Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop, but I need a mid-day reprieve or else I turn into a cranky monster. Carbs and couture generally don’t mix, so plan ahead, try on the most important things before lunch, and save the tipsy afternoon purchases for accessories. Below are my picks for lunch spots throughout NYC’s best shopping areas, so whether your style is sales and salads uptown or art and aperitifs in Chelsea, you can focus more on the important things like snagging that last pair of Chloe booties in your size.
Amaranth is ground-zero for ladies who lunch professionally, with air-kissing staff and a menu designed for small waistlines and large wallets. This the quintessential uptown eatery, with smartly dressed men and women making up the lunch scene, nannies and children in early evening, and sophisticated locals at night. The staff is always nicer to faces that they recognize (like Ms. Nina’s) but mere mortals can have a pleasant time by making a reservation and not expecting a table up front. The menu at Amaranth is amazing and huge, with enough options that regulars can dine several times a week and not get bored. Everything is excellently prepared and fresh.
21 East 62nd Street (off Madison)
Freds at Barneys
Take the elevator directly to the top floor of Barneys- do not stop for shoes on five, do not head to the basement for beauty products, just put your blinders on, get in that elevator and head up. You can work off your lunch by taking the escalator down and walking the floors after you indulge in some Italian fare. Unless you want to fight your way into a seat at the bar, please make a reservation at Fred’s; even though you might still have to wait a bit, it will make the whole experience much more pleasant. Service here is passable at best, but the food makes up for it; be dainty and get the famous Mark’s Madison Avenue salad, or be indulgent and get my favorite thing in the world, the Emiglia Romana pizza.
660 Madison Avenue
Soho is a little bit more than a glorified mall now, and pushing your way through throngs of tourists can really build up an appetite, so consider Lure your food court. The fish-centric menu also has some sushi, and one of the best burgers in the city. There are salads and deviled eggs and specialty cocktails, all in a nautical inspired setting, now what is more fun than that? This is a great go-to spot any time of day, although rumor has it that the landlord is trying to kick them out, perhaps to give Prada some more room. Lure will definitely not give you buyer’s remorse.
142 Mercer Street (at Prince)
Oh Meatpacking, how you have changed since the days when they only thing for sale in the area was actual meat and tranny hookers. There is quite a show to be seen during the day in the area, and no better spot to sip and stare than Barbuto. After scoping out the sale at Jeffrey, head down Washington to Jonathan Waxman’s temple to all things delicious; forget crocodile, the only skin on your mind after a meal here will be crispy delicious chicken skin. The chicken is to die for, as are the fresh pastas and salads.
775 Washington Street
El Quinto Pino
If your vice is more Damien Hirst than Donna Karan, and you spend the day trolling around galleries in Chelsea, then this is the perfect place to toast your purchases. Located on a rather random part of west Chelsea, El Quinto Pino is a little piece of Spain, a wine bar with a serious menu of authentic tapas. Think tortilla espanola with morcilla and of course, the famous uni toast. Every day of shopping needs some spanish, whether it is Balenciaga or Blahnik…
401 West 24th Street
Lower Fifth Avenue has evolved recently into a catwalk of mainstream chain options ( MAC, BCBG, J Crew, Intermix), but in a less congested way than its northern counterpart. Do something authentic to cleanse your soul of the corporatization of the area and head to Upland. Although part of the larger Stephen Starr empire, Upland is an true, original spot to fill up at . There are many options to please every level of hunger (from crisp, bright salads to more hearty pastas and sandwiches); our favorite is the kale and sausage pizza, which in fashion terms would be called “high/low”. Lunch, brunch, or dinner, Upland has you covered, like your favorite leather biker jacket you snagged on sale.
345 Park Avenue South