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 so much good stuff in the neighborhood. This used to be where you went to buy a counterfeit watch, an exotic plant, and a bottle of cheap perfume you hoped would protect you from your mysterious plant when it bloomed at the scheduled time.
But now everything's coming up roses. New restaurants are opening every time you blink, and there are even hints of nightlife. And for those of you who work in the area, this is quickly becoming one of the best places to get a fast lunch. So that's what we've got for you: the best places to sit down, take out, and grab a drink when you're done peddling watches. Or doing PR, or whatever.
Essentially, an Indian Chipotle. Although it’s probably closer to Sweetgreen, seeing as how the food is actually healthy. 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, but you don’t need 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 it might also be the ingredients. They’re good and fresh, and there's a better selection here than at most other salad joints. Now we’re just pissed when other chains don’t have shaved parmesan or spicy cashew dressing. Lines at Sweetgreen get enormous, but just order online and pick up, you noob.
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.
Sandwich ingredients here range from potato chips to fried shallots, and their names are pleasantly dumb. Take the “Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar” - if you’ve ever lived below 14th Street, you know that’s a really good name. Come here to mix things up on your lunch break. You don’t even have to be unhealthy, because there are bowl options and vegetarian options.
This sandwich spot is mostly vegan and certified kosher, which makes it a good option for those with dietary restrictions. Gluten-free folks can get a salad or a bowl, and vegetarian lunch-seekers out there suffering from falafel and pizza fatigue 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.
You aren’t going to make this food look good on Instagram, but you won’t feel bad about eating it. The fast-casual setup here is pretty simple: pick some veggies, and have them put them on a plate. Add a protein if you’re into meat - but if you’re doing the whole vegan thing, options are endless. The menu consists of every food you’ve considered healthy, in more or less random combinations. Kale, quinoa, miso, peanut, cauliflower, etc. And if those last three sounded good, go for the miso peanut cauliflower.
They do more than oysters here, but it’s pretty much all seafood. Crudo, clam chowder, chorizo-stuffed squid - those are the sort of things you eat at John Dory. The cocktails are reliably top-notch, and the beer and wine selections aren’t bad either. We like it best as an early evening spot where you can eat a bunch of things that used to live in the ocean while you barely notice the sun set through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Hanjan is a Korean gastropub where you’re supposed to order a few dishes for your table then drink a bunch of soju (rice liquor) and makgeolli (milky rice wine). It feels more like a restaurant than a pub, however, and people typically treat it as a nice little spot to get a low-key dinner. Go and try some rice cakes or the squid and scallion pancake. Bring a date, if you think they might be into something a little more adventurous. There are chicken gizzards on the menu, and the chickens are proudly advertised as having been “freshly killed.”
Hill Country is on the same block, but this is at the other end of the Southern-food spectrum. The food here is a little more upscale, and the space itself is both open and intimate at the same time. Large windows, a long bar, high ceilings, and bottles upon bottles of whiskey. That’s what you find at Maysville. The room itself isn’t actually that big, but the setup makes it feel spacious. Come here on a third or fourth date or come with a friend and get the whole smoked trout. Either way, start drinking through the whiskey list and see how far you can get. And if you’re in the neighborhood late-night, the bar attracts a decent crowd.
Unless you recently vowed to eat more meat, no one’s following through on their latest dietary resolutions at The Breslin. This isn’t where you take a health-conscious person, and it’s absolutely not where you bring a vegetarian. Think boiled peanuts fried in pork fat and lamb belly pastrami. The vibes in the dining room are nice and intimate, however, (sort of like a really big, old pub) and if you’re looking for a place that feels a little fancy without being dull or stuffy, The Breslin isn’t a bad choice. Just know that you will be eating meat (probably a lamb burger), and you will feel denser when you leave.
Deciding to make healthy Italian is one way of shooting yourself in the foot. Whole wheat pasta doesn’t work as well, and some of the best-tasting things in life are meat, cheese, and butter. That said, some people are into healthy stuff. And if you’re willing to sacrifice flavor for health, we could see you being into this place. Also, if you’re active on Instagram, we could see you being into this place. It should be noted as well that you can get an unhealthy enough meal here, and many of the ingredients are locally sourced. There’s a also a takeout situation in the daytime, as well as coffee and pastries in the morning.
This place is a relative newcomer, and it’s a pretty good fit for the area. It’s an Indian restaurant, and the food skews healthier. That said, you could make a meal out of chicken and garlic naan and feel pretty guilty (in a good way). Pondicheri also looks unlike any Indian restaurant you’ve ever eaten at. It’s big, with high ceilings, a bar to one side, and a bunch of tables scattered around the floor. We wouldn’t say it’s intimate, but stop by for lunch or a solo dinner at the bar. The food here is an interesting mix of modern and traditional, and it should please the sort of people who avoid Indian because they think it’s too heavy.
If you’re after good, possibly romantic vibes - this isn’t the place for you. It feels like you’re eating in the lobby of a hotel, and that’s because you are (the Martha Washington Hotel). Still, this is from the same guy behind Maialino and Gramercy Tavern, so you know it can’t be all that bad. And it isn’t. The Roman-style pies with thin crispy crusts are mostly satisfying and, there some small plates and proteins that are worth ordering more than once. Honestly, if the space weren’t so awkward, Marta would have more appeal. Come here when you’re in the area and vibes are less important than food.
Tacombi Café El Presidente30 W 24th St
Many of us wear black, but Tacombi knows that New Yorkers secretly like bright colors. Just look at their locations - they’re full of light and covered in pastels. And that’s about half the appeal of eating at a Tacombi. It feels like you’re on vacation. Stop by for tacos and margaritas the next time some co-workers want to go out. This isn’t the best Mexican food in the city, but it’s far from the worst, and it’s affordable as well.
Upland does California-inspired cuisine including pasta, pizza, and lots of veggies. And those are just three sections of the menu. 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 both finance types and your grandmother alike. Also, the food is consistently fantastic, and, no matter what you have, you’ll want to order the bucatini cacio e pepe as well. Book in advance, however. You aren’t the only one who wants to go to Upland.
Go to Lupulo the next time you’re wandering around Nomad craving medium amounts of salt and booze. It's a pretty good place to have a drink and a bite, but not the best spot to have full-blown dinner . This is a large, upscale Portuguese restaurant with a big bar and a good drink selection, but those who don’t like seafood should be wary. If you’re down with fish, however, try the salt cod croquettes or the mackerel spread. They’ll pair well with one the Portuguese beers on tap.
Is this is a poor man’s Upland? Yeah, sort of. But not too poor. They do pizza, pasta, a ton of veggies, and steak tartare - so the restaurants are pretty similar. The menu here leans a little more Mediterranean, however, and it isn’t quite as pricey. And even if it’s not as excellent as Upland, it’s still pretty good, and it’s easier to get a table. Stop by, have a pizza, and maybe bring a date. It’s a good-looking space.
Belgian Beer Café220 5th Ave
Belgian Beer Cafe is pretty self-explanatory. It’s also pretty big. There are two floors, tons of tables, and a pretty long bar. Say you just took your parents for a walk in Madison Square Park, and now you just need to sit down for a beer. Take them here. Beer snobs can rub their temples as they figure out which sour beer to order, and there’s a fairly large menu that shows you what the chef recommends. Not everything, apparently.
ilili236 5th Ave
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. Don’t sleep on the arak, either. It isn’t especially good, but it also isn’t every day you can get buzzed on Lebanese anise-vodka.
Do pizza dough nerds exist? If they do, PN Pizza is the place for them. Here, they do several different doughs made from several different flours. The result is pretty good Neapolitan pies in a pleasant (and surprisingly large) environment, and it’s a good place to start your night off with a bellyful of flour, cheese, and negroni.
So you’re in Nomad and you need some cheap drinks, a place to watch football, or just a low-key spot to hang out with your friends. Check out The Hog Pit. This place isn’t even remotely classy, but it’s not like they’re trying to trick anyone with the name. Aside from the top-40 soundtrack, this bar doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. Everyone else is trying to be clean and healthy, while the Hog Pit just wants to fill you full of barbecue and booze. And that’s probably why it doesn’t get too busy. Stop by for some football watching on a few big screens, and skip the larger menu items in favor of wings.
Late-night dining options in Nomad are extremely limited. Shorty's is always an option, however. It isn’t exactly healthy, but if you’re looking for food after midnight, we hope that you’re at least a buzzed enough to not care how many calories you consume. For reckless late-night dining, stop by this bar for some bacon-cheese fries and a cheese steak that someone from Philadelphia won't give you sh*t about. There are also a bunch of TV’s for watching sports, and the beer/liquor selection is more than adequate. Get this bar in your late-night rotation, but be sure to drink enough that you can’t quite remember what you ate.
It seems like a new restaurant opens every day in this neighborhood, but what Nomad really needs is bars. Sure, they have the Hog Pit, Shorties, and Grey Bar - but you don’t want to take a date to any of those places. (There’s the Flatiron Room as well, but that’s a little uptight.) The Ace Hotel Lobby Bar is your best option for good drinks and fun vibes . On weekends it gets crowded, and it's a good alternative to whatever club you were thinking about going to. The lobby is massive, with couches and tables and chairs - the only downside being that the bar itself is tiny.
We won’t ask you to travel several miles to grab a drink at The Churchill, but if you’re already in the area then what’s the harm? Well, the harm could be that you bring a date who was expecting something nicer. Easy solution here, however: don’t bring a date. This is more of a place to grab a beer with friends or get inappropriately drunk with your co-workers. It isn’t the diviest tavern in the world, but we wouldn’t say it’s the nicest (although they do play Winston Churchill speeches in the bathroom).
You don’t really expect to find a quaint wine bar in an area full of places selling cheap perfume and half-off jeggings, but here it is. This neighborhood is changing, and we’re seeing more and more places like Vin Sur Vingt. You can stop by here after work and have a glass of red and some charcuterie, or you can get some white wine and oysters with a date. There are some tables along the wall, but overall this space looks like the front bar area of a big French brasserie. Your server might even have French accent. Wouldn't that be nice?
This isn’t the place for a wild night out, but if you’re after some good cocktails and fancy ambience, this is the place. We could make the argument that no one does cocktails better in the neighborhood, and it would be a pretty strong argument. This isn’t really a casual drinking spot, however. Come here on a fancy date, stop by on a semi-special occasion, or just roll through when you've had a rough day and the only thing that’ll fix it is a chicken pot pie with truffle and foie gras. Finish with dessert.
Bring a friend, go with coworkers, or pretend you’re a business traveler from out of town and construct an unlikely persona. This place isn’t a rager, but it’s good spot for an al fresco bender with your boss or some light dining. There’s also a fireplace - which doesn’t make sense because this rooftop’s only open in the spring and summer. Keep an eye on the forecast and be the first one up.
Flatiron Hall38 W 26th St
This is an indoor beer garden/saloon with weird random dining options, so obviously your coworkers want to go here. There’s space for everyone, at least, and the beer tastes just as good here as it does at your neighborhood dive. The scene gets a little bro-y, but what did you expect? You think bros just stay home and play Words with Friends?
Bo's Kitchen & Bar Room6 W 24th St
How does a kitchen even get alligator in this city? Who knows, but you can have fried chunks of it here (and you might as well). Bo’s is restaurant in back and a bar up front, and if all you’re craving is a Sazerac after work, this is one place to get it. The bar has a decent amount of seating, and it’s a good alternative to the mostly divey spots in the area. If you want to try the decent New-Orleans-influenced food beyond the alligator chunks (and a few other small bites available at the bar), you can always grab a table in the dining room.
There are definitely some Murray Hill vibes to this Nomad spot - which means it might be filled with people around the age just before the age when they realize that aging is a thing. Think of this as an alternative to Flatiron Hall, and stop by to watch sports with your friends. Alternately, come with coworkers, grab some draft beers, and eat some pub food. It looks nicer than your average pub, and it gets pretty lively.