As you may have caught with some of our behind-the-scenes photographs, the United Nations recently underwent a huge renovation–the first since the complex on Manhattan’s East Side opened in 1952. Quietly reopening, and as under-the-radar as it has always been, was the United Nations Delegates Dining Room in the General Assembly Building. Unlike what its name suggests, the restaurant is also open to the public (non delegates) with advance reservation. The buffet format at the Dining Room means that you’ll be brushing past and sitting amidst ambassadors, dignitaries and delegates, all while taking in impressive views of the East River, Roosevelt Island and Long Island City.
You’ll have to go through an airport style security and ID check but the process is quick. On the way to the Dining Room, you’ll get a chance to walk through the iconic entrance hall of the General Assembly, escorted by security.
The entrance to the Delegates Dining Room is like a step back in time to when the building opened in the mid-20th century. Floor to ceiling wooden beams flank the opening where you’ll be confronted first by the long buffet spread. The mod-style chairs seen in vintage photographs of the Dining Room have been long replaced by more heavy-handed furniture and the entire space is carpeted like a Mad Men-era office building. But the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows provide a sense of openness, and of course, the view. There is also a wonderful outdoor terrace used only for special events, which include weddings. The “internationally inspired” buffet offering is prepared by an Executive Chef and changes daily.
Fun fact: There’s no tax on your meal because the United Nations is located in international territory. Reservation by telephone at least 24 hours in advance is required, along with proper attire–jackets for men, no jeans and no sneakers. A government issued ID is necessary to pass through security. After your meal, you’ll be escorted again with a final walk through the grand entrance hall.