New York On A Plate: Local Restaurants You Will Love, NYC.

The highlight of a visit to New York us undoubtedly the restaurants. From cute locals to full blown Michelin star restaurants, everything is on offer.

This is by no means the best list, but these are simply some of my favourites I discovered during a recent trip.

Estela – Nolita

Crowded thin restaurant with polished floor spa small wooden tables.
Estela in NYC is fast gaining a reputation for it’s textured, flavour filled dishes, and well priced global wine list.

Estela is renowned for thoughtfully plated  creative American food with texture. It was just listed by Michelin, the word’s oldest restaurant guide on their annual list of top New York restaurants for 2020.

It is a tiny restaurant with a local, romantic, intimate  feel serving some of the best mouthfuls of food I tasted during a recent trip. 

It’s about small plates of flavour-filled creative delights to be shared, whilst sitting on tiny tables all packed together.

What sounds predictable on the menu is anything but when it arrives in terms of both presentation and flavour.

The place is bursting with as much atmosphere as the dishes are with flavour and texture. 

We ate a host of plates including grilled foie gras with grape leaf, endive, walnuts, anchovy and ubriaco sauce, lamb ribs with chermoula and honey, and iberico pork with agretti and seaweed. All outstanding.

There’s a bar that was also full by 5.30pm and the wine list is global and well priced (for NYC). 

A fantastic night out for couples or friends who like sitting tight. 

But book in advance – they charge US$25 per person if you cancel within 24 hours of your booking. Although they do take the odd walk-in.

Oh, and there’s a cookbook too; Estela, the debut cookbook from chef Ignacio Mattos.

Intersect By Lexus – MeatPackers 

Designer room with squared ceilings, book shelf and coloured plush chairs
At Intersect by Lexus it is hard to know whet to focus on the food or the interiors. Every aspect is a design feast.

This restaurant is where culture, creativity and design intersect.

The venue itself is a design feat long before you see or taste a mouthful of food. Set over two levels, the white, light filled setting includes a deconstructed Lexus painted white on one wall, toilets packed with small toy cars. Plus a television playing design content, and one of the grandest marble bars I have seen in a while.

If the setting wasn’t so lavish, I’d be tempted to call it a pop-up, as every 4-6 months a new concept and/or a new chef is in residence who introduces a new gastronomic adventure. They are up to their third.

Given the changing menu, there tend to be locals as well as tourists here. Cocktails are sensational, and the food is certainly pushing boundaries. No point in mentioning the dishes we had, as the menu will change in weeks.

A top notch, elegant night out. Savour it and don’t rush.

Polo Bar

smart dining room in restaurant with brown leather seating, white table cloths and large fancy lights, and green walls
The fabulous Polo Bar NYC

This Ralph Lauren restaurant has fabulous outlets in Chicago and Paris, and this one in NYC is classic Lauren just off fifth avenue.

Two floors of plush leather couches, elegant green walls, wood panelling, gold trim and refined horse imagery create a rich American club feel. Not sure which is more elegant, the fashion on most of the diners or the setting with paraphernalia on the walls.

American food at it’s finest fills the menu, including burgers, American steaks, brownies and sundaes. But don’t panic, it is still sophisticated, with some lighter dishes, and the red meat is excellent. Very hard to get into – you may have to give your concierge a rather large tip for a booking.

You will see locals and tourists here. 

Charlie Bird – Soho

Restaurant with yellow chairs and black tables
Charlie Bird in New York City is full of light, and fabulous dishes with amazing wines to match.

There is something intimate and refreshing about this gorgeous Italian influenced American bistro-style two level lunch or dinner venue. There is a creative menu, with seasonal dishes in Soho. Bit at dinner it gets very, very busy. Be warned.

The outdoor patio in summer is gorgeous, especially for weekend brunch. A wide wine list, with many by the half bottle (Americans seem to drink much lower volumes than Aussies).

For dinner right now there is crispy farm chicken, dry aged ribeye, a Tuscan pork chop ( I do miss the veal from a couple of years ago), and perfectly cooked pastas bursting with flavour. I love the desserts too – tasty and not overly sized. The chocolate pudding is my favourite.

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Renae Leith-Manos

Editor and Founder of Bondi Beauty

Renae Leith-Manos loves fitness, new beauty products, long chats and long flights. She is at her best when traveling the world writing about luxury hotels and Michelin Star restaurants ( She has had a colourful media career as a journalist inmagazines and newspapers, in Australia and Asia. She spends her time writing, cooking, consulting to new businesses, running and working out.

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