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83 Very Good

Keith McNally’s masterpiece is a New York icon that is equal parts perfect bistro and tourist trap.

80 Spring St., New York, NY, 10012


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Known For

The lowdown

Balthazar is Keith McNally’s masterpiece, an evocation of a Paris brasserie that out-glows anything you’ll find near the banks of the Seine. Yet for all its visual impact and despite McNally’s uncanny skill at creating a place that remains hot longer than most of its patrons’ relationships, the smudge in this postcard is that every American not in Paris seems to want to dine here, meaning tables have been planted everywhere — some so close to the front door that those seated there will get coat-smacked silly. In that case, dash into Balthazar’s superb bakery, grab a baguette, and make do with a walk along the Hudson.

What you need to know

Insider Tips If you want to avoid the crush of people, go in the morning when the room is much more subdued, or late on weekends, when the restaurant stays open until 1 a.m.

Recommended DishesOmelette with herbs; steak tartare; raw bar; whole-roasted free-range chicken.

DrinksFull Bar

Noise LevelBring earplugs!