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Best Lunch in Chelsea NYC

From food carts to American diners, these Chelsea spots are perfect to add to your lunch-hour rotation!

January 21, 2020 | by Haley Walker
Reviewed by real estate expert Jonathan Wasserstrum

The best lunch in Chelsea awaits! When 12 o’clock rolls around and you feel your stomach starting to growl, you know what it means. It’s time for you to ditch your desk and escape your office to take on lunch-hour, but New York City can be dizzyingly full of options. That’s why, from hidden gems to the most popular NYC cafes, we’re breaking down the best places for you to grab lunch or brunch neighborhood by neighborhood. So let’s get out the map and find you the best lunch in Chelsea!

Here’s the map for each of the restaurants, but check out the descriptions below to read more!

Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar

Chelsea Market, a haven for foodies with shops and restaurants tucked every which way, is where you will find one of the neighborhood’s best seafood joints. Indulge in shrimp and lobster dumplings, seared sea scallops, lobster rolls, or King Crab pasta from the regular menu. Or go straight to the impressive raw bar menu, where you will discover oysters sourced from Washington to Maine, clams, caviar, and more. Cull & Pistol (the name refers to lobsters that have lost their claws, by the way) is right next to Chelsea Market’s Lobster Place, an actual seafood market, so you know are getting the freshest selections when you dine here.

Location: 75 9th Avenue

Calle Dao

If you’ve ever had one of those days when you can’t decide if you feel like one cuisine or another, that’s when fusion dining comes in handy. In the case of Calle Dao, the fusion is the unlikely pairing of Chinese and Cuban food – and the results are fabulous. Start off with steamed pork dumplings, empanadas, or Cuban sandwich spring rolls, then choose between the likes of pato asado bao buns and chicken & yellow rice. Is this the best lunch in Chelsea? You decide!

Location: 461 West 23rd Street

Jun-Men Ramen Bar

Looking for an alternative to eating that sad Cup O’ Noodles for lunch in the break room? Venture out of the office and treat yourself to some delectable ramen. Located on 9th Avenue, between 25th and 26th Streets, Jun-Men Ramen Bar serves up a silky broth that will make your taste buds dance. Ramen varieties on hand include pork bone, spicy miso, kimchi, veggie, and mushroom uni. Other offerings include crispy shrimp, pork buns, fried rice, kale greens, and poke. Wash it down with a sake, or perhaps opt for a soda instead if you don’t want to return to work tipsy.

Location: 249 9th Avenue

Lasagna Ristorante

Maybe the name seems a little on the nose, but this Italian restaurant really is the place to go for an out-of-this-world traditional lasagna lunch. There is ground sirloin lasagna, braised short rib lasagna, meatball lasagna, and lobster lasagna, oh my! Vegetarians rejoice, as there are also several different meat-free options, from four-cheese to primavera. If, for some unthinkable reason, a member of your party is not a lover of layered pasta, there are plenty of other choices on the menu, like baked ziti, cheese ravioli, spinach fettucine, as well as Mediterranean grill platters and market sides. The atmosphere here is classy but comfortable, and the staff is friendly and warm.

Location: 196 8th Avenue

The Wilson

The Wilson, a hotel restaurant with an open, airy, modern design, serves Northeastern coastal cuisine that is focused on seafood, but still provides plenty of veggie options. The awesome starters section of the menu is a potpourri of interesting concoctions like smoked carrot hummus and bread, brussels sprout tacos, avocado fries, and fried calamari bao buns. For your main, you can’t go wrong with a fried fish sandwich or grilled cheese, a wedge salad if you’re looking for something lighter, or shrimp pad Thai if you’re in a seafood mood. If you are on a budget, the Locals’ Lunch gets you a pick of two courses, one starter and one main, for only $22.

Location: 132 West 27th Street

Los Tacos No. 1

Best lunch in Chelsea

Hidden within the bustling shops of Chelsea Market is a treasure for Mexican food fans, Los Tacos No. 1. While you may be skeptical of a taco shop in Chelsea Market (we were), let us tell you that Los Tacos No. 1 could easily give any Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston a run for its money. The meats are grilled just long enough to develop a smoky, charred flavor and a line of stone bowls is placed on the counter so you can help yourself to toppings such as lime, pico de gallo, and grilled jalapeños. What really puts Los Tacos over the edge, however, is their homemade tortillas, of which you’ll have a choice between flour and corn. One bite of these delicious tacos and we’re sure you’ll be hooked.

Location: 75 9th Ave (Inside Chelsea Market)

Johny’s Luncheonette

Best lunch in Chelsea

Johny’s Luncheonette has the average decor of your classic American diner, transporting you away from 2020 and to the past with its long Formica counter tops and spinning leatherette barstools. So what makes this place so special? We’d venture to say that it has something to do with their gut-bomb sandwiches that represent not only massive amounts of food, but also great value when compared to other eateries in the neighborhood. The Brady Bun arrives extravagantly stuffed with turkey burger patties, turkey bacon, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and onions. In a truly Manhattan response to the Austin breakfast taco, the Curious George includes three fried eggs, French fries right in the sandwich, three strips of bacon, two slices of melted cheese, and two pieces of boiled luncheon meat ham. With sandwiches like these, there’s no way to leave Johny’s without feeling full to the brim.

Location:124 W 25th St

Tia Pol

On every day but Monday (when they don’t open until 5:30pm), Tia Pol is a cute place for a scrumptious tapas lunch, so gather a few of your work friends and order a bunch of delicious dishes. “Caliente” offerings include patatas bravas, garbanzos fritos, and chorizo al jarez, while your “frio” choices include tortilla espanola, ensaladita de pulpo, and piquillos rellenos de pisto, to name but a few. The wide array of choices ensures there is something for every taste and preference, whether you’re a carnivore or vegetarian.

Location: 205 10th Avenue

The Donut Pub

There are a number of shops in NYC these days making artisanal donuts featuring some unusual combinations and ingredients (poppy seeds, rose petals, black pepper, etc.) – but that’s not The Donut Pub. This 24-hour joint makes you think of an old-fashioned coffee shop, where you grab a seat at the counter, order your cup of Joe, and pick one (or two, or five) of the wide array of delicious donuts in the huge display. The Donut Put eschews the “gourmet” type of novelty, and instead doubles down on more indulgent takes of classics. There are donuts dipped in a thick layer of chocolate, croissant donuts with flavors like salted caramel and maple bacon, glazed donuts stuffed with cream, cinnamon buns, bow ties, and crullers. So now that you have some idea of what dessert looks like here, your lunch choices include sandwiches (e.g. ham and cheese, chicken salad, BLT, turkey club), egg sandwiches, and bagels, along with several beverage options. But don’t kid yourself – you’re coming here for the donuts.

Location: 203 West 14th Street

Little Italy Pizza

In a perfect world, lunch should always be at least an hour and give you time to sit and truly enjoy a meal – whether it’s with friends, co-workers, or alone with a wonderful book. In the real world, lunch is sometimes approximately five minutes of stuffing as much food down your throat as humanly possible. Never was there a food better suited for a quick lunch than New York pizza, so it’s important to have a cheap, reliable pizza place in mind. Little Italy Pizza is here for you, tempting you with lots of luscious pies. Grab a slice of sausage, pepperoni, white spinach, chicken ricotta, pepper & onions, fresh mozzarella, or just a classic cheese. Still craving more carbs? Get some garlic knots or a broccoli roll to go!

Location: 401 7th Avenue

Cookshop

Best lunch in Chelsea

Vying for a coveted spot as the best lunch in Chelsea is Cookshop. This popular restaurant has an optimal location mere steps from the High Line. For seating, the airy and plant-lined dining room is usually full and loud. You could also take advantage of the vast outdoor seating area for a more relaxed dining experience. While the menu is full of simple, yet delicious, American food, the real standouts are the stone-oven pizzas and the Vermont lamb tasting. If you’re looking to have a relaxed, yet still impressive, business lunch, Cookshop is undoubtedly the place to go!

Location: 156 10th Ave

Milanes Spanish Restaurant

Family owned and operated, Milanes offers Latin American eats (especially Dominican fare) in a casual, homey atmosphere. The menu includes Dominican favorites like mofongo, stewed chicken, pernil, plantains, oxtail, yellow rice, and flan. Service is typically fast and friendly, so it’s a great choice if you don’t want your lunch break to accidentally go too long!

Location: 168 West 25th Street

Burger, Inc. NYC

Located in the Gansevoort Market, Burger, Inc. is all about providing gourmet burgers for people on the go, so it’s a perfect place to grab lunch when you want a quality burger quick. The beef is delivered fresh each day from the meatpacking district, and the bread comes fresh daily from a local bakery. The menu is simple and to the point, with three kinds of cheeseburgers, a chicken sandwich, fries, and tater tots. There are also a few unique sides: bacon fries, macaroni and cheese chili poppers, and a concoction called The Crew (cheese fries with roast pork, chili peppers, thin sliced ribeye steak, Applewood smoked bacon, fried egg, and house sauce). Yum!

Location: 353 West 14th Street

Dokkdo

If you love Japanese cuisine, this is one of the restaurants in Chelsea that you must check out. A small, fun spot with a great vibe, Dokkdo offers several varieties of donburi (a rice bowl dish) and maki (sushi and raw vegetables), as well as sashimi and nigiri. A special “lunch set” gets you soup, salad, pickled vegetables, and your choice of entrée for just $28. In your search for the best lunch in Chelsea, this is a must for you to visit!

Location: 262 West 15th Street

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