For international policy wonks, there is no better place for people-watching than the United Nations Delegates Dining Room. In this upscale restaurant, you can rub shoulders with the biggest names in peace treaties, aid packages, and migration—you may be sniffed by a guard dog first, though.
High-profile lunches demand high-profile security. “It is harder to travel from the sidewalk on 1st Avenue to the Delegates Dining Room than it is to travel from, say, the United States to the Dominican Republic,” reads one review. An escorted clearance process through several checkpoints on the technically extraterritorial property that houses the United Nations headquarters brings visitors down a hall adorned with priceless works of art before getting to the dining room itself, an ordinary-looking fine-dining establishment with an extraordinarily powerful clientele.
Nation-builders here sup on the D.D.R.’s three-course prix-fixe menu on days they forgot to pack a lunch. The rotating menu features passably decent seasonal international fare, but the international movers and shakers are the experience. Walled by floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, diners can take in unobstructed views of the East River, Roosevelt Island, and Long Island City while sneaking furtive glances at ambassadors the world over. Even in one of the most ethnically diverse cities on the planet, the lunch crowd on any given day here stands out for the variety of culture, garb, and language.
If it all overwhelms you, the restaurant boasts one of the largest outdoor patios in the city.
Just remember to leave the pocket-knife at home.
Know Before You Go
Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance. Visitors must wear business casual attire: No jeans, sneakers, or shorts allowed.