Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Daphne Thompson.
Nish Nush ($$)
41 John St.; (212) 577-6474; nishnush.com; open M-F 11am-9pm, Sa-Su 11am-8pm
The nosh at Nish Nush is far from nash-ty, to be hon-nesh with you. Okay, now that that’s out of our system, allow us to introduce you to the best falafel in Tribeca. At the all-vegetarian Nish Nush (Hebrew for snack), you’ll find three perfectly crispy variants of the fried chickpea balls: a classic green, a spinach and mushroom, and a super-spicy red pepper. If you’ve brought a friend or an appetite, spring for the falafel trio platter to try all three; if not, you’ll be super-satisfied with one of their ideal-for-lunch pita sandwiches. With another location in the Financial District, an assortment of creative Mediterranean salads and smoothies are popular with the Soulcycle i-banking crowd, but the killer desserts (including a vegan! halva! ice cream!) should definitely get more love. Counter service is swift and cheerful, and the adorable glass-topped tables are filled with dried chickpeas.
Small plates from $4, sandwiches from $7; vegan and vegetarian options; wheelchair accessible
Arepa Lady ($)
445 Albee Sq. W; (929) 359-6555; arepalady.net; open daily 7am-10pm
The arepa de queso at Arepa Lady might be the food world’s closest equivalent to a hug. The warm, cheesy corn patty topped with a small snowstorm of salty queso blanco and eaten fresh from the griddle won’t actually fix all your problems, but for a blissful ten minutes, it’ll definitely seem like it can. While the status of street food legend Maria Cano’s brick-and-mortar Queens location is currently up in the air (damned landlords), you can currently get her magical corn concoctions at Brooklyn’s Dekalb Market. While there are no misfires on the menu, the corn-studded arepa de choclo is one of the more popular offerings; wrapped around that queso blanco and your choice of meat, it looks like an omelette but tastes like heaven.
Arepas from $6; vegetarian options; wheelchair accessible
Bibble and Sip ($$)
253 W 51st St.; (646) 649-5116; bibbleandsip.com; open M-F 7:30am-8pm, Sa-Su 10am-8pm
Your level of enjoyment at Bibble and Sip, a tiny French and Asian-inspired bakery near Times Square, will depend heavily on your tolerance for cutesy. Start with the name: “bibble,” an objectively adorable word, is an old-fashioned word for eating indulgently; the presence of “sip” only makes it more sweet. Then there’s the mascot: a cartoonish alpaca, “because alpacas are awesome too.” And then there’s the pastries: black sesame panna cotta in the cutest little jar, macarons with piped-on kawaii faces, and their signature offering, a spherical green matcha cream puff that you just want to cup in your hands. It would all be a bit nauseating if it didn’t taste so good. Tourists and hedge fund managers alike love this place, so expect long lines and few seats. But awww—we can forgive!
Pastries from $3; vegetarian options available; wheelchair accessible
Bigoi Venezia ($$)
1415 2nd Ave.; (917) 262-0680; bigoivenezia.com; open daily 11am-10pm
So you’ve packed your most arch-supportive shoes, done some quad stretches, and are planning to cram in Museum Mile all in one day. (Good luck with that!) Before you go, you’ll want to make like the real marathoners do and carbo-load—preferably on the cheap, since those “pay what you wish” cashiers are really good at the shame-glare. Enter the Upper East Side’s Bigoi Venezia, a counter-serve pasta shop offering steaming servings of fresh pasta for way less than you’ll find at a checkerboard-tablecloth establishment. The only shape served is the titular bigoi, a variant of spaghetti that’s as thick as worms but significantly tastier. It’s prepared eight different ways: we recommend the garlicky aglio, olio, e peperoncino or the mega-hearty peas and prosciutto. Eaten in or taken to go in a paper cup, they’ll ward off museum hanger for a surprisingly long time.
Pasta from $9; vegan and vegetarian options available; wheelchair accessible
75 9th Ave.; (646) 833-7097; dizengoffhummus.com; open M-Th 11am-9pm, F-Sa 11am-10pm, Su 11am-9pm
You know those nights when you just eat an entire container of hummus by yourself instead of cooking a real dinner? Uh, yeah, us neither. In any case, you can up your hypothetical hummus game with a whole bowl of the chickpea spread at Chelsea Market’s Dizengoff. A Philadelphia import, Dizengoff’s hummus is a distant cousin of the refrigerated stuff—it’s warm, silky, and topped liberally with Israeli-inspired ingredients. The Sabich, an egg and eggplant concoction, is a vegetarian favorite, while the beef offering (currently red pepper and onion) is super-satisfying. The bowls come with a vinegary pickle salad and a fluffy pita—it’s your only hummus vehicle besides your spoon, so heap it on generously.
Hummus from $10; vegan and vegetarian options; wheelchair accessible
550 LaGuardia Pl.; (646) 892-3600; cookiedonyc.com; open Tu-W 10am-9pm, Th-Sa 10am-10pm, Su 10am-9pm
Your enjoyment of DŌ will be more or less determined by how you react to this premise: scoops of safe-to-eat cookie dough served like ice cream, plopped on top of cones or eaten straight with a spoon. If eating that much dense dough sounds nauseating to you, feel free to skip the sizeable line at this Greenwich Village shop; if it sounds like a childhood fantasy come true, join the Instagram-happy club. Four dollars will get you a filling scoop of the squishy stuff in flavors from chocolate chip to fluffernutter (plus vegan options—the peanut butter snickerdoodle is just as tasty). If your followers demand a full DŌ spread, the shop also sells cookie dough ice cream sandwiches, milkshakes, and normal cookies (which seems to be antithetical to the whole deal, but okay). Of course there’s a neon sign—“Dreams dough come true”—and plenty of other cute backdrop options.
Cookie dough from $4; vegan and vegetarian options available; wheelchair accessible
167 W 74th St.; (212) 874-6080; levainbakery.com; open M-Sa 8am-7pm, Su 9am-7pm
Finally, a bakery that dares to challenge the ridiculous beauty standards cookies are held to. Sure, the cookies at Levain are a little heftier (a whopping six ounces each), a little lumpier, a little thicc-er. But it’s what on the inside that counts, and what’s on the inside is a steaming-hot serving of cookie goo, liberally laced with chips or nuts. It’s Taylor Swift’s favorite cookie, repeatedly dubbed the best in New York, and yours for only $4 and a shortish wait in the tiny, standing-room-only bakery’s unceasing line. Chocolate chip walnut is the crowd favorite, but dark chocolate peanut butter chip is the real move for any Reese’s aficionado. Break that sucker in half for a #treatyoself pic and head to Central Park to inhale it in peace.
Cookies $4; vegetarian options available; no wheelchair accessibility
My Pie ($)
166 W 72nd St.; (212) 787-7200; mypiepizzeria.com; open daily 10:30am-9pm
But the slices are square, we hear you New York pizza purists complaining. Fair enough—if you want the real-deal-dollar-slice-folded-in-half experience, you can go to one of the zillions of interchangeable pizza places in the five boroughs. If you can drop your ideas of “authenticity” for a second, what My Pie—with locations in both the Upper East and Upper West Sides—is offering is something a little more elevated. A popular local spot for lunch on the go, My Pie offers crisp, salty, Italian-style slices (about $5 for two) with top-quality toppings—the imported buffalo mozzarella is super popular, while the mushroom and truffle oil is a favorite for fungi fans. Vegans will love the several varieties of cheeseless pie, while carnivores might be more into the buffalo chicken or prosciutto.
Pizza from $5; vegan and vegetarian options available; wheelchair accessible
Native Bean ($)
36B Ave. A; (212) 228-8110; nativebeannewyork.com; open daily 8am-7pm
We’re a little worried about the employees at Native Bean, who smile more than any human should be expected to on a Wednesday morning in New York City—blink twice if you need help, guys! Aside from the possible hostage situation, this East Village coffee-and-bagel spot is a low-key, sunshiny place to start your morning. You’ll want to go for the bagel sandwiches, toppings tightly packed onto warm, fluffy rounds; the egg, meat, and cheese combos are cheap and satisfying, while the lengthy sandwich menu is consistently well-executed. They’re paired with delicious, affordable lattes that would be pushing $7 at a bougier coffee shop (try the cardamom and caramel) or fresh-squeezed juices. The decor is charmingly mismatched and the Wi-Fi is speedy, so nab a window seat and settle in.
Breakfast sandwiches from $2.75, sandwiches from $8; cash only; vegan and vegetarian options available; wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi
NY Dosas ($)
50 Washington Sq. S; (917) 710-2092; open M-Sa 11am-4pm
The ubiquitous food carts lining the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfares can be hit or miss—sometimes you’ll get cheap, authentic, delicious street fare, and other times you’ll get a soft boiled hotdog and a half-melted Spongebob Squarepants popsicle. NY Dosas, a vegan Sri Lankan cart in Washington Square Park, falls squarely into the former category. Queue up with NYU students, park-goers, and hungry vegetarians for Thiru Kumar’s simple South Asian eats: The cart’s titular product, the fresh-griddled lentil-and-rice pancakes, are stuffed with spiced potatoes and veggies and accompanied by coconut chutney and lentil soup. Paired with a hefty samosa and lychee juice fished from the sizeable drink cooler, it’s a meal to keep you going all day in Greenwich Village. Be sure to check Facebook to see if the cart will be there; Kumar sets his own hours.
Dosas and uttapams from $6; cash only; vegan and vegetarian options; wheelchair accessible
Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world, Daphne took the mid-morning train goin’ to the East Coast of the United States and Canada (fine, plus Chicago). She graduated Harvard in 2018 with a degree in Government, a law school acceptance letter, and an overwhelming sense of dread re: her all-too-fleeting youth, so she took off to the party capital of the Western hemisphere: Quebec City. The race against the cold, unfeeling march of time continued in Montreal, Toronto, New York, and Miami, a wildly diverse array of cities united by not-boring weather and stupid-high rents. Along the way, Daphne sampled legit Canadian poutine (squeaky), smuggled her notebook into nightclubs (sneaky), and lived on cheap falafel pitas (tzatziki). The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native finished her spirit quest back in the Midwest, where the Windy City welcomed her nasally accent back with open arms. When she’s not writing aggressively alliterative articles for Let’s Go, Daphne probably can’t be found. Don’t even try it, Internet creeps!