Where To Eat Near The MetViennese pastries, pastrami on rye, carbonara lunch specials and more stuff to eat by the museum.
The Met’s collection contains 5,000 years of stuff, and getting through all of it takes a while. Before or after your next visit, you’re going to need some food. (Who hasn’t been standing around at the Temple of Dendur and thought, "I could really go for some squid ink pasta right now?") Whether you’re in town making a bucket-list stop or you’re a city resident who just hasn’t been in a while, here’s where you can get a good meal within a few blocks from The Met—or in the museum itself.
Cafe Sabarsky is a great breakfast option near the Met. This Viennese cafe in the Neue Galerie is not only the perfect setting to play out your academic cosplay dreams, but the food is also some of the best on the Upper East Side. You’ll need one of their bracingly strong kaffee cremes, and be sure to get the weiner schnitzel if you're here for lunch or dinner. You won’t find a better version anywhere in the five boroughs.
If you’re visiting from out of town, add one more mandatory New York experience to your itinerary. Pastrami Queen is as quintessentially New York as hailing a cab on 5th Avenue or stepping in a puddle and screaming an expletive as children pass by. This kosher Jewish deli in the East 70s has been open since 1956, and your order here should be simple: fatty pastrami on half-inch-thick rye with a swipe of dijon in between.
Unlike that terrifying Weimar Art exhibit, Three Guys is for everyone. This Greek Diner on Madison Avenue is as no-frills as it gets, and you’ll see weathered brown booths full of everyone from kids in school uniforms to billionaires making deals over salad. The food is your average diner fare, but Three Guys is an entertaining cross section of the neighborhood, and it’s a good rest stop for kids who were getting antsy in the museum.
Via Quadronno is that “cute little cafe by the park” you look for in every city you visit. It’s a tiny Italian spot a few blocks down from the museum, and you should get a sidewalk table where you can sip on a cappuccino and look out on the park. They’ve been making great pastas and sandwiches forever—try their special speck panini or carbonara—and you can also get some gelato at the end. Via Quadronno is consistently busy and crowded with tables mostly for two, so it’s a bit of a nightmare for a group, but it's perfect for a date with a friend or yourself.
If you’re going to one of the most famous museums in the world, you might as well follow it with a meal at The Mark. This Jean-Georges restaurant serves New American standards like salads, pizza, grilled seafood, and the occasional outlier like a refreshing chicken and coconut milk soup with shiitake mushrooms (one of the best things on the menu). It’s not the most innovative place, but your fish will flake perfectly, and you can feel comfortable showing up to the old-school formal dining room in a T-shirt and shorts.
Eating “somewhere fancy” on the UES also usually means eating somewhere that looks a hundred years old with people whose ties look tied awfully tight, but Sant Ambroeus’s UES location is an exception. You’ll see a younger, trendier crowd here drinking freddo cappuccinos under the gorgeous Art Deco chandelier. You come here for the pastries—don’t leave without trying the Principessa cake—but their pastas and pretty salads are very good too.
The Dining Room at the Met is surprisingly void of any art or flashy interior design, but that’s part of its charm. The restaurant was once only open to members and senior staff, which sort of explains why it has the feel of an extremely nice break room. It’s a calm space with big windows overlooking Central Park where you can take a break from thinking too hard about Flemish Baroque paintings and eat some fresh scallop fettuccine.