Best Casual Restaurants in New York City

It’s totally ridiculous to even broach the topic of NYC’s best casual restaurants, isn’t it? I realize that. This list, however, is a work in progress and more than anything, serves as a reminder of the spots I’ve really loved in the city that never sleeps. I look forward to updating it after each visit.

So here it is, a tiny and discerning list of the casual eateries I’ve really really enjoyed during trips to New York City.


234 Court St | 347-987-4961 $$ | Modern Italian

@brucienyc | Visit website

Go here for the food, not the room. House made straciatella and perfectly moist crusty bread give instant cred to this undercover Brooklyn gem. Highly recommended starters included crispy chickpea + soft-boiled egg-topped crostini and a shockingly good English Pea salad with Bayley Hazen blue cheese and walnuts.

Caracas Arepa Bar

93 1/2 E 7th St | 212-529-2314 $ | Venezuelan

@caracasarepabar | Visit website

Dirt-cheap authentic Peruvian that, thanks to a few raving NY Times reviews (and the fabulous food, of course), has expanded to two side-by-side locations in their food centric East Village ‘hood. Grab take-out from the original space, and be prepared to wait for a seat in the new tiny space where handmade arepas are made by hand and served hot off the grill. Thanks to Chef Brian Skinner for this reco.

El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette

100 Stanton St | 212-260-3950 $ | Mexican Fusion / Coffee Shop

@elreynewyork | Visit website

Chicklet-sized coffee shop & restaurant with serious charm and highly-inventive vegetable-forward dishes. In fact, the food here is so on point (and beautiful) you may want to return several times for brunch, lunch or dinner. Favourite bites include the charred radicchio salad with house made ricotta and aleppo honey and the vegan chicharrones with cashew crema, hot sauce and chammy sauce.

Mission Chinese Food

171 E Broadway | $$$ | Modern Chinese

| Visit website

Be prepared to have your taste buds burned off with Szechuan peppers and other Asian spices. Dishes are hit and miss but the hits are huge and the misses aren’t bad. Factor in the out-of-the-box, creatively-garnished cocktails (try the Phil Khallins with gin, coconut milk, kaffir lime, ginger and lemongrass and sesame oil) and this (insert chef’s name) San Fran transplant is worth a visit. The lineup starts around 6:30pm and can last about three hours.

ABC Kitchen

35 E 18th Ave | 212-475-5829 $$$$ | Global

@abckitchen | Visit website

This could be home to the most delicious bites you’ll take all trip. Easily one of the most well-known spots in town from French Michelin starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, ABC Kitchen’s sprawling, sparkly-white space is the perfect destination for your Sex in The City-themed girls night out.