Nolita Neighborhood Guide NYC (2024): Best Restaurants, Bars & Things to Do (2024)

Nolita is one of New York City‘s most charming downtown neighbourhoods. It’s a tiny neighbourhood, only spanning a few blocks, but bursting with history, character and things to do, making it a must-visit neighborhood in New York City. I lived in Nolita for nearly two years, so this neighbourhood has such a special place in my heart! I wrote this Nolita neighborhood guide to share all of the best things to do in Nolita, the best restaurants, bars and cafes in Nolita and some of my favourite spots in the neighbourhood.

Some of the best things to do in Nolita include shopping at NYC’s best bookstore, McNally Jackson, eating some of the best pizza in the city at Prince Street Pizza (take out) and Pasquale Jones (restaurant), visiting the beautiful Elizabeth Street Garden, browsing the small Nolita Market for jewellery and accessories, or visiting some of the city’s best bars and cafes like Estela, Mother’s Ruin and Ruby’s Cafe.

Nolita is great for boutique shopping from independent and mid-size brands, with many jewelry, skincare, homewares and accessories boutiques in particular. It gets very busy on weekends, as it’s home to so many great restaurants, bars and cafes(especially Australian ones!), as well as adeliciously high density of bakeries & ice cream shops!

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Table of Contents

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  • Where is Nolita?
  • What does Nolita stand for?
  • Things to do in Nolita
    • Elizabeth Street Garden
    • Nolita Outdoor Market
  • The best restaurants in Nolita
    • Estela
    • The Musket Room
    • Rubirosa
    • Pasquale Jones
    • Lovely Day
    • Ruby’s Cafe
    • Cafe Integral
    • Epistrophy
    • Urban Backyard
    • Bluestone Lane
    • The Grey Dog
    • Fiat Cafe
    • Black Seed Bagel
    • Prince St Pizza
    • Zooba
    • Tacombi
    • Cafe Belle
    • Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
    • Milk Bar
    • Little Cup Cake Bake Shop
  • Best Bars in Nolita
    • Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
    • Mother’s Ruin
    • Spring Lounge
  • The best shops in Nolita
    • McNally Jackson Books
    • Mejuri
    • Sezane
    • Goods for The Study
    • Everlane
    • Abnormal Beauty Co (The Ordinary)

Where is Nolita?

Nolita is wedged between SoHo, Greenwich Village, NoHo, the Lower East Side and Little Italy (Nolita = North of Little Italy). It’s a short walk to West Village, Chinatown and East Village from the neighbourhood too. Catch the 4 or 6 Subway to Spring St.

What does Nolita stand for?

Nolita means North of Little Italy. The neighbourhood was once part of Little Italy, in the 18th and 19th centuries, but today, as Little Italy has shrunk, Nolita has become a unique neighbourhood in its own right. It has a very different atmosphere to Little Italy. Little Italy can feel very touristy, Nolita is a neighbourhood has a greater variety of restaurants, bars, cafes and shopping.

Things to do in Nolita

Elizabeth Street Garden

Elizabeth Street Garden is a gorgeous, one-acre community sculpture garden tucked away in the backstreets of Nolita. It’s open at around midday every day, and has free entry. It’s such a beautiful spot, and is the perfect place to bring a book or lunch.

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Nolita Outdoor Market

Nolita Market is an artisan market that pops up every weekend along Prince Street, between Mulberry & Mott Sts. There is some really beautiful jewelry here, andeven though it’s small it’s worth a browse.

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The best restaurants in Nolita

Nolita has plenty of great Italian food, thanks to it’s proximity to, andhistory as being part of, Little Italy. There are iconic pizza joints and Italian restaurants, as well as a number of great Asian restaurants and Michelin-starred restaurants like The Musket Room and Estela.

Estela

Estela is one of the most respected restaurants in the USA, without any of the pretension. Credited with starting the share plates trend in the US, Estela is a forward-thinking restaurant that delivers spectacular Modern American food and warm service, without any fuss. This was our last dinner in Nolita, before we moved out of the neighbourhood and it was so special. Don’t miss their signature, and widely imitated, endive salad. Make a reservation!

The Musket Room

The Musket Room is one of my favourite restaurants in New York City. The Michelin-starred restaurant balances indulgence, inventiveness and warmth to create the ultimate neighbourhood spot. If you can’t make it for dinner, at least enjoy co*cktails and snacks in their adorable garden out the back – it’s one of the best kept patio secrets in New York!

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Rubirosa

Rubirosa is regarded as an instant classic. This cosy Italian restaurant is super popular and always has a wait time, so pop your name down early and then grab a drink at Mother’s Ruin or YN Bar around the corner while you wait. They’re famous for their vodka pizza, but I couldn’t go past their ricotta ravioli.

Favourite dish:ricotta ravioli

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Pasquale Jones

Pasquale Jones is a modern Italian restaurant, from the same owners as Charlie Bird in SoHo, which is another of my favourites. They’re famous for their little neck clam pizza, which is best shared between two, along with a few appetizers. Like Charlie Bird, the atmosphere is warm, intimate and buzzy, with moody lighting, sleek interiors and a hip hop soundtrack. You’ll need to book a few weeks in advance, or drop by before 4pm to put your name down for the waitlist in the evening. The bar seats are a good option, and if you’ve got some time to kill before your table is ready, head to nearby Peppi’s Cellar or Compagnie des Vins Surnaturel for a pre-dinner drink.

Favourite dish:white clam pie, and the burrata (however it’s currently being served!)

Lovely Day

Lovely Day is a tiny and trendy Thai restaurant, which makes it possible to go out for dinner and not blow the budget. You’ll definitely need to wait for a table on Friday or Saturday nights, and it’s a bit noisy and crowded, but the food is delicious and it won’t break the bank.

Brunch & Coffee in Nolita

Brunch is big business in Nolita,especially at the several Australian cafes and coffee shops which have taken the neighbourhood by storm (there are four!).

Ruby’s Cafe

A Nolita favourite for more than ten years, Ruby’s is an Australian cafe which is permanently packed. A table is worth the wait, whether you’re stopping in for coffee, brunch or dinner – the meals are delicious and well priced and the coffee is consistently perfect.

Favourite dish: Egg sandwich

Cafe Integral

Tucked away on a quiet part of Elizabeth Street near Little Italy, Cafe Integral serves fine Nicaraguan coffee that the owners can proudly stand behind – they visit the farms they buy from in Nicaragua and roast in small batches in New York City. Cafe Integral is my favourite independent coffee shop in New York City. There’s not much room for seating, take your coffee to Elizabeth Street Garden instead!

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Epistrophy

Epistrophy is one of my favourite cafes in Nolita. It was founded by a group of friends from Sardinia, Italy, and the menu reflects Sardinian culture and cuisine. I love love love the food here, it never disappoints! It’s perfect for brunch or dinner, and gets quite busy on weekends.

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Urban Backyard

Urban Backyard is a hole in the wall on Mulberry Street, just south of Kenmare St. It’s the most adorable coffee shop in New York City, with excellent coffee, rose & lavender lattes, lovely tiny cupcakes and a range of beautiful tea.

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Bluestone Lane

Bluestone Lane is quickly taking over New York – and the rest of the US! The popular cafe chain was founded by Australians who live in New York, and they now have multiple coffee shops & cafes all over New York City. This location, on Kenmare Street, is my favourite of their cafes. It’s beautifully designed and is just as good for a healthy breakfast as it is for a boozy brunch.

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The Grey Dog

The Grey Dog is a charming and cosy farmhouse-style cafe, which offers home-style comfort food of the American midwest. It has a few locations around New York, but their Nolita location is constantly packed. Love the simple yet delicious food here, and the affordable prices. The pancakes here are the best!

Fiat Cafe

Fiat Cafe is a super cute cafe on Mott St, with a very-Instagrammable hot pink wall (not pictured) and a French-leaning brunch & lunch menu. Note that it’s cash only!

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Black Seed Bagel

Black Seed Bagel makes some of the best bagels in New York City – and my personal favourites! They’ve recently renovated and re-opened their Nolita store, which frequently sees long lines on the weekends. There are only a few tables, so take your bagel to go and eat it in Elizabeth St Garden instead.

The best casual restaurant & takeaway spots in Nolita

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Prince St Pizza

It’s not a restaurant, but Prince Street Pizza is one of the most popular slice shops in New York City. There will be a queue snaking out the door from when they open, until the early hours of the morning. Every time you walk past, you’ll hear tourists ask incredulously “Can it be that good? It’sjustpizza.” It really is that good and it is 100% worth the wait. Try the SoHo Square or the pepperoni.

Zooba

I amobsesssedwith this new takeaway spot, direct from Cairo. Healthy, affordable and DELICIOUS, I can’t get enough of Zooba’s Egyptian street food. My favourites are the tamayya, and David loves the hawawshi – beef patties that are 45% pressed vegetables, served in baladi bread with delicious toppings.

Tacombi

A fun, casual Mexican spot on Elizabeth Street, Tacombi is housed in a warehouse-style space and is a great spot for dinner & drinks.

Ice Cream & Dessert in Nolita

Nolita is full ofclassic New York City desserts, from traditional ice cream shops, to Italian cannoli to Brooklyn Black Out cake and my personal favourite, banana pudding. Brace your sweet tooth!

Cafe Belle

This is probably a contentious opinion, but I think the best cannoli in New York are not in Little Italy, but just a bit further up the street at Cafe Belle in Nolita! The Scala family, by way of Sicily in Italy and then Brooklyn, have been serving hand-baked, authentic Italian pastries for more than 70 years. I am obsessed with the chocolate covered cannoli, which are piped with ricotta filling to order.

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Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Van Leeuwen is one of the most popular ice cream chains in New York City, with the aim to revive the art of traditional ice cream making using ingredients perfected by nature, rather than science. They use many local artisanal producers, and all the ice cream is still made fresh in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. There are plenty of dairy-free and vegan options too. Take your scoop to the small park opposite, or around the corner to Elizabeth St Garden. My favourite flavour is the Brooklyn Brown Sugar!

Milk Bar

Christina Tosi’s famous Milk Bar empire made a name for itself with Cereal Milk soft serve, Crack Pie (now renamed Milk Bar Pie) and Compost Cookies, and you can try the lot at their tiny shopfront on Mott Street. Get in the mood for Milk Bar’s creations by checking out the episode featuring Milk Bar on Netflix’sChef’s Table.

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Little Cup Cake Bake Shop

Little Cup Cake Bake Shop is famous for having the best chocolate cake in the USA (according to Food & Wine)but I can’t go past their heavenly banana pudding. Banana pudding is big business in New York, so if you haven’t tried one, don’t miss out. It sounds so-so, but is actually America’s greatest contribution to dessert.

Favourite treat: banana pudding or coconut cake

Best Bars in Nolita

Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Somewhere between the edges of SoHo and Nolita, Compagnie is a fantastic wine bar with a bible-like bottles list, a diverse list of wines by the glass and great happy hour specials ($5 off wines by the glass, and cheese & salumi options for $5 a piece). Love this spot!

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Mother’s Ruin

Mother’s Ruin is the best of both worlds: a laidback local hangout, with a commitment to premium co*cktails. You’ll get co*cktails just as good as you’d find in a scene-y and expensive bar with a strict door policy, yet you can come as you are feel right at home.

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Sweet & Vicious

Sweet & Vicioushas been a popular Nolita hangout since the 90s (and arguably, since before Nolita was Nolita). I love the courtyard here, the fact that I’ve never had to wait at the door or the bar and their $10 frozen margaritas.

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Spring Lounge

Spring Lounge is a classic New York City dive bar, and is PACKED every day after work. It’s popular with New Yorkers looking to blow off some steam without breaking the budget and has a really fun atmosphere. It’s known as the Shark Bar to locals, for the fake Shark pinned to the walls inside.

The best shops in Nolita

McNally Jackson Books

The holy grail of all book stores. McNally Jackson has three locations in New York, but the Nolita location is the best in my opinion. They have such a wonderfully curated selection of books and magazines, and offer the top indie bestsellers (nationally) for 20% off, which makes it so easy to scoop up the book of the moment. There’s a cafe attached, so you can dive straight into your book with a coffee & cake.

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Mejuri

Mejurimakes elegant and affordable everyday luxury possible with their range of stylish and well-priced jewelry. They have a popular online store, but I much prefer to shop for jewelry in person at this store.

Sezane

A beautiful mid-range clothing store by a popular Parisian label. The Nolita boutique isSezane‘s only physical store in the US.

Goods for The Study

From the crew behind McNally Jackson, Goods for The Study is a beautiful stationery store. It has two halves – one dedicated entirely to pens and pencils, and the other for paper stationery.

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Everlane

One of the few physical stores of the ultra popular clothing brand, the Everlane store is always busy and often has a queue out front!

Abnormal Beauty Co (The Ordinary)

A runaway success, The Ordinary and the rest of Deciem’s beauty brands have made a name for themselves by offering customers affordable but high quality skincare. I love this store and being able to shop their full range of products in one place.

Have you been to Nolita in New York City? Would you like to? Let me know your favourite spots in the comments!

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FAQs

Nolita Neighborhood Guide NYC (2024): Best Restaurants, Bars & Things to Do? ›

Short for “North of Little Italy,” Nolita was once considered to be part of Little Italy. Today, the neighborhood is popular with young fashionistas popping in and out of the chic independent boutiques that line Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth Streets.

What does nolita mean in NYC? ›

Short for “North of Little Italy,” Nolita was once considered to be part of Little Italy. Today, the neighborhood is popular with young fashionistas popping in and out of the chic independent boutiques that line Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth Streets.

What is the most charming part of NYC? ›

7 Most Beautiful Neighborhoods to Live in New York City
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  • Find your New York neighborhood.
Oct 12, 2023

What is the dress code for Nolita? ›

The dress code is intended to uphold the spirit of the bar, and as such requires our guests to be well dressed at all times with smart casual attire.

Is Nolita a nice area? ›

editorial. Nolita is a neighborhood in New York City, New York with a population of 5,847. Nolita is in New York County and is one of the best places to live in New York. Living in Nolita offers residents a dense urban feel and most residents rent their homes.

What is the prettiest street in NYC? ›

NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) — Two New York City streets made the cut in Traveler magazine's list of the 71 most beautiful streets in the world. The cobblestone street at the intersection of Washington Street and Water Street in Brooklyn's DUMBO was one of the selected streets.

Where do most celebrities hang out in New York City? ›

You're Most Likely To Spot A Celebrity At These New York Gems
  • Central Park is a favorite filming location and celeb hangout. ...
  • Celebrities love dining at Nobu. ...
  • Broadway attracts stars both on and off the stage. ...
  • The Bowery Hotel is an A-lister hotspot. ...
  • Multiple TV shows film at Rockefeller Center.
Apr 29, 2024

What is the coolest neighborhood in New York? ›

To come up with the final ranking, our global network of local editors narrowed down the selections by considering community and social ventures, access to open and green space, and thriving street life. Fort Greene landed the top spot as the coolest neighborhood in NYC and the 15th coolest in the world (out of 40).

What does TriBeCa stand for? ›

The syllabic abbreviation TriBeCa stands for The Triangle Below Canal Street, located in Lower Manhattan, New York. Coined in the beginning of the 70s, the area bounded by Canal and Broadway, Church and Lispenard Streets appears to form a triangle on the city's planning maps.

What does TriBeCa stand for in SoHo? ›

Tribeca is one of a number of neighborhoods in New York City whose names are syllabic abbreviations or acronyms, including SoHo (South of Houston Street), NoHo (North of Houston Street), Nolita (North of Little Italy), NoMad (North of Madison Square), DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), and BoCoCa, the ...

What does SoHo stand for in NYC? ›

SoHo (an acronym for South of Houston Street) still features galleries, though these days the work within them tends toward the more high-end commercial—matching the luxury boutiques and independent-designer outposts that characterize the area.

What does DUMBO stand for in NYC? ›

Dumbo (or DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

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