Sometimes, it seems like Soho is just a place where you go to return things that you bought online. And that’s because it is. There are about five stores for every one pedestrian, and, compared to other neighborhoods, restaurants are few and far between. But don’t just give up and eat at the same five places. This guide has a bunch of great spots that aren’t as well-known as the rest, and if you work in the area, live nearby, or do a lot of drunk online shopping, you’ll find it extremely useful.
Between the tourists who traveled thousands of miles to shop at Zara and the crime procedurals that need 20 trucks to shoot a scene between two people, Soho can feel like a lot. But there’s a spot where you can hide and pretend that you live in a simpler town in simpler times. It’s called Landmark Diner, and it’s a very normal place with terse service, cheap eggs, and little packets of jam. And that’s what makes this diner so exceptional (in the context of Soho). It feels like it hasn’t been renovated in about half a century, and the food is exactly what you want it to be.
Ciccio blends into its surroundings like a celebrity in a wax museum. It’s in the basement of an apartment building on 6th Avenue, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some neighbors don’t even know it exists. But if you ever need a charming Italian spot with string lights, white brick walls, and some very good tagliatelle with meatballs as soft as memory foam, this is a spot you should be aware of. It’s useful for a drink and a snack with a third-tier friend, and it’s also open for lunch (and doesn’t get as busy then).
Lupes isn’t on our list of The Best Mexican Restaurants In NYC, and there’s a very simple explanation for this. It isn’t one of the best Mexican restaurants in NYC. But it is fun, affordable, and perfect for a casual weeknight dinner. It’s only about the size of your standard-issue bodega, but it has a couple of big booths and a bar - and on top of that bar, you’ll find a big dispenser filled with margaritas. Stop by for Happy Hour and have a few of these bright green beverages alongside a perfectly fine burrito and some free chips and salsa.
There’s a Korean barbecue spot in Soho. Perhaps you don’t believe us - but it’s true, and you can get some extremely good beef there. This place is called The Woo, and it’s a two-story space located behind a discrete entrance on Spring Street near 6th Avenue. It’s a tiny bit pricier than some of your other Korean bbq options (you’ll probably spend around $60 per person), but the meat is exceptional, especially the tender bulgogi that soaks up its marinade like an overachieving student at a lecture.
Fanelli lets you imagine what Soho might have been like 100 years ago when it was filled with sewing factories, soot, and cars without safety features. It’s been around in some form since 1847, and you can always count on a bar seat or red-checked table, strong drinks, and a bartender who will call you sweetie in a good way. The next time someone makes you go shopping at a Soho store that exists in every other shopping district in every other city across the world, stop by for a burger or club sandwich.
You could spend every day of your life walking down Thompson Street and never notice Salud (or just assume it’s a juice shop and keep walking). But once you get a quick lunch or dinner at this California-style Mexican place, you’ll feel like you’ve learned a new word and now you’re seeing it everywhere. In this case, the words are zucchini blossom quesadilla or chicken torta with avocado. Salud’s small space only has a few seats, so you should really reserve this for somewhat healthy takeout situations or a solo meal that involves a lot of guacamole.
Despana is a grocery store, but unless you subsist exclusively on cured meats, various cheeses, and the finest tinned fish, it isn’t a very practical one. And that’s why we like it. It’s a small Spanish market full of edible luxury goods that are perfect for when you’re having people over and would like to pretend as though your life is as luxurious as a perfume ad. And you can also get a casual meal here. There’s a tapas menu as well as some sandwiches and salads - and if you just feel like eating several cheese platters at 11:30am, you can do that too.
Artopolis is one of our favorite Greek bakeries in the city, but if you don’t live in Astoria and want to eat flaky pastries filled with spinach and ground beef, they have another place in Soho. It’s called Pi Bakerie, and it’s a great spot for a snack or a quick lunch. There are a few tables inside where you can sit and eat some moussaka, spanakopita, or a sandwich on Greek bread, and you won’t have to stand in a long line like the tourists down the street at Dominique Ansel Bakery.
Souk and Sandwich is just a big stand similar to what you’d find at a county fair. But it isn’t at a county fair, it’s on a busy stretch of 6th Avenue near a bunch of offices, possibly even one where you work. So if you just want to pick up something great to eat at your desk around 12:30pm, it’s ideal. The food here is Lebanese, and the menu mostly consists of a lot of bowls and sandwiches on Lebanese flatbread (including a bunch of vegetarian ones). We’re especially fans of the lahme sandwich with marinated strips of beef, and we never leave without a side of sumac fries with za’atar aioli.
Hampton Chutney Co looks like a chain, and they occasionally make use of the Comic Sans font, but don’t let these things deter you from eating here. There are actually only two locations (the other of which is in the Hamptons), and they make some seriously good dosas here. They’re about the length of your arm and come stuffed with everything from eggs and potatoes to some exceptional curry chicken. You can also get a surprisingly great tuna sandwich here, as well as a bunch of other salads and sandwiches.
Despite what it sounds like, Pepe Rosso To Go does more than just takeout. This Italian spot just below Houston Street also has a few tables where you can sit and eat. Granted, there’s a sign on the wall instructing you to “eat fast,” but that rule isn’t really enforced, and it’s not like you’ll want to hang out here for an hour anyways. You don’t come for the atmosphere, you come for large servings of relatively inexpensive pasta, and - even though you get some free bread - you should always order a chunk of focaccia to clean up any stray sauce.