Where To Take People Who Think They Hate NYC

Everyone knows someone who’s convinced they hate NYC. These spots will make them think otherwise.
Where To Take People Who Think They Hate NYC image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Look, New York isn't perfect. It smells like garbage everywhere in the summer, rent isn't what we would call "cheap," and doing laundry without having to open your front door is considered a luxury. If someone you don't really care for is done with this city, that's fine. We could use less humans here. But if there are people you actually like in your life who are starting to grumble a little too much about NYC, take them to one of these spots immediately. That discontent can snowball, but these places can turn things around.


photo credit: Blue Ribbon Brasserie



$$$$Perfect For:Classic EstablishmentDate NightLate Night Eats


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This whole guide could be made up of restaurants that are open after midnight serving things that you can’t get at that hour in other cities. Sure, you might not have to deal with someone from a dance crew almost kicking you in the face on the 7 train at 6pm on a Wednesday in another town, but can you get bone marrow with oxtail marmalade or a seafood tower at 1:30am there? Probably not.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdaysOutdoor/Patio SituationOutdoor Seating

You might have a friend from the South who talks about how they can’t live here anymore because there isn’t any good barbecue. First off, that claim is so 2010. Also, if that person bases where they want to live on the ability to find one type of food, that’s a myopic way to exist. Hometown in Red Hook has the best Texas-style smoked meats in the city, and it wouldn’t feel out of place in the middle of Austin. When your friend realizes that the only way to get home from this spot is a bus ride or a $60 Uber, maybe they’ll learn to appreciate the subways that they always complain about.

We admit, it’s not easy to get a pie at Lucali. You might have to line up outside of the restaurant at 4pm, and you probably won’t get to eat any buffalo mozzarella and tangy tomato sauce on top of floppy and crunchy crust until a few hours after that. But Lucali has the best New York-style pizza, so the wait is worth it. Besides, living in other cities involves sitting in a car twice a day for hours in stop-and-go traffic, and there are no pies at the ends of those waits.

By now, White Bear is on every “Where To Eat In Flushing” list. That’s because this spot has some of the best dumplings in the city. The must-order here is a plate of 12 wontons with hot sauce (no. 6). A visit to White Bear should be a jumping off point for a food crawl that involves at least two or three other restaurants in the neighborhood. At the end of the day, the person you’re with will begin to imagine a world without Flushing in their lives, and they won’t like that feeling.

Anyone can get fed up with day-to-day interactions with other New Yorkers. Why do riders have to stand three inches from someone else on the train when there are so many open seats? Even the people who do this routinely probably can't answer that question. Stepping out on the terrace at this cocktail bar on the 64th floor of a building in Fidi and taking in the expansive views will make anyone forget about the 10 things that annoyed them that day. They'll get that “I actually get to live here” feeling, and the stupid amount of rent they have to pay might (temporarily) seem not that bad.

Despite what some people may tell you, you don't have to take a cross-country flight in order to get a great taco. This Greenpoint spot serves Mexico City-style tacos, and we suggest you get a few (especially the tripa), which come with fat-soaked corn tortillas, into your taco-loving/NY-hating friend's hands as soon as possible. After a few visits to Taqueria Ramirez, your friend will start to say things like "Having a tiny place does make me buy less things" and "I guess if I need to see trees, there's always Central Park."

Eating out with others is fun. (If we've learned anything from a certain worldwide pandemic, it's that we're social creatures.) What's also nice is having a meal and not having to hear about how your friend's spouse never cleans the bathroom and is spending too much money on sketchy anti-hair loss products. Anyone who comes here has the option to put up barriers on both sides, so they can block out any distractions and concentrate on the flavors of their tonkotsu ramen. Things like the noodle texture, saltiness, spice level, and richness of each bowl can be customized here. The only way to get Ichiran outside of NYC is a flight to Asia.

The difference between the pastrami you can get in a grocery store aisle and the pastrami you can get at Katz's is similar to the gap between a four year old's ability to shoot threes and Steph Curry's. This classic NYC deli on the LES is still great after 130+ years, and when you bring that person who claims to hate this city and drop a plate of marbled, juicy slices of meat in front of them, you'll probably hear something like "Well, 'hate' might be a strong word."

Speaking of places that have been around for more than 130 years, Peter Luger in Williamsburg is still doing their thing with dry-aged porterhouses that come pre-sliced on scorching hot plates with buttery and salty meat juices. The person you bring here may think that no one else despises NYC as much as they do. But when they encounter the "I don't really care that you're here" attitude coming from the servers, they'll realize that other people aren't that happy here either. And that might actually make them feel better.

Bring someone to Corner Bistro and remind them that they can still get cheap beer in this city and not every great burger costs $25 or more. Despite the many waves of new burgers that have entered the dining scene since Corner Bistro opened, the thick and juicy bistro version here is still one of our favorites. If your companion makes their way through a burger, some fries, and a few mugs of McSorley's and is still pouting about having to pay city taxes, they're probably a lost cause.

If arguments involving world-class museums, endless theater options, and amazing architecture aren't enough to make someone appreciate NYC, try the crispy catfish, fried chicken and waffles, and short rib sliders at Melba's. Your friend who always complains about having to grab a McDonald's cheeseburger after every $200 omakase just to feel full has zero chance of feeling that way after a meal at this classic Harlem spot. The friendly service and the groups celebrating birthdays here will win over anyone who thinks people who live here are half-dead inside.

Your buddy is always going on about wanting a huge backyard with a pool. We know, those things aren't options here. And, yes, pools are nice, outdoor space is cool, blah, blah, blah. But ask your friend if they can go out at 3am in another city and get intensely crispy fried dumplings and beef chow fun that are good as what you can get at Wo Hop. Is it fair to compare the ability to lazily chill on a floating inflatable mattress to a plate of late night Chinese food? We think so. Pools are expensive and yard work sucks.

"I could probably find pretty good bagels somewhere else." Those are the words of someone in denial. While bagels outside of NYC often involve a stack of six tiny ball-like pieces of dough from a freezer, you can walk any five blocks in this city and unintentionally run into a handful of decent bagel places. Our favorite is Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side. Each bagel has a blistered, slightly crunchy bottom with a sweet, chewy, and soft interior. If you know of any bagel lovers who are thinking about leaving New York, advise them to first go to a hypnotist and have the concept of bagels removed from their brains.

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