There are several benefits to planning a meeting with food. First off, even if your meeting fails, and it turns out that you shouldn’t be allowed to talk to other people, at least you both had a meal. Also, food gives you something to do with your hands, and it should put everyone in a better mood. So here are the spots to meet someone downtown over breakfast or lunch. All of these restaurants have a good amount space and enough variety for anyone who might have dietary restrictions.
Daytime is when you want to visit Atla, so it’s a good place for a lunch meeting. This is the Noho Mexican restaurant from the same chef behind Cosme, and at lunchtime you can order from both the breakfast and evening menu. That means you can get ranchero eggs, a salad, a huge chorizo sandwich, or arctic char stuffed inside an avocado. There’s a good balance of light and heavy food, and it’s extremely pleasant when the sun shines in through the big windows.
First off, Lafayette is huge. If you wanted to come for lunch and have a full team meeting here, you probably could. Although if you’re with a group of around four people, you can get a nice comfortable booth and have a little more privacy. Or, if the weather is decent, sit in the big outdoor area out front. Whoever you meet here will also have plenty of options in terms of food (burger, fish, pasta, etc.). Maybe bring the team the next time everyone lives up to your expectations.
If you aren’t a member of Soho House, but you need place to sit in an armchair downtown while you talk business things, just go to Fairfax. It’s the wine bar from the people behind Fedora and Bar Sardine, and it looks sort of like a living room or a hotel lobby. They also serve a small menu all day, with things like prosciutto, spaghetti, and a pretty random but surprisingly good Cuban sandwich.
Cafe Altro Paradiso is an Italian restaurant between Soho and the West Village, and it’s from the same people behind Estela. We don’t like it quite as much as that place, but it’s a lot larger, and it’s good to know about if you work in the area. The menu typically has some lighter pastas, and some large things like chicken Milanese, and they also do a burger at lunch. If you come with a few people, there are also a few big tables and booths.
The Smile has been a casual downtown meeting go-to for some time now. The space feels like a little cabin that happens to be in a basement in Noho, and the food is Mediterranean, and, at lunch, they keep things pretty simple. They just do a few salads and a couple of sandwiches with things like roast beef, harissa chicken, or cheese and figs. It’s all pretty affordable and laid-back, and that just makes The Smile a really easy choice for a meeting with someone that you don’t really have to impress.
Old Rose is affordable and casual, and it works for anything from a lunch interview to a breakfast meeting with a friend of a friend who stalked you on LinkedIn. The space, in the Jane Hotel, which used to house a location of Cafe Gitane, is just one big bright room with high ceilings, and it’s the sort of spot where paper napkins and silverware are kept in little cans on each table. The menu should have something for everyone (with things like pizza, pasta, and salad), although if you just want to have a snack, you can do that too.
At night, it gets a little too cramped at Joseph Leonard to have a good, productive meeting, but at lunch it’s a cozy little neighborhood spot on a nice little corner in the West Village. You probably don’t want to come here with a group, but if you’re with one other person you can grab a little table by a window or get some seats at the bar. The food is mostly just American, with things like steak, salads, and sandwiches, and it’s pretty impressive without being fussy or over-the-top. Bring someone you’re already on somewhat friendly terms with, and hang out for a while.
If you need something just a little bit nicer, and you’re somewhere around the Gramercy area, try Maialino. It’s one of our favorite Italian restaurants in the city, and it’s perfect for when you want to eat some really good pasta. Bring someone here that you’re trying to impress, or maybe just stop by when you have some extra budget and no one really cares what you do with it.
Let’s say you’re meeting up with a vegan or a vegetarian. Try abcV. It’s nicer than your average all-vegetable spot, but it’s casual enough that whoever you’re meeting can show up in jeans or a Slayer t-shirt, and it won’t be a big deal. It also sort of looks like an art gallery - with its open layout and all-white everything - so it’s an appropriate enough place to discuss professional things.
Locanda Verde is on the pricier side, but, if you have the means, do it. It’s in Tribeca, but it isn’t too stuffy, and you might see a Nicolas Cage or John Cusack or whichever actors are making movies these days. Make a reservation, and feel free to come with a group.
There aren’t too many cool, casual places in Tribeca where you can bring bring a picky eater or even someone who just wants a burger - but Two Hands Restaurant is all of those things. You could bring a vegetarian or a person who doesn’t eat gluten here, and they’d be just fine. Or, if you just want to drink a coffee and pick some banana bread, you could do that too. Just know that it can get busy here and the tables are a little close together, so, if you have secrets to protect, come at an off-peak hour.
At night Seamore’s gets pretty crowded with people looking to eat something kind of healthy in an environment that you’ll like if you can’t go a full meal without taking a picture with your phone. In the daytime, however, it’s easy to find a seat, and it’s a good, casual spot to meet someone. Ideally, this person will be into fish, because that’s mostly what they have here - but, if they don’t, there are a few other options like a fried chicken sandwich and a few salads.
Coffee Shop has been around so long that people forget about it. But it’s actually a handy spot to know about, especially if you work near Union Square. It isn’t one of NYC’s premier dining destinations, but the food is normal and solid, and there’s a good variety of stuff to choose from. You can get a steak sandwich, a caesar salad, or even some pancakes, if you somehow consider them meeting-appropriate. It’s also a big space with some tables, booths, and a long bar, and can hang out for pretty much as long as you want.