I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you’re stumbling upon this blog post because you saw my packing guide over on Pinterest, right? Well since developing that savvy packing guide, I’ve spent a few years in New York City—and I have a lot to share with you! Including, of course, my favorite restaurants in NYC.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain. A few years back I made this infographic on how to pack for an entire weekend in NYC in just a small tote bag. At the time I was just visiting the city to see if I really wanted to live here, and now as I rewrite this blog post, I’ve been living in the city for almost three years. So it’s safe to say that it’s time for an update.
During my years here I have developed an absolute love for cooking food, and of course, trying some of the best restaurants in NYC. So I figured it was appropriate—now that you have your awesome packing guide, which I shared again below—to share with you some of my favorite eats around the city.
Where to get coffee
Ground Central: 155 East 52nd St. OR 2 Coenties Slip (Manhattan)
Want to cozy up in a coffee shop like Central Perk? It’s actually hard to find a place like that in New York since so many people are grab-and-go with their coffee in the morning. But if you want a place to actually hang, Ground Central is your spot! There are a few locations around the city, but I’m most familiar with the two near my former and current places of employment (listed above).
Irving Coffee Roasters: Various locations (Manhattan)
Now if you’re looking for a grab-and-go coffee, I love to stop in for a coffee from Irving Coffee Roasters. They do all kinds of drinks, but I’m a simple black coffee drinker. Which, of course, they probably have the best in the city. Sorry, Stumptown.
Third Rail: 240 Sullivan St. (Manhattan)
Tucked into the heart of Greenwich Village is Third Rail, the cutest little coffee shop close to Washington Square Park. They serve Counter Culture coffee, which is one of my favorite coffee brands. Grab a cup and sit in their cozy space, or take it over to the park.
Hungry Ghost: Various locations (Manhattan & Brooklyn)
This is the kind of coffee shop where you want to grab a latte and catch up with a friend. The Hungry Ghost feels warm and inviting. It’s one of my favorite go-to spots to hang with my girlfriends in Brooklyn. We’re partial to the location at 253 Flatbush Ave.
Sit & Wonder: 688 Washington Ave. (Brooklyn)
Need a small escape to write or read? Sit & Wonder is the perfect spot for that. It’s far enough from a train where it doesn’t get as much foot traffic, making it the perfect spot to relax and work. The outside patio is my favorite place to sip on a coffee and work on some writing.
Where to get breakfast/brunch
Sarabeth’s: Various locations (Manhattan)
Need a place to take your parents when they’re in town? Or just a place to have some delicious brunch on a weekend trip? Sarabeth’s is where to go. There are a few locations around the city, and you may have to wait a bit to sit. But I promise the wait is worth it!
Ess-a-bagel: 831 Third Ave. (Manhattan)
Although I’m still on the hunt for the best NYC bagel, I highly recommend stopping in to Ess-a-bagel! It’s still one of my favorite places to grab one in the city. Now here’s the trick about Ess-a-bagel: Don’t get on the sandwich line! Instead, walk to the back of the shop and order one bagel to-go with a side of cream cheese. Order “whatever’s hot” and they’ll give you their freshest bagel, so no need to wait on the line to simply get a toasted one.
Dough Donuts: Various locations (Manhattan)
If you’re more of a donut person, find one of the Dough locations in the city. No, I’m not talking about the cookie dough place (personally not a huge fan), but the Dough donut shops! The hibiscus donut is my favorite.
Kos Kaffe: 251 5th Ave. (Brooklyn)
Along with serving amazing coffee, Kos Kaffe is a solid place to have breakfast! Fresh pastries or small bites, this breakfast spot is perfect for avoiding those huge Park Slope brunch crowds on a weekend. I still frequent trips to Kos Kaffe, one of my favorite chill restaurants in NYC.
Where to get lunch
La Lanterna di Vittorio: 129 MacDougal St. (Manhattan)
Located conveniently near Washington Square Park, this little Italian cafe is the perfect spot for a lazy Italian lunch. Their menu is probably one of the largest I have ever seen in my life. They have a myriad of sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and pizzas. I personally love their Lasagna Al Pesto, with, of course, a glass of vino to pair. This is probably one of the most old-school restaurants in NYC, and I’m absolutely obsessed.
Kati Roll Company: Various locations (Manhattan)
Need a quick bite while you’re touring the city? Kati Roll is the place to go. I recommend ordering two rolls for a filling lunch since they can be on the smaller side. The Unda Chicken and Beef Tikka are my personal faves.
Tortaria: 94 University Pl. (Manhattan)
Between the tortas, the tacos, and those margs, this is a great lunch spot for those needing somewhere to hang after a long day of touring in the city. It’s my go-to spot anytime someone from out of town is visiting!
Calexico: Various locations (Manhattan & Brooklyn)
This was one of my first spots in NYC to try, and I’ve loved it ever since. They do a two-for-one drink deal around their brunch/lunch hour that’s a total steal.
Milk & Honey: 119 Newkirk Ave. (Brooklyn)
If you’re up for a little trip into Brooklyn, I promise, this place is worth it. It’s one of my favorite neighborhood hangs. It’s great for lunch, but they also have an awesome breakfast and pastry selection if you’d rather go in the morning. I recommend the Grilled Flank Steak Panini, or whatever scones they have for the day.
Fat Daddy Tacos: 310 9th St. (Brooklyn)
This isn’t exactly a sit-down restaurant for lunch, but it’s a great place to grab a bite as you explore around Park Slope. Fat Daddy does a taco lunch deal where you can get two tacos and a soda for under $10.
Where to get a slice
Joe’s Pizza: 7 Carmine St. (Manhattan)
While I’m not against a quick dollar slice on the city, I think it’s safe to say that the slices at Joe’s perfectly embody what one would imagine to be a New York slice. The location at Carmine St. is probably the easiest for grabbing a slice, but if you’re in the Times Square area and don’t mind waiting on the line, that location is great as well.
Two Boots Pizza: 284 5th Ave. (Brooklyn)
Okay, there are a few locations for Two Boots around the city, but I really like the one in Park Slope. It’s not as busy as other pizza places, and the pizza is really high quality. They have all different types of unique pies—including vegan options! If you’re looking for a place to grab a quick lunch among all the restaurants in NYC, this is it.
Where to get drinks
Air’s Champagne Parlor: 127 MacDougal St. (Manhattan)
If you’re over at Washington Square Park for a meal at La Lanterna (listed above), I suggest stopping in for a glass of champagne at Air’s first. It’s a snazzy spot to make you feel like an NYC queen as you drink some bubbly.
Hinterlands: 739 Church Ave. (Brooklyn)
Everyone has to have their local watering hole, and I’m happy to report that Hinterlands is ours. My husband and I love this place. It has a chill, neighborhood-y vibe that we absolutely love.
Van Brunt Stillhouse Distillery: 6 Bay St. (Brooklyn)
I’m telling you right now, everything that Stillhouse makes is absolutely brilliant. I recommend taking a trip out to Red Hook (in Brooklyn) and do one of their tastings. Their bourbon is excellent, but I recently tried their single-malt that is out of this world.
Glorietta Baldy: 502 Franklin Ave. (Brooklyn)
If you’re looking for a funky cocktail bar, this place is it! Glorietta Baldy has unique cocktails, or if you’d rather a glass of vino, you can try from their selection of seasonal wines.
Brooklyn Winery: 213 N. 8th St. (Brooklyn)
There are a few wineries in Brooklyn, but I would recommend a trip to Brooklyn Winery. Their wine is very good and absolutely worth the trip to Williamsburg.
The Mayflower: 132 Greene Ave. (Brooklyn)
Waiting to get into Aita next door? It’s one of my dinner recommendations (below), but before you grab a bite, sip on a cocktail at The Mayflower. This speakeasy cocktail bar is a hidden gem in Brooklyn that feels rather cozy and intimate.
Where to get dinner
Le Baratin: 26 Greenwich Ave. (Manhattan)
Looking for a classy French bistro that won’t totally break the bank? Le Baratin is it! The menu is full of those classic French dishes that you love, right in the heart of the Village.
The Harold: 1271 Broadway (Manhattan)
If you’re up in Midtown touring Herald Square, or need to escape the crowds in Time Square, snag a table at The Harold. This place feels very different compared to the commercial restaurants around that area. The menu is full of American classics, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
BarBacon: 836 9th Ave. (Manhattan)
Do I have any bacon fans out there? This is going to be your jam! Get a flight of bacon and taste all of the delicious flavors, as well as bacon cocktails and bacon-themed dinner dishes!
Speedy Romeo: 376 Classon Ave. (Brooklyn)
I know I talked about pizza slices, but I’m telling you right now, I had the best pizza of my life at Speedy Romeo. This St. Louis-style pizza joint is absolutely to die for. It makes sense that this restaurant is consistently rated by Michelin year after year after year.
Little Forno: 276 Bay Ridge Ave. (Brooklyn)
Now that I’ve talked about the best pizza of my life, let me tell you about the best Italian food I’ve ever had in my life. It was at Little Forno, tucked away down in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. You can take a ferry to Bay Ridge from Manhattan—the perfect date night! Still one of my favorite restaurants in NYC to date.
Aita: 132 Green Ave. (Brooklyn)
Another great Italian joint in Brooklyn is Aita, located right next to The Mayflower, a cozy speakeasy that we also love. I ordered the Oxtail Ravioli, and wow, it blew my mind.
Cafe Luluc: 214 Smith St. (Brooklyn)
Noticing a theme? I love Italian and French food, so of course, I had to find a French bistro in Brooklyn as well! Cafe Luluc is a great spot for brunch and dinner. Apparently, they have the best pancakes in the city, but I’m personally a fan of their mussels and Frites dinner.
Buffalos Famous @ 773: 773 Coney Island Ave.
Alright, ready for a dive? 773 is a dive bar in Brooklyn that, not joking when I say this, has the best wings in the city. Even New York Magazine says so! Get yourself a beer on draft and an order of wings for dinner. Absolutely worth the trip!
Where to get dessert
The Nutella Cafe: 116 University Pl. (Manhattan)
Okay, I’m not a huge creme brûlée fan, but guys, the creme brûlée at Nutella is so good. It’s made with Nutella on the bottom, which in my opinion is now the only way creme brûlée should be made.
Dominque Ansel Bakery: 189 Spring St. (Manhattan)
So this is the guy who invented the cronut! Yes, really. The lines to get in are long, but you may sometimes luck out and not deal with a line at all. Getting cronuts may be difficult, but there are so many other amazing treats that you need to try—like the blooming hot chocolate, or the milk and cookie shots.
Levain Bakery: 167 W. 74th St. (Manhattan)
Thee cookies at Levain are so big, they almost look like muffins. But honestly, you need to get one. I love their dark chocolate peanut butter chip!
Ample Hills Creamery: Various locations (Brooklyn)
Ample Hills is by far the best ice cream I’ve had in the entire city. The lines in the summer are kind of long (usually around a 20-minute wait), but all of those crazy delicious flavors are worth it. You can usually skip the line if you go to the location at DeKalb Market.
Pel’s Pie Co.: 446 Rogers Ave. (Brooklyn)
Originally discovered by my husband, Pel’s Pie Co. is the kind of pie shop you’ve always dreamed of having in your neighborhood. Grab a hot cup of coffee and a slice of pie, and settle in with your journal or a good book.
The Brooklyn Firefly: 7003 3rd. Ave. (Brooklyn)
If you’re making a trip to Bay Ridge for dinner (at Little Forno, obviously), then travel over to The Brooklyn Firefly for dessert. There’s live music every Friday and Saturday night, as well as some fun dessert options—including soda floats!
Junior’s Cheesecake: 386 Flatbush Ave. (Brooklyn)
Looking for a classic slice of NY cheesecake? You can easily find it at Junior’s. They have a huge menu of cheesecake slices to choose from, which goes perfectly with a decaf coffee after a late night in the city. WARNING: The Times Square location is an absolute madhouse! If you want to get seated quickly and not deal with an absurd amount of noise, the location in Brooklyn is much nicer.
What to pack for one weekend
Now that you’ve planned you’re entire weekend around restaurants in NYC, let’s get ready to pack! This is the perfect guide for someone who’s flying basic economy for the weekend—it all fits in one bag! I did add an extra small purse in case you can fit it, because you’ll want one if you’re walking around the city.
Want to save this list of restaurants in NYC for later? Here’s a pin you can save to remember all of these delicious restaurants in NYC!