The best late-night and 24-hour eats around campus
The ultimate guide to the city’s nighttime eateries that aren’t just dollar slice joints or diners.
March 29, 2022
A late snack is a lifesaver. Maybe it’s a Friday night and your feet are exhausted, a pain magnified by the heels you wore to the club. Or it’s a Wednesday and your eyes need a break from staring at your computer screen, cramming for exams. Food is fuel and midnight snacks are a necessity for college students’ spontaneity and productivity. While some restaurants shortened their business hours as a result of COVID-19, there are still plenty of places open until 3 a.m. or later. So whether you’re looking for a bite to eat after a night out with friends or a treat to reward yourself for a lengthy study session, rest assured — New York has it all. Here are eight late night spots within a mile radius of the East Village and Washington Square Park for the next time you need a little pick me up at an ungodly hour.
Empanada Mama has been my obsession for the past few months. There’s something for everyone on their expansive menu, which features 40 flavors of empanadas. You can sit down and savor your choice of the average price of about $4 at the closest location in the Lower East Side — or order on GrubHub if you don’t feel like leaving home. The Romeo and Juliet empanada is my personal favorite, filled with a delicious blend of guava and mozzarella cheese to create the perfect ratio of savory and sweet. They also have a variety of arepas, Colombian stuffed cornmeal cakes, including their signature Mozzarepa which is filled with mozzarella cheese. For those over 21, slushy margaritas and sangria start at just $8.
Heavenly Market is practically Third Avenue North’s second dining hall, located in between the dorm’s 11th and 12th street entrances. It’s a typical New York deli where you can have pancakes and omelets for dinner or falafel sandwiches for breakfast. They even have smoothies if you’re looking for something a little healthier than my go-to order, the Greek omelet. Smoothies — priced at around $8 — range from the chocolatey protein-packed Choco Nana, the Going Green smoothie, the refreshing fruity flavors of the Morning Burst Smoothie and basically any other smoothie flavor combinations you can think of.
It’s hard to imagine anyone at NYU being unfamiliar with Joe’s Pizza, a self-described “Greenwich Village Institution.” Joe Pozzuoli, an immigrant from Naples, Italy, has owned and operated the restaurant since its establishment in 1975. Although the prices at Joe’s aren’t as low as those at Two Bros, $3.50 isn’t too bad for a slice of cheese pizza. Plus Joe’s has its own Wikipedia page. It’s an arguably irrelevant metric of popularity, but Two Bro’s doesn’t have one. Joe’s has also been featured in the video games “Grand Theft Auto III” and “Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories” as well as the 2004 film “Spider-Man 2.”
Yes, it’s a grocery store, but their prepared food section is underrated. The location on Third Avenue and 12th Street is open 24 hours and carries plenty of ready-to-eat or microwavable meals. The market is a family-owned business, which started when the Zoitas family brought their love of authentic cooking and quality food from Lefkada, Greece to New York in 1977. Maria Zoitas serves as the creative force reinventing family recipes for Westside’s prepared food section, which you can find at all five locations. You can try their Mini Spinach rolls, similar to the Greek dish spanakopita, for $7.99 or mozzarella sticks for $8.99.
Sunny and Annie’s is a hidden gem located east of Tompkins Square Park. Their menu is never-ending with hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches and wraps named after celebrities and politicians. For example, the Biden sandwich is made with chicken cutlet, muenster cheese, avocado, sundried tomato, onion sprouts and ranch dressing on a croissant, while the Joe-Bana has grilled chicken, pepperoni, basil, melted mozzarella, tomato, walnut and spaghetti sauce on a hero. The creativity continues with the ingenuity of five different sandwiches inspired by the flavors of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. Most of the sandwiches cost $10.
According to their website, Mamoun’s is the “oldest falafel restaurant in New York.” It is certainly a longtime favorite of NYU students and New Yorkers alike. Mamoun and Maria Chater came to the U.S. in 1969, in a wave of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants following the removal of post-World War II immigration quotas. They opened Mamoun’s in 1971. Back then, their 200-square-foot hole-in-the-wall restaurant was perhaps the only place in the city to try falafel; they used makeshift tables and buckets served as seats. However, Mamoun’s gained popularity quickly through word of mouth and now has 10 locations across the country. Nearly six decades later, the restaurant is still family-owned and operated with the mission of delivering fresh and authentic Middle Eastern cuisine and warm hospitality. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and all meat served is halal. The falafel sandwich costs $5.49 and falafel side is $2.99. With locations on MacDougal Street and St. Mark’s Place, great falafel and baba ganoush are just around the corner.
How could I write a list of late-night dining spots and not include one of New York’s most famous eateries? Last, but most definitely not least, we have the Halal Guys. It began as a hot dog cart in 1990, but later switched to serving warm platters of rice, meat and falafel to Muslim taxi drivers in the city. The cart became a hit among other New Yorkers and soon expanded into restaurants at multiple locations throughout the city and country. For $10.79, you can order one of their platters, which comes with the option of chicken, beef or falafel on a bed of yellow rice and topped with plenty of yogurt-based white sauce. The restaurant also offers sandwiches for $8.44 and a side of falafel for $4.59.
Contact Carina Christo at [email protected]