Cafeteria

Bar / Restaurant
Cafeteria Cafeteria in New York's Chelsea district is a 24/7 hotspot with upscale twists on classic comfort food. Join the pre- & post-club fun with Party Earth in NYC. New York United States 40.74051 -73.998199
4.0 21
Cafeteria  - Bar | Restaurant in New York.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review The name may evoke memories of plastic trays, long lines, and globs of gelatinous stew, but Cafeteria – with its mod-cubist interior and upscale twists on American comfort food – certainly doesn’t look like the average... ... read full review

  • Subway:

    A, C, E, L: 14th Street / 8th Avenue; 1, 2: 18th Street / 7th Avenue

  • Phone:

    212-414-1717

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    24/7

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Cafeteria Review

The Scene

Cafeteria in New York's Chelsea district is a 24/7 hotspot with upscale twists on classic comfort food. Join the pre- & post-club fun with Party Earth in NYC.

The name may evoke memories of plastic trays, long lines, and globs of gelatinous stew, but Cafeteria – with its mod-cubist interior and upscale twists on American comfort food – certainly doesn’t look like the average school lunchroom.

Launched in 1998, the venue remains a local Chelsea favorite, hosting a lively trendy crowd around the clock.

Mornings see lots of well-dressed commuters and hip college kids chilling on the sidewalk patio over silver dollar pancakes, as groups of fancy ladies with overflowing designer bags soon stop in to fuel up on smoked gouda and bacon before venturing back to the shops.

A minimalist décor of tightly spaced tables and cozy white vinyl banquettes keeps the emphasis in this bi-level venue strictly on food and friends, so while the ambient electronica is loud, the patrons’ conversation is always louder.

Breakfast plates at all hours and a high-volume atmosphere clearly attract those with grumbling stomachs after a night of dancing, and indeed there’s usually a rush between 3 and 5am when bleary-eyed clubbers stumble in to devour signature chicken and waffles and toss back a couple cocktails.

Day or night, the chance of spotting a celebrity scarfing down mac & cheese at a nearby table is as likely as spying two old friends reuniting over childhood lunch favorites.

High fashion or low key – it can all be found at Cafeteria, a trendy-meets-casual joint with a motto meant to remind everyone of that unifying fact: You Are. You Eat.

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Tip from Adriana:

Check out Cafeteria’s private dining room, an ultra-modern space perfect for hosting a couple dozen of your closest friends.

  • Crowd

    Lively mix of trendy Chelsea-ites, stylish college students, pre- and post-clubbers, dapper commuters from the surrounding boroughs, and celebratory groups, early 20s to mid-30s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Loud electronica throughout the venue.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Large menu featuring upscale twists on American comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including pancakes, croissant French toast, mac & cheese, burgers, and salads. Daily specials.

    Slightly smaller menu available at all hours. Full breakfast menu served daily until 5pm, limited breakfast plates after.

  • Prices

    Appetizers $6–$13, salads $10–$16+, sandwiches $9–$15, entrées $10–$20, desserts $7–$12.

    Beer $8–$12, wine $9–$12+, cocktails $11–$14, mocktails (non-alcoholic fruit drinks) $5–$6, carafes (mojitos, sangria, and Pimm’s) $18–$30

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Hip casual to dressy: Cool sweaters, blazers, Zara suits, button-downs, jeans with a classy shirt, designer tops with accessories to match, heels, flats.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Thursday through Saturday nights for the biggest crowd of stylish nightlife attendees both pre- and post-gaming, or any warm morning for a big breakfast and people-watching on the sidewalk patio.

  • Close By

    230 Fifth (230 5th Avenue) is a stylish lounge and rooftop bar with stellar views of the Empire State Building and free velour robes provided on chilly fall and winter nights.

Cafeteria User Reviews

Average rating:
Not only was I smiling, but my stomach was smiling too
Jordan H. Jun 18, 2013
As soon as I stepped foot in Cafeteria I was in total awe. A mix of chic and busy, I loved it! If you're looking for a place to dine in style, Cafeteria definitely the spot for you. The fried chicken and waffles will make your mouth water. From the interior, to the food and the stylish way the bathrooms are set up, who could ask for a better place to eat? If you have expensive taste, but don't want to pay outrageous prices go to Cafeteria. You won't regret.
Only if you need a...
Paulenia O. May 27, 2013
Need a brunch spot to go to after leaving the club at 5am? well, Cafeteria is that place! The menu varies with the best macaroni and cheese in the area to chicken and waffles. I have been to cafeteria every week after I've left either Griffin Club on Mondays or Greenhouse/WIP on Tuesdays. A very good menu of cocktails but not so good Mojitos. I first heard of it while I worked a retail job in SoHo...all my co-workers would brag about the mac and cheese so finally after leaving the club and almost dying of starvation Cafeteria was the only place open. This place is popular among us young people because it was fast. You don't really need to make reservations because the wait is never really long. Overall calm settings and good service.
Still delicious and fun after all these years
Allegra Vera W. May 13, 2013
I have been going to Cafeteria for over five years, and it was one of my local and regular spots for that period of time. However, since I moved further downtown, I have not been there in a while. I went last week and was pleased to see that the food is still consistently good, no matter what area of the menu that I or my friends ordered from (we covered pretty much all of the bases, including specials). The cocktail list has also stayed true to form as above-average for the neighborhood. My taste in alcoholic beverages has changed over the years and I no longer prefer sweet drinks, however the cocktails I sampled (Ruby Red & Rosemary, Morning Glory, and several others) were more refreshing than sweet. I was also happy to see tequila and bourbon-based cocktails on the menu, since that is usually what I drink. The service is still friendly and attentive, and the music is fun (although I may be getting slightly too loud for the volume level....), but since I am a bartender, I prefer a quieter spot on my nights off. Overall, Cafeteria is a fun place to meet with friends that won't break your bank. It is a staple in Chelsea, no matter how much the neighborhood may change over the years.
Best money I've spent on food
DeShaun A. Apr 25, 2013
I was supposed to go to Cafeteria with a group of friends for New Year's, but for obvious reasons it was packed that evening. The second time around, I went with my mother and cousin and that's when I was able to experience the magic that is Cafeteria. Although still packed, we only waited for a good 10-15 minutes to be seated for dining, but while we waited we decided to have a drink at the bar. The tequila sunrise was definitely on point. Finally, when we were seated and it was time to eat, we were greeted by an excellent waiter who knew the menu very well and helped us out given that it was our first time there. The mac-and-cheese was TO DIE FOR! It rivaled my mom's mac-and-cheese to say the least, and as far as the entree I ordered the chicken and waffles, which were cooked to perfection. It came with a stellar maple sauce and this other hot sauce that gave you the right balance of sweetness with a hint of spice that tied everything together perfectly. Actually, I'm taking my friends there tomorrow so they can experience what I feel was some of the best food I've tasted in awhile. Another great perk of Cafeteria is that the place is opened 24/7, which means it doesn't matter what time you have a hankering for food you can eat your heart out at any given time. Overall, the service, the atmosphere, and most certainly the food is not just four star quality, but five star quality at best.
Clean Vibe and Great Food
Kavone P. Apr 12, 2013
I have to admit the name "Cafeteria" initially had me skeptical. All I could think of was an overly crowded or overly noising high-school cafeteria serving grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup used for dipping sauce. Even worse, the dinning area of an intensely violent correctional facility with 250 pound men screaming and pounding on wooden tables had me imagining. I was wrong in so many ways. The atmosphere of cafeteria is precisely clean with a modern feel. It is mainly furnished white but is vibrant in personalty from the staff, food and cocktails. The macaroni and cheese is a must; first timers order the trio. The cocktails are extremely delicious and since i'm a gin drinker who normally drinks gin martinis with a cucumber or a negroni, I had to try their "new negron" and it was delicious. I would recommend anyone to Cafeteria, especially those looking for a good late night meal. The best is that it's open 24/7.
Delicious No Matter What
Sidney H. Apr 9, 2013
One of my favorite restaurants by far in Manhattan, Cafeteria hits so many levels of delicious that it's hard to describe. Go in there for down-home classics like chicken and waffles or their more upscale skirt steak with polenta fries. Either way, your mouth will water and your plate will be cleaned. If you're going on a Monday night, get the blue plate special of braised short ribs. You will not regret it. The cocktails are also delicious and well worth the price. The best part of Cafeteria though is the ambience and the people working there. It's smooth and sultry while at the same time being modern and cool. It's perfect for a night out with the girls, a bite with the family, or a date with a partner. The waiters are all funny and love to chat it up. They are more than willing to recommend their favorites, which is very helpful seeing as everything on the menu sounds so good it could be hard to choose. Extra plus, it's open 24/7, so whenever you want to go, it'll be there waiting. What more could someone ask for from a restaurant?
A 'Must-Go' For A Post-Party Late Night Bite
Rolando L. Apr 9, 2013
As a frequent visitor to Manhattan's one-and-only Chelsea neighborhood, Cafeteria is my favorite place to meander my way to before calling it a night. We all know about that hankering you get for something awesome to chow down on after a night of clubbing or bar-hopping with friends. Well, few places will satisfy and reward your taste buds better than Cafeteria. Sadly, it's not really a secret so expect to wait a bit, but also keep an eye out for a casual elbow-rub with a celebrity or two. - yeah, its that good. They have great cocktails so definitely invite yourself to a drink while you wait. Once you get your table and run through Cafeteria's diverse menu, feel free to order whatever your gut tells you. I've tried almost everything on there, from the chicken and waffles to avecado wrap to mac and cheese; its all surprisingly scrumptous! What puts Cafeteria over the top is the ambient. It's the perfect 'post-game' spot for someone making their way from the loud and crazy NYC nightlife scene to a quiet ride back home. Cafeteria will keep your party buzz going with good music and cocktails, while settling you down with a great meal, pleasant service, and a cozy atmosphere. As you walk out I guaruntee you will be full, satsfied, relaxed, and ready to hit the hay.
A Cafeteria Like No Other
Hope Estella B. Apr 6, 2013
Visiting my brother in NY,NY was such an amazing experience, but it would have not been complete without a trip to Cafeteria. As all restaurants in the heart of the city, there was a long wait. We waited about 45 minutes and was seated in the front of the restaurant. The ambiance was great. In the background was high energy jazzy techno music that caught your eye but didn't over power the climate. The restaurant was crowded but bright and beautiful with friendly and helpful staff. In celebration of my brothers promotion, we all order Mamosas or Mojito's. I had a blueberry Mint Mojito that went well with my chicken and waffle breakfast. I'm short on time, thus I cannot go more in detail. But what is a must know, it that Cafeteria is a must go!
THE BEST NYC BRUNCH
Sahra S. Mar 4, 2013
For year Cafeteria has been my go-to spot for brunch (as well as late night mac n cheese needs). The Mac and Cheese egg rolls with the warm Gouda is a MUST TRY, while other brunch favorites include lemon and ricotta pancakes and prosciutto flatbreads. For a drink, you can always go for the classic mimosa or, ask for the blackberry iced tea with vodka; not on the menu but divine. If you're planning to head there after a night of dancing away in the Meatpacking, opt for the mac n cheese sampler and you won't be sorry. As for the decor, it's all clean and white, with huge garage doors to let in daylight, which are open in the summer months allowing the inside seaters the feeling of being outside, and the outside diners to feel less segregated. The only drawback to Cafeteria, the long lines, and they don't take reservations for smaller parties. Be sure to get there BEFORE the hunger sets in, and grab a drink at the bar while waiting for a table!
Mac & Cheese so good!
Iris M. Jan 8, 2013
I was really craving for mac and cheese so I searched mac and cheese on yelp and this place popped up! I got the mac and cheese sample and the shrimp grits. For the mac and cheese sample, one may choose three from the four choices: ranch, bacon, truffle oil and spinach I believe. The ranch flavored one was so so good. I would go back just for the mac and cheese. On top of that, I really enjoyed the ambiance. I went during the summer, but it really reminded me of the vacations I've taken in Miami. The interiors are very clean and white. It made me feel like I was in Miami again, or Santa Monica, somewhere refreshing. I thought it was a great find!
perfect late night spot
jacqueline E. Dec 13, 2012
Went to Cafeteria late night with a friend. Was filled but not overly annoyingly crowded. We waited at the bar for about 10 min, which is a very reasonable waiting time, and ordered some delicious drinks, some of the best cocktails around I think ( I am very picky with my cocktails), not too strong, not too weak, imaginative and interesting. The staff was really nice and friendly but not in that kind of annoying "i just moved to the big city from the midwest" kind of bubbly friendliness. The food is great, i had a delicious squid salad, and my friend had the fried chicken and waffles which he said were some of the best hes ever had. Ive had the mac and cheese there before too, which they are known for, and its really good, and also really cheesy if thats your mac ans cheese style. The mac portions are huge though, so its only a side if you can share it, or get it as your main. The ambiance is also awesome here, clean, stylish and dimly lit, and the crowd was pretty cool as well.
mac & cheese!!
Jessica B. Dec 12, 2012
This has been a go to spot for me and my friends for years! We've spent many drunken nights after the club/bar at Cafeteria. Think of it as a glorified diner, the food is always good and definitely hits the spot. I recommend the mac and cheese, its amazing but everything else on the menu is worth a try too. Since this place is definitely not a secret, it's usually packed late night since every drunk person in NYC needs something to eat at that hour. Be prepared to wait for a table at that time. Wait it out, it's worth it.
Late Night Hot Spot
Risa C. Dec 8, 2012
After waiting on lines to get into clubs, then waiting at the bar to order drinks, the last thing I'd expect when getting post-club food at 4:30 in the morning is to wait on and hour long line for a 24 hour diner with a large bouncer trying to control the waitlist of drunken partygoers and trannies calling it a night. Once inside, the party keeps on going with people loudly declaring their drunken orders for their famous truffle mac and cheese and lining up for the bathroom (yet another line for the night) where the girl in front of you may or may not be in there forever to either "keep the party going"....or puking and passing out. The weird part is, I mean this in the absolute best way possible. It's the kind of sh-- show you want to see or partake in if you're not quite ready to end your night. And the food is a solid choice at all hours of the night. If you want to go just to eat however, come during the day and avoid the late night madhouse.
Think Cafeteria, but Classier
Jaclyn W. Nov 13, 2012
So the main event here, in my opinion, is brunch. I hear amazing things about their Mac & Cheese and I also hear that it turns into a LGBT friendly environment in the later hours, but I come here for brunch. The menu is awesome. I think the menu probably derived from the name Cafeteria because it is such a mish mosh of products. I still dream about their dates stuffed with blue cheese and bacon in a balsamic vinegar reduction. Yum! Their bloody mary is pretty solid here too if you're a fan of that. The best thing about this place is that it is open 24/7. Whether you're craving a pear and endive salad or some banana fosters, Cafeteria is a good spot that will please everyone. I recommend going in a group and not showing up completely starved. There's usually a wait.
Go-To Place
Chelsea D. Oct 3, 2012
Whenever my friends and I can't decide where to eat, we always end up at Cafeteria. The food is always great and they have something for everyone. I can't eat Mac & Cheese but everyone claims it's amazing here. I love Cafeteria's vibe and love that they have indoor/outdoor seating. I absolutely recommend going here for a meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Yum!
Rachel D. Sep 18, 2012
This is one of my favorite go-to places in NYC. Good for day time, night time, and after the bar time. Different menus according to what time you go, however, a fan favorite called the MAC ATTACK (3 different types of mac and cheese- one including truffle oil, 'nuff said) is available ALL the time. Reasonably priced for Chelsea, all white decor makes for a nice, clean vibe not to mention the friendly waiters. I have never had a bad meal or bad time at Cafeteria. They recently renovated the bathrooms which are even more pretty than the restaurant itself. Indoor/outdoor seating as well. Highly recommend :)
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