New York Diner Soho Diner La Bonbonniere Square Diner Veselka Walker's Empire Diner

Grandlife guide

Classic NY Diners & Late-Night Spots

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To celebrate the opening of a new 24-hour diner in SoHo, we’ve rounded up New York’s most beloved late-night haunts and quintessential spots.

New York is a town that never sleeps, and the same might be said when it comes to appetite because you’ll never go hungry either thanks to a casual, cool, and delicious lineup of downtown diners and late-night haunts serving juicy burgers, off-beat Ukrainian delights, and sweet treats often until the early morning hours. Here, we round up some of New York’s most quintessential diners and beloved late-night spots. 

Soho Diner

The Skinny: For early birds, night owls and everyone in between, Soho Diner has you covered 24-7. The modern eatery located in the heart of SoHo pays homage to the great American dining staple with revived versions of tried-and-tested classics such as vegan banana pancakes, Montauk tuna melt, and the gluten-free ham steak & eggs. By day, expect freshly roasted, fair-trade, organic coffee and warm pastries; by night, enjoy restorative cocktails, burgers and disco fries with the music to match courtesy of a jukebox offering up a handpicked selection of 45s. The vibe is refined retro, and all are welcome–morning, noon, and night. 

Order This: The Soho scramble with spinach, mushroom, goat cheese on toasted brioche; vegan matcha milkshake with coco whipped cream. 

320 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013; T. (212) 965-3011

Veselka

The Skinny: Since 1954, this no-frills East Village diner has been serving Eastern European classics like handmade pierogies, tender meatballs, and deep beetroot borscht (served either hot or cold). Bonus points: a 24-hour operation gives you the option of an all-day breakfast menu for the set looking for eggs, blintzes, and flapjacks. Best chased by several cups of coffee.

Chloe Sevigny’s go-to dish: I get the blue plate special: half tuna sandwich and a cup of split pea.”

144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003; T. (212) 228-9682

Empire Diner

The Skinny: A West Chelsea fixture since 1976—you can spot it in Woody Allen’s Manhattan and on the cover of Tom Waits’s Asylum Years—Empire Diner got a reboot and “brightening up” 40 years later from Chef John DeLucie and the owners of Chelsea’s bustling modern comfort diner, Cafeteria (Empire had endured some closures and failed revivals prior to this 2016 incarnation, including a brief run headed up by Chopped judge Amanda Freitag in 2014). You won’t find “breakfast all day,” but DeLucie’s menu puts a contemporary, seasonal spin on American comfort food. “When stuff hits the market we try and get it as fresh as possible and not handle it too much,” he says. It has also attracted regulars like Iman, Quantico star Priyanka Chopra, nightclub impresario Amy Sacco, and a who’s who of Tony-winning Broadway stars. “It’s quite a scene, sometimes, but also very low-key,” DeLucie adds.

Order This: Double-patty Empire Special Blend Burger on brioche; Berkshire Pork Chop; hand-folded cavatelli pasta.

210 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011; T. (212) 335-2277

Walker’s  

The Skinny: Pop by this old school Tribeca tavern, open ’til 3.45 am, filled with locals and adorned with tin ceilings, black and white photos, and a well-worn front bar for suds and cocktails. For nourishment, nab a paper-covered table in the narrow back room for an all-American feast of spinach salad with toasted goat cheese alongside grilled steaks and roasted potatoes or opt for a hearty cowboy chili.

Order This: Eight-ounce sirloin burger served on a sesame seed roll with a choice of potato. 

16 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013; T. (212) 941-0142

Square Diner

The Skinny: A true holdout, Tribeca’s Square Diner has been around for almost a century, and every inch of its railroad car-like 650 square feet promises a trip back in time. A prime location for movies and television shows. “This year alone we appeared in Law & Order SVU twice, Quantico, Bull, and Ray Donovan,” says owner-manager Ted Karounos. Karounos’ family ran it from 1971, and he became sole proprietor in 2001. He says that the restaurant’s continued longevity can be attributed to its small size, which has just 50 seats indoors and 30 on its sidewalk café, and a from-scratch approach in the kitchen. “All of our baked goods are made by my wife Anna including baklava, vanilla bean cheesecake, carrot cake, brownies, a deep-dish apple pie, bourbon pecan pies, and lemon meringue,” says Karounos.

Order This: Corned beef hash; Cuban and pulled pork sandwiches.

33 Leonard St, New York, NY 10013; T. (212) 925-7188

La Bonbonniere

The Skinny: La Bonbonniere is old school in about every way a NYC greasy spoon luncheonette-slash-diner should be, from well-worn interiors to cheap prices (cash only, by the way). Despite its lack of glamour, this West Village neighborhood favorite has drawn high-profile breakfast, burger, and sandwich seekers over the years including Ethan Hawke, James Gandolfini, and Julia Stiles (check out the photos hanging on the walls, along with loads of seemingly random art).

Order This: Thick French Toast with bacon. Actually, anything with bacon.

28 8th Ave, New York, NY 10014; T. (212) 741-9266

Corner Bistro

The Skinny: You can’t miss the bright neon sign outside this West Village burger institution. Inside, grab a wooden booth as you make way for the legendary Bistro Burger, an oven-broiled patty topped with cheese, tomato, raw onions, and bacon, doled out on paper plates. Order a side of salty fries for good measure, and pair with frosty cold mugs of McSorley’s Dark Ale. Close your eyes and channel the boho poets of the past.

Order This: The Bistro Burger, of course. 

331 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10014; T. (212) 242-9502

WORDS Lawrence Ferber & Kate Donnelly

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