Stately Tastes

These distinctly American restaurants serve gourmet cuisine from around the 50

With the pride of July Fourth in the air, there’s something about an American meal that feels and tastes like summer in the city. Infamous for its myriad options, New York has all the classics from Harlem soul food to Lower East Side bagels and bialys. But narrowed down to these four restaurants, no choice is a bad one, serving different fare but all with gusto that is unmistakably American.

Blue Ribbon, which began as one storefront, is now one of the city’s most famous restaurant groups, including everything from a fried chicken joint to a cocktail bar. But it’s the original Blue Ribbon Brasserie in SoHo that remains the starting point of it all, opened in 1992 by the Le Cordon Bleu-trained Bromberg brothers. Their menu reads like a love letter to all of the brothers’ favorite foods: cheese fondue, matzoh ball soup, pigeon, paella, tofu ravioli. The mix of high and low cuisine keeps the brick-walled restaurant packed, and as reservations are only accepted for parties of six or more, going with comrades is recommended. Sharing is the best approach to the plethora of enticing options, anyway. (Spring St. nr. Sullivan St.)

When New York’s king restaurateur Danny Meyer decided to add a barbeque joint to his empire (that includes the likes of Gramercy Tavern and Eleven Madison Park), he traveled throughout the South and Midwest researching the cuisine. The result is Blue Smoke, a reflection of his travels serving every kind of barbeque. There’s brisket, pulled pork, and arguably the best ribs in the city done in Southern, Texan, and Midwest styles and cooked in a custom-built apple-wood oven. As if the fried chicken wasn’t soulful enough, the Jazz Club Standard downstairs sees Grammy Award-winning artists regularly on its stage. (27th St. nr. Park Ave.)

In the back of an alley off of Bowery, Freemans Restaurant is a step out of the city’s hustle and back in time. Modeled after a colonial tavern, candlelit tables fill the dark-wooded dining room where pairs of antlers hang on the walls. The farm-to-table menu sources from New York farms, and the wine list is filled with small wineries. The food is traditional in the fashion of a time-tested gourmet cookbook: an aesthetic white salad of cauliflower, faro, white beans, and feta; Eden brook trout with thyme, garlic, and lemon; grilled pork loin with squash puree and quince compote. Brunch here is also a favorite – nothing is more classically American than perfectly poached eggs with cheddar grits. (Chrystie St. nr. Stanton St.)

In a Beaux-Arts landmark Emery Roth building in Midtown, Food Network chef Geoffrey Zakarian gives American food a European twist at The National. Even the setting – a light-filled dining room with the black-and-white décor of a chic townhouse – is equally befitting for London or New York. Formalities aside, the food is stunning enough to have won a James Beard Award, with the likes of grilled branzino with smoked paprika, braised lamb shank with tzatsiki, steak-frites. The bar is also a great reason to pause within the mayhem of Midtown. Bites of cinnamon barbeque ribs and grilled octopus with chorizo are good company for the great cocktails, such as the Red Carpet – St. Germain, prosecco, gin, and yuzu. (Lexington Ave. nr. 50th St.)