Joe Allen

An odd seesawing happened in the New York dining scene during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the city's most iconic restaurants lost some of their cachet, thanks to newly lackluster food, while others improved exponentially.

Joe Allen falls into the latter category. It's always been a fun place to go after or before a Broadway show. Actors love it here, so your chances of a celebrity sighting are high. And the atmosphere—with its wall of posters from Broadway flops, its long bar, and its white tablecloths—practically screams Old New York.

And now, for the first time in a long time, the quality of the food and drink match the setting. Cocktails are expertly mixed, and hearty menu staples such as the sautéed calf's liver (a dish you won't find at many other spots in town), the grandmotherly meatloaf, and the southern-fried chicken sandwich are knock-you-off-your-barstool delish.

Equally tasty are starters such as the Midtown guacamole (who knew that adding blue cheese would elevate that dip?) and enders such as the hot fudge pudding cake.

You'll want to give this Theater District stalwart a standing ovation—if you can get a reservation, that is (go to OpenTable well ahead).