Where to Drink at Lunchtime in New York City
For those working in New York City, the wide array of midtown and downtown lunch options near the clusters of office buildings in Manhattan can be both busy and difficult to choose from. Cut through the clutter with this list -- whether you have a client lunch meeting or simply want to grab a midday cocktail over your lunch break with friends, check out the options below for a variety of convenient, daytime drink options.
For a quick and healthy lunchtime meal and drink option, check out Kobeyaki. This fast casual Japanese spot features long countertops and barstools for a quick bite, perfect for a fast meetup with a friend. Beverage options include beer (including Sapporo, a Japanese pale lager), wine (white and red), and sake (chrysanthemum mist (light), ice dome (med), shirak begura (full body)). Meet up with a friend or two for a quick lunch and midday pick-me-up at the counter. The restaurant is now open in four Manhattan locations -- Chelsea, Bryant Park, Upper East Side, and Madison Square Garden. (293 7th Ave., 212-242-5500; 110 W 40th St., 212-391-1600; 215 E 86th St., 212-860-2300; 4 Pennsylvania Plaza)
If you’re looking to have a nice lunch in midtown east, with close proximity to Grand Central, Pershing Square Cafe is a solid option. This diner-like spot serves traditional American fare. Order a glass — or bottle — of wine or champagne, or try some of the beers on tap. The beverage options include bellinis (Prosecco with peach) and mimosas (sparkling wine and freshly squeeze orange juice), and a wide assortment of exotic wines, including Sancerre from France (Balland 2014), Malbec from Argentina (Graffigna Centenario Reserve 2012), and Chardonnay from California (J. Lohr, Riverstone, Monterey, 2014). (90 E 42nd St., 212-286-9600)
This self-described new age American Brasserie is located in midtown east, just northeast of Grand Central. With its wide array of wines and cocktails, this elegant restaurant makes for a solid work lunch or a daytime break to catch up with friends. If you go, try out the Midtown Mojito (Brugal special white rum, fresh mint, lime cordial), or give the mix of sweet and punchy flavors a try in the Lavender Bee’s Knees (Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon, House-Made Lavender Honey). There’s also a wide selection of beer options, both bottled and draft. (517 Lexington Ave., 212-392-5976)
If you’ve got a multifaceted palate, the blend of tastes and ingredients available at Mexicue may pique your interest. With a mix of BBQ and Mexican flavors, the kitchen and bar offers a host of tasty, flavorful lunchtime (or anytime) options. But what’s most important is the healthy-sized drink menu -- rich with dozens of bourbon and tequila options, the bar also features beer cocktails and other beverages, like the Fully Dressed Tecate (Tecate beer with hot sauce) or the Chocolate Bourbon (bourbon, coffee, Kahlua, Bailey’s, mole bitters, and coco powder). (225 Fifth Ave., 646-922-7289; 1440 Broadway, 212-302-0385)
The Smith is another American-style restaurant with multiple options across Manhattan, which is helpful if you’re in between meetings across the city and looking for an in-between pick-me-up. Check out the Midtown East location if you want a little privacy outside of the main strip of Grand Central-area options -- it’s tucked away on 2nd avenue, away from the hustle and bustle of most commuters and workers coming in and out of the station and nearby offices. Your other options include Lincoln Square, East Village, and NoMad, so depending on where your office is located, you’ve got a few choices to help keep things convenient. If you visit, check out the Cucumber Loco (silver tequila, French orange liquer, cucumber, lime, salt) for a crisp, cool taste with a splash of citrus. For a warm, mid-day treat, try the black currant hot toddy (Spanish aged brandy, black currant cordial, and mulling spices) for a cold-weather warm up. (956 Second Ave., 1900 Broadway, 212-644-2700; 1150 Broadway, 212-685-4500, 55 Third Ave., 212-420-9800)
Created as a tribute to Havana’s once-thriving Chinatown and the fusion of cultures present there, Calle Dao offers a unique mix of Chinese and Cuban tastes right in the heart of Midtown West. Happy hour starts early at Calle Dao -- 11am to 7pm daily -- so grab a cocktail ($8 special) or beer ($6) special with your mid-week lunch date. The drink menu is crafted with a Cuban-Asian fusion in mind, and features options like a Tsingtao Lager, Malecon (rum, mango sorbet, lime, and hibiscus flower), and Opium (bourbon, tamarind, ruby red grapefruit, lemon, and poppy seeds). (38 W. 39th St., 212-221-9002)