I consider it my job as wedding planner to organize the necessities of your wedding ceremony in Central Park. I consider those necessities as the legalities, the location and the photos for your lasting memories. I also offer advice as part of my services. This advice means different things to different clients. This list has been created with my clients in mind. The majority of my clients are visitors in New York, but have visited before at least once. A question I am often asked is for recommendations of good places for the couples to eat on their wedding day, to celebrate their union, either as a couple or with their guests.
I love food, and New York is a great place for people who love food. I had intended to compile a top ten, but that was too difficult, so it has turned into a top twenty. I have chosen some restaurants that are close to Central Park, to reduce travel time for the couple and their party. Nineteen of the twenty restaurants are in Manhattan for the same reason. I have tried to cover lots of different types of cuisines, and a wide range of meal prices. My intention is an emphasis on New-York-ness of some kind – either the history, great views or some kind of NYC vibe that you don’t get anywhere else. These are not in order of preference.
I recently wrote another list of ten more New York restaurant recommendations for your wedding day.
Top of The Tower
3 Mitchell Place
This Upper East Side restaurant on the 26th floor of a hotel on East 49th and 1st is conveniently close to Central Park. One side of the restaurant looks out over the East River and the other side over the skyline of Manhattan, where you can watch the sunset over the rooftops. They could accommodate a fairly large group, because of the split-down-the-middle style of the restaurant, so I would recommend this to couples bringing some family, or to couples alone. Their menu is contemporary American, at the time of writing they offer a Prix Fixe, as well as a la carte.
21 West 52nd Street
This is a former speakeasy from the ’20s, and it shows it, with red and white checked tableclothes and toys hanging from the ceiling. They offer a modernized retro-cool American a la carte menu or a chef’s tasting menu, and a prix fixe at certain times. They have several rooms for private parties in a variety of different styles, including their historic wine cellar with its solid concrete and brick facade that once fooled government raiders during the Prohibition era.
The River Cafe
1 Water Street, Brooklyn
This Brooklyn restaurant might have the best view in the whole city. It is right by the Brooklyn Bridge, on the East river, and has breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Their menu is modern American in style, at the time of writing they offer a Prix Fixe, and a six course tasting menu, as well as a la carte. This location is excellent for larger parties, they have a function room for private events and weddings. Of course you could just reserve a table for a smaller party for dinner.
One If By Land Two If By Sea
17 Barrow St, Manhattan
Considered by many to be one of New York’s most romantic restaurants, it has old-time New York City style. It is in a former 18th century carriage house in the West Village, once owned by one-time vice president Aaron Burr. The walls are exposed brick and the windows look out over a courtyard, you could almost forget you were in Manhattan. This restaurant provides the perfect ambience if you have small party. They have piano music nightly, and they have a two roaring fireplaces. The menu is contemporary American, at the time of writing they offer a Prix Fixe menu.
Madarin Oriental Hotel, Columbus Circle
This restaurant offers fantastic views of Central Park. Located on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Time Warner Center. The menu is pan-Asian with some European and American touches. The modern décor is steel, aluminium and glass, the interior design is crowned by a glittering tree-branch sculpture hanging from the ceiling that symbolizes the trees of Central Park in winter. Even if you are not lucky enough to get a table by the window, the view of the classic Manhattan skyline is still incredible.
There are so many great Italian restaurants in New York City. Carmine’s now has several branches around the city, but this one is the original, and on 91st and Broadway, close to Central Park. It has been designed to look like an New York Italian from the 1930s era, so it feels a lot older than it is. It’s not an especially romantic spot for couples, but the menu is in the style of an Italian American wedding feast, so would be great for a slightly larger party. They offer special large group and party menus, too.
The Russian Tea Room
150 West 57th Street
This iconic restaurant was founded in 1927 by the Russian Imperial Ballet, it is next to Carnegie Hall, so has attracted many performers over the years. The décor makes a meal here an unforgettable experience, red leather booths and everything with a golden trim. It is very close to Central Park, even walking distance. The menu is modern Continental with a touch of Russian flavors. They offer an afternoon high tea, which may suit parties who have an early afternoon wedding, who wish to have a wedding breakfast straight afterwards.
The Seahorse Tavern
303 East 85th Street
This Upper East Side restaurant is an excellent spot for a couple, or a smaller party. Lucky for me it is just a few blocks from my apartment, because I really like this place. It’s pretty busy on any night of the week, but the atmosphere is cosy and friendly. The décor adds to this atmosphere, the bar and wainscotting are built from planks from the original Coney Island boardwalk and the lights and sconces were salvaged from big ships. It is primarily a fish restaurant, featuring locally-sourced New York and New England specialities, they bill their style as “comfort seafood”. They also have an excellent choice of beers and an imaginative selection of cocktails.
204 East 43rd Street
New Yorkers love their sushi, and Sushi Yasuda is considered the best sushi restaurant in New York. The restaurant floor, walls and tables are all made of bamboo. It isn’t a traditionally romantic place, but there is an intimate ambience at the tables. This is an excellent choice for a sushi-lover and for someone who wants to get the real taste of New York, whilst having an unusual wedding breakfast. This is amongst the less expensive places in this list, too. They do not offer wine, but they do have beer. Their menu has imaginative Japanese options, besides sushi and changes daily depending on the fish available and everything is extremely fresh.
Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle
If you haven’t had quite enough of Central Park after your wedding, then you can go over to Columbus Circle, on the South West corner of the park, and eat overlooking Central Park and the streets nearby. It’s a small, quiet place so would be better suited for couples and small groups. If you have a larger group, they recommend one of their private dining rooms. The menu is French-influenced Modern American. They have an a la carte menu and a nine-course tasting menu.
Peking Duck House
28 Mott St or 236 East 53rd St
This restaurant has two locations, one in Chinatown, and one very close to Central Park. If you like Chinese food (or even if you don’t) Chinatown is a Manhattan must-see, and their restaurant has been there for over 20 years. But if you want a great Chinese meal, close to Central Park, then try their Midtown location, which has a private room for special events, and the main restaurant would suit couples of smaller parties. Both locations are beautifully decorated, and if you’re on a budget bear in mind that they have no corkage fee.
310 Lenox Avenue
Another of my personal New York favorites, located in the heart of Harlem, just 15 blocks North of Central Park, this restaurant serves high class American Southern comfort food. The spacious restaurant is popular and clamorous, and the walls are covered in murals and framed artwork created by local artists. There is outside seating on the street. They have a private dining room for events.
349 E. 13th Street
This East Village Gastropub is a relaxed, noisy, friendly place, serving fabulous food. Tables are squished in close together in true Lower Manhattan style, so we wouldn’t recommend coming in wearing a wedding dress. The food served is all deep South in style, many things barbecued or fried, and/or with bacon in them. There are plenty of cocktail choices to go with the rich and satisfying comfort food served here.
20 Battery Place
This Italian restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, with a beautiful view of New York Harbour and the Statue of Liberty. It’s a long way downtown from Central Park, but worth the trip for dinner to watch the incredible sunset over the harbour. They also have a rooftop terrace and a room for private parties.
Sparks Steak House
210 East 46th Street
This restaurant was established in the 60s in the East Village, and moved to it’s current location in East Midtown in 1977. The restaurant is well known for excellent prime sirloin steaks, fresh seafood and large live lobsters. They are one of the more affordable high-quality steakhouses, and have a huge and impressive wine list. They are fairly close to Central Park and and several private party rooms of different sizes. The restaurant has an old New York feel to it, the rooms are filled with big pieces of antique furniture and the walls are lined with gilt-frame paintings of the Hudson River School.
1900 Broadway (between 63rd and 64th)
This restaurant is run by a French chef who has made his name in New York City. This is slightly lower-key than his super-famous restaurant, Daniel, but just as elegant. And closer to Central Park. They have excellent French bistro cooking and a very impressive cellar of French wines. They have a main dining room, an outdoors terrace and three different rooms for private events.
466 Colombus Avenue
Blossom has several vegan/vegetarian eateries around Manhattan. This is the closest to Central Park, at just one block away from the 81st Street Entrance. The food is rich and tasty, choose from a good-sized menu of vegan choices. The restaurant is long and narrow, as are many Manhattan restaurants, the décor is light and airy with modern abstract paintings on the walls. They have a large selection of organic beer and the milkshakes and desserts are an education to any meat-eater.
714 7th Avenue
This lounge bar within the Renaissance Hotel offers amazing panoramic views of Times Square through its floor to ceiling windows. The menu is modern American main dishes and some “bar bites”. It isn’t a posh restaurant, it’s a cool and relaxed spot to sip a cocktail and watch the activity and commotion below.
450 East 29th Street
This modern American style restaurant sits on the East River, with views out across the water from their terrace and patio. Indoors, the décor is unfussy and simplistic with a relaxed atmosphere. There are various options for private party spaces within the restaurant and outside. The food is uber-fresh, because they have their own fruit and vegetable “farm” on the premises.
Inside Park at St Bart’s
109 East 50th Street
This Midtown church recently decided to open a fancy restaurant in it’s community house. The menu is modern American and the décor is, well, a Byzantine church, and all that involves; 30 foot high ceilings and stained glass windows. Despite the church setting they do have a full and well-stocked bar. There is an indoors dining room with a raised semi-private dining area and an outdoors terrace in an Italian piazza style. They also have the capabilities for wedding receptions.
If you would like further information on any of these restaurants please go to their websites, or call them. For more information on my personal views please email me at email@example.com. I would love for people to comment below with their own suggestions. Or a review of any of the places I have mentioned above.