These days, your lunch routine is probably so predictable that you know every person who works at the salad place two blocks from your office. But every once in a while, you get to go out on the company card, and you find yourself saying things like “let’s just try everything” as your clients debate which $16 side dishes to get for the table.
When you have an opportunity to go someplace more expensive and exciting than usual, you should take advantage of it, so try one of the spots on this guide. They all have excellent food, and atmospheres you’ll want to hang out in for as long as possible before going back to Slack or Bloomberg for the rest of the afternoon. For convenience’s sake, they’re also pretty quiet, and they take reservations. Here are 14 great options for your next business lunch.
The Workweek Guide is presented in partnership with Cole Haan. All restaurants and bars featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team.
Three-martini lunches aren’t really a thing anymore, but if they were, The Grill would be the place to have them. It’s in Midtown in the space that used to be the Four Seasons, and it’s run by the people behind Carbone and Dirty French. The food is excellent, and like the space (parts of which have been landmarked by the city), it’s designed to channel another era - so you can expect things like goose terrine, Dover sole, and a selection of dry-aged steaks, which the server brings out raw so you can choose the exact one you want. Whether or not you order martinis, very few places in the city say “power lunch” like The Grill.
You have a friendly rivalry with the people in your LA office, who love to take you to affordable, high-quality sushi spots and say, “See, New York can’t compete with this.” Well, the next time they come to New York, take them to Balthazar, a big bistro in Soho that screams New York. Not because of the food exactly (you’ll find classic French options like onion soup gratinee and moules frites), but definitely in terms of the atmosphere. The big, loud space is packed from 8am until midnight every day, with everyone from businesspeople to tourists carrying bags from stores on Broadway. So next time the people in your LA office bring you to Sugarfish, make sure to mention Balthazar - and also that we now have two Sugarfish locations of our own.
Augustine is from the same people behind Balthazar, and the two spots are similar in a lot of ways. This one’s a big, all-day French/Viennese bistro serving classic dishes like chicken liver mousse, tuna nicoise, and steak frites. Augustine also happens to be located in a hotel between Wall Street and City Hall, so there are fewer tourists wearing backpacks, and more people in suits talking shop and, like you, paying with a corporate card.
Manhatta won’t just impress the out-of-town clients you overheard making plans to visit the Empire State Building after work - it’ll even impress colleagues who spend more time in the Broad Street subway station than they do in their own living rooms. This French spot is on the 60th floor of a building in FiDi, and has floor-to-ceiling windows with some of the best skyline views you can get when you’re not on final descent into LaGuardia. Considering the location and backdrop, the prices are pretty reasonable as well (and lunch, unlike dinner, is a la carte).
Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, abcV should be near the top of your list for a nice business lunch. This place serves some of the best vegetable-based food in the city, like green chickpea hummus and a whole roasted head of cauliflower with turmeric tahini, and it’s also convenient to get to from most neighborhoods, as it’s inside a fancy Flatiron furniture store.
For some of the best food in Midtown East, head inside Grand Central itself. We’re not referring to hot dogs or reheated pizza slices from the food court downstairs - we’re talking about Agern, an upscale Nordic spot in the southwest corner of the terminal that serves a $40 prix fixe lunch menu. Start with the buttery, peppery beef tartare and then go with the arctic char or pork shoulder. If your boss is OOO or your clients want to kill more time before catching their train out of the city, get some chocolate mousse, too - or drink your dessert by getting something from the long, mostly American wine list.
Little Park is an American restaurant on the ground floor of a hotel in a non-touristy part of FiDi, and while it might not look all that interesting on the surface, trust us - you want to taste the food here. Try the sunchoke risotto, the roasted beet sandwich with smoked egg and avocado - or, generally speaking, anything with vegetables. The space is also big and full of spacious booths, a.k.a. ideal when you want to regale your colleagues with stories they’ll all politely pretend you’ve never told before.
It’s stressful to plan group lunches, and there’s added pressure when the consequence of picking a bad spot could mean a weekend full of Excel. No need to panic - just make a reservation at Upland. This American spot a block from Madison Square Park is about as close to a universal crowd-pleaser as you’re going to find. The long menu ranges from a great caesar salad to a cheeseburger to some of the best cacio e pepe in the city. The service is always fantastic, and the very nice space, while always busy, isn’t too loud for a real conversation.
There are a lot of restaurants in Soho that look like places where Anne Hathaway would’ve scheduled lunch meetings in The Devil Wears Prada, but Cafe Altro Paradiso is one of the only ones her chef boyfriend would also have approved of. This bright, attractive Italian spot serves a great wagyu burger with gorgonzola, and the pastas are enjoyable and light enough that you won’t need to pinch yourself to keep from falling asleep at your desk later on.
Locanda Verde is a cool Italian spot in Tribeca with a scene that works for celebrating your boss’s transfer to Cincinnati - but it’s also fancy enough to impress your colleague from compliance who doesn’t like it when people curse in meetings. No matter what type of business lunch this is, make sure to get some pasta and at least one order of the excellent sheep’s milk ricotta.
Le Coucou is definitely fancy. It has white tablecloths, candles on the tables, and French dishes that sound like medieval torture devices. But you can also wear jeans to this Soho spot, and not feel like a middle schooler who forgot to do their homework when you ask the server what the hell the “St-Jacques, souvenirs de l’Aber Wrac’h” is. It’s basically a big plate of thinly sliced scallops, and like all of the food here, it’s phenomenal.
Eating a giant steak drenched in a pool of fatty, buttery jus at lunch may mean an afternoon of alternating between espresso and Tums, but you won’t be complaining if you get that steak at Smith & Wollensky. You can’t go wrong with the filet (which is offered in five different variations) or any of the dry-aged steaks, but the best thing at this old-school Midtown steakhouse is the rich and slightly funky dry-aged prime rib. It’s massive (26 ounces), and the jus makes it feel much heavier than that, so consider sharing it with someone unless you already have the espresso and Tums waiting for you at your desk.
Untitled is an entertaining place to bring clients for lunch. Not only is it inside The Whitney museum in Meatpacking, but it also has massive floor-to-ceiling windows, so it’s pretty good for people-watching. It’s from the people behind Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, and if you’ve been to those spots, you can expect the same service and overall experience of feeling personally catered to. The menu changes pretty often, but the new American food, like a shiitake mushroom flatbread and fried chicken thighs with hummus, is reliably good.