New York is the city that never sleeps, and that all-hours appeal thankfully applies to its food-and-drink scene. But we’re not talking about greasy, nasty, only-when-you're-drunk eats but sit-down spots offering comfort-food dishes in Chelsea, French fare in the West Village and the best damn pastrami sandwich in town. In NYC, there’s always something to curb your appetite, no matter what time it is.
RECOMMENDED: See more of the best restaurants in NYC
When it comes to late-night cravings, “the plate” is a monster. Available in a hot dog or hamburger version, this heaping pile of grub is served every day until 4am at Daddy-O in the West Village. It features—deep breath— two pieces of meat along with home fries and house-made macaroni salad that is then topped with a generous dose of Norm’s beef hot sauce, mustard and diced onions.
Former punk rockers operate this diner in Williamsburg, specializing in Breakfast All Day—the reason behind its B.A.D. reputation. The joint is outfitted with metal tables, exposed pipes on the ceiling and a black-and-white checkered floor. The extensive menu of sandwiches, burgers and breakfast items offers plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. Not very punk-rock, we'll admit, but damn delicious.
Cocktails and cruising fuel the nonstop scene in the sparse white dining room of this Chelsea mainstay. Cafeteria feeds fashionistas and the wannabes with a roster of down-home favorites. There are three versions of mac and cheese—the traditional is nearly perfect, with a crunchy top and loads of gooey fontina—and gravy-heavy meat loaf with tomato-and-red-pepper relish makes you wish Mom’s cooking were this good. If you’re on a liquid diet, skip the dining room altogether and head for the tiny basement bar.
Chef Julian Medina (Toloache, Yerba Buena) puts a Latin-American spin on the classic 24-hour diner. Styled to evoke a luncheonette in Havana, the 70-seat space features a long marble bar with swivel stools, bright blue booths and red linoleum tables. You can cruise the region by exploring nightly specials like Mexican Tuesdays and Caribbean Sundays. Or choose from the everyday comfort-food menu of snacks, sandwiches, burgers or round-the-clock breakfast.
No matter the time of day, you’re always likely to find a crowd at East Village fave Veselka. The 24-hour Ukrainian restaurant has been serving gut-stretching Eastern European specialities since 1954, and it’s still going strong. Slide into a booth next to one of the giant glass windows, and watch the night crawlers pass by while you chow down on some soothing borscht soup and steaming hot pierogi.
Empanada Mama peddles more than 40 varieties of the main attraction, perfectly palm-sized for fast eatin'. Fillings range from basic (plain cheese or rice and beans) to ultracreative (ham-cheese-and-pineapple) and sweetly addictive (banana–and–Belgian chocolate, or figs-caramel-and-cheese).
Biscuits are undoubtedly the star at this 17-seat round-the-clock East Village eatery, outfitted with geometric arches. Using a recipe by famed Southern chef Edna Lewis, former Bouley waiters Jonathan Price and Yonadav Tsuna dole out the lard-made pastry rounds. Smother these flaky beauties in one of more than a dozen toppings like pork sausage gravy, house-made jams (rhubarb-and-pine, plum-and-port) and compound butters (spiced candy pecan, goat cheese–and–black pepper). Fried chicken and Scotch egg fillings are also available for oversize versions.
Sit at the zinc bar in a room filled with vintage posters and big mirrors, order a glass of vin rouge, and imagine that you’re on the Boulevard Saint-Germain instead of Sixth Avenue. First dates share crème brûlée and writers loudly discuss American foreign policy between swigs of beer. No one’s here for the food—the usual burgers, steak frites, mussels and salads—as much as for the atmosphere, especially on sunny mornings when you can order your café au lait and French toast at a bright sidewalk table.
If you like Korean but aren't into making your own, Han Bat is your round-the-clock spot: There’s no grilling at the table; your work is on the front end, figuring out what to order. The menu isn’t logically divided into courses, so the descriptions are indispensable—and often intriguing. You’ll just have to take your chances ordering dishes like Sam Gye Tang: “The Body Cavity of a Small Chicken Is Stuffed with Glutinous Rice, Young Ginseng Shoots and Jujubes.”
This cavernous cafeteria is a repository of New York history—glossies of celebs spanning the past century crowd the walls, and the classic Jewish deli offerings are without equal. Open 24 hours on weekends, start with a crisp-skinned, all-beef hot dog for just $3.10—then flag down a meat cutter (oh yes) and order a legendary sandwich. The brisket sings with horseradish, and the thick-cut pastrami stacked high between slices of rye is the stuff of dreams. Everything tastes better with a glass of the hoppy house lager; if you’re on the wagon, make it a Dr. Brown’s.