Here’s every great eatery you can visit in SoHo while the sky is still dark.
It’s after 11pm. You’re in SoHo. Maybe you’ve have had a couple of cocktails at a nearby bar, or you’ve simply left your apartment for a late-night bite. Stores have long shuttered for the evening, but luckily there are plenty of kitchens open until the early hours of the morning, plating hunks of charred jerk chicken or heating up wonderfully greasy slices of pizzas. You just need to know where to look.
If you’re eating at Prince Street Pizza, you’re eating one thing: the Spicy Spring square. The thick, doughy slice trumps all other square slices (Detroit-style, Sicilian, grandma, what have you), topped with fra diavolo sauce, ribbons of fresh mozzarella, and rounds of pepperoni that crisp and curl up in the oven, pooling with pockets of oil. You won’t be the only one zig-zagging to PSP, though; on any given night, a line spills out along Prince Street. Since the no-frills spot is open until 4am on Saturdays and Sundays, you should always expect a wait.
Two things are always happening no matter what hour you stumble into Miss Lily’s: reggae music is pumping from the speakers, and platters of jerk chicken are flowing out of the kitchen. These charred hunks of bone-in chicken are slick with a sticky, spicy sauce and flush with mango chutney and cucumber rounds. Order at least one plate, then pair it with a couple of smaller dishes to share like mac & cheese pie, sweet plantains, or jerk corn drizzled with toasted coconut.
Long before SoHo became cool, there was Raoul’s, the clubby French bistro known for steak au poivre (pepper steak) and fashionable locals fanning out across the bar, cigarettes in hand. Nowadays, it’s got that same buzzy feel—minus the tobacco—and has maintained its late-night status for strong drinks and chic clientele. If you’re not game to be seated, perch yourself at the bar to try to snag the elusive burger (only a handful are served per night), or just snack on a platter of crisp hand-cut fries.
What was once a deli (known by the old-fashioned neon sign that still hangs above the awning) is now La Esquina, a taqueria slinging tacos until 2am. Here, unsurprisingly, the move is tacos, and lots of ’em. Corn tortillas are topped with meats like tender lamb shoulder, roasted pork, and sliced angus rib eye, but there’s also a fish one (grilled mahi), as well as vegetarian options.
Black Tap may have become famous for its superfluous, candy-coated milkshakes, but there’s plenty more to the menu—especially if you’re craving something savory after midnight. Burgers come in a variety of iterations (think everything from an all-American burger to a pizza burger cloaked with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan) and arrive flanked by salt-flecked French fries. The menu also boasts a towering platter of spicy Korean BBQ wings, as well as a crispy chicken sandwich with coleslaw and spicy mayo plopped on top.
On the outside, Fanelli Cafe doesn’t look like much. Despite the fact that it’s perched on the bustling corner of Mercer and Prince Street, it’s easy to walk by—after all, it was once a speakeasy. But the innocuous dive is known for pub fare—the kind of bar food you’ll find at a diner, but much, much better: crisp mozzarella sticks, potato skins crowned with cheese, jalapeño poppers, and chicken fingers flush with honey mustard sauce.
After opening in 1992, Blue Ribbon Brasserie quickly became an iconic brasserie patronized by hungry off-duty chefs in the early hours of the morning. The place may no longer have that connotation, but the dining room is still open until 4 in the morning every day. The food here certainly isn’t cheap, but there are few places you can order a plate of chicken wings followed by foie gras terrine.
In a city sprinkled with burger joints, it’s easy to have unwavering burger loyalties in your neck of the woods. But JG Melon is one of the few burger places people will travel out of their way for. The downtown location doesn’t quite feel like the storied Upper East Side haunt, but you’ll still get the same cheeseburger—a squat griddled patty crowned with American cheese and bookended by a soft bun—along with a plate of the beloved cottage fries. You’d be remiss, though, if you didn’t also order a side of chili to dunk your fries in.
If the smells of spices and grilled chicken don’t yank you to this halal cart on the corner of Broadway and Houston, then the flickering neon lights certainly will. The menu is pretty extensive here—everything from hot dogs to mozzarella sticks—but the move is always the $5 chicken over rice, dripping in white, red, or green sauce. Here, the chicken is grilled on the flat top until charred, chopped into hunks, and plated over a generous portion of rice, in (what else?) a floppy, white styrofoam container.