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A very specific request (in lower Manhattan)...

  • m

Ok, all you NYC 'hounds, I've got a question for you. My wife and I will be driving through lower Manhattan, specifically Little Italy, Chinatown (maybe) and Tribeca, on Saturday, September 29th at approximately 5:00AM. This is part of a much longer NC to ME trip, and we're detouring a bit as my wife has never been to NYC, and wants to see at least a bit of Little Italy as that's where her family first settled when they came over around WWII. Therefore, this will be a quick drive through the area, entering via the Williamsburg bridge and exiting via the Holland tunnel. We don't intend to divert much from what appears to be the straightest shot (Delancy to Lafayette to Canal).

So, the question is, within the context outlined above (very early morning, straightest shot through town), is there anyplace you recommend we stop for breakfast? I use the term "breakfast" loosely as it coincides with the time of day, but any type of food will do; we aren't picky at all. Where shall we eat? I hope something meets our criteria, and look forward to your responses.



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  1. The city that never sleeps actually sleeps between the hours of 4am and 8am. Very litte is open. There's probably a 24 hour diner in that area (yuck), but you're lucky you're going through Chinatown - you should be able to find Chinese breakfast that's definitely an experience, though it might be in a dive.

    1. i have one idea that's not too far off your route- aroma espresso bar is open 24 hours....they have good coffee, pastries, some egg sandwiches & platters, salads & sandwiches, though not sure if it is all availble all the time...

      1. I hate to say this, but you're asking for the nearly impossible.

        First, Little Italy has been swallowed up to a large degree by Chinatown. There's not much of it left anymore.

        Second, that part of town is dead until at least lunchtime. You won't have to deal with the usual traffic but all you'll see are the bags of garbage piled up from last night's restaurants that haven't been picked up yet and the occassional trash truck picking them up.

        1. It's been more years than I care to count, but I used to think of Chinatown as a place that had a few 24-hour restaurants (I want to say Hong Fat used to be open all night). I remember getting Chinese food after the bars closed at 4, so I would suggest driving down a few streets (Mott, Mulberry) and seeing if something is open.

          3 Replies
          1. re: LloydG

            69 Bayard is open 24hours and has surprisingly good food

              1. re: princeofpork

                I've walked past at 5am a couple of times and it was closed.

            1. There is a diner right next to the entrance to the Holland tunnel that sounds like it fits the bill. I'll scour for the name and address.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JungMann

                Are you talking about Moondance? They're closed now :(

              2. If you happen to pass through that neighborhood before 5am, I believe that the taqueria window at La Esquina remains open until 5. It's pretty bare-bones as far as ambiance is concerned (in stark contrast to the cafe and the restaurant/lounge downstairs, which unfortunately close at midnight), but the taqueria is inside a converted diner car and you could eat at the counter. Their food can occasionally pass for nice, authentic Mexican (tortas, corn, tacos), but the kitchen has been known to be highly inconsistent.
                It's right on your route if you follow Delancey straight on through until it terminates (I believe Delancey becomes Kenmare St right before it hits Lafayette)

                Try calling them to confirm hours - 646-613-1333.
                I've heard rumor that they're open for breakfast these days and might be offering breakfast burritos:

                La Esquina
                106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

                1. this used to be easy, as kossar bialies USED to be 24 hours, now closed in the nighttime. hong fat should be open 24/7 and there will be something in chinatown if you are adventurous. but if you really want a serious breakfast, hang around until Russ and Daughters opens at 9 and get some of the best smoked fish, roe, sweets, dried fruits and nuts, egg creams, etc. in the world. kossar might open early, but i'm pretty sure they are kosher and so wouldn't be open on a saturday morning... but russ definitely opens at 9... enjoy fb

                  1. I'm sure you can spare an extra 5 minutes and drive into the east village. Bust a right on Allen street and go up. There is Veselka thats open 24 hours.

                    1. VESELKA is a wonderful choice....Great spot in East Village....and tasty Eastern European breakfast options..Should also be full of colorful characters at that hour. GO.

                      1. Slightly off your route, but Bereket on Houston is 24 hours

                        1. Or a few blocks up from the Holland Tunnel is Florent - French/Diner - open 24 hours and a CH pleaser. The only problem i see is it being packed w/ drunk Meatpacking District clubgoers at that hour. But hey! Could be an interesting experience!

                          1. If you wait until 6:30 there is always Doughnut Plant as you come off the bridge. That would be a memorable treat.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Westrite

                              they might as well drive to a sit down spot for less wait.

                            2. i concur that:

                              1) there is nothing much left of little italy. you will see lots of garbabe on the streets going through china town.

                              2) veselka in the east village is an excellent choice

                              3) Florent in the meatpacking district is an excellent choice.

                              1. Gee Whiz diner on Greenwich Street and Murray Street (about 3 blocks north of World Trade Center, about 3/4 mile south of Holland Tunnel.) I believe it is open 24-7. A typical diner, decent food and prices.