Image courtesy Sarge’s
In the city that never sleeps, there’s never a shortage of bars to visit, venues to explore and parties to crash. At some point during these late night shenanigans, however, hunger pangs will inevitably kick in — and that’s when you’re left combing the streets of New York in search of a hot, greasy meal and a warm refuge. Luckily, the city is chock full of inviting eateries that will welcome in glassy-eyed patrons with opens arms.
For the purposes of this list, we’re focusing on 10 of New York City’s sit-down restaurants, where you can enjoy a hearty meal at all times of the day. However, honorable mention goes out to low-key, but reliable favorites like The Donut Pub, Gray’s Papaya and Bagelsmith.
When Greenwich Village’s French Roast shuttered in 2017, New Yorkers mourned the loss of beloved 24-hour institution. Fortunately for us, another French bistro, L’Express, still remains open to fill in the void that was left behind. Located on 249 Park Avenue South in Gramercy Park, the Lyonnaise bouchon merges traditional southern and northern influences of French cooking, and celebrates meat and diary products of those respective regions.
Zagat calls it one of the “classiest 24-hour operations” around because it harbors a real “Paris bistro feel,” and serves up authentic classics like Escargot and Croque Monsieur. If you’re especially hungry, however, opt for a full-fledged entree like the grilled Scottish Salmon or the Steak Frites, and make sure to check out the daily sausage selection and charcuterie.
2. Sarge’s Delicatessen & Diner
Image courtesy Sarge’s
Craving matzo ball soup at 3am? That’s where Sarge’s on 548 3rd Avenue really shines. Believed by most to be New York City’s only 24-hour Jewish diner, the eatery has been around since 1964, offering filling comfort food at its finest. Not only is breakfast, lunch and dinner served around the clock, but the waiters and clientele are also refreshingly down-to-earth.
The Pastrami Sandwich. Image courtesy Sarge’s
Inside, you’ll find vinyl booths and walls lined with celebrity photos. Although you might not leave here with an autograph book full of signatures, you will leave with a full belly, stuffed to the max. That’s especially true if you brave “The Monster.” Claimed to be New York City’s biggest sandwich, it’s a beautiful concoction of five different kinds of meats, tomato, lettuce, slaw and Russian dressing on rye. Try it to say you did, then bring the leftovers home to sustain you the rest of the week.
Located in Chelsea, Coppelia on 207 West 14th Street is a Cuban and Pan-Latin diner that serves a menu inspired by dishes from across the Caribbean Basin and South America. The colorful eatery is styled like a luncheonette in Havana, and features bright yellow walls, swivel stools, blue booths and shutters.
In addition to an all-day breakfast menu — filled with diner staples like homemade pancakes, burgers and a variety of sandwiches — it offers snacks, including empanadas and cheese croquettes, as well as stomach-busting Latin meals like Lomo Saltado (a Peruvian stir fry dish made of tender beef short ribs) and Churrasco (sizzling grilled skirt steak). The cherry on top is that the restaurant is also home to a bar that focuses on cocktails made from Latin spirits like tequila and mescal.
If you’re looking for a late-night snack, Odessa is a safe bet on any day of the week. On the weekends, however, the old school Eastern European diner — located on 119 Avenue A in the East Village — keeps its doors open 24-hours, much like the Katz’s Deli. NYmag calls it a “gloriously tacky Ukrainian dive,” which is populated by locals, senior citizens and New York University students.
The extensive menu at Odessa is reasonably priced, and portion sizes are huge. The perogies are a staple menu item, but other options include kasha varnishkes, blintzes and borscht, in addition to American breakfast staples. Step inside and you’ll walk into a scene taken “straight from the Polish riviera,” complete with outdated ’80s decorations like flea-market oil paintings and a ceiling that looks like maroon shag carpet, according to one Yelp reviewer.
5. Empanada Mama
Empanada Mama boldly claims to serve the best empanadas in New York City, and the night owls who frequent the restaurant seem to agree. With two locations that are open 24/7 — 765 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen and 95 Allen Street in the Lower East Side — it’s a reliable pit stop for anyone who needs to refuel. Although Empanada Mama mostly focuses on Colombian-inspired dishes, it also offers menu items from all of Latin America.
As for its claim to fame — the empanada — the restaurant offers over 40 flavors, ranging from the classic chorizo to the American-inspired hot dog and cheese. A crowd favorite is the Viagra (stuffed with shrimp, scallops and crabmeat) and the Brasil (ground beef and olive). For those with a sweet tooth, there’s also a smattering of dessert empanadas like the Belgian & Banana (Belgian milk chocolate) and Sweet Plantains (with mozzarella cheese).
Photo by James and Karla Murray Photography
An East Village mainstay, Veselka on 144 2nd Avenue has been serving traditional Ukrainian food since 1954, when it was established by post-World War II Ukrainian refugees, Wolodymyr and Olha Darmochawal. The cozy coffee shop, whose name translates to “rainbow” in Ukrainian, began as a simple candy store and newsstand that offered sandwiches and soup. Today, it’s evolved into an institution, slinging out “unpretentious” favorites like pierogi, potato pancakes, borscht and goulash. The cabbage soup is said to be a hangover cure, but there’s no shortage of classic diner staples like omelettes, pancakes and waffles.
Since its inception over 60 years ago, Veselka has expanded in size several times. Despite the quick turnover rate of eateries and retail shops, it still remains on the same site it was founded upon, where it stands as one of the last Slavic restaurants in the neighborhood. We also recently learned that it will be a newcomer vendor to The Market Line, New York City’s biggest marketplace coming to the Lower East Side’s Essex Crossing mega development.
7. Quesadillas Doña Maty
Quesadillas Doña Maty, located on 228 East 116th Street in East Harlem, is another Mexican hotspot, where you can grab tortas, tacos and quesadillas. While the food is reliably good, the interior very much adds to the overall appeal of this cozy eatery, which can only be described as a tiny mom-and-pop shop.
In sticking to the hole-in-the-wall feel, a “sweet, little lady” cooks the dishes outside, and brings them in for her hungry patrons to devour. The interior seating area is located behind the outdoor cooking space. It only has enough room for about eight tables, but it’s so charmingly decorated that you’ll want to grab a seat if you can. While chowing down on your meal, you’ll also have the chance to catch up on telenovelas or Univision, which will most likely be playing on the television set inside.
8. Hahm Ji Bach
Carnivores rejoice: there is a 24-hour grill to satiate the most zealous meat lovers. Hahm Ji Bach, located on 40-11 149th Place in Flushing, offers an authentic Korean BBQ experience, complete with traditional Banchan (side dishes). Regarded as a beloved Queens institution, the restaurant offers a selection of meats, including beef, pork, chicken and seafood, which you can cook on state-of-the-art, smokeless grills.
However, the most popular dish is the samgyeopsal, or slabs of marinated pork belly that you can stuff into crisp lettuce leaves and top with daikon radish, kimchi and scallions. In addition to the meaty offerings, there’s also hot pot, Korean entrees and noodle dishes like Gamja-tang (pork neck bone with potato) and Hahmji-naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles in cold broth).
9. Red Noodle Bowl Shop
If a bowl of piping hot noodles sounds like an ideal meal at 4am in the morning, then head to Red Noodle Bowl Shop on 40-52 Main Street in Flushing, Queens. Even if you haven’t had the chance to step inside the restaurant while strolling through the streets of the neighborhood, you’ve undoubtably noticed the giant red bowl that once sat perched on top of it. It served as a iconic symbol of the area since 1997, and was said to be visible to planes landing at LaGuardia Airport.
Headed by Ollie’s Restaurant group, which operates several affordable Chinese outposts around the city, Red Bowl is a Cantonese-style noodle shop that serves over 200 menu items. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find a wide variety of noodle soups on the menu, but the congee and hot pot are definitely sound options. A window in the front also sells roasted duck, Taiwanese sausages and other take out items if you ever find yourself in a rush.
10. Grand Morelos
Since 2001, Williamsburg’s Grand Morelos on 727 Grand Street has served as an alternative 24/7 hangout for those who want to avoid Kellogg’s Diner. It offers standard American fare — like many of the other eateries on this list — but specializes in authentic Mexican dishes like tortas, burritos, tacos and $2 tamales — all generously filled.
The prices are cheap and the food is simple, which makes this no-frills restaurant a fan favorite amongst the late night crowd. As an additional plus: it’s also home to an in-house bakery, and the Tres Leches is reportedly “out of this world.”