15 Cozy Restaurants In NYC
Produced by The Infatuation with
Polo Ralph Lauren
As soon as the leaves start changing, so do your priorities. Instead of outdoor restaurants, you want indoor places that are dark, warm, and filled with things that make you feel like you’re hanging out in a cabin on the side of a mountain that isn’t surrounded by wolves. In other words, you want cozy restaurants. This guide has all the best ones, and it’ll help you find the perfect place to eat some good food and hang out near some taxidermy or a functional fireplace. Take a look, and pick some great places to camp out until plants start growing again.
Walk into Achilles Heel on a day when the temperature’s below 60, and the fireplace might be up and running. Yes, this Greenpoint restaurant/bar has a real, functional fireplace right by the front door, and it’ll make you feel like you’re in a remote cabin within walking distance of several ski slopes. The space only has about 10 small tables and it looks kind of like a neighborhood tavern from the 1800s - but the Swiss chard dolmas and bluefish in a tomato-corn broth are significantly more impressive than whatever people served in the 19th Century.
It’s getting cold. Which means if you’re not well on your way to a glorious pasta layer, you’re doing winter wrong. Get to it at Supper in the East Village, where you’ll be warmed up with a big bowl of spaghetti while the huge oven at the center of the restaurant blazes. Central heating would have worked just fine, but this is way better.
Dinner at Davelle is like eating at a friend’s apartment. The tiny space on the LES, which has an old mirror over the fireplace and Marvin Gaye on the speakers, only has about three tables and eight bar seats. So no matter where you sit, you’re likely to get into a conversation with the chef, who cooks the intensely flavorful Japanese comfort food behind the bar in front of you. The only difference between this place and your friend’s apartment is that the food here is, well, good.
If you go to Le French Diner enough, they’ll eventually take your picture and put it above the bar. It’s a friendly spot that’s about the size of a single subway car and it’s filled with furniture that looks it fell off the back of a truck several decades ago. The bar (with an open kitchen behind it) takes up most of the space, and it’s the perfect place to grab a stool, chat to a nice bartender, and eat some octopus or a steak with a side of cheesy potatoes. There are also a couple of tables up front, if you need need a little more privacy.
You may think there isn’t a cozier place to consume pizza than on your couch, but you are wrong. Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint is the idea location for holing up with an entire spicy pizza to yourself on a cold night. The space reads somewhere between a pizza cave and a pizza shrine - it’s dark, wood-paneled, and lit up mostly by candlelight - with a huge wood oven at the back. Still not cozy enough for you? A conversation with Paulie himself (he’s there every night) should do it for you.
If you want to be comfortable near Penn Station without sneaking into an owner’s box at MSG or booking a business class ticket on an Acela train to Philly, go to Farida. This is a small Uzbek restaurant on 9th Avenue and it’s just about the warmest place that exists in Midtown. The meat skewers and rice dishes are exactly the sort of thing you’ll want to eat while wearing a sweater and staring at the painting of a fawn on a snowy mountain. We especially like the manti dumplings, which are like little edible throw pillows.
So you blew it and didn’t book an AirBnB upstate for a winter getaway in time, and now all the best exposed-beam ceilinged, taxidermy-covered cabins are booked. Your next best option? A trip to Freeman’s. The Lower East Side spot has that rustic upstate feeling, and you’ll be right at home wearing a flannel and drink some bourbon with a side of chowder here.
At Red Hook Tavern, you’ll see a candle on every table, empty wine bottles lining the exposed brick walls, and a long wooden bar that looks like something straight out of Cheers. This is a restaurant on a quiet corner in Red Hook that was modeled on old-school spots like Peter Luger and Corner Bistro, and it’s great for when you want to sit in the dark with a date and have some red meat and natural wine. Start with the wedge salad or chicken liver mousse, then eat the simple, excellent burger - it’s the main reason why you come here.
Know what’s scientifically proven to fight miserable weather? Steak. Lots and lots of steak. We feel confident in saying that St. Asnelm’s butcher steak is the best piece of meat you can get for $25 in all of New York. The only un-cozy thing about St. Anselm is its wait. Be sure to get here early, and if not, come prepared with a Williamsburg bar plan for the inevitable wait.
It takes something truly great to resist the urge to order delivery on a freezing cold night. One restaurant we’d be more than happy to trek to in the rain or snow is Al Di La. It’s not just the truly great Northern Italian food - it’s also the fact that the space is so welcoming you feel like you’re at your own worn in kitchen table. If a plate of tagliatelle at this Park Slope spot can’t cure your cold or your broken heart, we don’t know how to help.
$100 Wagyu steaks don’t exactly sound like the food equivalent of getting tucked into bed, but Bohemian feels as close to a nap room as pretty much anywhere in the city. That’s not to say that this Japanese spot in Noho is boring - it’s a referral-only restaurant in what was once the art studio of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat - but the zen garden and low-to-the-ground living room furniture make it feel like an oasis. The expensive steaks aren’t the way to order here, anyway, and the burger and tartare should help convince you that you’re eating comfort food.
Frankies 457 basically put Brooklyn on the map in terms of cool, casual - and yes, cozy - restaurants. Many years later, this place is still just as popular for its simple and excellent Italian food and warm, welcoming vibes.
JoJo is a two-floor brownstone on the Upper East Side, but if that brings to mind images of stern matriarchs who only show affection to fluffy cats, then you should know that this French spot from Jean-Georges isn’t stuffy at all. The slightly underground first floor feels like a hard-to-find cocktail bar in the West Village, and the brighter upstairs dining room is full of groups sharing vodka lemonades and grape margaritas in what looks like a modern art gallery. Both are great places to hang out for a couple hours while eating some of the best food in the neighborhood.
“Asian fusion” restaurants usually make you think of Vegas and/or suburbia and plastic surgery. But Tuome isn’t like other Asian-fusion restaurants, and it definitely isn’t anything like Vegas or suburbia. This is a brick-walled, charming little spot in the East Village serving the kind of upscale, modern Asian-inspired food you’ll be happy to cuddle up with - like pork belly, chicken liver, and spicy noodles.
The struggle to find something to do during the day in the winter (that doesn’t involve drinking) is real. Here’s an idea: come to Jones Wood Foundry on the Upper East Side, settle in with some British bar food, and catch a soccer game. We won’t tell anyone if you order a beer.