The Best Lunch Spots In NYC

Spend an afternoon in the company of a tasting menu, or eat something quick and get back to work.
The Best Lunch Spots In NYC image

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

Are you eating with some clients so you can show them that you know what a salad fork is? Or are you grabbing a quick daytime meal with a cousin who thinks you can get them an internship? There are many reasons why you might be getting lunch today, the most likely one being that you're pretending to be sick. Whether you're free of any obligations and want to enjoy a prix fixe, or need to pick up something quick and jet back to work, here are your top afternoon options.


photo credit: Teddy Wolff



West Village

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightPrivate DiningSmall PlatesWalk-Ins
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

If you know only one thing about Via Carota in the West Village, it's probably the fact that the quoted wait times seem like a joke—until you realize that the host is being completely serious. We're not saying there won't be a bit of a wait at lunch, but at least most of the city is doing the earning-a-living thing at that hour. Order one of their many vegetable plates, some pasta, or the svizzerina, which looks like a thick burger patty, but is closer in texture to a steak tartare.

This Midtown institution, which has been open for over 30 years now, is a well-oiled machine that’s been fine-tuned to perfection. The service here skews north of impeccable, but the seafood—geoduck chawanmushi with uni, for example—is the main reason why this is still an amazing place to eat. The three-course tasting at lunch is $125, which is over $80 less than the least-expensive option in the dining room at dinner.

Sure, checking out that big white arch in Greenwich Village is pretty cool, but NY Dosas is a better reason to come to Washington Square Park. This little cart by the dog run serves an all-vegan, South Indian menu, which includes items like chopped roti with vegetables, samosas filled with potatoes and peas, and dosas made with lentil crepes. In theory, a lot of NYU students will be dozing off in lectures in the middle of the day, which should mean shorter lines. This cart is only open from 11am to 3pm Monday-Saturday.

If your experience with flour tortillas is limited to what you can find in the bread aisle at the grocery store, you're missing out. When you get a bean and cheese or a shredded chicken verde taco at this Tex-Mex spot in the East Village, you'll rethink the "I always prefer corn tortillas" claim that you've been spouting for years. During lunch, you can also get some sandwiches that aren't available at dinner or brunch like one made with wild boar and chimichurri and another with buttermilk chicken salad and fried pecans.

There’s often a line outside of Wah Fung, which can feel frustrating, especially since there are a lot of other great options in the area. But if you want a memorable meal that’ll cost you less than $10, suck it up and stand in that line. Read a book, enjoy a nice breeze, then, after 20 minutes or so, step inside the closet-sized space and ask for duck and roast pork over rice. The person behind the counter will ladle some gravy over your meal, and you can enjoy your sweet, caramelized meat on a bench across the street.

The first time you walked through Central Park, you might have thought to yourself: "I'm going to have so many picnics here." That was approximately 12 years ago, and that one time you bought a stale soft pretzel and a bottle of water from a cart and sat on the grass doesn't really count. A visit to Teranga is the perfect excuse to check having a picnic off your list. It's located right at the northeast corner of the park, and they offer a bunch of easy-to-carry grain bowls (all around $16), like one with Nigerian beef suya and Moroccan chermoula.

photo credit: Kate Previte

There may come a day when you decide to blow off work, put on something nice, and spend your month’s lunch budget on a single meal. When that happens—on your birthday, for example—book a table at Torrisi. It’s almost impossible to get into this Nolita restaurant for dinner, but you can find the occasional daytime reservation. Take advantage of this, and come eat some prawn raviolini in the landmarked space with enormously high ceilings and servers who are dressed like they’re about to cater a royal wedding.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux


Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao closed for a minute in 2019 but came back relatively quickly in a new and bigger space. If you haven't been, this place should be on your bucket list for spots to check out in Flushing—especially if you're into soup dumplings. A lot of people have the bright idea to come here on a Saturday morning, so to avoid a long wait, make this place a priority on your next free weekday, and get a variety of xiao long bao and some scallion pancakes with sliced beef.

If you're walking around Greenpoint in the evening and you come upon a long line of people, there's a good chance it's for Taqueria Ramirez. To get their tacos with bone marrow-like tripa and suadero stewed in lard (both of which come on fat-soaked corn tortillas), come here around noon a weekday, when the crowd should be minimal. Once you get your food, you'll be finished eating in a matter of minutes and still have a lot of day left, so head to nearby Transmitter Park, where you'll wonder to yourself why you don't spend more time chilling by the water.

This all-day cafe in Crown Heights is inspired by the owner's Hungarian-Austrian grandmother, who you'll see pictured in a frame hanging in the kitchen. A few things, like the Hungarian crepes and confit tuna melt, are only available in the daytime, before service switches over to dinner. Come here earlier for the best selection of pastries, then head to nearby Prospect Park or the Brooklyn Museum.

A 25-minute boat ride might sound inconvenient, but on a weekday when you don't have much else going on, it's just the sort of thing you might be looking for. Lakruwana is a Sri Lankan place near the water on the eastern edge of Staten Island. When you get here, you'll see a lot of hanging masks and elephant statues, and you should order the vegetable lamprais wrapped in banana leaves and the heart-shaped pile of godamba roti with garlic and green chilis. Remember, the ferry costs zero dollars.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

$$$$Perfect For:LunchQuick Eats

If you work near Herald Square, you don’t have to get your lunch at Chopt. There are better options, such as Woorijip. Stop by this Koreatown staple and browse the shelves stacked with to-go containers of kimbap, bulgogi, fried chicken, and countless other homestyle dishes, most of which cost less than $10. Once you make your selections, pile them on a tray, then either take your food to go, or claim one of the tables and get started on your lunch.

It can be fun to act like a tourist on a day off and get lunch somewhere full of people who don’t seem to realize that the stores in Soho offer a new service called "online shopping." But when you want to feel more like a local, go to Davelle. It’s a tiny all-day spot on the LES with an old mirror over the fireplace and dried flowers hanging on the brick walls. Sit at the bar and chat with the chef while you eat a bowl of intensely rich and smoky pork curry.

If you’ve never been to Gramercy Tavern, you probably hear the name and think, “Huh, I’ve been meaning to go there.” If that sounds like you, try it during your day off. You can always get a prix-fixe in the main dining room during lunch, but we prefer their casual bar area that feels like its own separate restaurant. Unlike the menu available in the upscale dining room, the lunch menu is à la carte, and you shouldn’t be afraid to come in jeans and eat one of the best burgers in the city.

Upland is one of the few restaurants that we fully endorse for just about any type of lunch. You'll likely be surrounded by people having business meals in the emerald green booths, but, despite the high ceilings and massive wall of preserved lemons, this place isn't especially uptight or fancy. Share the beef tartare, have a midday martini, and dive into a plate of pasta. Also, the burger is only available at lunch and brunch, so you should probably order that, too.

The fried chicken sandwich at Ridgewood’s Mama Yoshi Mini Mart is something you’re going to want to thank in awards speeches and wedding toasts. Served on a squishy potato bun, it features a few heavy squirts of mayo, and a crunchy katsu cutlet the size of a bath mat. Get the spicy version with an intense dry rub, and supplement with a side of macaroni salad. This little grocery store/takeout spot also serves curry and rice bowls, as well as a few other sandwiches, including a standout grilled cheese with thick slabs of Spam.

With orchestration that would impress Danny Ocean, you and your friends all managed to get out of work on the same day. Or maybe it’s just a holiday. Either way, you should get a group of people to join you at Tanoreen in Bay Ridge. They serve some of the best Middle Eastern food in the city, and you’ll want to come with a big group so you can order as many dishes as possible. Two things that need to be on your table are the ridiculously creamy hummus and the lamb kafta with housemade tahini.

Grab a stool at La Isla Cuchifritos in Williamsburg and enjoy a majestic view of alcapurrias, rellenos de papa, and bacalaitos piled up in the window. Order at least one of those crunchy fried foods, then get a plate of pernil with rice and beans, which will set you back around $12. The tiny room looks like a retro luncheonette, and service is quick and casual, with plenty of folks popping in to grab takeout orders of mofongo and chicharrón.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad