Empire State Building
There are half a dozen restaurants within five minutes walk of the Empire State Building and many more within 10 minutes' stroll.
- Hyun: A luxurious take on Korean barbecue, focusing squarely on top-notch Japanese A5 Wagyu, butchered in-house and grilled tableside. Around the corner from ESB. Dinner only Thurs-Sun.
- Ulivo: Pastas here are made in-house and may include cannelloni al forno with béchamel, parmigiano and short rib ragú. Open daily, dinner only at weekends.
- Atomix: Ellia Park and her husband Junghyun not only serve the most exquisite multicourse Korean-contemporary menu, but have also created a truly beautiful space inside this Gramercy brownstone in which to enjoy it. Dinner only Wed-Sun.
- Crown Shy: Chef James Kent’s menu is thoughtful and meticulously detailed, with an appealing selection of crudo, like charred carrot "sticks" set over sliced razor clams and surrounded by a lemon-thyme foam. Dinner only Mon-Fri; lunch and dinner at weekends.
- Dim Sum Go Go: This wildly popular joint is packed most days, and for good reason: the Cantonese fare and dim sum served here is as good as the food you’ll find in those authentic places in far-flung Queens. Lunch and dinner daily.
- Vinegar Hill House: From the kitchen here, diners can expect such rustic and enchanting items as creamy goat’s blue cheese with house-made crackers, honey and plum jam.
- The River Cafe: This restaurant sits right in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Don’t come thinking that the food here will be playing second fiddle to the stellar views. The ingredients are top-notch and the kitchen team has an inherent understanding of what goes with what.
Statue of Liberty
Ferries leave from Battery Park City, so have lunch nearby before or after.
- Schilling: This Austrian restaurant dishes up well-executed Viennese classics that are the stuff of comfort food dreams. The kitchen has an assured yet light touch with traditional dishes—don't miss the spätzle, a light and tender rendition bathed in a cream sauce enriched with Gruyère.
Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)
- Acanto: This Italian knows how to make an impression: its prime location across from Millennium Park would be a looker any day, but it goes the extra mile with style and sociability. Lunch and dinner daily.
- The Gage: Pub classics with flair define the menu, like malt-battered cod with creamy tartar sauce and parsley-flecked thick-cut fries—a solid rendition of fish and chips. Lunch and dinner daily.
Monuments and Museums
D.C.'s historic buildings, monuments, and museums are all congregated on the National Mall. Visit the White House, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington Monument, and museums like National Museum of African American History and Culture.
- Fiola: Classic and modern elements come together in the regional Italian food here, which is as likely to celebrate Roman inspiration as it is to represent Venetian flavors. Dinner only Wed-Sat.
- Jaleo: The mood here may be fun, but the food—from bocadillos to hearty mains—is seriously good. Some of the standouts are the simplest, like gambas al ajillo, or shrimp in a garlicky olive oil sauce. Lunch and dinner daily
- Cafe Riggs: From its historic marble lobby and enchanting design details (think velvet chairs and regal gold hues) to a versatile and well-executed menu, everything about this hotel restaurant is quite unforgettable. Lunch and dinner daily
- Punjab Grill: Not to be missed is the aloo tikki chaat, which arrives as a towering, boulder-like presentation of crispy potato cake topped with a lightly roasted Brussels sprouts and fried kale and dressed with avocado sauce, raspberry chutney, and rosewater-infused yogurt. Dinner only Wed-Sat; lunch and dinner on Sun.
Traffic in LA is notoriously bad. Expect to drive 20-25 minutes to eat after hiking to the Hollywood Sign.
- Running Goose: In the evening, the inviting fire pit here beckons; by day, the flourishing gardens offer a scenic backdrop for the generous happy hour, which runs from noon to 6pm. The menu is centered around LA's many Central-American influences, with a good dose of Californian flair. Try the tostadas, featuring deliciously unique fillings—one with burnt corn aïoli, charred sweet corn kernels, lime and basil; or another with carrot purée, queso fresco and celery leaves. Lunch and dinner daily.
- Parsnip: Take a number, place your order and if you’re lucky, grab a folding chair because these items are meant to be eaten sitting down. Bulz dumplings filled with melted cheese, sauerkraut and red peppers are tangy and delicious; just as plachinta stuffed with potatoes and red chili is especially satisfying in all of its doughy goodness. Lunch and dinner daily.
Golden Gate Bridge
Pearl 6106: The big and airy space here is designed for all-day dining —whether that may be coffee and wood-fired bagels during the day, or a substantial dinner (and cocktail) later. Co-chefs Mel Lopez and Joyce Conway turn out a Cal-Mediterranean menu heavy on seafood and pastas, like rustic handkerchiefs in a velvety white Bolognese sauce.
Five Happiness: This longstanding Chinese staple is a favorite of the late, great cooking icon Cecilia Chiang. Inside, you’ll find warm and inviting décor, starring white linens and a crimson carpet—it's the sort of space that lends itself to group celebrations. Standouts include a beautifully bronzed Peking duck (plan to order it 24 hours in advance); slippery hand-cut noodles studded with savory moo shu pork and crunchy vegetables; or the meltingly tender Shanghai braised rib topped with a flutter of green onions.
Hero image: The River Café. Photo by Daniel Franco, courtesy of The River Café