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The Nomad (Photo: Courtesy of The Nomad)

The 10 Most Beautiful Restaurants in New York City

Beauty is in the eye of the diner at these gorgeous restaurants, from the sleekly renovated Tavern on the Green to the soaring Buddakan, which could double as a cathedral

New York is a culinary capital. But it’s also a style capital. Bring the two together and you have some of the world’s most beautiful restaurants. From the neo-Renaissance Villard by Michel Richard to the airy I.M. Pei-designed The Garden at the Four Seasons, New York City excels at restaurants where a lovely decor matches award-winning cuisine. Our criteria in selecting these restaurants was beauty on the inside and out – each of these spots has its own definitive and memorable style, from slick minimalism to ornate history to quirky art, as well as a superlative menu. In short, they’re as much a feast for the eyes as for the tastebuds.

 

Villard by Michel Richard (Photo: Courtesy of Villard)

Villard by Michel Richard (Photo: Courtesy of Villard)

Villard by Michel Richard
Enjoy a taste of New York City’s golden age at this sumptuous restaurant in the Villard Mansion, which dates back to the mid-1800s. Villard reveals neo-Italian Renaissance details throughout, from the 30-foot-tall barrel-vaulted ceiling to detailed moldings and gleaming original marble. The classic French restaurant is broken into a series of main rooms, including the low-lit bistro, which feels like stepping into a painting from the 19th century, save for the giant glass wine-storage cube in the center. The spacious restaurant gallery pays homage to the 1950s, with images of starlets. The menu is equally grand, from filet mignon with a peppercorn sauce to a lobster burger with homemade French fries. Bon appétit. 455 Madison Ave., 212-891-8100, villardmichelrichard.com

 

The Library at The Nomad (Photo: Courtesy of The Nomad)

The Library at The Nomad (Photo: Courtesy of The Nomad)

The NoMad
Noble elegance with a modern spin defines the NoMad, which more than lives up to its Beaux Arts exterior. Designed by French architect Jacques Garcia, who is known for his work on the famed Ladrée pastry shop in Paris, among others, manages to feel both stately and intimate. The space is awash in period French details, including an original 200-year-old fireplace imported from a French chateau, a glass-enclosed atrium, a Baroque library lounge and a 24-foot mahogany bar where you might imagine Hemingway hanging out, a gin cocktail in one hand, and a cigar in the other. The handsome space is an ideal setting for the locally sourced rustic American cuisine, including a bright strawberry salad with goat cheese and basil and suckling pig sweetened with apricots. 1170 Broadway at 28th St., 212-796-1500, thenomadhotel.com

 

The Palm Court at The Plaza (Photo: Tokyolux/Flickr CC)

The Palm Court at The Plaza (Photo: Tokyolux/Flickr CC)

The Palm Court
There aren’t a lot of places in America where you can take your tea in a 100-year-old courtyard. This is one of them. The historic Palm Court at the Plaza is crowned by an 1,800-square-foot stained-glass lay light (a glazed panel on the ceiling), and ringed by marbled columns and mirrored doors. Fittingly, the Palm Court was once the debonair hangout of F. Scott Fitzgerald and other notable New Yorkers. Toss on your best fedora, and choose between the epic brunch buffet, iconic afternoon tea (pinky up) or the extravagant lunch, which includes lobster salad and grilled branzino, along with plenty of flowing chilled champagne. Fifth Ave., at Central Park South, 212-759-3000, theplazany.com

 

Beauty & Essex (Photo: Courtesy of Beauty & Essex)

Beauty & Essex (Photo: Courtesy of Beauty & Essex)

Beauty & Essex
It’s all in the name: This modern-meets-vintage restaurant is a thing of beauty on Essex Street. Designed by the esteemed firm AvroKO, the sprawling space is presided over by a multi-level chandelier, and is filled with quirky details, from perfume bottles lining the bathroom to an art installation of sparkling pearls in the dining room. Also adding sparkle is the nightly parade of celebrities, who stop by for signature dishes like roasted bone marrow (much better than it sounds), lobster macaroni and cheese and, of course, potent cocktails. In keeping with the beauty theme, try the Beauty Elixir cocktail, a mix of Oxley gin, cucumber, strawberry and rosé. Cheers! 146 Essex St., 212-614-0146, beautyandessex.com

 

Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel (Photo: Loren Wohl/Courtesy of Gallow Green)

Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel (Photo: Loren Wohl/Courtesy of Gallow Green)

Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel
An industrial decor wouldn’t normally vie for most beautiful, but Gallow Green does. This arresting rooftop at the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, which hosts the long-running interactive play Sleep No More, includes a hollowed-out train car with delicate lace curtains, a rustic bar and soothing lighting. Take a seat at one of the wooden tables surrounded by Lady Macbeth’s garden of flowers and herbs, and partake in the wildly popular Sunday “bottomless brunch” or a light lunch or dinner of seasonal snacks, like grilled asparagus with country ham, mini pork pies and marinated scallops with saffron aioli. Wet the throat with superbly crafted cocktails, including the Piquant Punsch, made with sugarcane liqueur, lime and Thai chili. 542 W. 27th St., 212-564-1662, mckittrickhotel.com

 

The River Cafe (Photo: Viva Violet Photography/Courtesy of The River Cafe)

The River Cafe (Photo: Viva Violet Photography/Courtesy of The River Cafe)

The River Café
After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Michael Buzzy O’Keeffe’s DUMBO restaurant is finally back in full swing, offering guests not only an upscale American menu, but one of the finest views of Manhattan that can be had while dining. It doesn’t get more romantic than here: The restaurant is surrounded by a stunning garden illuminated by flickering lights, and daily fresh bouquets bring a sweet fragrance to the posh dining room. Not surprisingly, it’s one of Brooklyn’s leading venues to tie the knot. Not bad for a place that opened in 1977 when the whole area was deserted. How times have changed. 1 Water St., 718-522-5200, therivercafe.com

 

Tavern on the Green (Photo: Courtesy of Tavern on the Green)

Tavern on the Green (Photo: Courtesy of Tavern on the Green)

Tavern on the Green
The Tavern on the Green is back. After a long hiatus, the iconic Central Park restaurant has reopened its ornate glass doors to the public, serving new-American cuisine by chef Katy Sparks. Few restaurants can match the history of Tavern on the Green, which was originally built in 1870 to house sheep (yes, sheep). It was then transformed into a stylish restaurant in 1934, as part of Central Park’s renovation by the famous urban planner Robert Moses. After a top-to-bottom two-year restoration, the restaurant reopened with much fanfare this year by the Emerald Green Group. Above all, the restaurant celebrates the surrounding park, with gorgeous al fresco terraces, where you can dine amid ancient American elms whispering in the breeze. Inside, the earthy theme continues, with dark woods, pine-green banquettes and a glass wall showcasing sweeping views of the park. The menu is appropriately farm-to-fork, like Maine mussels with thyme breadcrumbs and the house salad, with local greens and roasted spring carrots. For more on Tavern on the Green, check out 7 Great Things about the new Tavern on the Green. Central Park West & 67th St., 212-877-8684, tavernonthegreen.com

 

The Four Seasons (Photo: Jennifer Calais Smith/Courtesy of The Four Seasons)

The Four Seasons (Photo: Jennifer Calais Smith/Courtesy of The Four Seasons)

The Garden at the Four Seasons
The harmony of nature is brought indoors at The Garden in the Four Seasons hotel, designed by the legendary I.M. Pei. Dine under African acacia trees, which meld beautifully with the sleek modern furniture upholstered in butter-yellow leather and the clean lines of the airy dining room. Come in the morning for breakfast as natural light illuminates the restaurant, or ease into the evening over silky red wines and arctic char with sweet corn, salmon tartar and, a perennial favorite, truffle fries. 57 E. 57th St., 212-350-6658, fourseasons.com

 

Atera (Photo: Michael Weber/Courtesy of Atera)

Atera (Photo: Michael Weber/Courtesy of Atera)

Atera
It says a lot when a restaurant is voted one of the most beautiful in the world by Architectural Digest. Atera may be tiny – with just 18 seats – but the industrial-chic décor is taken to a high art. Created by Parts and Labor Design, the space includes handblown glass, walnut tables, a dazzling exposed chrome kitchen and a whimsical plant wall that tips a hat to chef Matthew Lightner’s American menu of local delights, which might include such dishes as rich trout liver with brown butter and lobster enveloped in onion gel. 77 Worth St., 212-226-1444, ateranyc.com

 

Buddakan (Photo: Courtesy of Buddakan)

Buddakan (Photo: Courtesy of Buddakan)

Buddakan
You may think you’re walking into one of Europe’s grand cathedrals at restaurateur Stephen Starr’s Buddakan. Designer Christian Liaigre went impressively over the top with his creation, and the soaring restaurant, which exudes a modern Asian flair, includes tapestries, gleaming chandeliers, elegant staircases, exposed stonewalls and latticed windows. The inventive Asian cuisine, by chefs Brian Rayand and Yang Huang, lives up to the space, including Angry Lobster with curry and duck breast with corn-and-scallion spoon bread. 75 9th St., 212-989-6699, buddakannyc.com

For a romantic night out, also see New York City’s 10 Most Romantic Restaurants.

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