Guy Peters stated "John Zorn’s Naked City-project was about the most far out you could get, and Zorn’s exploration of what he “could come up with given the limitations of the simple sax, guitar, keyboard, bass, drums-format” became the pinnacle of avant coolness... The result was a post-modern hybrid that cut up sequences as he saw fit and treated all genres equally: jazz, grindcore and country & western, were allowed to coexist, even in the same song."
Christopher Thelen noted "While Naked City is certainly groundbreaking, it hardly is for everybody. The faint-hearted will be running for the exits before Zorn and crew can really get warmed up; purists of jazz, rock, and possibly even grindcore might consider the marriage of several styles of music sacrilegious. Possibly. But for the rest of us, Naked City represents unbridled energy, passion and possibly even anger channeled into music. The resulting noise is sheer joy to those who get it, and sheer madness to those who don't."
Pitchfork Media ranked this album at 47 on their Top 100 Albums of the 1980s list. Their review of The Complete Studio Recordings stated "On Naked City, Zorn introduced an amped-up surf/lounge/punk band featuring downtown New York's biggest talents, who blast and din through the 'James Bond' theme song, the theme to Chinatown, and a sound portrait of New Orleans' Latin Quarter – and then right when they slip into a groove, out of nowhere, the band launches punishing blasts of noise and catastrophe, flaming wreckage that blows up and collapses on a dime."