I'm not really looking for super high end i.e. Per Se, etc. but love interesting & inventive food w/ good atmosphere, convivial setting/crowd i.e. not stuffy and some comfortable for dining solo. I do my own research too but wanted to see what the CHders suggest.
To give you an idea - past/usual/fave stops include: Momofuku, Balthazar, Spotted Pig, love Jean-George's cooking/flavors (i.e. Spice Market when it was more solid, Mercer Kitchen), Frankie's Spuntino (LES), Blue Ribbon (the original - often), City Bakery...
And, also for reference, in LA my go-to faves include Animal, Mozza, Ita-Cho.