The Eleven Best Restaurants for Munchies in NYC, 2015


Question for you, New York: Are you more of a wake-and-baker or a late-night social smoker? Do you get high to ponder the meaning of life, or are you forever chasing the euphoria of the first time you smoked and then laughed until you couldn’t breathe? Do you smoke at all? Maybe you forgo the weed for good old friendly alcohol? No matter how you like to get your buzz, New York City is a veritable playground for feeding your resulting munchies. Back away from the $1 slice of pizza and head to one of these eleven places instead.

Wake-and-Bake Destinations

The Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway, Queens; 718-777-0913)
Ben Sandler and Jennifer Lim’s Astoria café has been ground zero for superlative grilled cheese ever since opening in 2011 — the restaurant serves the creamy, crunchy delicacy starting at dawn. The indulgent breakfast sandwich banks on a double dose of queso: Silky, milky ricotta joins just-cooked eggs on pillowy Balthazar brioche, the outside of which comes encased in a crisp of browned gruyère. If your good morning vibes take you to an adventurous place (figuratively speaking), there are versions with blue cheese and prune jam on cranberry-walnut bread, and manchego pressed between slices of herbed focaccia. — Zachary Feldman

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream (2 Rivington Street, 212-209-7684)
High or not, ice cream for breakfast is always the right call. Mornings at Nick Morgenstern’s Lower East Side scoop shop — known for the enterprising chef’s exacting approach to flavors (including five separate expressions each of vanilla and chocolate) — feature composed breakfast desserts like avocado toast that finds avocado ice cream spread across thick slices of Japanese milk bread toast and drizzled with olive oil, and salt-and-pepper bread pudding with beets and cultured yogurt. Best of all, everything on the menu is under $10, and most of it is decadent enough to share. — Zachary Feldman

Barney Greengrass (541 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-724-4707)
Let third-generation owner Gary Greengrass be your groovy seafood shaman at this 107-year-old smoked-fish emporium on the Upper West Side, the oldest surviving appetizing counter and restaurant in the city. Meaty, pearly white sturgeon and creamy whitefish hit the table as hard as you do your vaporizer thanks to the no-bullshit waitstaff, who add to the beige dining room’s time-capsule appeal. Stop by the long counter up front on the way out to keep the party going into the afternoon. What’s better than an afternoon nap? An afternoon nap with lox on the other side. — Zachary Feldman

Shopsin’s General Store (120 Essex Street, no phone)
The 1,000+-item menu at the Shopsin family’s Essex Street Market café routinely stymies even sober diners, so try to take a look at the Talmudic document beforehand. Dishes like pastrami reuben latkes and mac ‘n’ cheese pancakes were made for hazy mornings, and specials bring new meaning to the word (eggs and gumbo cheese grits with a slab of batter-fried cinnamon cornbread, for example). Patriarch Kenny Shopsin presides over the controlled chaos, a man with enough character for several entertainment franchises. — Zachary Feldman


Chicken tenders (a/k/a “Littles”), Dizzy’s (511 9th Street, Brooklyn, 718-499-1966; 230 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-230-5551)
The “Littles” at Dizzy’s combine all the hallmarks of stellar stoner cuisine — fried chicken, sugar-laced breakfast cereal, and heady insider lingo. They’re billed as tenders, but the $10 munchies — free-range white-meat chicken jacketed in crushed Frosted Flakes — are more commonly referred to by their off-menu nickname. Backed by house-made chipotle BBQ and marmalade honey mustard sauces, seven-piece servings are begging for a dip, slaking even the driest of mouths. — Brad Japhe

Cheesesteak spring rolls, Two Door Tavern (115 North 5th Street, Brooklyn; 718-599-0222)
Philadelphia and Asia may be miles apart, but their food contributions come together in the form of cheesesteak spring rolls at Two Door Tavern. Sliced beef and melted cheese come together inside the crisp, doughy casing, and the addition of queso and spicy ketchup sauces on the side means you can drunk-dunk your dinner. — Billy Lyons

Popcorn, Distilled (211 West Broadway, 212-601-9514)
The freebie popcorn at Distilled is annoyingly addictive, which makes it a good snack to chow down on mindlessly when you’re, well, mindless. Tossed liberally in a spicy/smoky/sweet “magic dust” of yeast, garlic, gochugaru, sugar, and a few other layered spices, your fingers find it even when you’re “not that hungry.” — Jacqueline Raposo

Mapo tofu chili cheese fries, King Noodle (1045 Flushing Avenue, 718-456-6543)
King Noodle has slowly dialed down the psychedelic vibe of its dishes here (remember the Doritos carbonara, anyone?), and now you’ll find a tight list of noodles and snacks. But a few remnants of the early days remain, including the mapo tofu chili cheese fries. This is just what it sounds like: shoestring fries laden with prickly mapo tofu and molten American cheese, an addictive combination that’s good for feeding a substance-fueled craving, or beginning a big night. — Laura Shunk

The Chili Mac & Cheese, Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue (433 Third Avenue, Brooklyn)
This chili mac ‘n’ cheese is everything right about Saturday night. You’d think it might be a terrible sloppy hybrid, but no — textures and tastes stay distinct. Melting chunks of deeply smoked, darkly spiced brisket hunker down in a comforter of sweet, bubbling cheesy pasta, then the whole thing is topped off with extra cheese for good measure. It comes in layers, like a mac ‘n’ cheese–chili brisket-cheese parfait. Pretty? No. Absolutely not. Magnificent? Yes. — Katherine Knowles

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Joe & Misses Doe (45 East First Street, 212-780-0262)
It’s no secret that the married proprietors of this East Village nook experiment with the green stuff — and no, we’re not talking about mainlining kale juice. Starting on Monday, 4/20, and running all week, the duo will honor herb with the return of their “stoner grilled cheese,” thick slices of challah pressed around a molten mass of cheddar, queso blanco, and cotija cheeses. The special runs from 4:20 p.m. until 8:40 p.m. (four hours and twenty minutes, natch). The price of admission? $4.20, of course. — Zachary Feldman

Anything, Do or Dine (1108 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-684-2290)
Plates are never quite what they seem on the menu at Do or Dine, which might blow your addled mind should you pop in here post-bake. Load up on frog legs lacquered with Dr. Pepper glaze, Nippon nachos built on wonton shells, and pork shumai with pastrami sour cream. And for God’s sake, don’t miss the foie gras doughnut, a loaded sweet-savory pastry you’ll be tempted to order by the dozen. — Laura Shunk