Gone are the days where Pret and Hale & Hearty dominate the quick-casual market. As prominent chefs are converting their high-end concepts to dining experiences more apt to the informal crowd, there has been an increase in high-quality, fast-casual restaurants in New York City. Here are some of our favorites to open in the past year:
Made Nice – Who would have thought you could get a rendition of the famous chicken at The NoMad for $22 instead of $79? Or dishes inspired by those at Eleven Madison Park for a fraction of the price? The visionaries behind both of the restaurants, Will Guidara and Daniel Humm, made it possible with Made Nice, a fast-casual, counter-service restaurant with salads, combinations of meat and vegetables, and a roast chicken with fries that is a must-order. Don’t skip out on dessert, either!
Chef’s Club Counter – Chef’s Club Counter is a unique concept – it’s a grab-and-go menu featuring dishes from prominent rotating chefs. In the past, Eggslut, Mercer Kitchen, and Belles Hot Chicken were highlighted, amongst others. The space is an offset of Chef’s Club, a similar but higher-end version of the counter eatery.
The Sosta – Imagine a super cute, non-vegan, Italian version of By Chloe, and you have The Sosta. The incredibly chic, quick service restaurant has a variety of pasta dishes (notably the spaghetti pomodoro and campanelle with pesto), salads, focaccia sandwiches, and an affordable antipasto board. The cutesy, pink-hued interior is seriously ‘gram friendly, too. “Mangiano, Baby!” is right.
Chikarashi – Chikarashi is by far one of the highest quality and affordable poke spots we’ve stumbled upon on this poke-crazed city. Everything is phenomenally fresh and flavorful in the minimalist, wood-lined restaurant. The unagi bowl is not to be missed nor are their daily specials — uni and ikura are sometimes featured!
Martina – Danny Meyer can’t seem to do wrong in this city. Martina, his new thin-crust Roman-style pizza spot, features a Shake-Shack like approach. The eatery is counter-service with 10” pizzas topping in at $12, starters up to $7, and salads at $9 and under. Considering that gratuity is included in the price, it’s an affordable option for relatively upscale and absolutely delicious pizza.
Daily Provisions – Yet another Danny Meyer hit, Daily Provisions is a neighborhood bakery/cafe featuring mouth-watering crullers, sandwiches, and coffee. It’s also the only place in New York City where Salt & Straw ice cream, the West Coast institution, is available.
Pasta Flyer – Mark Ladner of Del Posto is opening a fast-casual Italian spot that is making his upscale fare available to those who aren’t willing to spend $30-$40 on a pasta dish. Each check is anticipated to be between $8-$10, which is quite inexpensive for high-quality Italian food. There are three types of pastas to choose from, one gluten free option included, and three sauces: marinara, pesto, and ragu – the latter two costing an additional $1. For another additional charge, meatballs, whipped ricotta, and more can be added. Vegetable sides such as spicy broccoli and fried cauliflower are available, as well.