Pandemic? What’s that? A bit over the top, yes, but Big Apple restaurant­s have made a remarkable comeback from the grim days of 2020-21, when an extremely trying situation was made even more intolerabl­e by the hostility of a buffoonish, insufferab­le mayor. Now many fine eateries are packed, impressive new ones are opening and eye-popping creativity abounds. The artistry of the offerings at some of these eateries would impress Michelange­lo. You pay for what you get; inflation is no stranger here. Our stellar team of ever-discerning tasters—Forbes’ chief content officer, Randall Lane; Forbes contributo­r Richard Nalley; preeminent media maven Monie Begley; and brothers Bob, Kip and Tim—herewith unveil their list of where you can enjoy the city’s most savory comestible­s.

This year Le Bernardin is celebratin­g its founding 50 years ago in Paris. This super-superb seafood restaurant started out there and then expanded to New York. It has long been celebrated as one of the world’s best of the best, a tribute to its always refreshing variety and nuance. If you haven’t experience­d dining there, do yourself a favor and go. Atera’s tasting menu is a pure delight with carefully composed dishes that present a remarkable and subtle array of flavors and textures. Daniel Boulud has knocked it out of the park with Le Gratin. The word fabulous doesn’t begin to describe the food on offer in this beautifull­y tiled setting with superb acoustics. That same word also doesn’t do justice to the dinners served at Perry St: Tempura chefs, for instance, should all aspire to have their batter as light and crispy as that which encases the calamari here, and the steak frites is as good as it gets. Another of the Big Apple’s great dining experience­s is at Per Se, which is still very difficult to get into. Its nine-course tasting menu is stunning.

This firmament is deliciousl­y expanding. Aska’s all-black decor and low-key pinpoint lighting make a theatrical setting for a 12- to 14-course tasting menu of New Nordic cuisine prepared in a hushed open kitchen. The food at Semma is complex, bold and some of the most sophistica­ted Indian cuisine the city has seen. Caviar Russe’s intimate upstairs dining room has an old-fashioned, not-afraid-to-be-frumpy feel. Classic entrees, such as diver scallops dabbed with caviar, keep customers coming. By the way, its estimable caviar isn’t Russian. The creation of famed Mexico City restaurate­ur Enrique Olvera, Cosme excels at serving dishes with artful, complex flavors such as the signature longbraise­d duck carnitas. Le Coucou’s glittering, high-luxe loft space is breathtaki­ng, as are most of its offerings. Gem’s food-world celebrity Flynn McGarry cooks the deconstruc­ted, reassemble­d, rethought and Instagram-worthy small bites on his 8- to 10-course prix fixe menu ($150) with a calm, purposeful élan. Seasonal offerings shift gears three times a year. Olmsted’s chef, Greg Baxtrom, presides over his one-table-wide, long, skinny dining room and back garden with a laid-back inventiven­ess that sets you up bite after bite without showy fireworks or highfaluti­n prices. The brief menu covers a lot of ground. JoJo is Jean-Georges’ first restaurant and first love (food-wise). The setting is beautiful, fresh and intimate; creative farm-to-table courses with an emphasis on American cuisine. House of the Red Pearl is the absolute standout of JeanGeorge­s’ astonishin­g, multistory food emporium in the Tin Building at the Seaport. Ten years in the making, it opened this fall. The food is authentic and creative Chinese. The main courses, all uniquely prepared, have something for everyone. Fasano is a civilized, soothing place to go for a fabulous meal and easy conversati­on. One Fifth’s memorable menu is very farm-to-table with Italian undertones. Manhatta’s 60th-floor aerie in lower Manhattan is a glamorous setting and offers first-rate food. Le Rock does just that. The challengin­g acoustics can’t drown out the delights of a marvelous menu. Watching the performanc­e of three chefs at tiny-spaced Dame is one of the most amazing acts south of Broadway. The food is amazing, too. The Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel has an unfussy living-room feel to it. Prompt, attentive, eager-to-please service enriches the already excellent offerings. La Goulue serves fantastic French fare, often with a creative twist. The Clocktower carries an old-school English vibe and has a posh billiards room; high-ceilinged, darkwood paneled dining rooms; a massive fireplace; and black-and-white photos of bygone celebritie­s—perfect setting, brilliant British cuisine.

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Le Bernardin
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Le Gratin
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The Clocktower
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House of the Red Pearl
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