Four days a week, the Union Square farmer’s market is a more than sufficient stop for fresh foods. But what’s a foodie to eat when the vendors are gone?
Thankfully, the 7 Best Union Square Restaurants are picking up the slack (and then some). Truth be told, these eateries offer plates even we can’t slice and dice on our best days. But, the real bonus after a most amazing meal: we don’t have to do the dishes. #Winning
Carbs are good for you. And they make people happy. Case and point: The Cretzel ($5): one part pretzel, one part croissant. If the super-pastry did not fully convince you at first bite (we emptied our pockets for more), the bakery’s Chocolate Babka ($12.95) will have you skipping out the door with a smile. In the casual and comfortable spot (no white table cloths here folks), everything is baked fresh and comes straight out of the oven all. day. long. (And while you’re there, holla for some challah, too.)
18 E. 16th St., breadsbakery.com
The incredibly hospitable South East Asian eatery has two menus: one for sushi and the other for Malaysian fare. Chef Tommy Lai is the first-ever Malaysian chef to receive a Michelin star in New York. Regardless, we give him — and Rasa — two thumbs up. If you’re sticking to seafood, the Chili Crab with Fried Mantou is crispy, saucy and comforting. If meat is in order, opt for the Rendang Beef ($16): simmered until dry with exotic spices such as lemongrass, lime leaves, grated coconut and thick coconut milk. Thirsty? The Tamarind Cider with Cognac contains fresh apple juice, tamarind and brown sugar ($8).
25 W. 8th St., rasanyc.com
On the Northeast corner of Union Square, businessmen and women holding lunch/dinner meetings, tourists from the W Hotel, and locals who are looking to drink and snack in a dark, cozy, and classy space are standard. Passing up the city’s burger joints, a popular pick is the W Burger ($17): Pat LaFreida Blend, lettuce, tomato, red onion, brioche bun and pickle, served with house cut fries. Though, it’s important to note that the pizzas and flatbreads (which use ingredients from the farmer’s market) are phenomenal, too. For a place so perfect for afterwork drinks, it’s no surprise the cocktails, like the Cucumber Margarita ($16): Casamigos Blanco Tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, muddled and cucumber, are supreme.
201 Park Ave. S., 201barandrestaurant.com
Family-friendly and affordable, nearby NYU students can pick up a pie without pleading for pennies from mom and pops. In a casual, laid back and fun atmosphere, the traditional Neapolitan pizzas ($9-$23) are epic, but the real scene stealer is the Americana: topped with mozzarella cheese, french fries (yes, fries), and hot dogs. Gluten free options are available (yay!) and so are Pizza in Pala style ($28/2 people): rectangular-shaped with a thicker crust. If American restaurants follow suit, will french fries soon be topped with pepperoni? …We could dig that.
48 E. 12th St., ribaltapizzarestaurant.com
While cheap NYC grub can be great, when you find the right place, elegant eating every bit worth it. This is clearly the latter. Typically hosting an older crowd, the American-cusine restaurant is a for fine-dining (and perhaps special occasions for the younger set). The signature dish is the Cato Farm Bloomsday Cheddar Salad with shaved fennel, frisee, Migliorelli bosc pear, and hazelnut vinaigrette ($17). To drink, the Orange On The Ranch ($15): Brimstone Whiskey, Cherry Heering, blood orange juice, Orange Curacao and burnt orange twist is tasty. Keep it classy, New York.
1 E. 15th St., tocquevillerestaurant.com
The city may have a garbage problem – but here, it’s no problem at all. The Garbage Plate ($18) means tots, macaroni salad, sweet onions, mustard, two Angus sliders with cheese, and a Sloppy Joe with Italian Sausage with baked bean chili. To this we say: bring – it – on. And not to be confused with the subway voiceover, a cocktail named Next Stop 42nd Street ($11): Sauza Hornitos, chipotle peppers, honey, fresh lemon juice and a splash of orange juice, is a common cocktail order (nevermind an overplayed underground announcement).
118 E. 15th St., littletown.com
The open air pavilion restaurant feels like an island – well, one that seats 180 in the building and in an outdoor cafe facing the square. Pasta lovers (and those with nut allergies) prefer the Pesto Pappardelle ($18.95): homemade pesto using basil (no pine nuts here!) from the greenmarket on handmade pappardelle, is made at the restaurant daily. Another delicious dish, the Organic Salmon pot au feu ($25.95) is light and summery with fennel, baby rainbow carrots, pearl onions and tomato. The Park Side Cocktail ($15) features light and dark rum, fresh mint, lime and a guava foam, topped with local pollen from the green market. All around: light, local and loved.
20 Union Square W., thepavilionnyc.com
Pizza, pastries and popular plates – oh my! Would you pop into these Union Square spots for a sip or snack? Leave us your favorite Union Square food finds in the comments.
Hilary Sheinbaum is a University of Florida graduate and Writer/Reporter/Blogger/Person.
Hilary has contributed to dozens of publications including USA TODAY, Marie Claire magazine, ELLE.com, The Village Voice, amNew York and MensFitness.com. She writes about entertainment, food and beverage, love/dating and beauty.
She has been featured on FOX News, HuffPo Live, PIX11 News, StyleBlazer.com and People.com as a Lifestyle and Entertainment Expert.