By Brienne Walsh
Lunch might be the ideal time to meet up from a date from MeetMoi. If the date is terrible, you can make the excuse that you have to get back to the office. But if it goes wonderfully, it can keep you smiling through the rest of the afternoon.
We’ve put together a list of spots in New York that are invisible to tourists, so that you don’t have to fight through a crowds to get a table during lunch.
1. Peels, 325 Bowery, East Village: Peels is the most recent addition to a growing roster of chic restaurants and hotels on the Bowery. Just a few steps away from the posh—and over-hyped—Gemma, Peels has a gorgeous dining room on the second floor, which is decked out with fresh flowers and plenty of light. Have a longer lunch there, or grab a quick bite at the pastry counter downstairs.
2. Bread, 20 Spring Street, Soho: Serving all manner of sandwiches, as well as delicious pasta, this restaurant is just far enough removed from the bustle on Broadway that it’s almost never crowded during lunch. If you can, try to grab a table at the front—the seats up there are lined with pillows, and on nice days, the large windows are open on the street.
3. Bouchon Bakery, 10 Columbus Circle, Midtown West: Located on the third floor of the Time Warner Center, this spot is owned by Thomas Keller, the celebrity chef. Modeled on pastry shops in Paris, the seated dining area has a wonderful menu—try the tomato soup and grilled cheese if you can forgive the calories—but if you’re in a rush, you can always grab a sandwich at the take-out counter. If you have the time, take your meal out to Central Park, right across the street.
4. Astra, 979 Third Avenue, Midtown East: Located on the 14th floor of the Decoration & Design Building, this Greek restaurant is the perfect place to take an artsy date. Grab a quick bite at the bar, and don’t miss the chance to look out the window—the space has incredible views of the Queensboro Bridge.
5. Washington Square Diner, 150 West 4th Street, West Village: Although this might not be the most glamorous place to meet a date, the Washington Square Diner is everything you could ever want from an old school New York coffee shop. Serving, well, basically everything, the quick service makes for a perfect speed date.
6. Nha Trang, 87 Baxter, Chinatown: If you work downtown, you know how difficult it can be to find a good meal, despite all of the options. Nha Trang, however, serves some of the best Vietnamese cuisine in the city. Tucked away on Baxter Street, just South of Canal, the service is lightening fast, the prices are cheap, and the spring rolls, wrapped in lettuce leaves, are to die for.
7. Café Orsay, 1057 Lexington, Upper East Side: Located on Lexington Avenue and 75th street, this French bistro will transport you to Paris from the moment you walk in the door. Meet for an espresso, a croquet madame, or, if you’re feeling naughty, a midday glass of red wine.
8. Juliette, 135 N 5th Street, Williamsburg: Although the food is nothing to write home about, Juliette has a roof that overlooks bustling Bedford Avenue in the heart of Williamsburg. In the evening, it can get very crowded, but in the middle of the day, it’s pretty serene. The perfect place for a summertime lunchtime rendezvous.
9. Dekalb Market, 138 Willoughby Street, Downtown Brooklyn: Located within walking distance of the madness on Fulton Street, as well as neighborhoods like Fort Greene and Dumbo, the Dekalb market consists of food vendors set up in shipping containers around an open courtyard. Serving some of the best food in the borough, grab a bite at one of the stalls, and eat with your date at a picnic table set up outdoors.
10. Half King, 505 West 23rd Street, Chelsea: Although the Half King is better known as a happy hour bar, it serves breakfast and lunch daily until 4pm. Located right in the heart of the gallery district, it’s very quiet in the hours before the drink specials begin. If you have a few minutes to kill after you pay your bill, walk up to the High Line, which hoovers over the back garden of the restaurant.