Café Chelsea

Christine Drinan, Founder

Cafe Chelsea NYC Outdoors

One of the best restaurants right now in NYC is Hotel Chelsea. Yes, we know it used to be a total partied-out dive. But it’s amazing what a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation can do. And for a place that is this cool, the food is way too good. This is the review of Cafe Chelsea, a restaurant that is the new NYC classic.


Hotel Chelsea became a New York institution that from the day they opened their doors in 1905. From that moment, Hotel Chelsea was the epitome of New York; a seedy drug den that was a meeting place for rockstars and artists. In fact many of those artists lived at Hotel Chelsea, which was far from a luxury dwelling. Everyone from Janis Joplin, Jimmi Hendrix, and Madonna has graced the Hotel Chelsea. Today though, it’s the kind of place where you stop for some tapas at El Quijote, have dinner at Cafe Chelsea, and then, late night drinks at the bar. Celeb sightings are included, as this is where all the beautiful people hang out nowadays.


Cafe Chelsea is a prime example of how sometimes New York can be more Parisian than Paris itself. Set in the former space of a bait and tackle shop on the ground floor of the Hotel Chelsea, Cafe Chelsea is a vibe from the moment  you walk in. In fact, it’s vibe from the moment  you catch glimpse of the French bistro chairs on the outdoor patio. Inside the decor is best described as vintage kitsch French brasserie that’s eclectically cool.

Besides the decor, we know we already said this, but this is where all the beautiful people are hanging out nowadays. Cafe Chelsea has to be one of the best scenes out there right now. This is where to go any day of the week if you want to be around a high energy atmosphere with good a people watching scene.

Food + Drink

Like I said, the food is way better than it needs to be with how every other part of Cafe Chelsea hits the right notes. In fact if you took away the beautiful people, fun atmosphere, and distinct decor, I would still go to Cafe Chelsea for the food. Cafe Chelsea has been compared by many a publication to Balthazar, but respectfully, food-wise, they’re at a tier above. The buzziest dish is the Ravioles de Dauphine, which you can find in convenience stores around Paris. It’s a sheet of potato and gruyere stuffed ravioli on a bed of butter. And yes, it is as amazing and even more than it sounds.

The menu at Cafe Chelsea reads like the greatest hits of French food. Whole artichoke, frisee au lardons, and beef tartare  start out the evening. If you feel like a baller, there’s an oh-so-French brasserie tiered seafood plateau. For mains, there’s of course steak frites and roast chicken, and a more casual French omelette along with a burger topped with raclette. It sounds like and is French fare, but the execution is levels above. This may be the best French brasserie food in NYC right now.


Service is strong, where everyone is professional. In a cool restaurant though like this with cool servers, they may not act like your best friends. At least not right off the bat, as if anything the service is more genuine than staged. Either way they do have the system down to an effortless science with the rhythm of your drinks and dinner.

Overall: 8.2/10

Other Articles You’ll Like

Essential by Christophe 
El Quijote Review 
Shmone NYC 


Q: Where is Cafe Chelsea located?

A: Cafe Chelsea is located at 218 W 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011  |  212-518-1813.

Q: What are the hours of operation of Cafe Chelsea?

A: The hours of operation of Cafe Chelsea are as follows:

Breakfast  Daily  7:00 – 11 AM

Lunch  Weekdays / Brunch Weekends  11:00 – 3 PM

Sunday – Wednesday  5:00 – 11:00 PM
Thursday – Saturday  5:00 – 12:00 AM

Q: Do you need a reservation at Cafe Chelsea?

A: Reservations are highly recommended during dinnertime at Cafe Chelsea. You can try to walk in but plan to wait at least an hour or two (or three) for a table. The bar though is first-come, first-served.

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