Looking for cute lunch spots in NYC? Look no further than this list full of affordable, go-to chic lunch spots in New York City. If you need a cute lunch spot for a ladies lunch, solo dining or even just a chill weekday lunch in NYC, these are the restaurants to visit.
13 Cute Lunch Spots in NYC
First, let's discuss what makes a great lunch restaurant:
- They should have reliable service and quality of meals. They won't be the most over-the-top kind of place, but that's not necessary for lunch.
- It should be reasonably priced, which for NYC sadly means entrees below $20 to mid-$20.
- They should offer some healthy options like salads and veggie-forward dishes. You don't want to be falling asleep at your desk afterward, so you won't find greasy burger spots here (though they are delicious!) because those are for another time.
- It should be cute! This isn't the most important criteria, but it's still important. A lunch restaurant will hopefully be bright and cheerful and put you in a good mood for the rest of the day. It should give you a moment of rest before heading back out in the city.
So, this is the criteria I am keeping front of mind with the list below. Which I've separated into two sections: Counter-Service and Table-Service options. If you're shorter on time, the counter-service options will serve you well (and quick!) and if you're taking a more leisurely lunch and especially if a client is paying, go for the sit-down option.
Cute Lunch Spots in NYC: Counter-Service Options
Veg-Friendly Lunch Spot: Le Botaniste
A plant-based option for lunch that will fill you up but leave you feeling refreshed, not stuffed. Their focus is on 100% organic, plant-based and sustainable dishes. It is a counter-service spot, but the staff is always very friendly and open to offering suggestions.
Dish to try: Tibetan Mama
The Little Beet
The Little Beet is a vibrant, veggie-forward spot with seasonal dishes. Every dish looks like the rainbow on a plate. This is more of a casual service spot, where you can choose your base, protein and veggies (like Chipotle) to build your own veggie bowl. They offer vegan and meat protein options.
Dish to try: add the Sesame Avocado
Another counter-service spot, Maman is a great option if you're hoping to walk in somewhere for a quick bite. Maman locations typically have very charming interiors and in addition to a pretty wide selection of salads, soups, sandwiches and some breakfasty options, they also have one of the best chocolate chip cookies in the city. It's the nutty chocolate chip cookie with macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts and dark chocolate wafers and was featured on Oprah's Favorite Things - yum!
Plus, if the weather is nice you can enjoy their outdoor dining.
Cute Lunch Spots in NYC: Table Service
Must-Eat Lunch in NYC: 12 Chairs Cafe
12 Chairs Cafe is always a vibe and makes a great dinner, brunch and lunch spot. I dream about the hummus here. For lunch, I recommend splitting a sandwich or entree and then adding a few small plates.
Dish to try: Hummus
Bluestone Lane is an Australian-inspired coffee shop and cafe with many locations across the city. The coffee is delicious and they have some light and nutritious toast options, healthy bowls and pastries. One of my favorite locations is just north of the Met museum at 1085 Fifth Avenue - it's located next to a historic church so the building features really gorgeous archways and sandstone and it's just across from Central Park's 90th Street Entrance.
Dish to try: Brekkie Board
Who doesn't love a sushi lunch? Bondi Sushi makes it easy with a simple, straightforward menu of the freshest fish. They offer several lunch specials that mix and match hand rolls and nigiri.
Dish to try: Truffle Avocado Handroll
The Butcher's Daughter
The Butcher's Daughter is a great option for a nutritious and yummy lunch as it's a fully plant-based restaurant, cafe and juice bar. I love splitting a flight of their fresh juices and the banana bread for something sweet. You can't go wrong with any of their salads and sandwiches.
Dish to try: Spicy Kale Caesar
Classic Cute Lunch Spots in NYC: Jack's Wife Freda
Jack's Wife Freda is an all-day spot with American-Mediterranean dishes. The ambiance is bright and lively and typically they have a lovely floral display near the entrance making it one of the more instagrammable restaurants on the list.
My favorite dishes include the Peri-Peri Chicken (wings or entree option!) and any of the salads. They have locations in Soho, West Village, Chelsea, Union Square and Williamsburg so you're sure to find one nearby.
Dish to try: Peri-Peri Chicken Wings
Best Lunch for a Girls Day in NYC: La Pecora Bianca
I love the pasta at La Pecora Bianca and it's a restaurant I've come to rely on when I need a quick lunch suggestion for anyone. The pasta is made fresh each day in-house and they have some classic options like Rigatoni with vodka sauce and Bucatini Cacio e Pepe as well as some more unique dishes like the Gramigna curly pasta with house-made sausage.
Dish to try: Cacio e Pepe Fritelle
Chic Lunch Spot in NYC: Restoration Hardware Rooftop Restaurant
The RH Rooftop Restaurant is more upscale than some of the casual, counter-service spots on this list. It's a great location if you've got some extra time to kill before or after lunch because you can actually wander around the many levels of the store while you wait for your table making for a really unique dining experience.
At RH, I recommend going for the classic girls lunch: the caesar salad, french fries and a diet coke. The salads here are fresh and big portions so they make for a filling lunch at a fair price point.
Lunch for Ladies: Ruby's Cafe
Ruby's is a go-to for me because there's always something on the menu for everyone. You can easily go for really veg-heavy dishes or indulge with something more greasy like their amazing cheeseburger. I'm calling it the lunch for ladies spot because while I do see guys here, most groups are just girlies gabbing while chowing down on some fresh Aussie dishes.
Dish to try: Pumpkin Salad
Shuka is another reliable lunch spot serving up mediterranean dishes, which is always a good bet for a filling, but healthy lunch. The restaurant in Soho is spacious with plenty of large tables if you're going for a group lunch.
Dish to try: any of the kebabs
Another Aussie-inspired spot with great coffee and a menu of fresh delicious food. You can find some Brekky options as well as sandwiches and salads for lunch.
Dish to try: Brassicas Salad
This post was all about the best cute lunch spots in NYC - from counter-service and casual spots they are reliable go-to spots for grabbing a bite with your girlies, meeting your BF for lunch or even just resting your feet while exploring New York City. Plus, with all the lunch options in New York City you'll find something for every palate, vibe and dietary preference. Bon appétit!
Cute Lunch Spots in NYC Recap
- Le Botaniste
- The Little Beet
- 12 Chairs Cafe
- Bluestone Lane
- Bondi Sushi
- The Butcher's Daughter
- Jack's Wife Freda
- La Pecora Bianca
- Restoration Hardware Rooftop Restaurant
- Ruby's Cafe
- Two Hands
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Casey is the founder of Casey La Vie & has been running this travel and lifestyle blog since 2016. She’s on a mission to balance her career as a social media manager with exploring her home of New York City and seeing more of the world.