Our Hit List is our guide to the best new restaurants in NYC. But sometimes you want to try out a new spot, and you also want to eat something kind of healthy. So if you woke up this morning and realized that you haven’t eaten anything leafy or vitamin-adjacent in several days - and you want to do that in a place you’ve never been before - use this guide to NYC’s best new kind-of-healthy restaurants.
This is the second location of an East Village vegan spot, and it’s in the space that used to be Post Office (a great Williamsburg whiskey bar that served chicken liver bacon sandwiches). While you may feel like this is reason for existential panic, go to Avant Garden, try the food, and you’ll feel better. The dishes - like eggplant toast and paella with trumpet mushrooms - are all good, and the dimly-lit space works well for a date or healthy dinner with a friend.
When a bright, all-day spot serving toasts and grain bowls with pun-heavy names opens downtown, there’s a 91% chance that it’s an Australian cafe. And that’s the case with Charley St, a counter-service spot a few doors down from The Butcher’s Daughter in Nolita. The short menu almost exclusively consists of healthy-sounding dishes, like toast with coconut beet spread and a grain bowl with hummus and mushroom ragu. This place closes every day at 6pm, but there’s plenty of seating for a casual sit-down breakfast or lunch, and it works for takeout as well.
This West Village spot from the people behind Llama Inn serves some really good sandwiches, but ribeye with gruyere is probably not the healthy lunch you’re looking for. Fortunately, there are also lots of healthier options, from Peruvian chicken dishes and fruit smoothies to vegetable plates like eggplant with yogurt and pomegranate. There’s some seating, but this small, counter-service place is best for takeout.
Even just sitting in this little Soho cafe, you’ll feel somewhat healthier. Maybe it’s because the furniture’s nicer than whatever you have in your apartment - or maybe it’s because they have kombucha on tap. Either way, you should be eating here. Pretty much all of the food is colorful, fresh, and healthy-feeling, and everything is also vegetarian, which means the reuben comes with mushrooms instead of pastrami. And it’s great.
Smile To Go has a few locations around the city, and they’re all perfect for when you want to pick up a small sandwich or a cookie with exactly four large chocolate chips on top. They also serve rotisserie chicken and vegetable sides like kale salad and roasted carrots, and the location at the Freehand Hotel has a couple of big tables where you can sit while you eat. So if you live or work in the area, this is a very easy kind-of-healthy option. It can get pricey, but the food is better than the majority of things you buy over a counter.
At this point, there are probably more Australian coffee shops in NYC than there are in Australia. Citizens of Gramercy (which, not too surprisingly, is from the same people behind Citizens of Chelsea) is one of them. They serve breakfast all day, in addition to various bowls that are made with everything from bee pollen and granola to quinoa and edamame. They also serve a few different sandwiches, plus beer and wine. Try this place for a breakfast meeting or a quick lunch with a friend.
If Good Thanks sounds like the sort of place that would serve avocado toast and smoothies with collagen, that’s because it is. It’s yet another Australian coffee shop in a narrow little space on the Lower East Side, and there are plenty of healthier options here. Grain bowls, for example, and also zucchini fritters. If you’re in the mood for some granola with fruit and algae, they have that, too. Come for a quick daytime meal, or stop by when you don’t want to wait for a table at Russ & Daughters Cafe (which is next door).
Dez is a counter-service spot in Nolita with multi-colored neon signs and flowers on the tables - and a lot of the food is just as colorful as the decorations. Along with the mostly-vegan small plates, like roasted cauliflower with chimichurri, there are salads and bowls, including one with saffron rice and grilled chicken. Come here the next time you’re looking for a healthy lunch around Soho and want to branch out from Taim and Sweetgreen.