broiled oysters, or maybe it’s the candlelit room with oil paintings and wood-paneled walls. Either way, you should know that A) this is actually one of the newer West Village restaurants, and B) it’s an ideal spot for an intimate dinner that isn’t too formal. Get the bucatini with chunks of bacon and the steak that comes over a pile of sauteed onions, but most importantly, have a few martinis. That just feels like the appropriate beverage here.
This Chinese spot on 6th Avenue is a nice, bright place to eat nice, bright food. From the claypot dumplings that are basically mini omelettes swimming in the best chicken soup broth you’ve ever had, to the mung bean jelly and the sliced chicken in chili oil, this is the kind of great meal you’ll tell all your coworkers about the next day at the office.
Joe’s is exactly what you think of when someone says “slice of pizza,” it’s something you could imagine a teenage mutant ninja turtle eating, and it’s the classic slice in NYC. Go for a slice of cheese or pepperoni, and either eat it standing up or find an open bench in the park across the street.
Instead of cacio e pepe and carbonara, Don Angie does a giant lasagna “for two” (it really feeds more than that) and a plate of gnocchi covered in poppy seeds. There are some other pastas and little plates that belong on your table, too, like a stuffed garlic flatbread and a cheese-covered chrysanthemum salad. Eat all those things we just mentioned, and you’ll realize why this is one of the best Italian restaurants in the city.
Nami Nori serves relatively affordable sushi in the form of various hand rolls, and it’s a great place for a quick meal that could cost as little as $20. The handrolls come shaped like tacos, and they’re filled with things like scallop with tobiko or salmon with chives and onion cream. Some have a little too much going on, so try to keep things simple - and if you actually want to get a seat in this bright restaurant that looks like an upscale nail salon, either get here early or anticipate a wait.
Bar Sardine is a casual bar-type establishment from the owner of Jeffrey’s Grocery and Joseph Leonard that does interesting takes on regular bar food, all of which we like. The space is pretty tiny, so it can be tough to find a seat, but the burger alone is worth a wait.
The West Village has some of our favorite pizza in the city, and some of our favorite burgers, too. And if you want to eat both things in the same sitting, you should go to Emily. This place makes both thin, crispy pizzas, and thick, cheesy Detroit-style pies that are great if you intend to spend the rest of the night under a fleece blanket on your couch. Whichever pizza(s) you go for, get the burger as well. It’s a double-stack mess of cheese and special sauce on a pretzel bun, and it needs to be on your table.
At first glance, Banty Rooster’s casual American menu might look the same as every other restaurant’s that serves sunchokes and meatballs. But the difference between Banty Rooster and most of those other places is that the food is better here, in part because of the Southwestern elements on the plate. For example, your sunchokes will have mole negro, and the delicious, skewered meatballs are made with herby chicken and confit egg yolk. Another important distinction: tables aren’t that hard to come by at Banty Rooster, so it’s useful if you’re looking for a semi-last minute dinner spot.
Corner Bistro does not make an elegant burger. It’s really just a large puck of meat on a bun that’s just a little too small, with some lettuce, tomato, and optional bacon. If you’ve had a few drinks, it’s exactly what you want - and it’s the main reason you come to this slightly rundown (and very charming) West Village institution.
In general, West Village restaurants tend to be a little busier than they deserve, but at Rahi, the opposite is true. It’s not hard to make a reservation at this Indian spot, so it’s perfect when you need a last-minute place with great, interesting food. You can get things like prawn curry with uni butter, housemade paneer with guava compote, and a good plate of duck over a mildly sweet green curry - and whatever else you order, you should add a side of naan and start with the five-spice cauliflower.
The Beatrice Inn used to be a restaurant, then it became a nightclub, then it turned into a not-great restaurant - and now it’s a pretty good one. The food is on the heavier side, and there’s an emphasis on meat, like oxtail, venison, veal, and duck. Even the creme brulée comes in a hollow bone, and it’s actually very good. So come here when you want to eat something filling in a West Village townhouse. It isn’t cheap, but it’s a cool space, and it’s great spot to impress someone who enjoys eating animals.
Have you ever found yourself wandering through the West Village thinking, “Isn’t there just something cool and casual I can pop into for some good carbohydrates, and maybe a nice salad?” That place exists, and it’s Malaparte. This dark little spot on Washington Street is good for either a date night or a meal with a few friends, and if we lived nearby, we’d be here every week. Come for some spaghetti with pesto, a pizza with prosciutto, and a simple piece of branzino.
You used to fantasize about moving to the West Village and becoming a regular at a neighborhood restaurant that always had a lively crowd of people. Well, you probably didn’t end up moving to the West Village, but Joseph Leonard is that restaurant. It’s more expensive and louder and harder to get a table than you imagined, but this is real life. And despite those downsides, Joseph Leonard is still one of the more fun, casual places to eat in the neighborhood. It’s also underrated for a weekday breakfast.
Sure, it’s a first date, but you’re also hungry and don’t want dinner to be a cauliflower flatbread and marinated olives. Go to Lamano, a casual tapas spot that’s great for low-commitment meals in the West Village. This place is the size of a studio apartment and the food is cooked behind the bar - so it all arrives quickly, which may come in handy if you really want to try that egg tortilla with truffle, but you’re not sure you can put up with another story about high school parties at the lake.
Did you know there are actually reasonably priced BYOBs in downtown Manhattan that serve very good French food? Well, there’s one, and it’s called Tartine. Apparently, plenty of people do know this, because there’s usually a line out the door. Still, we love this place.