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NYC

Guide

Where To Dress Up And Not Feel Stupid

14 NYC restaurants where you won’t feel out of place in nice clothes.

Written by
13 Spots
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14 Spots
Launch Map

It’s really awkward to show up somewhere feeling overdressed. Your friends smirk and shake their heads when you walk in, your significant other loudly whispers, “I told you it was very casual,” and you get the feeling that everyone else in the room is talking about you. Since you can wear a t-shirt pretty much anywhere in this city, you might feel like it’s a safe move to always dress down. But sometimes - whether you’re going out with clients who probably sleep in their ties, or you’re just really feeling a look and want to show it off - you want to get dressed up. Here are 14 spots where you can wear the things in your closet you usually only pull out for parties and special occasions.

the spots

Manhatta

$$$$ 28 Liberty St

Plenty of people at Manhatta are dressed like they came here right after they shut down their four Bloomberg monitors, which makes sense considering it’s two blocks from Wall Street and the Stock Exchange. But no matter what you wear, you’ll have trouble taking people’s attention away from the views. The entire 60th-floor space has floor-to-ceiling windows, and after you finish the three-course, prix fixe dinner in the dining room, you can get a drink in the more casual bar area or Bay Room.

The Grill

$$$$
$$$$ 99 E 52nd St

No place in Midtown, or maybe the whole city, feels as much like the meeting place for people at the top of their org charts as The Grill. It’s in the old Four Seasons space - a big, beautiful dining room in The Seagram Building - and at both lunch and dinner, it’s full of people in formal business attire talking about business things. The excellent food - cuts of steak that your server presents on a platter, and pasta tossed with poultry that’s pressed in a medieval-looking contraption tableside - is heavy on production value, making this is an impressive spot for business meals.

Dirty French

$$$$
$$$$ 180 Ludlow Street

Dirty French is from the same group behind The Grill, and while people likely spend time strategizing their outfits before coming to both places, it’s clear that one is in Midtown and the other is 60 blocks south. So rather than cufflinks and power suits, you’ll see expensive sneakers and designer track pants at this dark spot on the LES. Come here on a double date with the cool couple that lives below you, and share some champagne and really good riffs on French food, like black bass over madras curry or duck a l’orange coated in North African spices.

RH is a good spot to pretend you’re the heir to a shipping fortune for the night. You’ll dress the part, and the atmosphere will handle the rest. This walk-in-only American spot is on the roof of Restoration Hardware in Meatpacking, and while you wait for a table, you can walk around four floors of extremely fancy furniture with a glass of wine while pretending not to be shocked at the $15,000 price tag on a mirror. As for the restaurant itself, there’s a chandelier over every table, a big patio overlooking downtown, and a space full of people who look like they could be heirs to some fortune. Just like you.

Benno

$$$$
FrenchItalian  in  Nomad
$$$$ 7 E 27th Street

The only time you’ve seen your clients smile was when you mentioned a series of Excel shortcuts that have led to increased productivity. It’s evident at this point that they’re never going to be your friends, but you still need to impress them. Bring them to Benno, a fancy spot in Nomad that serves three prix fixe menus ($105, $135, $155) of French and Italian dishes. It’s pretty formal - the dining room on the ground floor of the Evelyn Hotel has an army of dark-suited servers who move around silently like a veteran ballet troupe - but the big wine list and the excellent food, like skate almondine with crab mousse, will land even better than your comment about autosizing columns in Excel.

Flora Bar

$$$$ 945 Madison Ave

Flora Bar is one of our favorite spots on the Upper East Side. It’s fancy enough to not feel out of place dressed up for a nice date or a special dinner with parents, but it also doesn’t feel at all stuffy. There’s a casual bar area where people can have snacks and wine, and a big patio with art sculptures, trees, and tons of tables. The food is also some of our favorite anywhere uptown, with a great raw bar and seafood-focused small plates, like lobster and crab dumplings in yuzu broth.

Toro

$$$$ 85 10th Ave.

Toro is in a big, dark, loud space, and it’s full of people who are dressed like they want to impress a discerning bouncer. In other words, it’s like a lot of other spots in Meatpacking. But unlike those spots, Toro serves food that you’ll actually enjoy eating. Most of the dishes on the large Spanish menu are under $20, and everything is shareable, so come here with a group and get things like grilled razor clams or really good hangar steak, before heading around the corner and trying to impress a bouncer.

Holy Ground

$$$$
AmericanSteaksBBQ  in  Tribeca
$$$$ 109 W Broadway

Holy Ground is an underground spot in Tribeca that feels kind of like a jazz club from some time before space travel, so it may not be surprising that you’ll feel comfortable dressing like a character from Mad Men here. But even though the red leather booths and vintage speakers playing instrumental jazz may make it feel like another expensive steakhouse, this place actually serves BBQ. If you want to order correctly - get the massive beef rib, smoked chicken, and multiple orders of the crispy potatoes.

Estiatorio Milos

$$$$
$$$$ 20 Hudson Yards

You have no shortage of dinner options in Hudson Yards if you’re paying with the company card. There are plenty of very expensive spots that seem like they’re hosting banquet dinners after a commodities trading convention, but you’ll have trouble finding any place with more white button-downs and dark blazers than Estiatorio Milos. This Greek spot is very expensive, and you can have a good meal here, especially if you focus on seafood, which is flown in daily from around the world.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

$$$$
$$$$ 630 Bedford Rd.

Maybe you’re celebrating an anniversary, or maybe you need to make up for forgetting one. There’s one gesture bigger than the rest: Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Everyone here plans way ahead to get a reservation, spends a lot of money (dinner is $278 and the wine pairing is $178), and dresses up for the occasion. The food - more than 20 courses of things like dry aged carrot steak - is phenomenal, and the overall experience is even better. From walking around the grounds and talking with the grill master while he prepares your steak, to eating a course in the private wine cellar, to drinking out of glasses made from the bones of animals from the farm - this is one of the most memorable dining experiences you can have.

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare actually does have a dress code, and they’re so serious about it that if you show up without a jacket, they’ll give you a loaner to wear during your three-hour meal. Whether you’re wearing your own jacket or theirs, you’ll eat 15 phenomenal, seafood-focused courses, like a bowl of king crab topped with a ton of Kaluga caviar. It’s some of the best food in New York, and it’s also some of the most expensive (the tasting menu costs about $360), so you’re likely to spot some decked-out tourists and New Yorkers with something to celebrate at the 20-seat chef’s counter as well.

Tao Downtown

$$$$
JapaneseChinese  in  Chelsea
$$$$ 92 9th Ave

If your birthday just so happens to fall on a weekday this year, and you don’t want to repeat, “Thanks, but it’s actually on Tuesday,” to 40 different people on Saturday night, celebrate at Tao on the day itself. This Asian fusion club-restaurant in Chelsea, which actually serves enjoyable (though very expensive food), feels like a party every night. Whether you come on a Wednesday, Friday, or any other day, the massive space will be filled with bachelorettes, tourists, and group business dinners. Assuming you made the wise move of calling out of work tomorrow, then head to the nightclub in the back after dinner.

Blanca

$$$$
$$$$ 261 Moore St

Blanca is in what looks like a converted garage behind Roberta’s in Bushwick, and while that may sound like the perfect setting for an autobody shop, it’s actually a 12-seat tasting menu restaurant where you could celebrate an anniversary or divorce. Even though this place is pricey and celebratory, there's nothing stuffy about it. Casual servers work the room while DJ’ing the record player in the corner. And every seat overlooks the open kitchen, where chefs prepare 19 courses of things like creamy noodles with uni and an inflated ball of bread made with Roberta’s pizza dough.

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