The Best NYC Restaurants To Visit When You're Not Paying

As much as we’d love to act like we can eat at trendy restaurants year-round, sometimes we need our parents’ help to support our expensive taste (and obsession with finding Amy Schumer at Carbone). I mean, I spent last month’s paycheck on alcohol and Uber, so how do you expect me to eat celeb-status food three nights a week? If your parents are in town, it’s your right to milk their visit as hard as you can. This includes putting your debit card in a drawer for the week, finally getting around to getting those Stuart Weitzman boots, and taking them out to the best (and most expensive) restaurants. This also applies to dates where you can tell he’s rich. Here’s where to go:

1. Babbo

Babbo is Mario Batali’s Italian restaurant located in the West Village, so you’re basically eating designer ravioli, which makes every calorie completely worth it. I mean, you’re not saying no to carbs when the bread bowl is worth more than your rent. Babbo’s setting is also adorable, so you basically feel like you’re getting drunk off Italian wine in a little yellow house. The menu is amazing, so if you can’t decide between the caprese salad and the black spaghetti, just get both. You’re not paying, so it doesn’t really matter.

Babbo Ristorante

2. Sushi Yasuda

There are a ton of exclusive sushi restaurants in the city, but if you’re dining with your parents, Sushi Yasuda should be your go-to. First of all, it’s not as loud and trendy as Morimoto or Gari, but who wants to be in a loud room with David Guetta blasting in the background when you’re out with your parents? Sushi Yasuda is quieter and the lights are actually on, so you can see the single piece of sushi that was imported straight from Japan. The menu is all Omakase and they serve traditional sushi, so don’t expect to order a spicy tuna crispy rice roll as a starter. Act like you’re above all that shit and you’ll fit right in.


Bobby Flay might be the most pretentious guy on the Food Network, but he’s honestly kinda hot, so we’re down to eat at his restaurant. GATO serves Mediterranean food in a super sleek atmosphere, so you kinda feel like you’re in Europe. But then you realize everyone at the table next to you is Snapchatting their meals, so you realize you’re back in the great USA. If you’re a vegetarian, you might be better off staying home, but if you’re down to try cool Mediterranean food, get the lamb pizza and the seared yellowtail. You’ll (maybe) start to understand why there’s a show about challenging this guy’s cooking skills. His food is dope. 

Gato NYC

4. L’artusi

If you’re really down for Italian food but never indulge because you’re trying to lose three pounds, you’ll love the dishes at L’artusi. It’s basically a fancy Italian restaurant with tiny portions, so you can try one piece of every pasta on the menu and not feel guilty. L’artusi is a West Village classic, and it hasn’t even become touristy or trendy over the years because only legit New Yorkers know about it. (Until now. Shit.) You’ll eat housemade ricotta desserts, order a $600 bottle of wine, and love every second of it. Thanks, mom and dad!

5. Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern serves American food based on seasonal ingredients, so the menu changes depending on when you’re going, which is clutch because you can convince your parents to keep going back. The menu is built on fixed priced options, and tips are included, so you’re basically just buying a ticket to a restaurant. Because all their cheese is straight from local farms, they’re SUPER into it, so it’s probably not the time to stick to your dairy-free diet. I mean, the waiters can literally talk for 20 minutes about their specialized cheeses from specific pastures in the countryside, so you’d be letting them down by not eating it.

Gramercy Tavern

6. Boucherie

In case the name didn’t give it away, Boucherie is one of the most posh, high-class French bistros in the city. They serve traditional French dishes, so expect steak, butter, and a lot of random words on the menu you can’t pronounce. The atmosphere itself is also super French, so try not to speak too loudly or do anything that you would do at like, Joe’s Pizza. Basically, get your parents to leave their 2008 Nikon camera at the hotel for the night. Or just get rid of it completely. It’s embarrassing.

7. The Palm

The Palm is one of those places where the Filet Mignon doesn’t have a price listed on the menu, but you order it anyway because you’re at The Palm. Celebs like Kim Kardashian, Jonathan Cheban, and Rita Ora have been spotted here, so you better make a reservation at least two weeks in advance. If you really have money to spend, you can even become a club member, which allows you to try feature cocktails that change every month at the restaurant. The Palm is one of the most exclusive dining experiences in the city, and if your parents are in town for a special occasion, it’s worth going just to say you’ve been. 

The Palm NYC