Can’t Get in at One of These Mega-Popular Restaurants? Here’s Where to Go Instead
Some restaurants—no matter how long they’ve been open, what day of the week it is or whether there's currently a snowstorm outside—always seem to have a line. For many, it’s a literal queue, and for others, it means obsessively checking for reservations every. Damn. Day. The good news? You live in a serious restaurant town, which means there’s no shortage of just-as-delicious alternatives waiting in the wings.
Don't Feel Like Facing the Roberta’s Crowd? Try Ops
Sure, you can technically cheat the lines and still get Roberta’s pizza by visiting its outpost at UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, but the food hall experience and suit-wearing Midtown crowd really kills the whole vibe. Find excellent pizza much closer to Bushwick at Ops, where beautifully-charred pies—made with naturally leavened (aka sourdough) crust—can be enjoyed in the rustic brick-lined dining room, along with a “fancy negroni” from the cocktail menu.
346 Himrod St., Brooklyn; opsbk.com
Ridiculous Brunch Line at Jacob’s Pickles? Try Pizzeria Sirenetta
It’s probably harder to find a New Yorker who hasn’t been on a Jacob’s Pickles wait list than one who has. And most of the time, the comfort-food brunch is well worth it. But there’s also an equally crowd-pleasing UWS brunch just a few blocks away at Pizzeria Sirenetta. The Italian eatery—sibling to the oyster-shucking Mermaid Inn—hits all the right notes with its sweet (amaretti-crusted French toast, chocolate-hazelnut-topped pancakes) and savory (a killer mortadella egg sandwich) options. Order a side of ricotta zeppoles and you’ll be asking, “What biscuits?”
568 Amsterdam Ave.; pizzeriasirenetta.com
Can’t Nab a Res at Sushi Nakazawa? Try Sushi on Jones
When you finally run out of patience trying to snap up barside seats at Sushi Nakazawa, opt for its fish-dealing neighbor Sushi on Jones. Thanks to a lightning-fast omakase policy—meals are capped at 30 minutes—the West Village spot (with another loation in NoHo) turns seats over multiple times a night. Plus, for the affordable tipping-included $50 menu, you can eat at Sushi on Jones three times for the price of one Nakazawa meal (though, FYI, it’s worth saving up for a special occasion). Just remember that reservations are made via text message.
Two locations in Manhattan; sushionjones.com
Didn’t Beat the Weekend Rush at Sunday in Brooklyn? Try Chez Ma Tante
You’ve probably seen Sunday in Brooklyn’s pancakes on Instagram. Stacked three high, the uber-fluffy rounds are smothered in brown butter and hazelnut maple praline sauce, a dreamy photo op that has brunchers lining up every weekend. For a more immediate (and equally photogenic) pancake fix, consider Chez Ma Tante, the Greenpoint bistro helmed by chef Aidan O’Neal. With crispy, charred edges and a heavy helping of maple syrup, it’s no surprise the buttery flapjacks have started to develop their own robust following.
90 Calyer St., Brooklyn; chezmatantenyc.com
Too Impatient for a Scoop at Morgenstern’s? Try Stax Ice Cream
Every summer—or heck, over-65-degree day—the line for Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream snakes down Rivington with New Yorkers eager to sample the shop’s latest innovative creations. Sweet tooths who want their wait for ice cream to last as long as the frozen stuff should pop over to Stax. While the signature dessert is an ice cream-stuffed doughnut, the scoops are incredible on their own, thanks to addictive flavors like cornflake bourbon and jasmine milk tea.
279 Grand St.; staxicecream.com
Wait List at SriPraPhai Bumming You Out? Try Ayada
When lines get daunting at Woodside’s legendary SriPraPhai (where’s a good bar when you need it?), skip over to the next ’hood—Elmhurst—where there’s a community of outstanding Thai restaurants to choose from. Ayada is cozier and less rushed, so you’ll have plenty of time to tuck into the fragrant duck Penang curry and crispy fried red snapper.
7708 Woodside Ave., Queens; ayada-thai.com
No Luck Booking a Feast at Cote? Try Atoboy
Merging fancy steakhouse aesthetics with Korean BBQ flavors proved to be a win for Flatiron’s Cote…meaning prime-time tables for its prix-fixe Butcher’s Feast are still difficult to come by. On the other side of Madison Square Park sits Atoboy, the banchan-inspired restaurant run by husband-and-wife team Junghyun and Ellia Park. For $42 per person, you can feast on three elevated small plates each (the creamy sunchokes with oyster mushrooms and truffles, and garlicky fried chicken slicked with spicy peanut butter are must-orders). It’s best to bring a group and sample the whole menu. (Trust us on this one.)
42 E. 28th St.; atoboynyc.com
Need Your Pastrami Fix Faster Than Katz’s Can Give It to You? Try Harry & Ida’s
Tired of fighting with tourists to get into Katz’s? The Lower East Side institution will always remain the pastrami OG, but newcomer (relative to Katz’s, at least) Harry & Ida is no slouch. The brother-and-sister-owned deli’s take pairs slices of smoked pastrami with a tangy cucumber kraut, cracked ryeberry, anchovy mustard and fresh dill tucked inside a fluffy hero. It’s not traditional by any means, but it is extremely delicious.