Two decades ago, the food scene in Tribeca felt like an afterthought. Now, the neighborhood is one of the culinary capitals of New York. What gives? Quite a lot, actually. The area received a big boost over the years from local supporter Robert De Niro, as well as veteran chefs Marc Murphy (Landmarc) and Marc Forgione and an influx of loft-dwellers. Today, you may have to navigate your way past strollers and aggressively cuff-linked wrists en route to your table, but you’ll be dining at some of the finest establishments in town.
Here’s our list of the 10 best restaurants in Tribeca.
Locande Verde It’s De Niro’s world and we’re just living in it. At least, that’s what it can feel like at this celebrity-owned restaurant that perpetually packs in beautiful people. But if you can glide through the air-kisses (and manage to score a reservation), you’ll remember that the back of the house belongs to Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch, The Library at the Public). The chef describes the food as “family-style,” which would be true if your mama pinched together small pillows of agnolotti tender enough to sleep on. The crostini menu rotates seasonally and, if you’re lucky, it will feature the decadent truffled-ricotta-and-honey combo. Ignore the breadcrumbs that inevitably shower over your lap and instead soak up the atmosphere (along with some velvety olive oil). 377 Greenwich St. New York, NY 10013 212-925-3797.
Bubby’s The plaster cow residing outside this area favorite says it all: Bubby’s is casual, charming, and (almost always) packed with a gaggle of kids growing up in the restaurant’s zip code. The kitchen turns out homey plates during lunch and dinner — a sprawling slow-poached tuna Niçoise; a tender lamb-meatball sub with homemade ricotta — but breakfast foods are really its jam. The sourdough pancakes (made with a starter dating back to 1890) serve as a nice table entree for those who must order eggs before noon. You’ll also want a side of homemade Philly-style scrapple, a spicy, pork-fueled nod to the city of brotherly love in an already family-friendly restaurant. 120 Hudson St. New York, NY 10013 212-219-0666
Kutsher’s Tribeca Forget what your grandparents will say about the ramshackle Catskill hideaway they may have visited generations ago. Although this restaurant shares the same name and family owners, Kutsher’s Tribeca is merely riffing on the summer-camp-like kitsch of its older location (you can order a ‘bug juice’ cocktail made with grapefruit bitters and frozen-punch ice cubes). The “modern Jewish-American” restaurant mixes family recipes (“Mrs. K’s matzo-ball” soup is an almost-sweet dill-flecked consommé) with much more elevated dishes (the gefilte fish is made from wild halibut and free of the traditional jellied exterior). The spacious dining room is flooded with latke-seeking young families and JDaters on the prowl. But it won’t take four questions to answer why this restaurant is constantly packed: the food is comforting and the service is warm — summer camp never tasted this good. 186 Franklin St., Greenwich Street New York, NY 10013 212-431-0606
The Odeon Slink into a booth at this original Tribeca hotspot and ignore the still-impressive crowds that the joint ushers in nightly (you’re too cool to notice anyway, right?). Once home to a glittery 1980s art crowd, the restaurant now caters to those who powder their faces instead of just their noses. But unrepentant partiers can still stave off future hangovers than by cracking through the gruyere ceiling on a bowl of French onion soup and soaking up its wafting steam. Other brasserie staples still deliver — a New York strip steak, dabbed with garlic butter and served with a mound of snappy fries; a grilled trout almondine so delicate and moist you’ll wonder why it’s not copied on every menu in town — but a decent meal could also be fashioned out of a heal of crusty bread and a few olives plucked from the belly of your martini glass. 145 W. Broadway New York, NY 10013 212-233-0507
Walker’s A neighborhood stalwart that offers authentic New York charm (the brusque service is ignored in favor of the juicy burgers and cheap, cold beer), the only thing pretentious about this Tribeca tavern is its chichi address. The menu features standard-but-tasty pub grub — order the smoky “cowboy chili”, topped with a plump dime of sour cream or the crisp pan-roasted chicken resting lazily atop buttery mashed potatoes — that serves as a solid foundation for lots and lots of booze. The brave and the drunk would be wise to chat up any available old-school patrons willing to trade stories about the N.Y.C. landmark. 16 N. Moore St. New York, NY 10013 212-941-0142
Landmarc If there is such a thing as a truly chic steakhouse (as well as one that doesn’t sneer at non-meat eaters) then this is it. The menu is an enormous hodgepodge of French bistro staples and Italian trattoria standards — you may order the thick tubes of bucatini all’amatriciana while your dinnermate has the boeuf Bourguignon? — but the combination works like a blended romance language (think: same roots, different techniques). If you find yourself on an extended Jury Duty lunch break, spend it devouring the finger-staining croque monsieur topped with a fried egg and oozing with gruyere. 179 W. Broadway New York, NY 10013 212-343-3883.
Marc Forgione Is Marc Forgione himself rustic, romantic, and inviting? His namesake restaurant certainly exudes those qualities. This cozy brick-walled space tends to attract couples who seem to be on the brink of proposals. But the effect is not based on dim lighting alone. Chef and owner Forgione combines influences of rustic Italian cooking with bits of French technique and slightly Southeast Asian flavors. Order the cooked-under-a-brick chicken, a bird so juicy and sweet that you’ll be forgiven for gnawing on the leftover bones. The pumpkin soufflé — peeking out from atop a ramekin — and gingersnap cookies are also worth sampling before the evening is over. 134 Reade St. New York, NY 10013 212-941-9401.
Takahachi Nobu next door? Well, sort of. This smallish sushi joint is just around the corner from the fancier fish mecca and is said to source its stock from the same provider. Fans of its East Village sister restaurant will already be familiar with the slightly silly twist of assigning movie names to maki (is the tuna, salmon, and yellowtail Taxi Driver roll a nod to the neighborhood figure?), but the prices are reasonable and the atmosphere much more zen than that of its paparazzi-flanked competitor. 145 Duane St. New York, NY 10013 212-571-1830
Aamanns-Copenhagen Despite a number of setbacks (and one false start a year and a half ago), this Danish import finally opened on a quiet corner of Laight Street in November. But you’ll know the wait was worth it after spooning bits of pickled herring and sweet tomato compote atop the kitchen’s ever-present triangles of rye bread (daters beware: the dish is a punchy, breath-killing delight). Aamanns specializes in Danish small plates called smørrebrød (that Robert Sietsema deemed “stunning“), and falls inline with the New Nordic cuisine that seems to be popping up all over the city. The room is cavernous but comforting — like a starkly staged Ikea living room — and teaming with stylish food lovers whose geometric haircuts seem to mimic the shapes on their plates. 13 Laight St. New York, NY 10013 212-925-1313
Atera Matthew Lightner is the chef at Atera, but after dining in his restaurant, you may ask yourself if he’s also a crafty park ranger or a whimsical magician. Is that a lump of coal on my plate? you’ll wonder as a server sets a burnished mound before you. But a single cut through the blob’s gritty shell will reveal a brilliant red core so vivid and slick that it seems to illuminate the surrounding area (the dish is a slow-roasted beet that’s dried over charcoal and served with trout roe). Your meal — 25 or so courses that will set you back $150 before alcohol — is a three-hour exercise in studied elegance, an experience that can feel exciting, confusing, and slightly exhausting. Tejal Rao describes the food as a display of “nature plus science, not a war between the two.” It’s best to embark on the dining adventure with an open mind and an empty stomach, as both will be brimming with wonder by the end of the evening. 77 Worth St. New York, NY 10013 212-226-1444