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Red bell peppers stuffed with rice in red sauce and dotted with parsley.
Stuffed peppers at Qanoon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

25 Essential Places to Eat in Chelsea

The neighborhood bursts with doughnuts, Dominican, Italian, Mexican, and Palestinian fare, but also hosts the city’s best food court.

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Stuffed peppers at Qanoon.
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

In the latter half of the 19th century, Chelsea went from being a bucolic suburb to an industrialized city neighborhood, with smoke-belching factories lining the Hudson River, which includes a former Nabisco factory complex (now Chelsea Market). Today, its attractions are still numerous, including bustling 14th Street to the south, the twisting elevated path of the High Line running like the neighborhood’s backbone, the massive food court of Chelsea Market, the Fashion Institute of Technology’s compact campus, and the boutique hotels and art galleries serving almost like a buffer between residential Chelsea and the Hudson River. The precise borders are a matter of controversy, but for the purposes of this map, we’ll consider them to run from Sixth Avenue on the east to the Hudson River on the west and from 14th Street on the south to 30th Street on the north.

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Ovest Pizzoteca

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This decade-old pizza pioneer opened in Chelsea’s gallery district way before almost anyone else, with the exception of the Red Cat and a couple of other old-timers, most now long gone. The space is warehouse-like, the bar provides cocktails in addition to beer and wine, and the exemplary pizzas fly from a wood oven that casts flickering shadows on the brick walls.

A red and deeply browned margherita pizza with white pools of cheese and a basil leaf.
A wood-oven pizza from Ovest.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Salumeria Biellese

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Before the current mania for Italian authenticity swept over the city about two decades ago, many cured pork products such as guanciale and lardo were impossible to find unless you dropped by Salumeria Biellese. These ingredients are still for sale in glass cases, even though manufacturing has shifted to Hackensack, New Jersey. These days, this 90-year-old pork store mounts a steam table full of red-sauce pastas at lunchtime, plus a menu of giant hero sandwiches. Request one incorporating the shop’s distinguished charcuterie. 

An Italian deli interior with red checked tablecloths and guys standing behind a counter with glass cases.
Glass cases display the lunch options at Salumeria Biellese.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Not to be confused with a more ambitious and expensive restaurant of the same name on the Upper West Side, Chelsea’s Swagat is a steam-table establishment, though a really exceptional one. Just one quick glance at the pristine quality of the Indian offerings on display is enough evidence. The all-day special includes one meat and one vegetable dish, plus dal, rice, and a naan; lamb curry is often one of the possible choices.

Vegetables, meat in brown gravy, yellow split peas, and rice on a white plate.
Lamb curry with two vegetable sides at Swagat.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jun-Men Ramen

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When it opened seven years ago in the culinary dead zone that is Ninth Avenue in upper Chelsea, Jun-Men seemed to be part of the race among ramen-yas to see who could make the richest tonkotsu, a milky, pork-bone broth. The noodles themselves were above average, with plenty of spicy options, and the short list of appetizers are worth ordering as well, especially the crunchy chicken wings and the stylish kale salad. But avoid the house mazemen, which wastes some perfectly good sea urchin in a wash of warm noodles.

A milky beige broth with oil droplets on its surface, with noodles and boiled eggs to be seen.
Tonkotsu ramen at Jun-Men.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sullivan Street Bakery

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A branch of a prized bakery that opened in 1994 in Greenwich Village, this handsome and trim lunchroom open from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. daily except until 4 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays, serves pastries and egg breakfasts before switching to sandwiches and Roman pizzas till closing. A favorite pastry: custard-squirting bomboloni, either vanilla or chocolate. Loaves of bread and square slices of focaccia topped with ingredients like potatoes and zucchini are available all day.

A rectangular slice of pizza with potatoes and rosemary on top.
Potato focaccia at Sullivan Street.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hey Yuet

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While the Chinese restaurants of Chelsea used to offer almost exclusively Chinese-American fare, they have become more sophisticated lately, including the destination-worthy Hey Yuet. It’s one of the city’s better restaurants serving the dim sum and other takes on the Cantonese food of Hong Kong. From classic har gow to newfangled black bao painted with gold leaf, some of the best dim sum in town is to be found here all day and into the night.

Two hands hold up a steamer with three round black steamed buns inside.
The blackness is achieved with powdered charcoal.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pepe Giallo

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This homely Italian restaurant on the edge of Chelsea’s gallery district — it moved south a few blocks recently — makes a nice refuge after an afternoon of art-hopping. Founded in 1997, it used to be part of a great chain specializing in discount pastas whipped up on the spot, and part of that aura remains, though now the menu concentrates on antipasti, panini, and pizzas, with the occasional risotto or lasagna thrown in for good measure.

A crumbed and browned chicken cutlet under a nest of arugula and tomatoes.
Chicken milanesa makes a nice shared secondo.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Cookshop

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Located in one of Chelsea’s quieter sections surrounded by distinguished older buildings, Cookshop was founded with a farm-to-table ethos in 2005, and has gradually grown to be a favorite spot for a tumultuous brunch or a quiet lunch. Vegetables are emphasized — even in its inventive pizzas — plus a substantial commitment to seafood, with fewer meat options, many appetizers and entrees often cooked in a wood-fired oven.

People sitting at the corner or a bar with a bartender with blue hair and a very old building out the window.
Cookshop hosts a lively bar scene lunch, brunch, and dinner.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This is the place to go in Chelsea for classic Mexican dishes prepared with extra panache and presentation. The enchiladas suizas, a perfect meal, come stuffed with chicken and drenched in cheese in a lovely casserole with black beans on the side. Other recs include Yucatan-style pan-seared shrimp, carnitas in a skillet for do-it-yourself tacos, and salmon in a Oaxacan sauce called manchamanteles (“tablecloth stainer”). There’s also a Park Slope location (with a Tribeca location just opened), but the East Village branch is now closed.

A casserole of cheesy enchiladas with black beans on the side. Robert Sietsema/Eater

Occupying an elegant townhouse in western Chelsea, Qanoon slings distinguished Palestinian food. Many of the short dishes called mezze have rarely been produced so well in this area, including muhammara, hummus, baba ganoush, and labneh configured as orbs for dipping. Main dishes are complete dinners presented as if coming from a home kitchen, best of which is makloubeh, a lamb and eggplant casserole.

A basket of cut pitas in the upper left, plus a plate of hummus and chickpeas and three green orbs in a separate bowl.
Labneh balls and hummus are among Qanoon’s mezze highlights.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ciao Bella

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This working-class restaurant peddles the pleasing combination of pizza and pastas, and the sauce used on both is rich and sweet in the Sicilian style — and herbier than most. The chicken parm hero has a lot more cheese than might be expected, and you should examine the steam table carefully before making your pasta selection. Recently, baked ziti was the best choice. For a steam table joint, the dining room is particularly commodious.

A gooey plate of baked pasta with a plastic wrapped roll on the side
Baked ziti is worth savoring at Ciao Bella.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Milanes

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Chelsea was chock-a-block with Latin lunch counters feeding many of the laborers who worked at the factories, warehouses, and wholesalers of this bustling commercial hub. Now, that’s not so much the case. One that lingers is Milanes. Every massive entree at this prized Dominican spot includes your choice of yellow or white rice and red or black beans, and the fare runs to garlic-rubbed pork roasts, paprika-dusted chickens, tripe soup, and the homely stew called sancocho.

A plate with vertical bands of red beans, yellow rice, and coarse textured pork roast with a slice of red bell pepper on top.
A plate of pernil with plenty of rice and beans.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

El Quijote

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El Quijote, founded in 1930, may be the city’s oldest Spanish restaurants. Located in the fabled Chelsea Hotel, the restaurant was sold and then closed for renovation a few years ago, and has only lately reopened. The premises is smaller than before, but still charmingly decorated with elaborate murals, and a stop at the bar for a drink and some taps remains one of Chelsea’s quintessential experiences.

El Quijote dining room with an orange mural covering the wall.
The narrow dining room is decorated with a giant mural.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Johny's Luncheonette

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When it debuted in 1994, Johny’s was located in Chelsea’s warehouse district between Sixth and Seventh avenues, an area also famed for its flea markets. Johny’s was and still is just a tiny lunch counter serving eggs, pancakes, hamburgers, and sandwiches, but it has adapted to more modern times with a longer menu of invented heroes with names like Sloppy Johny and Curious George. Some sandwiches even have french fries tucked inside.

A hero sandwich with eggs, ham, and french fries tumbling out.
Here’s a hero you could eat for breakfast or lunch.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pisillo

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Call them heroes, panini, or just Italian sandwiches. Pisillo, which also boasts a Wall Street branch, excels at them. The roster is long, with Italian ingredients painstakingly listed for all the various combinations. Here’s my favorite: a sandwich made with mortadella and squeakingly fresh mozzerlla, with plenty of arugula piled atop.

A very long luncheon meat and fresh mutz sandwich, cut in half with the halves lying across each other like two legs.
Many heros incorporate fresh mozzarella.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Memo Shish Kebab

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It’s rare that a well-regarded Brooklyn restaurant hastens into Manhattan, but that is what happened with Memo. In this case, the restaurant is a Kings Highway Turkish establishment founded in 2000, which popped up here at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street, one of Chelsea’s busiest corners. The doner kebab is fab (and quickly served); pick lamb and be assured you’re getting lamb and not the unsatisfying lamb-beef hybrid currently being peddled elsewhere. Plenty of salads, bread dips, pastries, and other kebabs are also worth trying.

At Chelsea’s Memo Shish Kebab, doner is queen.
Two twirling doner (gyro to the Greeks) cylinders
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Great Burrito

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This unassuming place on the south side of 23rd Street doesn’t look like much, but it serves up some wonderful budget burritos and Mexican breakfasts, which can easily be carried down the street to Madison Square Park, since there’s not much seating inside. Other antojitos like sopes, nachos, and hardshell tacos (the latter surprisingly hard to find in the NYC area), with a wide range of fillings, including a supple and slightly chewy rendition of cow tongue.

A tostada so covered with cheese, crema, and foliage that you almost can’t see the dark tongue underneath.
Cow tongue tostada — though the burritos are great, too.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Chelsea Market

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Since it debuted in 1997 in a Victorian-era factory complex that once churned out Oreo cookies, Chelsea Market has grown into the city’s best and largest food court. You can be assured of a great lunch or dinner here, and during the height of the COVID era, it added outdoor dining enclosures. Favorite eats there include adobada mulitas at Los Tacos No. 1, papaya salads like those in Elmhurst at Ayada, cheeseburgers in a pita at Miznon, and jerk chicken at Ting’s.

Crowds pass through the main concourse at Chelsea Market during a pre-pandemic year
Chelsea Market is NYC’s largest food court.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Peter McManus Cafe

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Dating to 1936, Peter McManus is one of the city’s oldest Irish bars, with the antique barroom and rear dining room to prove it, frequently featured in TV shows like Broad City, Law and Order, and Seinfeld. It’s been known for its pints of Guinness, of course, but also for its burgers and other pub fare. Pick the classic burger, served with steak fries or tots, or go all the way with the deluxe “Pop Pop’s top-shelf cheeseburger,” featuring a mix of multiple forms of beef in the patty. Deli sandwiches, including rare roast beef, are good, too.

A chalkboard sign reads Best Burger In Town.
A sign makes extravagant claims for the burger at this old Irish bar.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hao Noodle

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While the original branch of Hao Noodle in the Villages skewed toward Sichuan food and tea, this magnificent Chelsea branch strays toward Shanghai. Yes, there are gravy-squirting soup dumplings, but also find delicate little charcoal kebabs of meat and offal, smoked and then fried filet of sole, and slabs of hawthorn jelly interspersed with avocado for what is certainly a surprising Chinese dish. You can’t go wrong with noodles, either.

Hawthorn jelly and avocado Robert Sietsema/Eater

Portale

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This restaurant, named after its chef Alfred Portale, offers a menu of Italian classic dishes in a fine dining vein, with the conventional three courses plus pizzas and desserts. The antipasti are particularly fine, including a perfect seafood salad of lobster, scallops, octopus, shrimp, and avocado. There are a handful of choices each of pasta and secondi, of which the one called maiale in the latter category matches hunks of pork sometimes paired with a polenta cake and zingy orange moustarda.

A clump of seafood salad with a sprig of frisee on top.
A dressed up seafood salad at Portale.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Coppelia

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What if a Greek diner had a Latin menu instead? That was the thesis of Coppelia, named after a comic ballet, when it opened 10 years ago on bustling West 14th Street. The menu has evolved over the years, so that now it skews mainly Cuban and Mexican, with oxtail empanadas, ropa vieja, chiles relleno, and, of course, huevos rancheros.

Runny eggs exceedingly yellow and bright white broken up on tortillas.
Huevos rancheros at Coppelia.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The Donut Pub

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One of the most respected doughnut bakers in town, the Pub has been near the corner of Seventh Avenue and 14th Street since 1964, and the snaking marble lunch counter signifies its age. Enjoy a decent cup of coffee and above-average doughnuts that run from the usual (glazed, crullers, old-fashioned) to the unusual, (a whole range of Cronut knockoffs and muffins that contain Oreo cookies). Egg sandwiches in a strange squished format and simple sandwiches such as ham, cheese, and ham-and-cheese are also available.

A number of snow capped figures sit at an L shaped lunch counter.
Great just-baked doughnuts at the Pub.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hollywood Diner

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Let’s face it, sometimes you need a good, greasy breakfast — at 11 p.m. Chelsea is one of the few neighborhoods still filled with old-school Greek diners, and Hollywood is one, striving to give itself a touch of glamour with the name. But beware: Diner food isn’t cheap anymore, and neither should it be. But just imagine you’re really hungry and tucking into this giant breakfast — at any of the day.

Two fried eggs, two plump sausages, to slice of toast, and a humongous pile of fried potatoes.
A classic diner breakfast — look how plump the sausages are.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Chama Mama

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As Georgian restaurants in the city have moved into Manhattan and become more sophisticated, they’ve added impressive wine lists focusing on the grapes of the region, expanded their lists of pomegranate-strewn appetizers and herby stews, and, of course, a wide variety of khachapuris, the now-famous cheese-stuffed bread. Chama Mama rates as one of the city’s best Georgian spots; among its better dishes are the lamb-stuffed grape leaves and game hen in garlic broth.

An oblong bread with handles has a gooey fried egg in a lake of molten cheese.
Adjaruli khachapuri — Georgian stuffed cheese bread.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ovest Pizzoteca

This decade-old pizza pioneer opened in Chelsea’s gallery district way before almost anyone else, with the exception of the Red Cat and a couple of other old-timers, most now long gone. The space is warehouse-like, the bar provides cocktails in addition to beer and wine, and the exemplary pizzas fly from a wood oven that casts flickering shadows on the brick walls.

A red and deeply browned margherita pizza with white pools of cheese and a basil leaf.
A wood-oven pizza from Ovest.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Salumeria Biellese

Before the current mania for Italian authenticity swept over the city about two decades ago, many cured pork products such as guanciale and lardo were impossible to find unless you dropped by Salumeria Biellese. These ingredients are still for sale in glass cases, even though manufacturing has shifted to Hackensack, New Jersey. These days, this 90-year-old pork store mounts a steam table full of red-sauce pastas at lunchtime, plus a menu of giant hero sandwiches. Request one incorporating the shop’s distinguished charcuterie. 

An Italian deli interior with red checked tablecloths and guys standing behind a counter with glass cases.
Glass cases display the lunch options at Salumeria Biellese.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Swagat

Not to be confused with a more ambitious and expensive restaurant of the same name on the Upper West Side, Chelsea’s Swagat is a steam-table establishment, though a really exceptional one. Just one quick glance at the pristine quality of the Indian offerings on display is enough evidence. The all-day special includes one meat and one vegetable dish, plus dal, rice, and a naan; lamb curry is often one of the possible choices.

Vegetables, meat in brown gravy, yellow split peas, and rice on a white plate.
Lamb curry with two vegetable sides at Swagat.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jun-Men Ramen

When it opened seven years ago in the culinary dead zone that is Ninth Avenue in upper Chelsea, Jun-Men seemed to be part of the race among ramen-yas to see who could make the richest tonkotsu, a milky, pork-bone broth. The noodles themselves were above average, with plenty of spicy options, and the short list of appetizers are worth ordering as well, especially the crunchy chicken wings and the stylish kale salad. But avoid the house mazemen, which wastes some perfectly good sea urchin in a wash of warm noodles.

A milky beige broth with oil droplets on its surface, with noodles and boiled eggs to be seen.
Tonkotsu ramen at Jun-Men.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sullivan Street Bakery

A branch of a prized bakery that opened in 1994 in Greenwich Village, this handsome and trim lunchroom open from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. daily except until 4 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays, serves pastries and egg breakfasts before switching to sandwiches and Roman pizzas till closing. A favorite pastry: custard-squirting bomboloni, either vanilla or chocolate. Loaves of bread and square slices of focaccia topped with ingredients like potatoes and zucchini are available all day.

A rectangular slice of pizza with potatoes and rosemary on top.
Potato focaccia at Sullivan Street.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hey Yuet

While the Chinese restaurants of Chelsea used to offer almost exclusively Chinese-American fare, they have become more sophisticated lately, including the destination-worthy Hey Yuet. It’s one of the city’s better restaurants serving the dim sum and other takes on the Cantonese food of Hong Kong. From classic har gow to newfangled black bao painted with gold leaf, some of the best dim sum in town is to be found here all day and into the night.

Two hands hold up a steamer with three round black steamed buns inside.
The blackness is achieved with powdered charcoal.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pepe Giallo

This homely Italian restaurant on the edge of Chelsea’s gallery district — it moved south a few blocks recently — makes a nice refuge after an afternoon of art-hopping. Founded in 1997, it used to be part of a great chain specializing in discount pastas whipped up on the spot, and part of that aura remains, though now the menu concentrates on antipasti, panini, and pizzas, with the occasional risotto or lasagna thrown in for good measure.

A crumbed and browned chicken cutlet under a nest of arugula and tomatoes.
Chicken milanesa makes a nice shared secondo.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Cookshop

Located in one of Chelsea’s quieter sections surrounded by distinguished older buildings, Cookshop was founded with a farm-to-table ethos in 2005, and has gradually grown to be a favorite spot for a tumultuous brunch or a quiet lunch. Vegetables are emphasized — even in its inventive pizzas — plus a substantial commitment to seafood, with fewer meat options, many appetizers and entrees often cooked in a wood-fired oven.

People sitting at the corner or a bar with a bartender with blue hair and a very old building out the window.
Cookshop hosts a lively bar scene lunch, brunch, and dinner.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Fonda

This is the place to go in Chelsea for classic Mexican dishes prepared with extra panache and presentation. The enchiladas suizas, a perfect meal, come stuffed with chicken and drenched in cheese in a lovely casserole with black beans on the side. Other recs include Yucatan-style pan-seared shrimp, carnitas in a skillet for do-it-yourself tacos, and salmon in a Oaxacan sauce called manchamanteles (“tablecloth stainer”). There’s also a Park Slope location (with a Tribeca location just opened), but the East Village branch is now closed.

A casserole of cheesy enchiladas with black beans on the side. Robert Sietsema/Eater

Qanoon

Occupying an elegant townhouse in western Chelsea, Qanoon slings distinguished Palestinian food. Many of the short dishes called mezze have rarely been produced so well in this area, including muhammara, hummus, baba ganoush, and labneh configured as orbs for dipping. Main dishes are complete dinners presented as if coming from a home kitchen, best of which is makloubeh, a lamb and eggplant casserole.

A basket of cut pitas in the upper left, plus a plate of hummus and chickpeas and three green orbs in a separate bowl.
Labneh balls and hummus are among Qanoon’s mezze highlights.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ciao Bella

This working-class restaurant peddles the pleasing combination of pizza and pastas, and the sauce used on both is rich and sweet in the Sicilian style — and herbier than most. The chicken parm hero has a lot more cheese than might be expected, and you should examine the steam table carefully before making your pasta selection. Recently, baked ziti was the best choice. For a steam table joint, the dining room is particularly commodious.

A gooey plate of baked pasta with a plastic wrapped roll on the side
Baked ziti is worth savoring at Ciao Bella.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Milanes

Chelsea was chock-a-block with Latin lunch counters feeding many of the laborers who worked at the factories, warehouses, and wholesalers of this bustling commercial hub. Now, that’s not so much the case. One that lingers is Milanes. Every massive entree at this prized Dominican spot includes your choice of yellow or white rice and red or black beans, and the fare runs to garlic-rubbed pork roasts, paprika-dusted chickens, tripe soup, and the homely stew called sancocho.

A plate with vertical bands of red beans, yellow rice, and coarse textured pork roast with a slice of red bell pepper on top.
A plate of pernil with plenty of rice and beans.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

El Quijote

El Quijote, founded in 1930, may be the city’s oldest Spanish restaurants. Located in the fabled Chelsea Hotel, the restaurant was sold and then closed for renovation a few years ago, and has only lately reopened. The premises is smaller than before, but still charmingly decorated with elaborate murals, and a stop at the bar for a drink and some taps remains one of Chelsea’s quintessential experiences.

El Quijote dining room with an orange mural covering the wall.
The narrow dining room is decorated with a giant mural.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Johny's Luncheonette

When it debuted in 1994, Johny’s was located in Chelsea’s warehouse district between Sixth and Seventh avenues, an area also famed for its flea markets. Johny’s was and still is just a tiny lunch counter serving eggs, pancakes, hamburgers, and sandwiches, but it has adapted to more modern times with a longer menu of invented heroes with names like Sloppy Johny and Curious George. Some sandwiches even have french fries tucked inside.

A hero sandwich with eggs, ham, and french fries tumbling out.
Here’s a hero you could eat for breakfast or lunch.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pisillo

Call them heroes, panini, or just Italian sandwiches. Pisillo, which also boasts a Wall Street branch, excels at them. The roster is long, with Italian ingredients painstakingly listed for all the various combinations. Here’s my favorite: a sandwich made with mortadella and squeakingly fresh mozzerlla, with plenty of arugula piled atop.