We’ve explored the best places to eat and drink around the festival so you can focus on films and fun.
The Festival Hub—Morning, Noon & Night
Joins the festival’s movers and shakers (i.e. world-renowned directors and producers) for breakfast at Little Park at The Smyth Hotel—they’ll be fueling their days with chef and owner Andrew Carmellini’s organic, farmer’s market–inspired menu. The coconut and spelt pancakes with apples, apple cider syrup, and vanilla butter are the obvious decadent choice, otherwise the egg-white frittata with heirloom broccoli and New York State cheddar will start your day off right. Little Park is also open for lunch and dinner and this is where Carmellini’s menu (made up of small- and mid-sized plates) really soars. Don’t miss the mushroom spaghetti with poached egg and crispy shallots or the grilled scallops with charred sugar snaps, lemon, and brown butter. Sharing is encouraged, so order up a storm for the full experience. Remember, there’s always the elegant Evening Bar next door where the cocktails sparkle and the bar menu is also Carmellini-approved. It’s perfect for all that post-film party discussion.
Bright & Breezy Vibes
Aussie expats Giles Russell and Henry Roberts have already mastered the lovingly-made coffee, avocado toast, and warm banana bread at the Mott Street location of Two Hands. Now, their full-service restaurant of the same name on Church Street in Tribeca builds on the casual cool of their Chinatown location offering well-crafted, clean, and healthy dishes like smashed-pea-and-prosciutto toast and house-made, beet-cured salmon by chef Frankie Cox. The head bartender Aaron Shuttleworth, formerly of the NoMad, ensures that the cocktails are as fresh and seasonally-inspired as the food. Expect a cool yet unpretentious crowd.
The Bees Knees
The Lucky Bee, Nolita’s latest foodie hotspot on Broome Street, delivers farm-to-table Thai Street Food and one of the funkiest atmospheres downtown. The limited, daily-changing menu offers (slightly twisted) classic Thai dishes like steamed pork and sesame dumplings with Chinese black vinegar, black bean, and fried garlic and spice-infused cocktails with local honey. Plus a dollar of each drink sold goes to the New York City Beekeepers Association. Soon they hope to raise bees on the roof. Check out this wonderful new addition to the New York eating scene.
If Freemans (via the alley) is one of your staple local haunts, then prepare to be blown away by Le Turtle, where modern French cuisine takes on a new meaning—think spectacle-worthy crispy chicken for two which arrives steaming and sizzling to table. Taavo Somer (of Freemans) and Carlos Quirarte (of The Smile) have fused the best of Lower East Side cool with a rarely captured Parisian edge (French rap hums in the background). The eclectic and vibrant décor reflects the bright flavors of the menu. One visit to Le Turtle will reinvigorate your senses.
David Chang’s newest spot in Chelsea, Momofuku Nishi, draws inspiration from Italian and Korean dishes and offers one of the best new (seriously OMG) pasta dishes in New York—the ceci e pepe, which forgoes cheese for a tasty chickpea hozon. Other highlights include tofu with smoked trout roe, rye bonji, and Spicy Lamb Sichuan with lumache and mint.
Italian-Inspired Soho Chic
The team behind the stylish and sexy Estela have done it again with Cafe Altro Paradiso, their new Italian restaurant with a focus on pasta. The space, with its high ceilings and epic windows is larger than the 55-seat Estella, so you’re more likely to get a spot. The lasagnette is well worth the wait, as is the carpaccio and seared octopus, and meatier mains like chicken Milanese and ribeye. Book now, as you’re sure to rub shoulders with some festival heavyweights.
Best Intimate Wine Bar
Whether you’re looking for a before or after film screening meeting spot, La Soffita, with its cozy leather banquets, rustic walls lined with hundreds of bottles of Italian vino and expert mixologists on hand if you’re looking for more than expertly chosen wine, this is a hidden gem amidst the chaos of Wall Street. For more substantial Tuscan fare Felice Restaurante is the ideal accompaniment for a pre-party dinner or late night snack.
Your Best-Bet Burger
The East Village institution Hearth East Village (12 years and counting) has undergone a recent transformation—gone are the earthy tones replaced by crisp white tiles and marble. The menu too has been reborn with many delicious healthy veggie options. This said, the standout item is the newly conceived Variety Burger, which speaks to the blend of brisket, chuck, heart, and liver—with caramelized onions and fontina, and served bunless (because it doesn’t need one).