In a city that doesn't sleep you are bound to wind up hungry. There seems to be a restaurant on every corner so navigating through what is open for late night bites that isn't a corner store can be overwhelming. Here are 10 tried, tested and loved places to grab that late night bite to eat in NYC.
Acclaimed nose-to-tail chef April Bloomfield is no stranger to the late-night scene: her Flatiron hotspots The Breslin and The John Dory Oyster Bar both serve food until midnight. But her oldest restaurant, the tin-ceilinged gastropub The Spotted Pig, pushes dinner even later into the evening, serving a full menu until 2 a.m., seven nights per week. At that hour, Bloomfield’s deservedly acclaimed Roquefort burger, served with shoestring fries, is the way to go for us, but bar snacks like deviled eggs, chicken liver toasts and pork rillettes go down easy, too.
Chef Alex Stupak brings his NYC tally to three with Empellón Al Pastor, which is heralded for the consistent quality of its ingredients, attention to tradition and addictive made-to-order tortillas. Al Pastor’s East Village location was formerly a dive punk bar. Now the colorful (new) graffiti scrawled on the walls preserves this aspect of the space’s past. To eat? The namesake tacos, of course, just $4 apiece, with tender pork and juicy chiles and pineapple crowning those fresh-milled, blistered tortillas. Get ‘em ‘til midnight nightly.
One of the first spots in the city to elevate comfort food with precise techniques and top ingredients, Blue Ribbon’s brand of French-inflected fare is perfect to satisfy those late-night cravings. With over ten locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, straightforward dishes like cheese fondue, smoked trout salad and fried chicken are served in generous portions. The brasserie is spacious and comfortable, with leather banquettes and a wood-paneled bar, and it’s open until 4 a.m.
For true night owls, the best snacking option downtown is definitely Empire Biscuit, a Southern biscuit shop that’s open a staggering 24 hours. All through the night and into the wee hours of the morning, Empire’s double-decker Bakers Pride oven is filled with trays of two varieties of crisp, compact biscuits—all-butter and leaf lard/butter—which both emerge flaky, burnished and ready to be stuffed with a variety of fillings, from gravy-smothered house made pork sausage to fried chicken to lemon curd. To keep the party going, sip a hot or iced Blue Bottle coffee before heading back out into the night.
On Fridays and Saturdays between 12 and 1 a.m., the restaurant serves an intensely beefy ramen, the rich 24-hour broth providing a soupy base for chewy house made noodles, braised beef belly, super-crispy deep-fried small intestines, and an oozy soft boiled egg. Try the original or the “Grandma style,” made with extra-spicy chile paste.
Noodles and dumplings top our list of the most craveable late night bites. This Bowery stalwart keeps its doors open until 4 a.m. each night, drawing in Lower East Side bar-hoppers looking for some carbs and grease. In a mix-and-match atmosphere of crystal chandeliers and linoleum flooring, busy tables stack with platters of crisp-skinned roast duck, lo mein noodles and deep bowls of wonton soup. The volume level is high, and the prices are low.
When restaurant chef’s get off work need a bite to eat many head uptown to Sushi Seki, surprisingly fresh and high-quality omakase on the Upper East Side. When a late-night craving for sashimi hits, do as the chefs do and grab a seat at the small sushi bar; ignore the unremarkable decor and focus instead on the briny flavors presented by chef Seki himself. Open until 2:30 a.m.
K-Town is its most hopping late at night, when groups throng the area’s many karaoke bars and sip cold soju well into the next day. Plenty of the neighborhood’s excellent Korean restaurants stay open super-late to feed the crowds, but relative newcomer Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is open until open 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. With perennially hopping outposts in Los Angeles and Flushing, this third location of the over-the-top Korean BBQ spot occupies two floors, seats 150 and maintains a party atmosphere. Fortuitously, the food is excellent: servers will help you grill short ribs, brisket and tongue to bronzed perfection at your table’s built-in grill; if pork’s your thing, chow down on jowl and rich belly, a served with plenty of spicy, crunchy banchan, plus soft-scrambled eggs, beef and kimchi stew and fiery chilled noodles.
It doesn’t get much more classic than Minetta Tavern, a New York institution that has been around since the 1930s. Although the dining room has gone through renovations in the last few years the most exciting updates aren’t architectural but gastronomical: expertly aged La Frieda steaks, a juicy short rib-and-brisket Black Label burger and buttery, burnished pommes Anna served in a mini cast iron skillet. The joint remains jumping until its 2 a.m. close time.
Small, shareable plates are often the best accompaniment to a cold drink, especially at El Quinto Pino. All the classics are here, but are often presented with unanticipated twists: garlic shrimp are enlivened with ginger and jalapeño, grilled calamari arrives in a squid jus, and preserved anchovies are slicked with a fragrant vanilla butter. El Quinto Pino’s frozen cocktails are a wonderful complement to the restaurant’s excellent wine and sherry list: try the inventive frozen horchata, made with tiger nuts and spiked with brandy. The tapas bar stays open until midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on weekends. Which is an early bedtime Spain but pretty respectable in NYC,