The Best Restaurants for Lunch in New York City

© Ivo Roospold / Alamy Stock
Photo of Culture Trip
9 July 2020

Wherever you are in the five boroughs, there’s guaranteed to be a magnificent lunch spot nearby. Sniff out some of the best with the help of our guide.

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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This bright, minimalistic café rests on the outskirts of Chinatown, one street over from the bustle of Mulberry Street. Unassuming yet difficult to miss, Two Hands carries small bites and snacks, along with an array of coffee, tea, and juices. It is perfect for a light lunch, a refreshing break, or a place to spend the day chatting with friends.

Cafe, American, $$$
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Nano Billiard Café is not about looks. It’s on the ground floor of a residential building, and it’s technically a billiard hall serving lunch specials in the afternoon. At night it can get a bit rowdy, but during the day their $3.50 lunch specials – like stewed goat, pork with rice, stewed meats with olives, or whatever is on the menu that day – are nothing short of fantastic.

Restaurant, French, Italian, $$$
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Landmarc is a Tribeca landmark with a comfortable noise level for a business lunch or friendly brunch. Their brunch cocktails, Bellinis and Bloody Marys are perfect. The menu is varied with something for everyone, ranging from classics to modern creations. They are known for their bone marrow, which is served with three huge beef bones, toast, sea salt, and chutney. The pain perdu is equally divine and not too sweet, with powdered sugar, creamy vanilla breading, and a side of syrup, although the egg dishes also shouldn’t be overlooked.

Cafe, French, $$$
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Enjoy an authentic French déjeuner without ever leaving the city at MacarOn Café. Here, light lunch fare, such as fresh baguette sandwiches featuring Parisian ham, brie, and French mustard, are savored alongside artfully made macarons in flavors such as chocolate-passionfruit, mango, and espresso. For Tribeca professionals, MacarOn Café is the best bet for making your lunch hour feel like a transatlantic getaway.

Gastropub, Restaurant, Pub Grub, $$$
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Spitzer’s Corner offers brunch seven days a week, making it the perfect lunch spot for New Yorkers who missed their morning bagel. With a lengthy list of beers on tap and large portion sizes, this gastro pub is the ideal spot for a long, leisurely lunch. Customers return again and again for the restaurant’s signature truffle mac and cheese and the ‘epic’ fried chicken sandwich. For a lighter lunch, choose the lemon ricotta pancakes.

Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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Dudley’s has something for everyone. Excellent burgers are perfect for big appetites, while health nuts can opt for kale or farro salads. Sides include crispy brussel sprouts and fries. The restaurant also offers breakfast items, like oatmeal or pancakes. This casual restaurant is ideal for lunches with picky co-workers.

Restaurant, American, $$$
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If you’re wandering around vintage shops and thrift stores on the Lower East Side, be sure to pop in for lunch at Northern Spy Food Co. This quaint little spot serves up a hearty menu if you are in need of warmth and replenishing. Some go-to entrée choices are the corn beef and hash and the lamb burger with their famous duck fat fries – thickly cut pieces of potato, perfectly deep-fried and served with a spicy yogurt dipping sauce. Other popular sides include the buttermilk biscuits and sticky buns. Pair your meal with a signature Northern Spy cocktail such as the Northern Pommeau, Vermouth di Torino, ginger, lemon and cider.

Pizzeria, Deli, Italian, $$$
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It’s always great when two of New York’s best and most classic food joints join forces, and that’s what happened at the new Lower East Side location of Speedy Romeo – a favorite neighborhood pizza spot from Brooklyn. Thanks to their ‘Paul’s Boutique’ pizza pie, you can now get pizza topped with pastrami from Katz Deli (the beloved and iconic deli also in the Lower East Side), and it’s truly a decadent match made in heaven.

Farmers' Market, Market, Food Court, Food Stall, Food Stand, Philippine
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Foodies from around the city flock to the Smorgasburg in Williamsburg
Foodies from around the city flock to the Smorgasburg in Williamsburg | © Frances Roberts / Alamy Stock Photo

The ramen burger has become an iconic New York dish. It’s available at all Smorgasburg locations, so if you’re worried about waiting in line, consider checking out Smorgasburg at the South Street Seaport or Prospect Park for fewer crowds.

Museum, University, Park
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It’s home to New York and American history, New-York Historical Society, New York
It’s home to New York and American history, New-York Historical Society, New York | Lincoln Center fountain, credit: Jon Ortner
Located in the iconic New-York Historical Society, Caffè Storico offers a variety of antipasti, artisanal pastas, paninis, and hearty entrées. There are over 20 different wine-by-the-glass selections to fit every type of wine connoisseur. Caffè Storico offers more than just simple lunch and dinner options; it also boasts excellent brunch and late lunch menus.

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Tom's Restaurant. Its exterior was used as a stand-in for the fictional Monk's Cafe in the popular television sitcom Seinfeld.
Tom's Restaurant | © Jan Sandvik Editorial / Alamy Stock Photo
Tom’s is old fashioned without trying too hard, and it serves American classics for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. It’s popular on the weekends, so be sure to come prepared for a wait, but the staff ensures your comfort with orange slices and coffee. Favorites include ricotta pancakes, waffles, steak and eggs, and plenty of milkshakes to wash it all down. Tom’s offers no gimmicks, only great, American dishes. Tom’s is cash only and takes no reservations.

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Brunch at Clinton Street Baking Company in East Village, New York, USA. | © Mark Weinberg
Known mostly for its crowd-pleasing breakfast menu, Clinton Street Baking Company also boasts exciting lunch and dinner options. From classic cheeseburgers to more adventurous dishes like fresh fish tacos and flavorful queso mac and cheese, this American restaurant offers something for everyone (as proven by its similarly successful locations in Tokyo and Dubai).
These recommendations were updated on July 9, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.