Soho is mostly stores with a few restaurants sprinkled in, but Noho is the exact opposite. And, seeing as how there are so many dining options, we thought you’d like a guide. Here it is. These are the best places to get food after a day spent dodging tourists on Broadway or before you head into work. On this guide, you’ll find weeknight spots, date-night restaurants, and even one place where you can sit outside and eat an omakase while someone times you.
Today, it feels like every other new restaurant that opens in America seems like an imitation of The Smile: vaguely healthy, vibey space, servers who would rather be reading Pitchfork, etc. This continues to be one of the best places to get a casual meal in Noho, and it’s a great spot to grab a breakfast or lunch and eavesdrop on some people complaining about their bosses, the sizes of their apartments, the latest features on Instagram, or all of the above. The menu is Mediterranean/American, and most people will find something to eat.
Bar Primi feels like a restaurant for a very specific age range - maybe 25 to 35. There’s nothing wrong with the food (we’re into it), but that’s just the scene here. Walk by on a Friday night and the entryway will be clogged with at least six young people, one of whom will be wearing a wide-brimmed hat that they can only barely pull off. It’s a good place to go with a group (there are two floors), and you won’t be disappointed with the pasta.
Lafayette is from the same people behind Bar Primi and Locanda Verde, and it’s pretty much their version of Balthazar. It’s big, French, open all day, and there’s a bakery in the front. It feels just a little bit younger than Balthazar, however. Plus, there’s great sidewalk seating. Come for brunch or bring your parents for dinner. Despite the French-ness and the somewhat steep prices, it’s still pretty casual. Your boss would most likely be into this place.
Sushi On Jones is a stand in a little outdoor market on Bowery with a counter and about four stools. There’s only one option here (a $50 omakase) and you have exactly thirty minutes to finish it and move on. It’s a fun experience, and a not-bad deal for what it is. Text them at 917-270-1815 to set a seating time, because the chances of there being an open spot randomly aren’t too high.
Siggy’s is old-school healthy. It’s more Birkenstocks-and-Patagonia than it is Nikes-and-yoga-pants. You come here to eat something like a salmon burger, a “live Earth” bowl, or some tofu lasagna. It isn’t the vibiest place for a meal, but it’s pretty inexpensive, and the food will make you feel like you can definitely eat a burrito in bed sometime in the near future. Try it for a weekday lunch the next time you get out of the office and want to eat vitamins.
Narcissa makes our lives easier. It’s big, there’s an outdoor space, it’s great for vegetarians, and it’s cool without being too sceney or impossible to get into. In short, we can recommend it for a lot of situations. Bring your parents or take a friend who’s visiting from out of town and wants to maybe see a celebrity. You probably won’t see anyone, but it’s a possibility, and this place always has a good energy regardless.
Gato is a big Spanish restaurant from a guy named Bobby Flay. That name doesn’t sound very Spanish, but the food is still somehow good. Really good, actually. Come here and eat some scrambled eggs (as an appetizer) and a plate of roasted octopus. There’s plenty of space in the dining room, and you can always sit at the bar if you don’t feel like grabbing a table. This is a good spot if you need a last-minute place to impress someone.
Mile End is a modern Jewish/Canadian delicatessen with a bunch of different sandwiches and breakfast all day. It’s mostly known for its smoked meat and poutine, but you really can’t go too wrong here. Have some matzoh ball soup or a salami sandwich. Or, if it’s morning, get a bagel (from Black Seed), and have them put some whitefish on it. Mile End is very casual, and it’s useful for a quick meal that might make you move a little slower afterward.
The best Italian in Noho? Not that there’s a ton of competition, but that would be Il Buco. This restaurant has been around for over two decades, and it’s a classic date-night move. It’s cozy and quaint (the space used to be an antique store), and the pastas won’t let you down. It isn’t cheap, but it also isn’t 50th-birthday or just-won-a-Grammy expensive, and they also do an olive oil tasting, in case that’s on your list of things to do.
The second best Italian in Noho? Probably this place. It’s the Il Buco spin-off with a market in the front, and you can think of it as Il Buco Lite. The space isn’t quite as vibey, but it’s still good for date night, and your money won’t go to waste here either. It’s a little more casual, with a similar price point (not cheap, but you won’t put your car on Craigslist), and you can always sit up front and have a snack and a glass of wine.
We haven’t read American Psycho in a while, but we’re pretty sure the protagonist would have eaten here. It’s been open since the 80’s, and it’s been sceney since the 80’s. Maybe less so these days, but at this point it’s so old that it’s probably ironically cool again. Like Casio watches and Reeboks. Thing is, the food doesn’t suck. It isn’t the best in the city (or even the area), but it’s a fun place to go with a group. Come here for your next 30th birthday, eat some fried shrimp, and drink five vodka martinis. Indochine is Asian fusion like only a spot that’s been open since the 80’s could be, and, technically, it’s an institution at this point.
Atla is the more-casual downtown spot from the guy behind Cosmé, and we like it for breakfast or lunch. It isn’t where you go to eat so much that you fall asleep at your desk, but if you have a lunch meeting and you want to share a few small plates while you discuss marketing strategies for your new line of organic dog costumes, it works for that. Have some huevos rancheros, and get the guacamole that comes with one giant tortilla chip.
Bohemian is hidden behind a high-end Japanese butcher shop on Great Jones Street, and the whole concept is a bit of a pain. In order to get a reservation, you have to call up and provide the name of whoever gave you the number (it’s unlisted), and you can only say “Tom Selleck” so many times before they catch on. Although if you manage to get in, it’s worth it. The food is Japanese/American, and, seeing as how it’s behind a butcher shop, you should be eating steak here. Don’t be afraid to order fish as well (the whole branzino, for example), although maybe just go for the reasonably-priced tasting menu then call it a night.
You’re in a room and assume you’re alone, then someone behind you sneezes, and you wonder how long they’ve been there. That’s kind of like the Noho Star. Until now, we’ve never discussed it, but it’s always been there. It’s a nondescript Chinese/American restaurant on a busy corner in Noho, and, unless you live in the area, you probably don’t seek it out. But if you spend a lot of time downtown, it’s a good place to know about. Stop by for a casual lunch or a plate of eggs in the morning.
Vic’s is not the best restaurant on this list, but it is a great spot to keep in mind for the times when you just need something good and easy. Which, realistically, is most times - meeting a friend for a last-minute, brunch after a workout, or early-in-the-game date could all work here. The Italian-ish food is solid across the board, from the satisfying ragu pastas to the vegetable-topped pizzas to the salads. It’s not too expensive, and you could also be kind of healthy here. Put this place in your back pocket and leave it there.