16 Spacious NYC Restaurants Where You Won't Have To Eat Inches From A StrangerWhere to go when you want to eat around people, but not too many people.
You're a social creature, but that doesn't mean you're okay with being shoved into a seat that's 14 inches from a stranger. When you're not in the mood to hear all about how the daughter of the person sitting next to you keeps drawing pictures of Olaf from Frozen on the hardwood floors, here's where to go. Not all of these places seat 300, but they all allow you to hold a conversation without having to talk over your neighbors.
If a party gets uncomfortably close to you here, there are plenty of other nooks to move to at this Italian wine bar and beer garden in Williamsburg. The space—converted from a warehouse—has an outdoor patio, a rooftop deck, and a ton of tables spread across multiple levels, and it's open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. If five more friends want to unexpectedly join you for some arancini, gnocchi pomodoro, and wood-fired pizzas, it probably won't be an issue.
Yes, this is a small and narrow restaurant. It's in the West Village, after all. But when you eat here, you still don't feel like you're bumping up against your neighbors (and it won't seem that crowded in the back patio either). It helps that there's a long booth with throw pillows that makes you feel like you're trying out a roomy dining setup at West Elm. Most importantly, you get to have some otherworldly scallion puffs if you come here. Get at least two orders.
Most Union Square Hospitality Group spots (such as Marta) are quite spacious, but we're going with the one that started it all. This classic NYC American restaurant has been around since Madonna's first North American tour, although it moved to a much bigger space on 19th and Park in 2016. Expect dishes like duck liver mousse, ricotta cavatelli, and roasted monkfish—plus the ability to stretch your arms without hitting someone in the face.
When there's an open flame situation and a lot of other tables around you, a little bit of space is usually a good idea. In addition to Korean BBQ, this restaurant in K-Town has plenty of items like japchae, kimchi pajeon, and several varieties of dolsot bibimbap. There's also a whole section with sunken seating—which means your butt will be at floor level—and these tables have more space between them compared to the others.
When you walk around Central Park, there's always the moment when you think to yourself: "Oh right, this is what it feels like to not be surrounded by concrete and people." To ease your post-walk transition back into city life (your normal state of being), check out this Szechuan and Hunan restaurant on 55th between 6th and 7th. Its booths with tall dividers will give you a nice feeling of isolation, and you'll get to have spicy pork spare ribs and mapo tofu.
When you look around at this huge Lebanese restaurant in Flatiron, the walls and ceiling will bring to mind a Mondrian painting, and you'll notice that an entire bowling lane (or two) could probably fit into the dining room. There's also a very long bar where you can enjoy some arak along with fattoush, duck shawarma, and labneh with salmon roe. Come here when the headcount for an upscale outing unexpectedly triples.
In case you don't know, the "V" in the name of this Jean-Georges restaurant is meant to indicate that the food is vegetarian or vegan, which means you can expect dishes like chilled angel hair soba with tomato miso broth and grilled baby squash with sourdough and cucumbers. The space here has many different seating areas—in front of the window, at the bar, all along an open kitchen area—and that's before you even get to the dining room.
This isn't the Huge Restaurant Guide. It's a guide about personal space. And very few places evoke the feeling of solitude more than this ramen chain from Japan, which has locations in Bushwick, Times Square, and Chelsea. If you sit in one of their signature counter seats, you have the option to put up barriers on both sides, so you can concentrate on the flavors of your tonkotsu ramen. You can also customize things like the noodle texture, saltiness, spice level, and richness of each bowl here.
This Indian restaurant in Jackson Heights has been around since the '80s, just like another spot in this guide. The dining space is one big room, but it's a huge room. So if you’re sitting near Harrison Ford (who has dined here), and he’s talking about how he thinks his role in Regarding Henry eclipses anything he ever did as Indiana Jones, you probably won’t be able to hear him. Portions of dishes like paneer tikka and chicken lajwab are large, so it's a good idea to come with others.
This is a fairly small spot, but it's configured in a way where you can't really pack that many tables together. If you're the sort who takes their kids out for pizza (if you have kids, you're probably that sort whether you like it or not), there's room for everyone to roam around here. Personal space aside, this place has some of our favorite Detroit-style pizza in the city.
This massive, upscale American restaurant in Midtown from the team behind Carbone makes you think of a bygone era when you could drink two martinis and have a slab of prime rib brought to you on a trolley at lunch. You'll pay a good amount of money to eat here, but the experience comes with plenty of space between you and your neighbors. Stop by early on a weeknight, and you might not even have anyone within 15 feet you.
The food at this French restaurant at the bottom of the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg feels like it belongs on a menu for a charming little wine bar in Paris. But the space here is cavernous with exposed brick walls and high-arching windows. Items like steak tartare and orzo cacio pepe make up the nearly 40-item menu—but the best thing here is the roast chicken with fries.
For a taste of legit Texas BBQ right near Madison Square Park, come to Hill Country. (The name refers to the area around Austin where a lot of the state's best BBQ joints are located.) There's a large number of seats—we've eaten here with no other party within 20 feet of us. If you can't decide what to order, go with the three things by which all Texas establishments are judged: brisket, sausage, and spare ribs.
This upscale Northern Chinese restaurant is located in the Bloomberg Building, so it’s reasonable to assume that you'll hear people discussing financial analytics and equities when you come here. (We actually have no idea what people at Bloomberg do.) Fortunately, there are plenty of spaced-out tables, as well as mile high ceilings, lots of mirrors, and glitzy lighting fixtures. This place serves fancy dim sum and only five special flaming ducks a night, which you'll need to reserve in advance.
Cecconi's is an Italian restaurant with outposts around the world, including in Miami, London, and Barcelona. If the weather's nice, try to score a seat on their outdoor patio where you can get a great view of the Manhattan skyline. Otherwise, have your meal in one of the giant rooms where you can order a veal chop milanese and a classic negroni while you have a fairly private conversation.
Like a lot of dim sum spots in NYC, East Harbor Seafood Palace has an enormous space. By necessity, paths do need to be carved out in the dining area to make room for roving carts with peppery beef ribs and taro pork dumplings—which means the tables are spaced far apart. If you get here around noon, there may already be a wait, but it shouldn't be too long (30 minutes, maybe).