Top Ten Best Tourist Restaurants in NYC for Fun Themes, Killer Views and/or Romantic Atmosphere

Jan 19, 2009 (Updated Nov 20, 2009)

The Bottom Line New York City is prime with restaurants that cater to tourists and offer an once in a life-time experience. Skip the chain restaurants and try a bit of diversity.

This list Now Has 11 Top Ten Restaurants in NYC. Deal With it!!  ; ) See Below for the last addition.

Manhattan, NYC, is known as the City That Never Sleeps. It's also known for all the restaurants that can satisfy the masses any time of day whether looking for a place to eat before a Broadway show, to be entertained while dining, being at a place that offers people watching and/or killer views or looking for a quiet and romantic spot during the day or at night. You will find within some of NYC most romantic restaurants.

I have posted reviews of most of the places that I felt any tourist or out-of-towner might like to add to their list of things to do while in New York City. These are my 10 best places to eat for tourists in New York City. Please note that within my Tourist's Ten Best Restaurants in New York City are a few doubles because of style or ambiance.

Central Park has two places that I can recommend. First there is the...

The Boat House

My wife and I have been to this place a couple of times during the afternoon. It offers a relaxed lunch with good food and service overlooking a lake in the middle of New York City. Couple and families can be seen in rowboats  making their way along the shoreline and under bridges . If there at the right time one can see romantic couples taking a gondola ride.

This place is nearby Bethesda Terrace that has been the background of many a film and commercial. It was the place to see and be seen during the turn of the century and in recent years has been beautifully refurbished. It now attracts people from around the world. It's a short walk from the John Lennon Memorial, Strawberry Fields.

The Boat House with its outdoor decks is perfect in the spring, summer or fall. One must walk part of Central park before or after dining to appreciate this oasis in the middle of New York City.

Another famous dining room in Central Park is

Tavern On the Green

While the Boathouse is perfect for those warm days, Tavern on the Green turns into a Winter Wonderland in years coldest months. The exquisite dining rooms overlook trees lighted with thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights that grace topiary sculptured forms. It's magical!

Sometimes this place can get a bit busy but it still offers a fine view, especially if covered in a white blanket of snow. The glowing scenery becomes one of the most romantic spots in Manhattan.

The American food at Tavern on the Green is good, the waitstaff spotty. The atmosphere can be heavenly.

From High Above!! Rockefeller Center's, Rainbow Room and Marriott Marquis, The View

There are two places that offer fantastic views.

Let me first stop to say that I dearly miss one of the best dining views in all New York City. That was the one from Windows on the World in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

I can suggest two other places that afford a fine, commanding view of Manhattan. One has been around since 1934. The Rainbow Room in the NBC Building in Rockefeller Center. This once world renowned supper club is now run by Cipriani family of Venice. We were at one of their properties in that city, Harry's bar. They know how to run top notch facilities and let me tell ya, this place, the Rainbow Room, makes one feel like you are on top of the world. It's a classy place that has both energy and a romantic style.

Like many places listed reservations are important at the Rainbow Room. The price here is a bit more than most, but the place is stunning!

The View Restaurant in the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Mid-town's Theater District is another place with a killer view. This one includes the bright lights of Broadway.

One can dine comfortable at the View restaurant or party at the upstairs lounge. Both rooms rotate 360 degrees giving views in every direction of Manhattan. The dining room service and food is OK but the view captures ones attention so any minor annoyances pale to the overall positive sentiment these high in the sky, dining experience can bring.

Rolph's Bar and Restaurant

Rolph's is a German Restaurant that you may or may not want to dine in. The food is good but a bit pricey for what you get. We enjoyed it but my suggestion is going sometime during the Christmas Holidays for a few beers at the bar. I recall another writer on this site describing the place like, "Christmas exploded inside the place." I do give some description of Rolph's Restaurant and Bar in a review posted a couple of years ago but let me tell ya in just a couple of words, "There is NO PLACE decorated like this one.!"

Be prepared to wait an hour or two to be seated for dinner but better yet, make a squeeze to the three deep bar and take in the Christmas atmosphere. Unbelievable!!

It's so hard to describe or give a full account of what this place is like inside during the holidays.

Katz Deli Down-town,
Carnegie Deli and Stage Deli Mid-Town Theater District

There's nothing like sitting down to a H U G E fresh sandwich in one of NYC's noted Delicatessens. There are no places like these anywhere else that I have ever experienced. Perhaps it was the food and not  Meg Ryan's Antics of a faked Orgasm in the movie "When Harry Met Sally" that prompted Billy Crystal's mother's walk on  line stating, "I'll have whatever she is having!"

New York Delis are amazing. The busy atmosphere, sandwiches that need a forklift to carry and a real deal New Yawk feel make these a great place to visit and certainly do belong as one of the top ten places to eat in NYC. Though I give Katz the edge, I can suggest the Carnegie Deli and/or the Stage Deli just a block from each other in mid-town. Get a pastrami on rye! Oh Man, It is soooo gooood!

Stardust Diner

I put the Stardust Diner on my list as a place to go because it's a good one for kids and adults. This place is a short walk to most of the Broadway Theaters. It's popular because the waitstaff are all people waiting to make their break into show business.

The restaurant has a retro 50s atmosphere with Elvis and hot rods, mixed with good burgers and New York egg creams. You don't have to be a New Yorker to try one.

The best part of the place is when one or two members of the waitstaff stop serving, hop onto a table, and take a couple of minutes to sing out a tune or two. It really adds to a fun, easy goin'  Broadway theater atmosphere.

Jekyll and Hyde

This multi-level horror themed restaurant is great with kids 8-16. It has good food and a waitstaff right out of a B movie horror flick. The props and robotic/animated  shows are a hoot and the waitstaff stay in role throughout your lunch/dinner.

Kids love this place. It's great for a family fun afternoon. Take your time eating and get your monies worth of the show. Be sure to interact with the staff. They too can be a hoot. Jekyll and Hyde is located near Central Park so it's doable from many Manhattan points.

Rink Bar and/or the Rock Center Cafe

The Rink Bar is perfect during the summer and fall while dining at the Rock Center Cafe is best enjoyed during the Christmas Season when the giant Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is lighted and skaters take to the ice.

The Rock Center is an inside establishment that caters to tourist who want to take a break from all the Rockefeller Center activities and watch the skaters take their turns around the ice rink. The view from this underground restaurant adds to the holiday feeling. The Rock Center Cafe is also a good spot catch a bite before or after one of the Christmas Spectacular shows at Radio City Music Hall. It's just a half block away.

During the summer the ice area becomes and outside eatery by the name the Rink Bar. My wife and I have only been there once but let me tell ya, there's nothing like dining outdoors seeing people and being seen. The menu is diverse in price and can be a good value.

Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern is downtown, not too far from where the Statue of Liberty Ferry goes out from. It's also nearby a few excellent downtown museums. This is a place with an authentic historic theme. While Jekyll and Hyde and the Stardust Diner bring fun into the lives of diners, Fraunces gives them history.
Fraunces is the place where George Washington gave his farewell address. It's the place where many of the revolutionaries of the American Revolution had drinks together and talked of freedom and of war. These were brave men. There is a small museum on the upper floor for a charge. 

Fraunces Tavern is popular for power lunches in the afternoon as the Wall Street crowd fill the tables. That said, it's still quite suitable for a couple or family to sit back, take off a load and bask in the history of the building. Best thing is that the food and service both happen to be just fine.
Sylvia's Uptown Harlem

Finishing up my list of the Top Ten Best Tourist Restaurants in NYC  is a place that, like Fraunces Tavern, does not have to look for a theme or the make believe as a background to good food. Sylvia's may not be quite as old as George Washington's select dining room but it sure does serve its own tradition.

Sylvia's is a well known tourist attraction in its own right. This is an African-American family owned business that started up in 1962 and has grown to seat up to 450 people in its near city block, multi-roomed restaurant in NYC's Harlem. They are now world known for their soul food dishes. YUM!!

We have enjoyed th upbeat atmosphere a number of times. This restaurant isn't as easy to get to as the others on this list of Top Ten Tourist Restaurants in New York City, but it sure is worth it. While most of the previous restaurants offered basic American food, Sylvia's serves the best Soul Food north of the Mason-Dixon line.

We have also made it to their Sunday Brunch where Gospel singers entertained while we dined. Here are three reasons to try this lace. The food is delish, there are people of many nationalities from all over the world and this is true soul food eatin' experience!

pops Finishing Up

Be a tourist in New York City. Enjoy places that bring in the crowds. There's nothing too wrong with that. Some restaurants may not offer the best value in food and service but the overall experience in these Top Ten Best Tourist Restaurants in New York City that I suggest are worth the money and time invested. This is especially true if trying to have a unique experience. There were also a few I would rate as NYC most romantic restaurants. 

Don't go to the many TGIF Friday and such chain restaurants that mug tourists with a "Get 'em in, Get 'em out attitude offering poor food,  who gives a damn service, and a climate that makes one wonder why you tried it in the first place.

Try these other places on my Top Ten Best Tourist Restaurants in New York City. Look for the romantic dining rooms, the fun and exciting places to see and be seen and try a taste of history and a bit of another cultures too.

Most of the places I talked about in this review I have been to multiple times. If you are interested in reading reviews I have posted of them, go to Google, and write in the key words, the "restaurant's name" and "popsrocks". That will get you right to them.  Have fun and enjoy the food and the atmosphere of these Top Ten Best Places for Tourists to Eat in NYC.

Now added to this Top Ten Best Tourist Restaurants in NYC for  Fun Themes, Killer Views and/or  Romantic Atmosphere is a special afternoon brunch and show and if you like the Beatles this is a winner.

An added addition to the top ten list.

BB King's Blues Club: Meet the Beatles for Brunch!

Right in NYCs Times Square on 42nd Street along with Disney's Amsterdam Theater, Madam Tussuad's, Ripley's Believe it or Not,the IMAX at AMC Empire 25and the New Victory Theatre that offers excellent off-beat family fun at more affordable prices than Broadway is BB Kings that has a fixed show every Saturday from noon till 2PM. It opens at 11am for a brunch and Strawberry Fields, the Beatles Tribute Band plays Beatle music dressed as mop tops with thin black ties in suits and through to Sgt Peppers and their last albums in 1969. The show is live and performed by guys who were in "Beatlemania" the Broadway hit. What makes this a great tourist destination is the value. You get two hours of excellent entertainment and a brunch buffet that will fill you up for the rest of the days activities. This is a winner for Beatle fans and just a reminder...Strawberry Fields is also doing a few night shows this holiday season. Check their schedule and read my review.

Meet the Beatles for Brunch!
The Boathouse Cafe
Tavern on the Green i
The View Restaurant
Stardust Diner
Sylvia's, a southern soul restaurant in Harlem
BB King's Blues Club:
Jekyll and Hyde Club
The Carnegie Deli
Katz's Deli 
Stage Deli
Rolf's Bar and Restaurant
Fraunce's Tavern

Strawberry Fields Saturday Beatles Brunch; The Show!!

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