The 12 Hottest NYC Lunch Spots Last Year

Ramen straight from Japan and acclaimed pizzas join the list
Restaurants in New York are changing up lunch. From fast-casual grain bowls to a prix fixe taco feast, there’s an option for pretty much every midday craving. Whether an on-the-go or a leisurely daytime meal is needed, find it here.

Note: Restaurants are arranged geographicallynorth to south.

 1 Imli

Imli joined the Upper East Side in June, from a chef who is a vet of two-star Sahib. The restaurant offers a lunch special from noon until 2:30 p.m. It comes with two starters, a main, two sides, and dessert for $12.99. Get chicken tikka masala with naan.

1136 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10065
(212) 256-0073

2 Empellón

Chef Alex Stupak’s bi-level space, the largest in the taco empire, is bringing the Empellon take on Mexican cuisine to Midtown for lunch and dinner. Dishes include falafel tacos with hummus, Hokkaido sea urchin on toast, pastrami tacos with mustard seed salsa, and tempura fish with lime mayo. The menu includes guacamole and the seven salsas, too. And yes, it may be lunch, but do not skip dessert.

510 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 858-9365

3 Legasea Seafood Brasserie

Clubstaurant-loving Tao Group is leading the dining charge at the Moxy Hotel near Times Square, and Legasea, a 145-seat seafood restaurant with brasserie style, is now serving lunch. Executive chef Jason Hall created the menu, full of global seafood preparation inspiration, which midday means dishes like raw bar, spicy crab beignets, grilled branzino, and moules frites.

485 7th Ave
New York, NY 10018
(212) 268-1888

4 Tonchin New York

Yet another Japanese chain has expanded into the U.S. — this time it’s a tonkotsu ramen-focused restaurant based in Tokyo. Tonchin has four kinds of ramen on the menu. Common to New York is the classic tonkotsu or spicy tantan; less so is the smoked dashi ramen with a pork broth, smoky fish oil, and clams.

13 W 36th St
New York, NY 10018
(646) 692-9912

5 Co.

Doughmaster Jim Lahey has switched up the lunch menu at his veteran pizzeria, focused on the usual midday suspects. Soup, salads, sandwiches, like the $18 Italian dip (red wine-braised brisket, pepperoncini, horseradish, creme on ciabatta roll), are in addition to pizzas. One of those features shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onion-walnut puree, olive oil, and rosemary.

230 9th Ave
New York, NY 10001
(212) 243-1105

6 Old Rose

Old Rose has opened in The Jane, bringing an all-day Italian spot from The Smile team to the West Village hotel. The focus is on “healthyish” Italian food, with the lunch menu featuring salads, pasta, and pizza from chef Joey Scalabrino (La Esquina, Lighthouse). Be sure to pair it with a natural wine.

113 Jane St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 255-4143

7 Fairfax

At 11:30 a.m. on weekdays, Fairfax — formerly Perla — turns into a casual wine bar. Owner Gabe Stulman’s West Village neighborhood restaurant aesthetic is clear in the room that’s meant to look like a home. For $20, visitors get a glass of wine and a plate, with options like diver scallops, steak tartare, or summer bean toast. There’s also a Cuban sandwich that stands up to the one at sister establishment Bar Sardine.

234 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 933-1824

8 Sushi Nakazawa

Notoriously difficult reservation Sushi Nakazawa in the West Village has just made things a little easier by adding lunch service Monday through Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. It’s the same menu as dinner — $150 omakase per person before tax and tip — which features the pristine sushi of Jiro Dreams of Sushi apprentice Daisuke Nakazawa.

23 Commerce St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 924-2212

9 Café Altro Paradiso

After a restart, the sophomore restaurant of the Estela trio has found its footing with a less cheffy menu. That means a $30 three-course prix fixe that currently includes second-course options like prosciutto malfatti and a fried fish sandwich. But the burger is the standout, dressed with caramelized radicchio and gorgonzola.

234 Spring St
New York, NY 10013
(646) 952-0828

10 Uncle Boons Sister

Husband-wife team Ann Redding and Matt Danzer — the chefs behind Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Uncle Boons — switched up their tiny Nolita takeout restaurant into a spin-off called Uncle Boons Sister. The 12-seat restaurant has been transformed into an eclectic space with a Thai fast food mantra, including a lit-up overhead menu board. Here, Redding and Danzer offer their version of Thai takeout dishes like pad Thai and beef-and-basil stir-fry. Diners can walk away spending less than $20 on a meal.

203 Mott St
New York, NY 10012
(646) 850-9480

11 Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

The Brooklyn waterfront got a heavy dose of Miami vibes when this import opened at the end of summer. Sugarcane’s all-day menu is expansive, broken down by crudos, sushi, and a handful of items that spend time on the restaurant’s wood-fired grill. The menu lends well to a large lunch gathering.

55 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 473-9555

12 Hudson Jane

The all-day trend continues to dominate at this Fort Greene cafe. Chef Megan Johnson is a Gramercy Tavern and Casellula vet who is focusing on sandwiches and dishes like ceviche and chicken liver pâté for lunch. It’s a space that is refreshingly gimmick-free.

360 Myrtle Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(347) 987-3881
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