As a New Yorker, there are several things you should be able to accomplish. You should be able to do a pretty good impression of that PA voice on the subway, you should be able to navigate the non-grid-aligned streets of the West Village totally by instinct, and you should also know where you can get a good late night meal. Although if you need a little help with that, here’s a list of all the best spots. It has everything from burgers to tacos to shellfish towers and bone marrow, and it will be one of the single most valuable resources for your life in NYC.
The West Village has a lot of late night dining options. Although if you want something fancier than pizza, diner food, or a taco from a taco truck, consider heading over to The Spaniard. This place is a slightly upscale pub from the same people behind The Penrose and The Wren, and you should feel free to drop in for some oysters Rockefeller and/or lobster toast at 1:30 in the morning. The kitchen stays open until 2am every night, and there’s typically a good crowd here, if you’re looking to meet someone new.
La Contenta is one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in NYC, and if you hang out late night on the Lower East Side, you should know that they stay open until 2am on weekends. This way, the next time you need food after midnight, you won’t have to go home and settle for the single bagel in your freezer that mostly just tastes like freezer at this point. Come here instead and eat something like tacos or steak or margaritas.
Admittedly, hot pot sounds like a dangerous meal option when it’s after midnight and everyone’s feeling a little clumsy - but just keep your hands out of the scalding liquid. Manage that, and you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat experience with such things as lamb, chicken, pumpkin, corn, and even pig brain if that’s what your late-night body is telling you to eat. There’s also Korean barbecue here if you don’t feel like hot pot, and there are four locations across the city (including one on St. Mark’s).
Joseph Leonard is one of our Brunch Greatest Hits, and, Thursday through Saturday, they happen to be open late night as well. So if it’s after midnight, and you’re with someone who for whatever reason doesn’t want to just burn their mouth on some pizza then pass out watching Netflix, come here. Their late night menu has paté, steak frites, a fried chicken sandwich, and more. It’s also nice and cozy, so it’s a good move for a very late date.
BCD Tofu House is a chain with locations on the East and West Coast, and, for some reason, their location 32nd Street is open 24 hours. So if you go out for some karaoke in K-Town or see a late show at Madison Square Garden, keep this place in mind. They’ll start you off with some complimentary sides like kimchi and a Nemo-sized fried fish, and then you can move on to some tofu stew and bibimbap. This place is great for groups, and it’s nice knowing that you can come here even after every bar has closed.
On weekends, Harlem Shake is open until 2am. And if you live uptown, you should consider this vital information. Once you call it a night, you can stop by for a burger topped with French fries or a deep-fried hot dog that comes wrapped in bacon. And you might as well finish your meal with a red velvet shake, because it’s not like you’re being healthy to begin with. This place is also extremely casual, they have a fun retro theme, and there are two locations in Harlem.
Steak fries and pickles. Piles of salty beef on bread. Late night, you want this. Go here when you’re too drunk to realize that was a haiku. On Fridays, the historic Katz’s on Houston doesn’t close. That means you can swing by and pick up a pastrami sandwich at 5 a.m. (and you probably should). The sandwiches are twenty dollars, but that’s okay because Andrew Jackson was a jerk, and you want his face out of your wallet.
Veselka is a 24-hour Ukrainian diner that specializes in pierogies, borscht, and potato pancakes. Get the potato pancakes (also known as latkes), and order from their breakfast menu (they serve it all day). Design your own omelette if your brain is functioning properly, and hope that you aren’t the least-sober one there. It’s near St. Mark’s, so you probably won’t be.
On Fridays, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is open until 7 a.m. This makes us wonder how many intoxicated people end up in the nearest burn ward. (It’s Korean barbecue, after all.) Order some cuts of beef or pork, and a server will grill them in the middle of your table. A cheese-and-corn dish will melt alongside. You’ll also get some snacks called banchan. And don’t touch the grill. Grill hot.
Get some drinks with a date and tell them you’re taking them to Paris. Put your hands over their eyes, and only take them off once you get to L’Express. They’ll probably be pissed they’re not in Paris, but laugh it off and order the French onion soup. Visit this 24-hour brasserie on Park Avenue when you need a reasonably priced steak au poivre at 3 a.m. Also, the lamb burger is a like hamburger, but better.
Wo Hop is Cantonese restaurant in a basement on Mott Street, and it feels sort of like a diner or a bright dive bar. They’re open until 7 a.m., so you if wake up hungover on the steps of a subway station, check your watch. You can probably still make it to Wo Hop
The Spicy Spring wants to be a part of your life. Even if you stay out all night, forget to call, and arrive with alcohol on your breath at 1:30 in the morning, the Spicy Spring won’t say a word. Compliment the Spicy Spring on its heft. Tell the Spicy Spring that every other food means nothing to you. This might not be true, but something about this square Sicilian slice makes you feel as if you’re nine years old and back in elementary school, and tomorrow and every day after will be pizza day, forever.
Corner Bistro is a classic late-night move in the West Village. They’ve been open for over forty years, and it feels like they’ve been there longer. Stop by any time before 4 a.m., and get a burger that’s more beef than bun. Go often enough and behave yourself, and the bartender might choose to remember you. This is one way to become a New Yorker.
Plan a date in the East Village and meet up for gimlets at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge or by the pool table at Blue and Gold. That way, if the night ends in an awkward hug-and-goodbye at 2:30 in the morning, you can find some closure at Taqueria Diana. Tacos are an option, nachos are encouraged. Order the burrito al pastor. Consider it a giant Ambien that you chew.
What if Tom Hanks hadn’t found the Zoltar machine at end of Big? And what if his employers had fired him for faking his identity? He probably would’ve opened Sticky’s. They have s’mores fries and salted caramel chicken fingers. They’re also open until 3, and you don’t have to know the plot of Big to appreciate their assorted chicken poppers or bacon fries.
This is where you go when that last drink goes down perfectly, and everything becomes clear: money’s just paper that pays for things. And credit cards are plastic. And the first of the month is two weeks away, and, although you can’t sleep inside a late-night meal at Sushi Seki, you also can’t eat your apartment. This is good sushi open late. Chef’s come here after work. Go to Sushi Seki on the Upper East Side when it’s 1 a.m. and you’re willing to pay for a higher quality of life.
During the day, there are probably other places you’d rather eat. But when it’s 3 a.m., other late-night options in the area make Coppelia look like Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Across the street, there’s pizza or a gyro. At Coppelia, you can have a skirt steak with salsa verde or some huevos rancheros. This is a very nice Latin-American diner in Chelsea, and it’s open 24 hours a day.
Daddy-O serves better-than-average bar food until 4 a.m., and it’s a good alternative to the abundant pizza of Bleecker Street. It’s also a neighborhood spot that’s relatively free of the type of people who use the word pregame in a context outside of sports. Stop by after a night of billiards at Fat Cat and pregame for the morning by drinking six pints of water.
Moloko705 Myrtle Ave
Moloko is cash only. So before you go out drinking, stuff a wad of bills into one of your socks - because you’re going to get hungry later, and the Moloko late-night menu reads like a poem written by the hungriest person in the world. Do as you’re told, and you can have an oxtail burrito or a fried chicken sandwich. The kitchen at this Bed-Stuy bar is open until 3a.m..
Extra Fancy is either a restaurant that feels like a bar or a bar that feels like a restaurant. The kitchen is open until 3a.m. on the weekends, and the late night menu includes oysters and salmon ceviche. Get a cheeseburger or a lobster roll and space out while staring at the fully functioning disco ball.
What else can we say about Blue Ribbon Brasserie? It’s open until 4a.m., and it’s excellent. But this isn’t a spot for a cheap late-night snack. Go here with someone who wants to spend money, then play the game where you stuff your cheeks with bone marrow and fried chicken and try to say, “This is me balling out.” This game has no losers.
Chilo’s is a taco truck. Chilo’s is a bar. The taco truck is behind the bar. The tacos are dream things. Dream things are things you eat that make you want to dream about them. Get the carnitas. Get the smoked beef. Get drunk in Bed-Stuy because Chilo’s is open until 2a.m. on weekends.
This Williamsburg bar is the poor man’s Blue Ribbon. Their fried chicken is also excellent, but in a sleazier sort of way. On weekends, the kitchen is open until 2a.m., but if you come on a Friday or Saturday, expect many drunk people in a small, dark, crowded room. (The backyard is even smaller, so don’t pin your hopes on that either.) Just loosen your definition of personal space, and you’ll be fine.
Sweet Chick is open until 2a.m.. Avoid the communal table, and sit at the bar. Late night isn’t for making friends. Late night is for eating fried chicken and upside-down pineapple cake. Lick your cake plate clean then turn to your neighbor and shrug while you apologize for being a boss. Go with renewed energy to Fresh Kills or Kinfolk and dance like you’re full of fried chicken.
The Meatball Shop was crazy busy when it opened. Now, other restaurants are serving cheap-ish good food, and it’s not so crowded anymore. But it’s still the same food, and the one on Stanton is still open until 4 on the weekends (as is the one in Williamsburg). Stop by at the end of your night and get a meatball hero with provolone and pesto. And be sure to end your meal with an ice cream sandwich.
The interior of Hotel Delmano feels like an ocean liner that sank a long time ago. It’s a small bar on the corner of North Ninth and Bedford, and seating is mandatory. That doesn’t mean it’s stuffy, but it does mean that no one will dry hump your back while they shout at the bartender for another shot of tequila. Take that into account, as well as the fact that you can get steak tartare at 1 a.m., and Hotel Delmano is a late night must.