Best Restaurants for Business Lunch in New York

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The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?

~Douglas Adams, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe

It seems as if the term “power lunch” was invented for business meetings that take place in New York City. Here, in the City That Never Sleeps, those who are in the know realize that it is not just what you eat, it is where you eat. When you are dining with someone during a business lunch, it is important to remember that although it is always all about the food, it is not only about the food.

It is essential for a business person to have a few “go-to” establishments about town where they can wine, dine, and otherwise impress both potential and established clients. Success begets success, and once a client can appreciate your taste, skill, and knowledge as a gourmand and a host, they often likewise gain a renewed confidence in your business acumen.

It is an extremely sound strategy to have more than one place to take clients for a proper business lunch. Having a variety of restaurants at your disposal around the city allows you greater flexibility when it comes to accommodating a client’s particular culinary tastes, and it can also make it easier for you to nail down some valuable face time with those clients with overly-demanding schedules.

It is also a good idea for you to visit these restaurants with some degree of regularity, and definitely eat there a few times before you ever bring a client with you. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with not only the menu, but also of their capabilities, décor, and atmosphere.

Perhaps establish a standing order for a regular meal or cocktail. Foster a reputation as a generous tipper for attentive service, and if possible, try to be seen by the same server each time. Make it a point to introduce yourself to the management, in case you ever have need of any special services, accommodations, or last-minute reservations. You want your welcome, and the welcome extended to your guests, to be as warm and as familiar as possible.

The Grill Room at Four Seasons

the grill room at the fourseasons hotel

You cannot have a discussion about the best restaurants at which to have a business lunch without first mentioning the destination restaurant that started it all. In 1979, Esquire magazine coined the phrase and directly mentioned the Four Seasons in its article, “America’s Most Powerful Lunch”. No less of an authority than New York Magazine called the Grill Room “the city’s greatest dining room”.

One step inside the Four Seasons and the over fifty-year commitment to luxury and opulence are apparent. Displayed are works by such famous artists as Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock. The walls are richly paneled and the windows are a towering two stories high, over 20 feet tall. The conception and design is so avant-garde that many of its pieces are now part of a permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art.

The tableside service is legendary for the skill, knowledge, and attentiveness of the wait staff, and the menu, which is adjusted seasonally, is both innovative and award-winning. As a whimsical touch, you are presented with cotton candy at the presentation of your bill.

Signature Lunch Dish: Five-Spice Duck-Chestnut Ravioli

The 21 Club

the 21 club midtown nyc

Since 1930, the 21 Club in West Midtown has been serving food and libations to captains of industry, power brokers, and the greatest of the movers and shakers among America’s royalty. 21’s origins as a speakeasy bespeak of it as the place where accords are reached and deals are struck.  Since FDR, every president has eaten here except for the younger President Bush—although his daughters have.

Almost every aspect of the 21 Club is now considered iconic– from the wrought iron gate and the painted jockey figurines, which were donations from some of the finest thoroughbred racing stables in the world, to the famous Bar Room ceiling, festooned with countless vintage toys and sports memorabilia.

The 21 Club is known the world over and dining here is an experience not to be missed, so if you are entertaining out-of-town clients, this is the place to make them say “Wow!”

Signature Lunch Dish:  The “21” Burger or the Chicken Hash

The Gotham Bar and Grill

the gotham bar and grill nyc

For almost 30 years, this downtown dining destination in Greenwich Village has continually won culinary award after award, including a record five three-star reviews from the New York Times, a Michelin star, and three James Beard awards, the two most prestigious being the nation’s Outstanding Restaurant and the nation’s Outstanding Chef award. New York Magazine called the Gotham “one of the most important New York City restaurants of the last 40 years”. The chef and owner, Alfred Portale, is considered one of the founders of New American Cuisine. This is the restaurant to which you would bring a client who has a deep understanding and appreciation for fine dining.

The interior of the restaurant is a converted former warehouse, and as such, is wide and roomy, with high ceilings and enormous windows that tower from floor to ceiling. Parachute-fabric serves as billowy chandeliers and starched white tablecloths are de riguer. The main dining room is spacious enough for privacy, yet somehow manages to feel intimate.

Signature Lunch Dish: Yellowfin Tuna Tartare


jean georges new york city

This restaurant, located in the Trump Hotel overlooking Central Park, just might be the place where you take the CEO of your company for lunch when it’s time to talk about a promotion. By virtue of its three-star Michelin rating, Jean-Georges is rated as one of the top five French restaurants in all of the United States, Canada, and Central and South America. Only seven New York City restaurants, across all cuisines, currently rated with three stars.

Beyond the Michelin rating, the awards abound.  Jean-Georges has won the James Beard awards for Best Chef, Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Wine Service, and later, Most Outstanding Restaurant. The New York Times gives the restaurant a four-star rating. Tableside services are impeccable, and your server will expertly crack your crab or lobster, or slice your meat for you.

The overall atmosphere is bright and airy, with a subdued color palette, chiefly beiges and browns. There are huge windows that offer occasional glimpses of Central Park. The decor is designed to be complementary, not spectacular. Here, the focus is squarely on the food.

Signature Lunch Dish: Crispy Confit of Suckling Pig

When it comes to food, New Yorkers have a unique type of honesty. If one person says to a business associate, “let’s do lunch”, they really mean it. The savvy businessperson will be able to dazzle his clients and superiors with a solid working knowledge of those restaurants considered the best of the best, thereby marking themselves as a person of discriminating taste and excellent judgment. If you’re looking at doing business in London then check out these unique experiences and if you know your client likes steak then check these out.

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