Congratulations, you got a summer internship in New York City. Now you can add another section of Excel projects and client-interfacing bullet-points to your resume. You can also say you’re proficient in things like building a crate for your boss’ Great Dane, or picking up dry cleaning and forgetting it in a cab. We’ve been there.
Fortunately, you have nights and weekends (mostly) to yourself - and you’re in New York City. We can’t tell you how to get coffee for 15 people at a time, but we can tell you where to eat when you get to leave the office. So welcome to your Summer Intern Survival Guide, with recommendations for everything from the new restaurants you should know about to cool dinner spots that won’t empty your wallet. Follow this guide, and when people ask you about your summer in New York, you’ll have something better to talk about than when you accidentally hit reply all on a company email thread.
And if you want even more ideas for how to spend the next three months, be sure to check out our 2018 Summer Guide.
the hit List: New nyc restaurants
We’re constantly updating our guide to NYC’s best new restaurants. Here are a few we think you should check out this summer.
School credit and stipends are cool, but the ultimate perk of interning in New York is the pizza. Sure, LA has tacos, the beach, and production assistant dreams - but NYC has places like Joe & Pat’s. This is a Staten Island pizza institution, and they recently opened their first-ever Manhattan location in the East Village. Bring your roommates or convince some people you want to get to know better to come with you, because the perfect beginning of your new friendship is sharing some of the best pizza in the city. (And if you’re feeling particularly determined to have the full New York pizza experience, work your way through our full guide to the top 20 pizza places across the city.)
Technically speaking, Meme’s is a New York City diner. But aside from the fact that they serve patty melts and pie and that it’s located in NYC, there’s nothing Seinfeld-y about this place. And that’s because the food is actually worth traveling for. MeMe’s (not pronounced like the things you tag your friends in) is a bright little space in Prospect Heights, and you’re going to want to hang out here every weekend. If you come at brunch, we’d suggest you nap off your meal in Prospect Park afterwards.
Greenpoint is the neighborhood above Williamsburg (that’s only accessible by one subway), and if you look at a map, you might decide to just stay home and order delivery for the third time this week instead of going there. But the G train isn’t bad, and Greenpoint is worth exploring. Especially if you eat at Di An Di - a new Vietnamese spot that’s already serving some of the best pho in the city. You’d be happy with just a bowl by yourself, but if you can convince a couple people to join you, you can share more things like grilled pork summer rolls and Vietnamese “pizza.” Although, you can also just get all of that by yourself. We believe in you.
The Greatest Hits List is our guide to NYC’s most quintessential restaurants - the places we tell anyone who’s new to go to first. Here are the three you can’t leave NYC without trying.
A lot of people will tell you that their bagel spot is the best bagel spot. Here’s a secret: the best bagel is almost always the one that’s closest to you. But there’s an exception to that rule, and its name is Russ & Daughters. For over a century, this place has been serving the best bagel and lox in the city. It’s quintessential New York, with long lines of people grabbing tickets at the entrance and then fighting for space until it’s their turn to call out onion bagel with scallion cream cheese, tomato, and pastrami-cured salmon. At some point this summer, you should be one of them.
Walk around this city, and you have a lot to look around at. But if you kept your eyes at street-level, you’d miss out on a whole lot of strange, good things happening in basements. Like Uncle Boons. This place serves truly excellent Thai food in a little below-ground room that feels like a clubhouse. If you don’t get the coconut sundae for dessert, you can’t say you actually ate here.
The best pizza in the city is the second-most-common topic of discussion you’ll hear in NYC, just behind apartment rental prices and ahead of how to fix the Knicks. While you should absolutely dive into our Top 20 Pizza Ranking, you should also know that NYC pizza doesn’t get much better than the crackery-thin vodka pies at Rubirosa. The space might feel a bit like a charming mom and pop shop, but it’s always a party. Come with friends, prepare for a wait, and know that it will always be worth it.
where to spend your saturday
You might want to erase your weekday office memories as soon as you go back to school, but weekends are when you should be having the kind of summer you’ll talk about years from now when your future office is flooded with interns (who aren’t you). Here’s where to do them right.
You don’t need to spend three hours in traffic and sleep on an aerobed in your brother’s share house in The Hamptons to get to the beach this summer. Just take the A train to The Rockaways. Spend the day on the beach and maybe take a surf lesson, because “I learned to surf while interning in New York” would be a cool thing to be able to say. After you’re sufficiently hungry or sunburned, head to Tacoway Beach. It’s a fun spot a block off the beach inside Rockaway Beach Surf Club, and they serve the best fish tacos in the city.
Start your Saturday at Brooklyn Boulders. Indoor rock climbing might be the type of activity that your boss organizes to promote team building, but when belaying isn’t forced upon you as a trust exercise, it can be a fun thing to do with a group. Brooklyn Boulders is a great spot in Gowanus to encourage (laugh at) your friends as they conquer their fear of heights, and it’s around the corner from Insa, an even better Korean BBQ spot. After you grill some meats on your table, you can take over one of the private karaoke rooms in the back.
If you aren’t interested in the first (active) parts of the above Saturdays and just want to make the day about eating, we support you. And there isn’t a much better place to do so than in Flushing, where you’ll find many of the city’s best dumpling spots, all within a few blocks of each other. Here are a few of our favorites, and the must-orders once you’re there: White Bear (wontons in chili oil), Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings and beef/scallion pancake), Tianjin (lamb and green squash dumplings), and Dumpling Galaxy (dessert dumplings).
where to have an outdoor group hang
None of your friends’ apartments are large enough to comfortably hang out in with a group. And, even if they are, the weather is too good to be inside. (Unless your friends’ apartments also have central A/C - in which case, enjoy.) Try these spots for an outdoor experience with all the people in the city you can tell about the time your boss asked you to “send a fax.”
Mister Dips is an airstream trailer in a park underneath a Williamsburg hotel (but above ground level). If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is, and it’s also why this place is never too packed. They serve the kind of food you want to eat in the summertime - burgers, cheese fries, and soft serve with whipped cream and cherries on top, all while playing ’80s music and providing you with a great view of the Manhattan skyline.
Brooklyn Crab is a huge multi-level restaurant in Red Hook that looks like it could be on the boardwalk at a beach. There’s mini golf, cornhole, all the crab and seafood you could want, and a nice view of the Hudson River. This is an ideal location for the gathering of all of the different social sectors of your life.
cool restaurants for an affordable dinner
You want to go to dinner somewhere that reminds you why you came to this city in the first place. But you also need to not spend all of your food budget for the week on one meal. That’s where these spots come in.
Once you experience this cash-only walk-in-only soba place in Nolita, you won’t be able to get it out of your head. You’ll think about it all day, until you question whether you really ate the mera mera dip soba or if it was just the superior life in your dreams. And the best part is, no other interns (except the select few you choose to bring with you) will understand what you’re going through. This is a place where you should (and can afford to) become a regular this summer.
Oso in Harlem serves good, affordable Mexican food in a space that will make you feel like you’re taking advantage of your temporary life in NYC. Dinner here won’t have you checking your bank app (to make sure you can put this meal on your debit card) or your texts (to see if you should currently be making a plan to go somewhere better). We especially like the tacos, but there are other options if you’d prefer to turn your back on the best food that can come in a tortilla.
Eating here is the 101 class in The Infatuation’s NYC Casual Italian Food major. Make it a priority to come to this East Village spot at least once this summer for an affordable pizza and pasta dinner. Just know that it’s cash-only and gets pretty crowded, so you might recognize someone who graduated a few years ahead of you as you walk through one of the restaurant’s many rooms. Best of luck pretending not to recognize them either.
Thursday Kitchen in the East Village is the ultimate combination of a fun atmosphere and affordable food - none of the Korean-fusion dishes (even the steak) are over $13. It’s ideal for a big group dinner, although you should expect a wait. Especially if you intend on bringing every other intern you’ve encountered who, at some point this summer, has said “we should do dinner!”
Where to go for a (relatively) splurgy dinner
When you can spend a little more money, here are the dinner spots that’ll be worth it.
You want to get a really good steak, but you don’t want to go to a white tablecloth spot where you might see your boss. Go to St Anselm in Williamsburg, sit at the bar, and watch them cook your $23 butcher’s steak right in front of you. This isn’t just one of our favorite casual steakhouses in NYC - it’s one of our favorite restaurants in the city.
There are plenty of places to have unique dining experiences in the city, but most of them cost about as much as a semester’s dining plan back at school. The seven-course Japanese tasting menu at Tokyo Record Bar, though, is $50 - and it comes with two hours of vinyl curated by you and your fellow diners. Once you select “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” it’ll play over the speakers at this underground Greenwich Village spot sometime between the caviar sushi at the beginning of the meal and the slice of pizza they give you at the end.
Your company just gave all the interns an unexpected bonus. Well, that’s not ever going to happen, but let’s just assume you have some friends who want to celebrate your birthday or the summer solstice with you. Tijuana Picnic, a big Mexican spot in the LES, is an excellent place for a fun night out. The music is loud, the tacos are good, and the people watching is prime.
where to get food to bring to a park
When you want to eat outside this summer and don’t feel like paying $22 for three sliders, pick up food and head to McCarren, Prospect, or Central Park.
McCarren Park is filled with people taking pickup sports way too seriously, which makes it a great place to picnic with friends and watch people yell at each other for missing a catch in kickball. Before choosing a place to put down your blankets, grab food a block north of the park at Frankel’s. This small Jewish deli has the neighborhood’s best sandwiches - like Pastrami, Egg, & Cheese or a bagel and lox.
You may only be in NYC for eight weeks, but going to Zabar’s before walking to Central Park will make you feel like a New Yorker. This gourmet deli has been in the same location on the Upper West Side for over 80 years, and everything from the nova breakfast sandwich to the classic pastrami on rye is great.
There are a lot of reasons you may find yourself in Prospect Park this summer, and whether you’re going to a concert at The Bandshell or you’re going to take selfies amongst the cherry blossoms at the Botanic Garden, you should pick up some food on your way. Banhmigos is a takeout Vietnamese spot a block from the park with a huge menu of things like vermicelli bowls and banh mi sandwiches - all of which are better ideas than the bodega hummus your friends suggested.
where to get lunch near your office
Brookfield Place is a Lower Manhattan luxury mall with endless options for picking up lunch or designer watches. Because this place is giant and easily overwhelming, here are some of our favorite lunch spots - if you want a bagel, go to Black Seed. For barbecue, we like Mighty Quinn’s. For some sushi, Blue Ribbon has a to-go menu as well as a sushi counter. Go forth and responsibly spend your allotted lunch budget.
If your office is anywhere near City Hall, you should become familiar with Pisillo, a sandwich shop that’s always playing the Italian news on TV. Prepare for jealous looks from the other interns who got Just Salad.
Our favorite Midtown lunch secret is El Sabroso. This is a Latin lunch counter behind a freight entrance on 37th street where you can get a delicious (and affordable) meal that consists mostly of meat, beans, and rice. If your office is the kind of place that doesn’t ventilate well (or doesn’t have nice people in it), bring your roast pork lunch a few blocks over to Bryant Park.
Little Collins is a trendy little Australian coffee shop and cafe that you’d expect to find in Nolita (a neighborhood downtown where someone will likely ask you to meet them for brunch and where everything is immaculately photogenic). Bad news for Nolita and great news for you, Little Collins is actually located on Lexington between 55th and 56th. They do sandwiches, salads, and pastries in a tiny space that we wouldn’t recommend trying to find a seat in.
If you look on a map, you’ll find that someone left a trail of Xi’an Famous Foods breadcrumbs all in a row going up 5th Avenue. They make spicy, great Chinese food that you should eat as soon as you get it (the noodles congeal a bit if you take it back to your office). Also the “spicy” in spicy cumin lamb noodles is not for show. You’ve been warned.
If you’re interning near Union Square, you’ll have no shortage of lunch options close by, but one of our favorites is Taboonette. You can get things like salmon pitas and chicken platters to-go and eat them in Union Square while you watch a fully-grown man wearing a horse outfit lead a group in motivational yoga.
Ennju is a little Japanese counter place on 17th street that appears to be unknown to tourists (and therefore, most other interns). They serve a ton of different options like donburi bowls, udon, and sushi, and everything is more exciting than the salad you “forgot” at your apartment.
where to do an outdoor movie one-two punch
If you want to see the kind of movie that you’ve probably nodded about when someone makes reference to it, Summerscreen does an outdoor series of ’90s films in McCarren Park in Williamsburg. Before the movie, stop by Greenburg Bodega and pick up some sandwiches to bring and eat in the park. They have a bunch of vegan and vegetarian options, if that’s what you want to eat while you watch Love & Basketball.
Bryant Park will be showing movies like The Breakfast Club and Little Miss Sunshine on their lawn all summer long. After it’s over, take a walk over to Koreatown for some late-night Korean BBQ (it’s open till 1am Sunday - Thursdays, and till 5am Fridays and Saturdays).
This Mexican and Cuban restaurant in Fort Greene plays classic movies in their backyard, and it happens to be one of our all-time favorite places to hang out in the summer. Get there early to make sure you get a seat - you can always order your Cuban sandwich while you wait for West Side Story to start.