Your most luxurious midday pick-me-up yet is what’s on the menu at these nine dining destinations. From menus inspired by fictional heroines to selections featuring far-flung flavors, New York City puts a unique spin on the English tradition of afternoon tea. Next time thirst—or an afternoon slump—strikes, say “bottoms up” at these luxurious local spots.
Alice’s Tea Cup
Restaurant, American, $$$
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Kids and kids at heart will love Alice’s Tea Cup, an Alice in Wonderland-inspired chain serving up tea with a side of charm. At its “chapters” throughout the city, Alice’s offers unlimited tea accompanied by a generous spread of scones, assorted mini-cookies, gourmet sandwiches, and indulgent desserts. Beautiful enough to drive you mad with desire, afternoon tea at Alice’s tastes like a trip to Wonderland.
Since members of the Russian Imperial Ballet founded it in 1927, The Russian Tea Room has been New York’s premier destination for afternoon tea. Here, iconic modernist Russian decor (still delightfully over the top after all these years) pairs perfectly with extravagant tea accompaniments, such as American caviar, smoked sturgeon with sour-cream sandwiches, assorted petits fours, and, if you’re so inclined, Champagne.
For over a century, The Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court has been the local tastemaker’s pick for afternoon tea. Visitors of all ages are sure to savor the spot’s inspired menu of organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cream-covered scones, peppermint cotton candy, and teas infused with cocoa nibs, fruit pieces, and more. Adult appetites need not worry: the Palm Court’s “New Yorker” tea menu has more mature taste buds covered.
Not your average afternoon-tea experience, Cha-An Teahouse takes a Japanese approach to an English tradition. Sip from a less common selection of blends, including matcha and pu-erh, with your prix-fixe meal of creamy seven-grain rice porridge, a seasonal side dish, and a dessert, such as Japanese-style scones infused with tea leaves.
Experience a taste of authentic England without leaving the city at Tea & Sympathy, a Greenwich Village restaurant specializing in staples from across the pond. The down-to-earth afternoon tea here keeps things classic with assorted finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, a selection of cakes, and, of course, the best brews this side of the Atlantic (over 30 blends, to be exact).
Enjoy a taste—literally—of life’s finer things at the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, where afternoon tea is served every day from 2pm to 4pm inside the coveted Star Lounge. Taking its cue from the brilliant seasons of nearby Central Park, the high-end hotel specializes in seasonal menus, ensuring no two visits are ever the same. Stellar Central Park vistas and top-quality teas are the only year-round offerings here: depending on the season, you might be treated to pumpkin macaroons, watermelon and feta tarts, or wild strawberry green tea.
At Sanctuary T in Soho, tea is an all-day affair. Here, a tea-based food menu, featuring tea-smoked salmon with Greek yogurt crostini and gnocchi in jasmine tea-infused butter sauce, is savored alongside more than 50 different blends and infused cocktails.
At Lady Mendl’s, afternoon tea is more than just a meal: it’s an experience. Those who succeed in locating this tea salon situated in a 19th-century townhouse are rewarded with a five-course menu of sandwiches, the salon’s signature cakes, and assorted gourmet goods, all washed down with decadent teas.