11 Cozy Spots For When You Need Somewhere That Feels Like A Blanket Fort
When the leaves start to change and we find ourselves ruefully digging puffer coats out of storage, coziness becomes a key factor in choosing a restaurant. A cozy restaurant can mean different things to different people, but in general, you want the kind of place where you can eat warm, comforting food in a space that has a few things in common with your average hobbit hole. If you’re looking for the restaurant equivalent of being wrapped in a chunky knit blanket in front of a roaring hearth, head to one of these spots.
Even the best pizza on planet Earth couldn’t justify the hassle of getting a table at Lucali. But this place also happens to be the absolute coziest restaurant in Brooklyn. Candles in old wine bottles, jars of homemade sauce, and an open kitchen that looks like it was designed for an as-yet unreleased Italian sequel to Ratatouille really add to the appeal. And yeah, the pizza is pretty great.
It’s hard to find really great fondue in NYC, but The Lavaux is good enough to make up for that fact. This traditional Swiss restaurant in the West Village has an array of cozy things, like a window table that’s literally inside of an enclosed ski lift car, a weathered wooden table with a built-in bread slicer, and enough copper bowls to make Julia Child jealous. You’ll want to get fondue here, obviously, and you should enhance it with a cheese and charcuterie board. There’s also an impressive selection of Swiss wines.
There’s a perpetual coziness to Red Hook, even post-Ikea, and we require that all establishments there maintain this coziness. If you’re going to identify as a pub, even more so. Previously known as Good Fork, this beloved neighborhood restaurant shut down during the pandemic, then reemerged as a pub with a bigger bar and a cute backyard with enough stray weeds snaking through it to remind you you’re allowed to unwind. This place has all the warmth of your favorite English pub—inviting barn doors, brick walls, amber light—and it also happens to serve some of the more interesting bar food out there.
Take a French bistro, place it in a skillet, and let it reduce for 24 hours. What you’ll wind up with is a more concentrated restaurant with a lot of personality and very little elbow room. In other words, something like Buvette. Everything at Buvette is tiny, from the tables and stools that feel like they were stolen from a kindergarten production of Les Miserables to the forks and knives that were almost definitely purchased at the American Girl store in Midtown. Bring someone you like and share something cheesy (literally), like a croque monsieur.
If you want the après-ski experience without the hassle of skiing, go to Cafe Select. This all-day spot in Soho feels like a bar at the base of the Alps. The bar area up front works for some wine and European food like lobster bisque or veal schnitzel, but if you really want to feel like you just stepped off a Swiss mountain in an all-white one-piece ski suit, get a table in the fondue room in the back.
Taverna Kyclades is one of Astoria’s best-loved Greek restaurants for a good reason. Between the consistently excellent food and cozy, low key atmosphere, we’ve never had a bad experience here. Seafood is the specialty, and your order should be built around whatever whole fish sounds best with a side (or two) of tart, melt-in-your-mouth lemon potatoes. Bulk it out with a lot of sharable starters, like the assortment of dips, some charred greek sausage, and a slab of the best spinach pie you’ll ever have.
This ramen shop run by the folks behind ROKC is full of eclectic details like wallpaper designed by a luxury fashion house, unusual paintings, and hanging lamps bedecked with colorful fringe. It’s an intimate restaurant that serves excellent ramen and inventive cocktails, including a hot toddy variation that’s one of our all-time favorite warm alcoholic beverages.
If you want to eat some excellent wood-fired pizzas in a cute space with lots of exposed brick and warm lighting, Milkflower should be on your radar. It’s both casual and affordable enough for a weeknight dinner, but they serve the sort of food that you’ll look forward to eating on a weekend. Get a few pizzas for the table to share.
Claud is a wine bar with really great food that takes its inspiration from European bistros. The interior, with its off-beige walls, natural wood accents, and minimalist lighting fixtures, feels like an expensive apartment in the East Village, giving the whole restaurant the air of an exclusive house party. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the one table that butts up against the open kitchen. It will make you feel like the VIP at your cool chef friend’s place.
After one meal at this charming spot with checkered tablecloths and servers in ties, you’ll want to become a regular. An Italian restaurant in Brooklyn Heights, Noodle Pudding serves classic red sauce fare, so don’t shy away from ordering as much pasta as humanly possible. The lasagna bolognese is always a good choice, although it’s about as large and dense as a car battery. And that’s only a slight exaggeration.
Tiny’s is really cute. And if you claim that isn’t the main reason why you come here, you’re lying to yourself. This Tribeca restaurant is located in its very own three-story, pastel pink townhouse, and the inside is filled with candles, exposed brick, and black-and-white photos. As the name suggests, there’s a little bar upstairs, and if you can manage to grab one of the few barstools, it’s a great spot to drink a martini and eat some oysters. If you’re stopping by with a date or having a casual meal with a friend, though, just get a table. It’s never too hard to snag one.