Recently, we noticed something: none of you like to wear pants anymore.
We don’t mean that everyone’s walking around New York in their underwear (yet), but that joggers, leggings, and sweatshirts are a pretty common manner of attire to walk around in these days. Thank Mark Zuckerberg? Who knows.
With that in mind, here’s our guide to restaurants throughout the city where you’d be perfectly welcome in your workout gear. No judgment on whether you actually worked out or not.
Check out the rest of our Guide To Being A Little Healthier.
Dokebi is in Williamsburg, so it already has that going for it. Places are just more casual out there. It’s also part restaurant and part bar, so that makes it even more laid back. It’s a good place to stop into on your way home from the gym and down eight pieces of Korean fried chicken (for the protein) and maybe a rice bowl. They also have Korean barbecue and Japanese-style hot pot (shabu shabu) if you feel like making a night of it.
Taboonette is a tiny fast-casual Mediterranean spot that’s a great place to come by yourself after a workout. You can get some hummus, brown, rice, and chicken shawarma (served in a little pan) or you can go a little lighter with some salmon. This is also a classic example of a place that’s really only sort of healthy. The aforementioned chicken shawarma probably has enough calories to warrant a second workout, and the kale salad is maybe the oiliest we’ve ever had. In other words, it’s the best of both worlds.
There’s no dress code at Enid’s. Although there is a health code, so you’re going to have to do the whole shirt-and-shoes thing. But they don’t have to be nice shoes, and your pants can be sweats. Nobody here cares. This is a bar/restaurant in Greenpoint that’s about as casual as your living room. They do American comfort food (fried chicken sandwich, kale caesar, meatloaf, etc.), and their weekend brunch is great for vegetarians.
Think of this as an indoor taco truck (that happens to be located inside of Chelsea Market. It’s extremely casual, and you eat off paper plates. They also make one of the best fish tacos in the city. Order a few at the counter and eat standing up like a person in sweatpants would.
Saigon Shack114 Macdougal St
Saigon Shack is about two blocks from NYU, so you’ll never be the most casual one there. Unless you’re a student at NYU. In which case, you might be wearing flip flops and an NYU hoodie in the hope that people will start to think of you as a Mark-Zuckerberg type. Good luck with that. Come here for good, quick Vietnamese in a bright little room where no one will care what you’re wearing.
Ruby’s is a go-to place in Nolita for a quick cheap meal, and it attracts a lot of young people. Many of these people will be wearing clothes they really can’t afford, but it’s also acceptable to come here looking like you just left a spin class. Ruby’s does things like burgers, pastas, and salads, and it’s a good alternative to a place like Westville, if that’s what you’re looking for. Which, let’s face it, you probably are.
Tacombi Nolita is like a backyard hang, but indoors. There’s even an old Volkswagen van parked inside where they make their tacos. They aren’t the best tacos in the city, but they’re solid (try the barbacoa), and this is one of the cheaper dining options in the area. It’s also a fun space. Stop by with a few friends.
Gotan is technically a coffee shop, so it isn’t at all formal. For a coffee shop, however, you can get some surprisingly good food here. Some of which might be exactly what you want after a morning or afternoon workout (they serve a variety of “health” bowls and salads) - just note they close at 6pm. It’s a nice space, and they make a fried chicken sandwich. We challenge you to find another coffee shop with a fried chicken sandwich.
This is a great Middle-Eastern fast-casual place with some of the best chicken shawarma around. The ingredients are fresh and flavorful, and it feels more Southern California than Williamsburg. It’s mostly a takeout place, but there are a few seats, and it’s one of the only great places to get a good, super-casual meal in the area. Grab a stool and eat some za’atar wings.
At Dizengoff, they make meals out of hummus. It isn’t the first place to do so, but it might have the best hummus in NYC. And you can get it at a counter in Chelsea Market. Order a plate of it with some fancy toppings (or whatever sort of meat they have on special), and park yourself on a stool. Then do 20 sets of fork lifts.
Purbird is a casual little place in Park Slope with excellent, affordable comfort food. It focuses on grilled chicken, and you can get it in a few different forms (as a burger, in a wrap, or as an entree alongside some of their bread). They have some worthwhile sides including jalapeno mashed potatoes and some of the best mac & cheese we’ve had.
This is a casual neighborhood sushi spot on the Upper East Side, and it’s also BYOB. So if you bring a bottle of wine with you to the gym, you can enjoy it here after. Or maybe just stop at the wine store on the way. That makes more sense. Either way, come here for some fresh sushi that won’t cost you as much as a place like Sushi Seki. It feels sort of like a restaurant you’d find in the suburbs, but better.
Another spot where you can eat a bowl of hummus for dinner, Hummus Place is more straightforward than Dizengoff but it’s great in its own way. It’s affordable, laid-back, and they some solid versions of your favorite Israeli/Mediterranean foods. Get some hummus and falafel. Or try the shakshuka. This restaurant looks a little like a generic chain, but don’t let that throw you off. There are only two locations. (The other is in the West Village).
Beyoglu is perfect for when you feel like you’ve only been eating sushi, burgers, and pizza. It’s a Turkish restaurant, and there aren’t many of those in Manhattan. Also, Turkish food means protein (shrimp, beef, yogurt, etc.). So not only is this a place where you can eat in your gym clothes, it’s also a place where you can get some food that’ll help you maintain all those muscles you already definitely have. Stop by and have some ahtapot salatasi. That’s octopus, obviously.
Sao Mai doesn’t look like anything special, but it is, in fact, some of the best Vietnamese in the city. It isn’t fancy or trendy, but that just means you can show up here in sweats. You won’t spend a lot either. Although the menu is pretty huge, so you could definitely do so if you wanted. Whatever you do, order the pho. It’s why you come here. Other solid choices include crispy calamari and their salad with watercress and beef.
This is a sit-down restaurant from the people behind the Little Beet fast-casual chain, and it’s only a little less casual. The food is more ambitious than the stuff you find at the fast-casual places, but the atmosphere isn’t stuffy. This is also a good place to go if you’re a vegetarian or you don’t eat gluten. Most of the stuff on the menu is pretty healthy (there are plenty of vegetables), but they also have a burger and some pasta. And it’s all gluten-free. Sure, this isn’t the most vibe-y restaurant in the city, but it’s good for something casual and healthy.
Your friend convinced you to try that JumpRopeBodyFit class on ClassPass and the teacher yelled at you with an extremely shrill voice the entire time. You need to feed yourself well, and would be wise to consider Coppelia, 24-hour Latin diner on 14th Street. It’s extremely casual, but serves dishes a little more interesting than your standard diner eggs, pancakes, and kind of weird Cobb salad. Huevos Rancheros for dinner are a good idea.
Westville basically invented the “restaurant you can eat at in your gym clothes” concept, and has started a small empire on the concept. The vegetable market plates always work if you’re taking the health thing seriously, and the burgers and sandwiches work if you’re not.
If it’s a Saturday afternoon and you’re already hangry, Penelope is not your spot. The best brunch place in Murray Hill, predictably, is full of every resident of Windsor Court. But on weeknights, it’s a good move for an easy and fulfilling but still very casual dinner.
Seamore’s can adapt for a real night out with a few drinks, but can also work without judgment when you haven’t showered or are just doing that “haven’t showered” look. Is that still a thing? Either way, Seamore’s serves the kind of fresh, wholesome food you could eat every Wednesday night for the rest of eternity.
To know what you need to know about Timna, we’ll quote from our review: “Timna’s space is a little one in the East Village, with enough red brick and air plants to look hip enough for your Friday night plans, but casual enough that you can roll in after work for an easy Tuesday night dinner.” The other thing you need to know about this modern Israeli restaurant is that they serve bread in a flower pot.
By CHLOE is vegan, but unlike other meat-free spots out there, this place actually makes legitimately tasty food you actually might want to consume several times a week. We’re not entirely convinced that makes it all that healthy from a caloric standpoint, but you can probably convince your friends otherwise.
We once called soba the Solange of Japanese noodles. Not quite as well-known or fetishized over, but still objectively awesome. This is a funky, quirky spot, and it’s possible to construct a meal that’s at least sort of healthy.
Soba-ya is a soba restaurant, which, as previously discussed, makes it less likely than ramen to quadruple your cholesterol. But our favorite thing to eat here are actually the rice bowls - go for the spicy salmon or salmon sashimi versions. And feel free to go in your comfy pants.
Should you find yourself in the East Village looking for a Casual Carb Situation (trademarking that), consider directing yourself to the dumplings at Mimi Cheng’s. It’s a nice place to hang, and the dumplings are great - go boiled chicken if you want something a little lighter. Go fried pork if you don’t.
Greenwich Village is kind of like EPCOT of fast casual restaurants: there’s pretty much every possible permutation. One of our favorites? Tortaria, a Mexican spot specializing in sandwiches. It’s an extremely low key spot, but they do have a full bar.
Egg Shop is a complete disaster at weekend brunch. The place is tiny, and waits become unmanageable very quickly. That said, it’s usually close to empty at dinner - and for god’s sake, they have something on the menu called a Spandex Bowl.
Let’s try a mental exercise: imagine there was a place that served affordable, healthy, satisfying sushi that you knew would never end up tasting like it had been sitting out for three days. Where the spicy tuna was never at risk of being stringy and the yellowtail was never a little too hard. Such a place exists, and here’s how they do it: they don’t serve serve tuna or yellowtail at all. Beyond Sushi is vegan, and once you get over the general blasphemy of that fact, it actually turns out to be really, really good.
You decided to go to a class at Yogaworks, and the person in front of you farted. You’ll survive, but you also need to eat something tasty, and possibly have a cocktail, just to shake it off. Direct yourself to Lovely Day, a Thai-ish spot in Nolita. The offerings are pretty simple here - pad thai, a few currys, a not-particularly-Thai-but-still-enjoyable fried chicken dish - but all of it is consistent and satisfying.
You’re wandering midtown after work, unsure of where to get an affordable, sort of healthyish meal. Unsure, that is, until you get to Glaze. Yet another fast casual spot with a very specific speciality, Glaze does teriyaki bowls with different proteins as toppings (salmon, steak, chicken, etc.) and they’re all quite good, and quite reasonably priced.
Greenpoint Fish and Lobster is part restaurant, but also part market, which we’re pretty sure makes it fine to wear whatever you want here. Sit at the bar and eat some of the better lobster rolls and fish tacos around.
The great thing about gym clothes is that they’re also basically eating pants. Go in on some fried chicken and waffles at Pies ‘n’ Thighs, and never look back. At least until you have to put your jeans back on.
In some cases, it’s great to be pretty good at a lot of things. Like when you’re applying to college. In other cases, it’s great to just be extremely good at one thing. Bar Bolinas is a place that’s extremely good at one thing. That one thing is being somewhere to eat a burger outside. Eating burgers outside generally should not be a fancy affair, and that’s very much the case here.
This one’s probably the nicest spot on the list, and we don’t recommend showing up in sweatpants here if your friend decides to have their birthday at one of the booths upstairs. But we also think you could probably definitely get away with eating a bowl of pasta in the bar downstairs wearing whatever you like. Especially during brunch.