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Neighborhood Highlights: Best Things to Do in Chelsea, NYC [2021 Edition]

From the most relaxing after-work havens to the best places to work out.

October 20, 2021 | by Haley Walker
Reviewed by real estate expert Michael Colacino

Contemplating leasing office space in Chelsea? Or maybe you already work in the area? We’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in Chelsea, NYC for local employees. From spots to get lunch to places to take your team for happy hour, here’s the best of this lively NYC neighborhood.

Best Chelsea Lunch Options

The best lunch in Chelsea awaits! When 12 o’clock rolls around and you feel your stomach starting to growl, you know what that means. It’s time for you to ditch your desk and escape your office to take on lunch hour. New York City can be dizzyingly full of options, so 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. Let’s take a look at the best lunch spots in Chelsea!

Cookshop

Cookshop in Chelsea

Consistently claiming a spot as one of Chelsea’s best lunch spots is Cookshop. This popular 10th Avenue restaurant has an optimal location, sitting 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 rotisserie-roasted chicken with fire-charred fingerlings, and the Montauk squid with capers, lemon, and parsley.

Location: 156 10th Ave

 

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 you 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 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 fettuccine, 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.

Location: 132 West 27th Street

 

Los Tacos No. 1

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)

Best lunch in Chelsea

 

Johny’s Luncheonette

Johny’s Luncheonette has the average decor of your classic American diner, transporting you away from 2021 and to the past with its long Formica countertops and spinning leatherette bar stools. So what makes this place so special? We’d venture to say that it has something to do with their gut-bomb sandwiches that are not only massive amounts of food, but also a 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

Best lunch in Chelsea

 

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

 

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

 

Best Chelsea Coffee Shops

For New York coffee fans, the Chelsea Blue Bottle, Birch, and Think outposts are probably well-worn destinations. But there’s more to Chelsea’s coffee scene than the reliably great aforementioned chains, and this series is about great coffee shops — not just great coffee.

Here’s a look at some of the best Chelsea coffee shops in the game that might have slipped under your radar.

Cafe Grumpy

Despite its name, Cafe Grumpy is a warm and friendly shop. It has a beautiful courtyard with an abundance of green that is perfect for getting some fresh air on a nice day. The shop is also known for having some of the best coffee and pastries in the city. Numerous people rave about Cafe Grumpy’s dark roast and peanut butter cookies. One thing to keep in mind is that this cafe has a no-laptop policy, so don’t expect to settle down here to respond to emails. Instead, come with a book to read, or a coworker to chat with.

Location: 224 W 20th St

Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea is a great escape from the office

 

The Commons Chelsea

This hip mom and pop stop on 7th Ave is a local favorite for good reason. Serving up a tight selection of beer and wine alongside coffee from La Colombe, this peppy neighborhood haunt is just what the doctor ordered for a Summer Friday or Happy Hour prelude.

Location: 128 7th Avenue

 

Telegraphe Café

Your espresso bar in Chelsea.

That’s Telegraphe Café’s company tagline, and it’s a lofty idea, especially in a coffee-saturated neighborhood like Chelsea. It’s more than justified, thanks to the supremely friendly baristas who are just shy of celebrity status among the locals. The menu also boasts a hearty selection of French-infused fare. You know, plenty of eggs and cheeses.

Location: 107 West 18th St

 

Seven Grams Caffe

Not for nothing, Seven Grams Caffe is probably the best storyteller on this list. The name is lifted from their espresso technique, which uses seven grams of pure, freshly ground coffee for the perfect shot.

Attention detail isn’t the only thing Seven Grams has going for it. With a minimalist style and a strong pastry game, it’s quickly climbing the ranks to lay claim to the best coffee shop in Chelsea.

Location: 275 7th Ave

Best Chelsea Gym

Barry’s Bootcamp

Are you looking for a workout that will leave you exhausted, but also on the ultimate endorphin high? Barry’s Bootcamp is the self-proclaimed best workout in the world. The boutique studio offers showers, towels, hair products, and hair dryers, which means you’ll be able to rinse off after your sweat-inducing workout and then head back to the office.

The one-hour workout consists of a 15-minute session on a treadmill followed by a 15-minute dumbbell session, and then the set is repeated. We promise that by the end of the hour you will have had your butt kicked.

Location: 135 W 20th St

Barry's Bootcamp's Chelsea location

Best Chelsea Event Space

Glasshouse Chelsea

Glasshouse Chelsea is the perfect place for you to host any of your larger business events. Whether you’re entertaining investors or clients or throwing a party for your employees, Glasshouse Chelsea is equipped to handle it all. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide spectacular views of the Hudson as well as Downtown and Midtown Manhattan. The space is a blank canvas for any corporate event and can hold up to 200 people with features such as kitchen and catering prep areas, audiovisual and lighting services, production infrastructure, and more. In Glasshouse Chelsea’s welcoming and state-of-the-art venue, you are sure to throw an event your guests will never forget.

Location: 545 W 25th St

Best Happy Hour

Porchlight

After spending a long day in the office, grab a few coworkers and head over to Porchlight for an excellent Happy Hour.  Porchlight has brought southern hospitality to the big city. The well-crafted drinks bring you in, but the southern fare, game room, and live music will make you stay.

Happy Hour is Tuesday through Saturday from 3 pm – 8 pm and offers specials that include $6 beers, $5 flasks of punch, and $11 specialty drinks. Come here to relax, unwind, and enjoy a taste of the south.

Location: 271 11th Ave

Best Place to Relax

The High Line

The High Line is one of New York City‘s most notable parks. It offers a beautiful walking path lined with lounge chairs, food carts perfect for lunch, and the occasional performer. Located on an elevated section of an old New York City railroad, a stroll along this Chelsea attraction is sure to reward you with magnificent views of the skyline and Hudson River. Settle down in one of the lounge chairs to catch up on some reading or take part in some great people-watching. The breath of fresh air that a trip to the High Line will provide you with will be the perfect respite from long days at your desk.

Location: Entrances listed here

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