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The Hip-Hop Guide to NYC’s Best Restaurants
From the elusive Rao’s to a cozy night at Nobu, we’re sharing some of hip-hop’s favorite luxury NYC eateries!
The bustling neighborhoods of New York City are home to some of the biggest names in music, past and present. With natives like Jay-Z, RUN-DMC, Nicki Minaj, and too many more to name, there’s no wonder why so many people think that New York City is the best urban metropolis in the world. Famous denizens aside, there’s one more area of expertise that this city thrives at — food. From $1 slices of pizza to upscale fine dining experiences, New York City has something delicious to offer for everyone. With rappers being some of the most honest and articulate arbiters of culture, we decided to explore the New York restaurants that get mentioned the most in your favorite rap songs.
There’s no better way to start off this list than with Nobu, everyone’s favorite luxury sushi restaurant. The global restaurant chain is popular for its explosive culinary flavors, cozy atmosphere, and its frequent celebrity visitors. It is often referred to in efforts to convey wealth and sophistication. Brooklyn native, Pop Smoke’s song, "Like Me," uses this same tactic in the lyrics, “If you ain’t know I had the power, let me show you / Shark on your plate, we eatin’ dinner at Nobu.” Kanye West’s, "See Me Now," uses Nobu as a wealth reference to explain how it is almost beneath him in the lyrics “I might walk in Nobu with no shoes / He just walked in Nobu like it was Whole Foods.” Although both songs are polar opposites in terms of tonality, they both perfectly show just how much Nobu is appreciated by those who frequent it.
Peter Luger Steak House
One of New York City’s oldest and most well-known restaurants, Peter Luger Steak House is a top contender on any “must-try” list. Their beef selection process in conjunction with their onsite aging method is what separates their food from other steakhouses in the city, making it a favorite amongst many. Their meticulous methods of preparation have earned them shoutouts in various rap songs to highlight the establishment’s exclusivity. Jim Jones name dropped the iconic restaurant as a date night go-to in his song, "Filet Mignon," with the lyrics, “And if I meet a cougar, we do Peter Luger / Yeah, I got the most at stake.” Joe Budden also gave a shout out to the restaurant in his song “Vietnam,” shedding light on his upwards improvement in life. “Grew up kinda poor, we barely had any cents to live / Now it’s Peter Luger’s, cutting up an expensive rib.” Clearly held in high esteem by some of the city’s most known rappers, Peter Luger Steak House has definitely earned its spot on this list.
Chances are, if you haven’t heard of Carbone yet, you’ve been out of the loop in the music game. This A-list Italian restaurant located in SoHo has amassed the attention of tons of people looking for a fine dining experience. Celebrities are no exception to this quest, and there are several rap songs that mention the restaurant and associate it with wealth and exclusivity. Drake’s “Do Not Disturb” gives us a peek into his high-glamor lifestyle with the lines “Last table left in Carbone, callin’ plays on the rotary phone.” New York native, Nas, also made sure to shout out the restaurant when talking about his life in the city in his song, “Adam and Eve.” “I’m in my neighborhood in stadiums, the Mets’ kind / With restaurants and Carbone, spicy rigatoni.” While Carbone is one of the more difficult places to get a seat, it’s definitely worth the try.
With two locations in the NYC area, Philippe Chow is the elegant fine dining experience of our dreams. Featuring a menu of uniquely crafted Chinese cuisine and a wide selection of items to choose from, there’s no wonder why Philippe Chow is a favorite amongst VIPs. Yo Gotti’s “Rake it Up” mentions the restaurant in the lyrics, “I’m in Philippe Chow (what?) / I got a Patek on (okay),” flaunting his comfortability with such an upscale lifestyle. In a Genius interview, Gotti shared his love for the establishment and his favorite meal that they serve. “Philippe Chow is one of my favorite restaurants when I come to New York,” Gotti explains. “My favorite thing to eat at Philippe Chow is the sautéed chicken and the chicken fried rice.”
Yo Gotti "Rake It Up" Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verifiedwww.youtube.com
Fabolous’ “Money Goes, Honey Stay” also highlights the upper-echelon vibe of the restaurant in his lyrics, “Diddy said got us all about the Benji's /Key tile Philippe Chow reservations.” With references like these, Philippe Chow is a place that you’ve got to try at least once.
If you have a good eye, you might recognize this name from the $9 pasta sauce on grocery store shelves. Rao’s is actually one of the city’s greatest mystery restaurants and its doors are usually closed to most patrons. Widely appreciated for its authentic homestyle Italian cooking, Rao’s resides in the heart of Harlem and is a favorite for those who are lucky enough to get a seat at one of their ten tables. In her song, “Green Line,” Princess Nokia shares our same intrigue about the peculiar restaurant. “Pleasant Ave, Italianos, Gottis and the Lucianos / Rao’s sittin’ on the corner, ever been inside?” While most of us share the sentiments of Princess Nokia, Cam’ron’s song “War” quickly drops the idea of his attendance at the restaurant. “Word to everything now focus on this heavy bling / Eat at Rao’s… fettuccine, spaghetti things.” However, only Hov would be the one we expected to not only have eaten at the ultra-exclusive restaurant, but also film a music video on-site.
JAY-Z - D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)www.youtube.com
Jay-Z’s 2009 song, “D.O.A.” turned heads when he flaunted his access to the family-only world of Rao’s, showing that he really does have NYC under his thumb. If somehow you do manage to get a seat at one of the few tables they have, try to get us one too!
Brooklyn Chop House
Boasting two locations, one in Times Square and the other in its namesake borough, Brooklyn Chop House has been name-dropped by rappers on a pretty regular basis. The unique twist with the cuisine in this establishment is that it offers a fusion of high-end Chinese dishes along with its exceptional meat and seafood offerings. Griselda’s own Conway the Machine named a whole song after this restaurant on his 2023 Won’t He Do It project. On his verse, the Buffalo, NY rapper spits, “Summertime, New York City, I brought the drop out / Back table lobster sate's at Brooklyn Chop House.” Detroit rhyme slinger Peezy also had a “Brooklyn Chop House” track on his most recent GHETTO EP. Both tracks are recommended listening for discerning rap listeners.
Conway the Machine, Fabolous & Benny the Butcher - Brooklyn Chop House (Official Visualizer)www.youtube.com
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