The running path along the West Side Highway is objectively one of the nicest places to run in the city. Not only are there no traffic lights forcing you to run in place like an ’80s jazzercise enthusiast, but the whole path - from the Bronx down to the southern tip of Manhattan - runs parallel to the Hudson River. There are lots of logical “finish lines” where you could end your run, like The George Washington Bridge, the Intrepid aircraft carrier, or the 10th time you see parents walking with their kids on a leash. The good news is that no matter where you decide to call it quits, you’ll be able to find great food within a few blocks. Here are 15 great spots that are casual enough to walk into with your phone still velcroed to your arm.
Not sure where to start your run? Here’s a suggested route, with five of the restaurants from our guide nearby.
Your cheeks are bright red and you can’t get your forehead to stop sweating, so you may not feel like photobombing through influencer photoshoots in Meatpacking to stand in line with tourists at Chelsea Market. But that’s exactly what you should do, because it means eating at Los Tacos No. 1. The tacos here are some of the best in the entire city, and once you’re alternating between bites of the carne asada and marinated pork, you won’t even notice the tour group in matching t-shirts waiting for your seat.
Some people motivate themselves to run by picturing one of their ex’s reaction to their beach pictures this summer. We, on the other hand, imagine the little pepperoni cups filled with oil planted in thick, melted cheese on a square slice of pizza. Specifically, we imagine that square slice at Mama’s Too on the Upper West Side. If you try this tactic while running to this slice shop by Riverside Park, then you get the added benefit of instant gratification.
You could visit Hudson Yards - the massive new development in the West 30s - if you want inspiration for a RoboCop remake. But you should also go to eat at Mercado Little Spain, a food hall about a block from the Hudson River running path. There are a bunch of grab-and-go tapas kiosks specializing in things like empanadas, flatbreads, and cured meats. If you want to have a sit-down meal, get a table at Mar or Leña, two Spanish spots located inside that each serve some of the best food you can find in all of Hudson Yards.
There are a lot of convincing reasons to go for a run early in the morning. Like peace of mind, an excuse to leave early from your coworker’s birthday party, and maybe even the sunrise. But when you’re hungry afterwards, you’re more likely to find a good restaurant turning off its lights from the night before than opening up for the day. That’s why you should know about The Elk, an attractive coffee shop in the West Village less than two blocks from the water. It opens at 7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends, and serves some very good breakfast options, ranging from seasonal fruit with oatmeal or yogurt, to more substantial dishes, like baked soft eggs with pulled jalapeno chicken and avocado.
There’s no need to double-back and run past that couple still making out on a bench in front of Brookfield Place, so when you get to the tip of Manhattan, take a break and get some food at Pier A Harbor House. They serve oysters and six different types of fried seafood, but we like the bar food here best, like the crunchy and gooey mozzarella sticks, or the massive plate of cheesy nachos topped with chunks of crab. Sit at one of the many picnic tables on the huge outdoor patio, which has the best views of The Statue of Liberty you can get from dry land.
Running next to the West Side Highway is great - mainly there are barely any stoplights, random potholes, or unexpected showers of A/C liquid. If you want to get a bite to eat without having to cross the highway and deal with any of those things, head to Merchants River House. Despite being right on the river in Battery Park City, this casual American spot doesn’t get as crowded as places like Pier A or City Vineyard, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting a table inside or on the outdoor patio. Either way, you’ll have very nice views of the river.
Maybe you’re part of a running club, or perhaps your boss mentioned going on a run and everyone within earshot took it as an opportunity to show their initiative. Either way, you need a casual place with enough room for a big group near the West Side Highway. Try Dinosaur BBQ. It’s less than a block from the water on 125th Street, and the huge space, which feels like a warehouse that’s been converted into a barn, has lots of seating. You can’t go wrong with the brisket or the jumbo chicken wings, but if you really want to show initiative, get a few orders of the crunchy, cheesy fried green tomatoes.
The Hudson River is a nice setting for a run, and it’s an even better backdrop for wine and oysters. You can experience both by running to City Vineyard, a restaurant and wine bar located right on the Hudson River running path. The rooftop is massive and has plenty of seating where you can order platters of oysters and good, affordable wine on tap while watching jet-skiers who think they look really cool adjusting their life vests while trying not to capsize in the wake of a cargo ship.
While you were running along the river, you may have seen some very nice boats, and briefly wondered who considers a yacht to be a practical means of transportation. Well, you can find out while sitting outside at PJ Clark’s. This classic burger spot - the original Midtown location has been around since 1884 - has a bunch of outdoor seating overlooking a yacht harbor in Battery Park City, so while you’re eating a burger with smoked bacon and a fried egg, you can catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse into yacht life.
Like cancelled 9am meetings and Tom Hanks, Cookshop is pleasing to just about everyone. This all-day spot in Chelsea serves very good American food, like a grain and salad bowl with vegetables and a poached egg at breakfast, and roasted chicken with smoked chili oil. They also have heavier options in case you’re starving after extending your run by a mile to get to the end of a This American Life podcast - like a lamb burger with goat cheese and crispy potatoes. Everything is enjoyable and affordable - almost the whole dinner menu is under $30 - and they have plenty of sidewalk seating in case you didn’t get quite enough fresh air on your run.
With a bunch of entrances from 34th Street down to Gansevoort, the Highline is really easy to access from the West Side Highway. So when you feel like eating, run up a few stairs, pretend you don’t hear the tourists asking you to take their pictures, and sit down at Hearth’s seasonal location that’s basically on 10th Avenue - just a couple stories above the ground. Get the roasted beet salad and a glass of bubbly, and then go with the braised pork sandwich, which has chili slaw and honey that soak into the bun - it’s the best thing here.
There are a lot of places to drink on the Hudson River, and there are also some places to get lunch or dinner. But if you’re looking for breakfast after an early-morning run, then it’s pretty simple: go to Pier I Cafe. This seasonal spot just south of Riverside Park opens everyday at 8am, and is a good option for coffee and a Balthazar muffin, or a BEC with chipotle mayo.
Community Food And Juice is from the same people behind Clinton Street Baking Co, so you won’t be surprised that it serves great pancakes and gets slammed during weekend brunch. But it’s also a good option for lunch or dinner, especially if you want something green or generally containing vitamins, like a big bowl of vegetables topped with black truffle vinaigrette, or crispy boneless chicken with couscous that soaks up all the jus. We also understand if you just really want the blueberry pancakes, but we recommend getting them during weekday breakfast or alone at the bar during brunch if you want to avoid waiting behind half of Columbia University.