Great Off-Guidebook Places to Visit in NYC at Night (Mostly Food)

woman enjoying night off in nyc at night

Are you planning to go into NYC for an evening, and looking for places to eat, drink, and be merry? Maybe the kids are with the babysitter or nanny. I’ve got a small list of some cool things to check out in Manhattan—the best places to walk in NYC at night.

Confession time – I did not come up with this list of recommended spots by myself. I wrote this with my husband during a 6-hour drive to Lake Placid last weekend (my hubby was doing the Ironman there, crazy kid that he is). Our boys were in the back seat alternating between listening to music, books on tape and watching “Howard the Duck” (remember that kooky “classic”)?

During the drive, I whipped out my laptop to write this article, all Sarah Jessica Parker-ish, and quickly realized, as hip as I pretend to be, I needed to call in reinforcements. Who did I think I was, a club kid? Julie the Cruise Director? I made a few calls to friends whom I consider “in the know” asking them “to which Manhattan nighttime spots would you send visiting friends?” By combining their answers, my hubby’s and my own two cents, here is the conglomeration of knowledge for all of us to share:

Greenwich Village

The Village is fun place to walk around at night if you don’t mind college students and drunks.

There are is a lot of nightlife and theater in the area. Just for laughs, there are numerous comedy clubs to check out, including Gotham Comedy Club, The Comedy Cellar, The Grisly Pear, and The Greenwich Village Comedy Club. For theater, there’s the Minetta Lane Theatre, the Cherry Lane Theatre in the West Village on Commerce Street between Barrow and Bedford, and the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street.

There are plenty of bars throughout the village, both gay and straight. Pick one that matches your vibe.

As far as dining, if you like neighborhood spots, I love the oldie-but-goodie fixture of Greenwich Village, Elephant and Castle on Greenwich Avenue. Just up Greenwich Avenue from there is the ever-trendy Italian restaurant, Rosemary’s. For French, there are numerous options, but I like Buvette on Grove Street, headed by chef Jody Williams. If price is no object, try Blue Hill NYC on Washington Place.

 

The Meat Packing District

This is a fun area to walk around and “rubber neck.” Great people watching and tons of hip bars and restaurants have made this one of the most popular areas in Manhattan over the past two decades. Some of the highlights include:

The epicenter of Meatpacking nightlife is The Standard, with several late-night hang-out spots, hotel overlooking the Highline, and elegant, retro sky piano bar.

On the ground floor is The Living Room, which stays open late. Outside the Standard Biergarten—the German-themed Meatpacking hot spot, with beer taps at their Stammtisch tables and Ping-Pong for all. standardhotels.com

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The Gansevoort has a great indoor/outdoor rooftop bar, B on Top, with super views of the city. Be warned— drink/eat/and be merry sparingly, as The Gansevoort can get quite pricy (ok, the merriment is included, but still.) We usually meet there for one drink before moving on. Visit the website.

Meatpacking District Dining

Across the street from the Gansevoort is Pastis, a French bistro and local favorite. It serves some of the best steak frits in Manhattan (I mean crazy good. I have been known to order just these for my meal).

If you’re one of the lucky few (I’m not!) who knows someone who is a member of the nearby Soho House, make sure you get her to take you there and show you the rooftop pool while enjoying a Mojito.

In 2015, The Whitney Museum, one of New York’s premier museums of American modern and contemporary art, moved from it’s Upper East Side location, to the Meatpacking District, at the lower end entrance of the Highline. Just right of the main entrance is the museum’s restaurant Untitled, probably the Meatpacking District’s most underrated restaurant, led by executive chef Evan Tessler. Untitled also has amazing desserts. The other dessert spot we have to highlight is Bubby’s, best know for their pies.

If you’re eating on a budget, walk up 9th Avenue to Google’s Chelsea Market, and try the tacos at Los Tacos No. 1 or their newer fish taco spot, Los Mariscos No. 1.

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If you prefer eating off the beaten trail, saving a buck, and supporting small local businesses, continue up 9th Avenue from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea. Between 20th and 21st streets, you’ll find Punjabi Deli—a little whole-in-the-wall restaurant, filled with off-duty, Sikh taxi drivers. This vegetarian spot, know for its samosas and chana masala, has been a neighborhood favorite of locals for over a decade, and has so far survived Chelsea’s gentrification.

Midtown

Another fun place to walk around is Bryant Park, behind the Manhattan Public Library right in Midtown. In the summer they have a free Summer Film Festival where you can pack a picnic and watch movies outside on the lawn. While you’re there, grab a coffee at Joe’s, one of New York’s best coffee shops, which has a stand in the park. If you’re visiting in the winter, Bryant Park also features an ice skating rink.

 

For all you sushi lovers out there check out the trendy, infamous and delicious Nobu 57 (on West 57th Street, hence the name) which is as good as it is expensive (my fav is the rock shrimp tempura and chocolate bento box!). Be sure to make reservations; otherwise, you can hang downstairs at their happening bar, which serves their signature pineapple Cosmos.

Smack dab in the heart of midtown is this Tex Mex restaurant come rodeo bar, Johnny Utah’s, best known for hosting Manhattan’s first mechanical bull. Whether you go to ride or just watch, you may never laugh harder.

Pizza!

What’s a trip to NYC without grabbing a slice, or a pie, or two? For traditional Neapolitan try Keste Pizza (in the West Village or their second location in the Financial District). They also have a number of non-traditional Neapolitans on the menu. For something a little different, I recommend the Sorrentina, lemon pizza (yeah, you heard me). They are also known for having some of the best gluten free pizza in NYC.

If you’re in the East Village, you should definitely try Motorino (East Village) which has a great brunch style pizza with eggs!

Some other good mentions are Lombardi (on the Lower East Side), Veloce (East Village), Scarr’s Pizza (Lower East Side),  Artichokes (East Village), and Joe’s Pizza which is my friend Chris’ all time favorite pizza joint (and this guy knows his pizza!), Loring Place‘s whole wheat pizzas.

Enjoy New York!

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