Mix It Up with NYC's 7 Top Tasting Menus
Don’t get us wrong—we’re all for humble slices of pizza and greasy halal-cart greatness, but when we're looking for an unforgettable dining experience, our eyes—and appetites—are set on one of NYC's many multicourse tasting menus.
But before you start scouring your closet for a pair of nice heels or fancy cuff links, know that not all tasting menus mean white tablecloths and cotillion-worthy table manners. Thankfully, NYC is also home to some decidedly less ostentatious (and more affordable) tasting menus. From 10-course seatings that last the whole night to neighborhood haunts with just the right amount of plates to get you through Hump Day, these seven restaurants offer some of the best tasting menus in the city.
Chef Patti Jackson's homage to Mid-Atlantic cuisine shines in this cozy, 38-seat Williamsburg restaurant. Locally sourced ingredients and farm-fresh produce pay tribute to New England in the form of a pleasantly affordable $65 tasting menu with four courses, highlighting dishes like Taylor Bay scallops with an apple-kohlrabi slaw and pillowy, ethereal ricotta dumplings served with smoked pork belly.
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If you ever need an excuse to carbo-load, chef Mario Batali's $95 all-pasta tasting menu has your back. Twirl your fork around five courses of homemade pasta, including buttery sheets of pappardelle drenched in rich Bolognese and tubes of garganelli with sautéed mushrooms, followed by a slice of velvety Capezzana olive oil cake.
Since it opened more than 20 years ago, Gramercy Tavern's mahogany dining room has become a classic fixture of Gotham's fine dining scene. Chef Michael Anthony's $160 six-course tasting menu (or its less expensive vegetarian iteration) features marinated scallops with Meyer lemon and dill, and savory duck breast finished with charred onions and crispy trumpet mushrooms.
Though this intimate Lower East Side space offers a thoughtful five-course tasting menu for just $67, we suggest throwing down an extra $3 for a side of chef Fabian von Hauske's excellent beef fat-basted bread. And if you're trying to be a bit more prudent, snag a seat at Contra's bar, which offers an abbreviated three-course menu and dessert tasting.
Park yourself on a leather banquette or rub shoulders with fellow diners at the bar in this snug, candlelit resto, and choose either a five-course ($75) or seven-course ($95) tasting menu. The selections are constantly rotating, which means on any given night, you could be dining on fresh-caught mackerel fillets with ponzu, eggplant and scallions, or plump agnolotti with sage and brown butter.
Semilla's unique tasting menu ($97) teems with vegetable dishes, punctuated by the occasional protein, with diners feasting on 10 courses' worth of roast beets with creamy bone marrow and fermented squash topped with shaved apples and trout roe. Communal seating at the 18-seat wraparound bar means you'll constantly be interacting with chefs, neighborly gourmands and, hopefully, a few slices of chef José Ramírez-Ruiz's excellent homemade sourdough.
If we were faced with just a few days to live, we'd gladly blow our retirement funds on chef Daniel Humm's opulent three-hour tasting menu. EMP's famous lavender-lacquered roast duck is the dish epiphanies are made of, as is Humm's many takes on foie gras, including a version slathered on toast with sea urchin and lemon.
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