New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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The quintessential restaurants to visit during your time at NYU

You can’t graduate without having dined at these local treasures. Here are 11 iconic restaurants all NYU students must try.
Max Van Hosen
(Illustration by Max Van Hosen)

Whether you’re still settling into your freshman year or just about to graduate, you can’t call yourself a Violet if you haven’t tried at least one of these restaurants. Our very own Greenwich Village, East Village and Union Square neighborhoods house some of the best restaurants in the city. From satisfying, cheap eats to unbeatable fine dining, here are some must-visit restaurants to dine at during your time at NYU. 

The storefront of the restaurant with the text “Hello Saigon” printed on the window.
(Nic Chang for WSN)

Hello Saigon | Vietnamese $ | 180 Bleeker St.

A red-brick wood-lined hidden gem of Greenwich Village, Hello Saigon is our favorite post-exam retreat. After a stressful day of classes, you can always find students gathered here in flocks to wind down and relish in hearty noodle or rice dishes. Between their fried crispy soft-shell crab and classic phở dặc biệt with eye of round steak, well done brisket and beef balls, they never skimp out on the meat. Given their generous portions, the value is tough to beat — some phở on the menu is priced as low as $14. To top it all off, their perfectly bittersweet Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk — available hot or iced — will give you the boost of energy you so desperately need to survive the rest of the day.

The interior of Sooth.r., with people working behind a bar.
(Sophia Herzog for WSN)

Soothr | Thai $$ | 204 E 13th St.

Recognized on the 2021 and 2022 MICHELIN Guide and named an NYT Critic’s Pick, Soothr is regarded as one of the best restaurants in the city. Located between the Palladium, Founders and Third North residence halls, Soothr has become a popular neighborhood spot for NYU students who crave tantalizing Thai flavors with a modern twist. Their signature noodle soups — like the Sukhothai tom yum soup — are to die for. This hot and sour soup with pork, fish cake and dried shrimp is a must-have, even if it’s over 90 degrees outside. If you’re a meat lover, get the si-krong pad ped — braised spareribs tossed in a variety of herbs and chili. Whether you’re by yourself or with friends, sitting in the restaurant’s lively and comforting red-lantern atmosphere while sipping on one of their signature “9 gems” cocktails is sure to raise your dining standards.

The exterior of “Bites of Xi’An”.
(Qianshan Weng for WSN)

Bites of Xi’an 84 | Chinese $ | 84 E 10th St.

Bites of Xi’an 84 is a quaint cafeteria-style restaurant just off 4th Ave., serving up some of the best hand-pulled noodles you’ll ever try. It is cherished by much of NYU’s international and East Asian student community. When you need something quick and filling that won’t break the bank, order their authentic stewed beef noodle soup for only $13.95. The tender brisket melts in your mouth, and the hand-ripped noodles soak up all of the broth’s rich chili oil. Make sure to check out their handmade pork and chive dumplings, too, and douse them with a hefty amount of chili oil. After indulging in this spicy feast, don’t be surprised if you fall into a food coma as soon as you get back home.

A bowl of sweet potato fries with two dipping sauces on the corner of an outdoor table at Ruby’s Cafe.
(Gabriel Vasconcellos for WSN)

Little Ruby’s Cafe | Australian $$ | 198 E 11th St.

We have a hunch that you’ll like brunch at Little Ruby’s Cafe. Just around the corner from Third North and Alumni Hall, this Australian eatery does the classics like no other. “Brekkie” items such as the egg sandwich and ricotta hotcakes are not only fresh and simple, but charmingly Instagrammable. Avocado toast anywhere else might just be green and boring, but at Ruby’s, it’s green from the mash, pink from the radish and red and yellow from the ripe cherry tomatoes. 

The interior of Ruby’s Cafe.
(Gabriel Vasconcellos for WSN)

If you can’t be bothered to wake up early for brunch, their all-day lunch and dinner menu full of bowls, burgers and pastas is just as delectable. We recommend sitting outdoors in their street shed so you can take a closer look at all the other diners’ colorful dishes and take in the beautiful East Village scenery, letting your camera and eyes eat first. 

The interior of Boucherie with an arched white tiled ceiling.
(Zoe Avraamides for WSN)

Boucherie Union Square | French $$$ | 225 Park Ave. S

To celebrate the end of finals season or landing an internship, go to Boucherie in Union Square. With a joie de vivre ambiance accompanied by white marble tables, luxurious leather booths and original Belle Époque posters, Boucherie is perfect for an elevated and dynamic dining experience. Their most famous dishes — the vanilla Malagasy crème brûlée and wonderful steak frites with herb butter — have helped them earn an OpenTable’s 2023 Diner’s Choice rating.

The interior of Boucherie with an arched white tiled ceiling.
(Zoe Avraamides for WSN)

If you’re trying to impress a date, we recommend ordering the luxurious magret de canard à l’orange — roasted duck breast with orange sauce. If you’re feeling extra spirited, don’t be afraid to browse their extensive wine list with whites and reds and Dom Perignon galore. 

The interior of Desi Deli Indian Kitchen, with a person standing behind a counter.
(Meena Senapathi for WSN)

Desi Stop Deli | Indian $ | 75 2nd Ave.

Desi Stop Deli is the only takeout-only shop on this list because it’s just that good. Two blocks away from the StudentLink Center, it is a haven for the tastiest vegetarian and vegan fare. Students can enjoy Punjabi staples at incredibly low prices, such as a classic samosa for just $2.50. You also can’t go wrong with their popular channa bahtoora — chickpea curry with deep-fried bread — which will delightfully tingle your taste buds. Next time you’re looking for an easy affordable meal, forget about the Stern School of Business and Bobst Library food trucks because this humble shop does it all. 

The exterior of “Raku” with people waiting in line on a bench.
(Sol Casimiro for WSN)

Raku | Japanese $$ | 48 MacDougal St.

During your time at NYU, you might walk right past Raku’s minimalist, unassumingly gray concrete and beige-curtain exterior without realizing that it’s actually one of the most in-demand restaurants. Don’t underestimate Raku’s diverse profile of critically acclaimed udon. Named one of Yelp’s Top 30 Places Worth the Wait in NYC, Raku serves chewy udon noodles in a bowl of hot dashi-based broth, fixed with toppings to your heart’s desire such as shrimp tempura, nameko mushrooms, washugyu beef and more. Especially after a long night out, their mild udon makes for the perfect headache or sore throat cure.The side dishes are equally scrumptious, such as the chicken tatsuta-age (marinated deep-fried chicken), sabazushi (mackerel sushi) and ankimo (monkfish liver), all of which transport you to the world of authentic Japanese cuisine.

A close-up of a bowl of Bibimbap.
(Julia Smerling for WSN)

 Su Jeo | Korean $$ | 82 W 3rd St.

A fan favorite among Korean students and only a block away from Washington Square Park, Su Jeo serves quick and filling Korean dishes. Its walls are covered in a breathtaking mural of an idyllic countryside scene, warmly welcoming customers in for a hearty meal.

The interior of Su-Jeo.
(Julia Smerling for WSN)

Their sweet and savory tteokbokki is a delectable combination of rice cakes and fish cakes smothered in a spicy gochujang sauce. If you’re there with friends, be sure to order a ssam dish, which comes with a plate full of deliciously-cooked meat, and a bowl of rice and lettuce wraps — ideal for sharing. Wash down your grand feast with their wide variety of Soonhari soju, from mango to strawberry to citron.

The facade of The Smith on third avenue. In front of the restaurant are outdoor dining sheds.
(Darryl Linardi for WSN)

The Smith | American $$ | 55 3rd Ave.

Right down the block from Third North, The Smith boasts an extensive menu of American diner dishes, perfect for a no-frills, deluxe dinner. Their mac and cheese is piping hot and oozing with cheese — it’s simple, but flawlessly done. The shrimp tagliatelle is another highlight of the menu — its presentation is stunning, with a base of black squid ink pasta, a hefty serving of shrimp and a golden-brown crumbling of garlic bread to finish the dish. We recommend heading to The Smith to grab brunch with a friend or two. Its bright and casual atmosphere paired with its hearty meals make it a go-to place to get the weekend started.  

A sandwich from Rubirosa on a plate held up on a street in Little Italy.
(Amaya Tavares for WSN)

Rubirosa | Italian $$ | 235 Mulberry St.

Just a 15-minute walk from Washington Square Park, Rubirosa is an Italian spot in the heart of Nolita that’s made a name for itself with its classic pizzas. Its signature TIE DYE™ pizza, created in 2011, has a base of vodka and tomato sauce, swirled with pesto and topped with fresh mozzarella. It’s everything you could want, all on one pie. But if you’re tired of eating pizza for dinner every night, we’d suggest trying the Lumache alla Vodka from their pasta menu, a classic vodka sauce pasta that’s sure to fill you up. This cozy yet lively spot is perfect for an intimate conversation with friends over some classic Italian fare. 

The exterior of Tortaria with pedestrians on the street.
(Natalia Kempthorne-Curiel for WSN)

Tortaria | Mexican $ | 94 University Pl.

Conveniently located near Weinstein Hall and Washington Mews, this restaurant is buzzing with locals and tourists alike. If you’re starving after your three-hour class, their crispy tortilla chips will tide you over until the stars of the show, the main dishes, arrive. From taquito platters with spicy fries to chicken chili chimichangas, Tortaria’s fresh ingredients and bold flavors are hard to beat. The torta, a popular Mexican sandwich, is served on warm semolina bread spread with chipotle mayo and your choice of meat — pulled pork, braised short ribs or panko-crusted chicken cutlet. Most options are affordable and come with blended black beans, giving you a protein boost to energize you throughout the rest of the day, or even the week. So, the next time you and your friend need a bite after class, take a quick walk down University Place for a satisfying yet affordable dinner fix.

Contact Andrea Lui and Daeun Lee at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Andrea Lui, Dining Editor
Andrea Lui is a sophomore at Stern studying Business with concentrations in Finance and Computing & Data Science and a minor in Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology. She developed a profound love for writing while performing poetry, prose and dramatic monologues for over 10 years as a competitive public speaker. At NYU, she's also an Admissions Ambassador and serves as the External Relations Co-Director of the Board of Undergraduate Stern Women in Business. Andrea is on a mission to try every single restaurant in New York City … Check out @lui.andrea on Instagram to see if she succeeds.
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