Most people don’t know it, but this neighborhood got its name when someone asked the first settlers here whether they were happy. You see, there didn’t used to be a many dining options in the neighborhood - but now things are different. There are a lot of great places to sit down and have a meal, and there are also plenty of options for when you just need something quick. So whether you’re heading out for a date or looking for something to eat at your desk while you stare at the wall and think about your weekend plans, you’ll find something in this neighborhood. All you have to do is check this guide.
Remember when the first couple poke spots opened in New York, and then a hundred more seemed to pop up overnight? Either you answered yes, or we owe a belated congratulations to you and the rest of the Class of 2017. Now it seems like there are poke spots on every corner, but Chikarashi is our favorite. Unlike places where you build your own bowl and often end up with a lot of rice and some mashed spicy tuna, Chikarashi serves set bowls with fair portions of fresh fish. There are some seats along the walls, but the small space gets packed on weekdays, so plan on taking it to go.
Caffe Marchio is a coffee shop/cafe from the same people as Vini e Fritti, and like that wine bar next door, it’s “Roman-style,” meaning primarily standing-room. In addition to coffee and pastries, they serve breakfast sandwiches and a small lunch menu. Because there are only a couple seats, Marchio is more grab and go than meeting spot. But if you pick up a sandwich, like the eggplant pecorino, to eat in Madison Square Park, know that they’re pretty messy, so plan accordingly.
The first thing you notice about Inday is how nice it looks. It’s clean and modern, and it’s the sort of place where you want to sit in a beanbag chair and have someone read you a picture book. They don’t have any beanbag chairs, however. What they do have is healthy Indian-inspired bowls with stuff like cauliflower “rice,” turkey meatballs, and coconut chutney. Come here when you need a quick, healthy lunch similar to Sweetgreen, but without a Sweetgreen-sized line.
Sweetgreen wasn’t the first salad place, but it was the first salad place that you wanted to live inside. The lighting, the soundtrack, the brick walls and wood accents - those somehow make a salad taste better. Although the ingredients also help. They’re good and fresh, and there’s a better selection here than at most other salad spots. Lines can get enormous at lunch, but you can always just order online then pick up your food.
You expect to hate a place that serves sautéed kale with hempseed (or at least hate yourself for not hating it), but Little Beet isn’t the worst. The next time you get Sweetgreen fatigue, stop by this place and grab some salmon with sweet potatoes and broccolini. It’s still fast-casual here, but the line won’t be as long. There’s steak, chicken, plenty of veggie sides to choose from, and even some poké. Little Beet is a little pricier than places like Sweetgreen or Dig Inn, but it’s good for an easy lunch every once in a while.
Blank Slate is an overachieving coffee shop. In the morning, they’ll make you a sandwich with truffled goat cheese, and in the afternoon they do a bunch of salads and sandwiches that you wouldn’t expect from a place like this. You can even get a plate of cured meats and a glass of wine. These guys are open until 9pm on weekdays, and they’re worth checking out for a quick sit-down or take-out lunch.
This sandwich spot is mostly vegan and certified kosher, which makes it a good option for those with dietary restrictions. Gluten-free people can get a salad or a bowl, and vegetarians can have a channa masala bowl or a kale-pesto grilled cheese. There isn’t much seating inside, but there’s a nearby plaza where you can eat your lunch when the weather is nice.
The counter-service setup at Mulberry & Vine is pretty simple: pick some veggies, then add a protein if you want some meat. The menu here typically consists of every food you’ve ever considered healthy, in seemingly random combinations: kale, quinoa, miso, peanut, cauliflower, etc. And if those last three ingredients sound good, go for the miso peanut cauliflower.
Vini e Fritti is a Roman-style wine bar with a lot going for it. It has marble counters and gold trim and feels fancy enough for a nice date, but it also has black and white pictures on the walls, standing tables, and $12 cocktails. The fried small plates, like pizza dough with prosciutto and ribs with chili honey, are great, and they’re ideal for sharing. As for the drawbacks of this place - impulse purchases on Scott’s Cheap Flights and Rosetta Stone.
Yes, The Nomad is by a few of the same people behind Eleven Madison Park, but it isn’t a place where you sit quietly and eat a tasting menu. It isn’t exactly casual, but you don’t have to keep your voice down, and it’s a great spot for a celebratory dinner when you want great food, but aren’t into stuffy fine dining. You might get seated in a small room with a fireplace, or you might wind up in a larger dining room under a big glass atrium. Either way, get the chicken. And come for lunch if you need to impress someone.
The original Quality Eats is in the West Village, but there are a few other locations, including this one in Nomad. Essentially, this place is a steakhouse for people who don’t necessarily want to feel like they’re eating in a country club. Steaks start at $21, there are lots of little booths as well as a pink neon sign behind the bar. In addition to steak, they do things like a patty melt, branzino with fries, and even a few big salads.
If you work somewhere that allows you to take two hour lunch breaks, then go wait for a table at Sugarfish, and pat yourself on the back for landing this magical job. For a quicker sushi option, KazuNori serves set menus of between three and six handrolls filled things like toro and yellowtail. You pencil in your order on a paper menu and hand it to the chefs behind the sushi bar, who then make and serve you handrolls one at a time. Even if you opt for the largest set, you’ll only spend $28 and about 40 minutes here.
At Atoboy, a meal consists of three small-ish plates that you choose from the menu. This costs $42, and it’s a fun thing to experience when you get tired of wherever you usually go. We like the fried chicken in peanut sauce and the pork jowl, and we even kind of the like the big minimalist space that looks almost post-apocalyptic (but in a nice sort of way).
The Smith is the restaurant equivalent of a person that you can always date if you’re feeling lonely. It might not be your first choice, but it’s solid, and there are a bunch of locations around the city. The one in Nomad is spacious with high ceilings and a very long bar that tends to fill up around the time that everyone in the area gets out of work, and there are some big windows up front that they open in the summertime. Also, the menu is huge - which means you can eat steak, a quinoa salad, or both.
If you recently vowed to eat more meat, The Breslin is perfect for you. The menu here is made out of stuff like blood sausage, guineau hen, and a ribeye for two. The dining room is also nice and intimate, and it’s ideal for anyone who likes dark restaurants that sort of feel like really nice pubs. Just know that you will be eating meat (probably a lamb burger), and you will feel like a denser person when you leave.
The concept at La Pecora Bianca is pretty simple: healthier Italian in a space that you’ll want to take photos in. There are plenty of vegetables on the menu and you’ll probably be able to find a whole wheat pasta here, and the dining room kind of looks like an Italian farmhouse that was renovated by a twenty-something. There’s a also a takeout situation in the daytime, as well as coffee and pastries in the morning.
Marta is a sit-down pizza place from the people behind Maialino and Union Square Cafe. The pizzas here are Roman-style, with thin crispy crusts, and there also some small plates and proteins that are worth ordering. The space is a little awkward (it’s in the lobby of The Redbury Hotel), but this is still a great place to know about when you want to have a nice meal that involves pizza.
Half the reason we like Tacombi is because, when you come here, it almost feels like you’re on vacation. All of the locations are full of light and covered in pastels, and they also tend to be pretty spacious. This location on 23rd street is particularly great for groups, so stop with your coworkers and get some tacos after work. It’s pretty affordable as well.
Upland does California-inspired cuisine including pasta, pizza, and lots of veggies - and for a memorable meal in the Nomad area, this is the best option. The menu is large and crowd-pleasing, and the big space is attractive enough for finance types and/or your grandmother. Also, the food is consistently fantastic. Book in advance, however. You aren’t the only one who wants to go to Upland.
You’d expect to find this place in Midtown, but it’s right here in Nomad. That’s great if you need somewhere to bring your grandparents or if you want to pretend you’re a Wall Street trader in an 80’s movie (but you don’t want to travel above 30th Street). The food here is fancy Lebanese, and the space is luxurious - high ceilings, moody lighting, and tables big enough for you and all your friends.