Everyone has a favorite ramen-ya and sushi counter these days, but there’s another Japanese import that’s surged onto the food-nerd radar more recently: the izakaya. This is essentially the Japanese version of a gastropub, where a delicious array of shareable, beer-friendly grub lays the foundation for a marathon drinking session.
If you’re looking for the the most authentic izakayas, beeline the Japanese-dominated blocks of Midtown East, where you’ll find salarymen and off-duty restaurant workers from the area hoisting mugs of Sapporos and digging into salty snacks like yakitori (grilled skewers) and karaage (fried chicken). But the appeal of this style of eating has found currency elsewhere too, spawning newcomers like Blue Ribbon Izakaya and Chez Sardine that inject the izakaya concept with some downtown cool—and add sushi, because people love sushi. (Traditonal izayakas often serve sashimi, but not sushi.)
Like all good drinking food, izakaya fare has easy appeal: savory, salty, and—for the most part—reasonably priced. Here are our five favorite izakayas in NYC.