We New Yorkers tend to be impatient. We’re always busy, always on the go – and we hate having to wait for anything, especially for food. Unfortunately, some of the best places to dine in NYC are well known – leaving both locals and tourists waiting and waiting (and still waiting) in these restaurant lines. By Sarah Shaker.
Still considered one of the best pizzas in the country, and one of the longest lines in NYC, Di Fara is definitely worth the wait for true pizza lovers. But, once you actually get inside the shop to place an order, remember you’re on “Di Fara time”, so your pizza might come out in 6 minutes or 60 minutes – depending on how fast the owner can turn out his famous pies, all by his own two hands.
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The ladies of Sex and the City made this bakery famous for their cupcakes, leaving the little West Village location mobbed with fans of the HBO series wrapped around the block. While there are other bakeries serving better cupcakes with a shorter wait within walking distance, locals know it’s well worth it to spend a few minutes waiting for Magnolia’s banana pudding.
Artichoke Basille's Pizza
This pizza joint on 14th Street may have opened in 2008 and has since opened up more city locations, but you can still expect a long line at the original spot. How can you resist that thick slice of spinach dip-topped pizza in place of brunch or for a late-night snack?
Creamy soft serve covered in creative toppings, along with a fun, colorful theme, keeps the line outside the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village very long – both day and night. Neighbors and tourists stop by for Salty Pimps and Bea Arthurs, while taking photos of the bling on the rainbow painted walls. If you’re trying to beat the summer heat at Big Gay Ice Cream, you may just need a water bottle to quench your thirst while you wait to get inside to place your order.
Brooklyn is the new Manhattan (or so it’s been said) and this artisanal foodie haven is one of the reasons for this borough’s always growing popularity. At peak hours, the lines may get messy and confusing, as they start to blend into a mishmash of fedoras, strollers and skinny jeans in the sweaty summer heat. Helpful tip: grab a snack from one vendor while you wait in line for the next.
This LES deli has the craziest line on weekends, packed with out-of-towners equipped with cameras in hand. After you’ve gotten inside to order by the counter or actually sat down at a table to indulge in your thickly sliced meat sandwich, don’t forget it’s time to wait again – to reach the cash register to pay your check. Whatever you do while inside this pastrami-loving joint, do not lose that little red ticket. You don’t want to find out what will really happen to those who try to leave without it.
53rd & 6th Halal Cart
The line for the halal cart at 53rd and 6th Ave is intense, but they serve the perfect lunch for office slaves stuck in Midtown cubicles who just aren’t in the mood to fight the tourists for food in the concourse of Rockefeller Center. From street meat to falafel, there’s an affordable Middle Eastern bite for everyone, as long as you don’t mind waiting then grabbing it to go in a styrofoam container to eat outside or back behind your desk.
Madison Square Park’s original location of Shake Shack is known for their juicy burgers, creamy milkshakes and long, long lines. Whether you’re waiting on your lunch break or visiting on a weekend, expect a line to order your burger, fries and shake. With locations around the city and at CitiField you may encounter less of a line at another Shake Shack, so why not hop in a cab if you can’t handle the wait?
Russ and Daughters
This old school Lower East side deli serves bagels with cream cheese and lox to long lines of hungry New Yorkers before their commute to work and to visitors on the weekends. You may want to avoid this shop on a Jewish holiday, as families picking up large orders will be taking up the space in this tiny deli, leaving you in line for hours on end.
As hip twenty-somethings are moving further out into Brooklyn, Bushwick is one of the newest cool neighborhoods to live and eat. Serving thin crust pies each day, like their well-known Bee Sting, and hosting the Tiki Disco party at their outdoor bar on summer Sundays, Roberta’s is THE spot to get your food, drink and dance on. The line for both dinner on a Saturday night and to get into the Sunday Funday are pretty long, but no matter your reason for visiting Roberta’s you’ll be happy you waited.
Sarah Shaker is the founder of the blog Bright Lights, My City.