My friend Jordan recently took me to lunch at Cafeteria in the Meatpacking District. He’d been raving about this place for at least a year now and has gone multiple times, so I finally gave in a few weeks ago.
The interior of the restaurant is modern and airy, with lots of clean lines and Instagram-worthy vignettes. Make sure to sneak into the back dining area, which I assume is for large reservations or private parties, for a look at the Pop art display and decked out tablescape. The wait staff all look like models and Mariah Carey’s had brunch there, so that’s gotta be saying something right?
[BONUS | Watch my vlog below for shots of the food and cute decor!]
The food is typical American fare: burgers, sandwiches, salads, and other diner-esque offerings with an upscale vibe. On my recent visit, it was a hit and miss. But the dishes that were good are definitely worth going back for.
That said, let’s get the not-so-great stuff out of the way. I had a very forgettable crispy chicken sandwich, served with a pickle slaw that would have been better if it was tangier instead of sweet. (Jordan recommends the burger instead). You can probably tell from the photo below, but the sweet potato fries I ordered on the side were almost unbearably salty, making my entree a little disappointing overall.
But apart from the fries, Cafeteria totally kills it with the sides. Just let me tell you about the accompaniments. As a starter, we had the softest buttermilk biscuits I’ve had in … probably ever … served warm with jam and a rich, creamy butter that had me tempted to double dip. (I’m told these are complimentary during dinner service, but we had to order them as an appetizer during breakfast/lunch.)
We also ordered the smoked gouda and bacon mac and cheese, which was really good. I often find myself underwhelmed by the mac and cheese at restaurants, either because they use the wrong cheese or it’s not savory enough or some other thing that misses the mark. But, this one had a good amount of cheesy gooiness, and who doesn’t love bacon bits? I have to say though, I’m glad we shared because I don’t think I could have finished one on my own.
Finally, we finished the meal off with a decadent warm fallen chocolate caked served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and passion fruit drizzle. It was pretty much impossible to mess this up because I live for any sort of molten chocolate cake, but the sour notes of the passion fruit and mild vanilla ice cream were a perfect complement to the sweet, rich chocolate.
The final verdict? 3.5/5
I’m still trying to decide whether the amazing sides are enough to cancel out my disappointing entree (most people don’t even order appetizers and dessert, so a crappy main dish feels unforgivable.) But… I’d like to give Cafeteria another shot and report back.
FOR MORE | Check out more of trip to Cafeteria in my vlog. We got a little indulgent after a gym session.
Top two photos via Cafeteria.
What are your favorite New York restaurants?