An iconic tradition made necessary by a vast commuter population, business lunches in New York City are more than daytime cocktails and extravagant charges on the company card. More than 2 million people arrive in Manhattan every morning—the island’s population fluctuates thanks to commuters from the tristate area and business travelers from the city’s three airports—so lunching while doing business is near integral to getting the job done.
In a city with 550 restaurants included in the 2019 Michelin Guide, compared to 201 in Chicago and 377 in Greater London, New York City’s lunch options are as diverse as they are delicious.
Whether you’re impressing out-of-town clients with sweeping skyline views and luxurious menus, or treating a local business partner to a gourmet sandwich or sushi omakase, here are the best places to host a business lunch in New York City. We take you through Soho, Tribeca, Brooklyn, and beyond, to discover the ideal backdrop for your next midday meeting.
#1 Talk strategy over tapas at Hudson Yards
Rising above the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side, the Hudson Yards development carves an iconic silhouette. Here, the High Line meets the “Vessel,” and tucked beneath the activity is Mercado Little Spain. From chef José Andrés—recognized as a “pioneer of Spanish tapas in the U.S.“—this hub of churro stalls, sangria bars, and tapas outlets has something for everyone.
Browse the market to find small bites, then enjoy a quick lunch with a colleague on one of the high-top tables. For a more buttoned-up affair, sit down at the Spanish Diner: jamón ibérico and fresh tomatoes are quintessentially Spanish selections, and if you’re feeling more adventurous, the squid ink sauce stew is an exciting choice. In the summertime, rolling doors open onto breezes from the Hudson River, and wintertime is cozy with lanterns and electric fire heaters.
#2 Visit an iconic location for a business lunch in the heart of Soho
A historic establishment in the heart of Soho, Balthazar is buzzing with business all day long. From 7:30 a.m. until midnight, the beautifully designed French bistro welcomes professionals from a variety of downtown companies.
Executives meet with associates over gruyère-filled crepes in the morning, then business partners and clients connect over beef tartare and the impressive wine list later in the day. French bread is made in-house by the adjoining bakery, and the pressed tin ceilings, white tablecloths, and mirrored walls create an elegant backdrop for corporate conversation.
Hot tip: The establishment is a long-standing business lunch spot, so it’s likely you’ll bump into someone you know.
#3 Host lively lunch meetings in Gramercy
Simon & the Whale, a kitschy and colorful establishment attached to the Freehand Hotel in Gramercy, boasts an eclectic lunch menu and is conveniently close to Midtown’s central business district. Sit at a window table and enjoy the sunshine streaming in, then choose between the grilled octopus and fava bean ravioli as you admire the Craftsman-style dining room.
An added bonus: The wood-paneled George Washington Bar is located upstairs in the same hotel. This cocktail bar offers a quiet, private location for a post-lunch drink and continuing business talk.
#4 Brainstorm with breathtaking views in FiDi
For impressing out-of-town clients, Manhatta in the Financial District soars 60 stories and stuns diners with floor-to-ceiling windows. The food—French fare from acclaimed chef and restaurateur Danny Meyer—receives modest reviews, but it’s the setting and cocktail list that keep the clientele coming back.
Gaze up toward the Empire State Building as you try the scotch snails, or admire the statue of Liberty and Brooklyn’s buzzing waterways as you tuck into the roast chicken. The $38 “Quix Fix” three-course lunch menu is an ideal option if you want to keep lunch to less than an hour. Beautifully designed and truly a tribute to New York City, Manhatta is best enjoyed during the day, when the sun is shining on the harbor, and the skyline is visible in crystal clear detail.
#5 Try something new in Williamsburg
A hotel restaurant in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Reynard is much more impressive than your standard on-site dining affair. An in-house butcher escalates the menu with beef tongue and pig heads, and even the more conventional entrees receive rave reviews.
With American cuisine cooked over an open flame, everything at Reynard—from the roasted squash to the half chicken—will evoke feelings of home. Plus, it’s likely one of the only places in Williamsburg you can feel at home wearing business attire.
#6 Enjoy a quick, coffee-fueled lunch near Madison Square Park
You’ll smell Bourke Street Bakery, a casual lunch spot near Madison Square Park, before you see it. This Sydney institution is making waves in New York City, in part for its pastries and Australian sausage rolls.
The leather seating makes for easy conversation, and the lunch menu includes smashed avocado toast, seared salmon salad, and gourmet sandwiches. The cafe isn’t licensed to sell alcohol, but the coffee is strong and the setting is ideal for lunch with direct reports or prospective clients.
#7 Savor a famed tasting menu and views of Central Park at the Met
Even the most jaded business partners will feel a thrill when they arrive for lunch at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—and the Dining Room on the fourth floor will further that sense of awe. With views across Central Park and alternate menus for brunch, lunch, “late” lunch, and afternoon tea, this is the perfect destination to wrap up morning off-sites or brainstorming sessions.
Opt for the $54 prix-fixe lunch, which includes three courses of your choosing. Or, for special occasions, try the tasting menu created by Michelin chef John Fraser that changes with the seasons.
#8 Linger over comforting Italian on the West Side
Another all-day affair, award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini’s Locanda Verde is a blend of exposed brick, dark wood, leather seating, and Italian comfort food. Tucked into Tribeca’s West Side, the restaurant makes its pasta in-house and is renowned for its seafood, steak tartare, and sheep’s milk ricotta.
The food is rich and satisfying, and the extensive wine list and comfortable seating means you might want to reschedule your afternoon meetings.
Whether you’re meeting clients from out of town, or closing deals with local business partners, continuing the tradition of hosting business lunches in New York City is typically a delicious—and productive—affair.
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