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Along with arguing about pizza and ogling real estate, people-watching may as well be an official NYC pastime. And whether you’re low-key looking to bump into celebrities or just happy to watch the city parade by, these are the best seats in the house.

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sant ambroeus west village NY

Sant Ambroeus

The West Village branch of this Italian café is the perfect mix of stylish people and laid-back-by-day, romantic-by-night vibes. Grab a seat on its sunny sidewalk café for a cappuccino, avocado toast and a prime vantage point. (And save some room for cookies.) 

259 W. Fourth St. (at Perry St.); 212-604-9254 or santambroeus.com

gemma bowery hotel NY

Gemma at the Bowery Hotel

This not-so-secret gem is hopping at all hours of the day, and it’s not hard to see why. When we can have burrata-topped pizza and an eclectic crowd in equal measure, we’re happy campers.

335 Bowery (at E. Third St.); 212-505-7300 or theboweryhotel.com

balthazar NY

Balthazar

We’d follow that pain au chocolat anywhere, but we’d rather get our fix right at the source, along with oysters, steak frites and the feeling that we’ve somehow accidentally teleported to the chicest brasserie in Paris.

80 Spring St. (at Crosby St.); 212-965-1414 or balthazarny.com

Casa Lever NY
Casa Lever

Casa Lever

Nothing makes us feel like we’ve made it like splurging on a power lunch of lobster linguine alongside Midtown’s movers and shakers, in a dining room adorned with Andy Warhol portraits. NBD.

390 Park Ave. (at 53rd St.); 212-888-2700 or casalever.com

chrissy teigen john legend bar pitti NY
Raymond Hall/GC Images

Bar Pitti

We’re not saying you should go here just to spot a celeb, but there’s a very, very good chance you might. (Oh hey, Chrissy and John.) What you definitely will see is truffle-topped pasta and legendary meatballs—and really, isn’t that just as great? 

268 Sixth Ave. (at Bleecker St.); 212-982-3300 or barpitty.com

shake shack NY

Shake Shack

C’mon, there’s something beautiful about New Yorkers from all walks of life lining up together for burgers and concretes. And while there are many more locations these days, we’ll always have a soft spot for the original. (But if you must, order on the app and skip the line.) 

Madison Square Park (Madison Ave. at 23rd St.); 212-889-6600 or shakeshack.com 

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