New York is, in theory, the city that never sleeps. Has the pandemic changed that? Chinatown restaurants that used to cater to late-night crowds now close by 10 p.m., and many 24-hour diners can’t find the staff to stay open around the clock. In general, restaurants in New York City close earlier than they once did, but the city’s late-night dining scene is still full of gems if you know where to look. This guide of mostly 24-hour restaurants includes Upper East Side institutions, after-hours taco shops, and all-night Korean barbecue restaurants.Read More
The Best Late-Night Food in New York City
Where to find al pastor tacos, dim sum, and Korean barbecue at all hours
Open since 1995, this Cuban Dominican restaurant in Washington Heights continues to draw a crowd with its bistec, rotisserie chicken, and many mofongos. Floridita is best known for its Cuban sandwich consisting of a fat stack of ham, pork roast, pickles, and Swiss cheese on crispy bread. There’s a second location in Inwood with the same hours.
Roti Roll (Bombay Frankie)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 a.m., Thursday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday to Monday; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., Tuesday to Wednesday
The kathi roll — a vegetable or meat filling, sometimes with an egg, with a roti wrapped around it for easy eating on the run — is often attributed to Kolkata, but at this Upper West Side stalwart, Mumbai grabs the spotlight. Have it stuffed with spiced chickpeas or potatoes, creamy chicken malai, or a lamb boti kebab, the roti roll makes a very filling late-night snack.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., Monday to Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday
JG Melon is an Upper East Side institution, having opened in 1972. The restaurant, bedecked in watermelon paintings, is known for its burger — a thick patty with pickles and red onion on the side. From Monday to Saturday each week, the bar stays open until 3 a.m. Cash only.
If New York City has one restaurant that never sleeps, it’s Empanada Mama. After scaling back its hours during the pandemic, the Hell’s Kitchen favorite is once again serving its nourishing Colombian fare 24 hours a day. Highlights include a classic South American breakfast of beans and rice with eggs, actually spicy arepas, chicken soup studded with cilantro and rice, frozen margaritas, and stellar corn empanadas (try the ones filled with shellfish or beef).
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Tacos El Borrego
Hours: 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily
Like one of Mexico City’s best taquerias, Tacos El Borrego doesn’t open until 9 p.m. each night. The sidewalk taqueria on Roosevelt Avenue sells tacos for around $3 each with an array of meats to choose from: al pastor, carnitas, suadero, and tripe. In 2023, the late-night taco cart landed a spot on the New York Times list of the best 100 restaurants in the city.
Miss Korea BBQ
Miss Korea is the best option for Korean barbecue after bars close at 4 a.m. The restaurant sells a range of meats for tabletop grilling, plus dumplings, ramen, kimchi pancakes, and other snacks. To drink: beer, sake, Korean rice wine, and soju flights.
Court Square Diner
Not much has changed at Court Square Diner since brothers Steve and Nick Kanellos started running the joint in 1991, even as Long Island City has welcomed glitzy food halls and developments to the neighborhood. The 24-hour diner serves a standard, multi-page diner menu with Jell-O, over a dozen 15 omelets, and hulking hero sandwiches.
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What is it about diner fare that makes it so easy to digest late in the evening? You have your burger and fries, your meatloaf with mashed potatoes, Greek spinach pie — and nowadays all sorts of Italian and Latin dishes to choose from. And then there’s that rotating case of lemon meringue pie, Boston creme pie, and plain old apple pie — it’s a virtual pietopia!
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Coppelia, a lunch counter that serves breakfast around the clock, has been holding down Chelsea’s late-night food scene for over a decade. The menu leans Mexican and Cuban, but also look out for oxtail empanadas, lomo saltado, and other dishes that draw from the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Papaya Dog is one of those brightly lit corner tube steak places with variable names that used to be much more common. The fare is comically limited to hot dogs, hamburgers, and the stray fish sandwich — no vegetable has ever been known to cross the threshold. And the cheese flows like a molten river of lava 24 hours a day.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 a.m., Friday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday to Wednesday
Some five decades after opening in Greenwich Village, Mamoun’s Falafel continues to serve one of the city’s most iconic late-night meals: an affordable falafel sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and tahini. Lamb shawarma and chicken kebab are also available in sandwiches and platters.
The Donut Pub
The original Donut Pub closed due to a structural mishap, but its newer location on Astor Place is open 24 hours. Ignore all the newfangled doughnuts with their Day-Glo colors and head for the good old jelly doughnut, which will leave you covered in powdered sugar.
Dim Sum Palace
Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily
There are more than 50 types of dim sum on the menu at Dim Sum Palace, a small chain whose location in Manhattan Chinatown stays open until 3 a.m. Before the pandemic, the neighborhood was packed with late-night restaurants: Now, it’s one of the few places to serve food past midnight. Pick among barbecue pork buns and roast duck spring rolls, or order larger plates to share, like whole lobster with ginger and scallion or snails with celery and hot peppers.
Big portions of Yemeni cuisine are the calling card at this 24-hour restaurant, sandwiched between Clinton and Court streets on Atlantic Avenue’s heavily Middle Eastern corridor. Open since 1996, the sparse subterranean space with a few tables turns out solid lamb dishes (in stews, sandwiches, and more), with huge rounds of bread to scoop and dip in everything.
Lahori Chilli, named after Pakistan’s second-largest city, is popular among cab drivers, among others in the city: They dash in at all hours for samosas, plates of haleem, and salads dotted with chickpeas. Past a display case with pastries and steam-table foods, there is a small dining room with a handful of red booths.