New Yorkers are not, historically, very good at wellness. Or perhaps it’s that our definition of eating well involves pizza slices picked up on the way to the movies and that our idea of exercise is slipping through the subway cars right before they close. But the past five years have seen a sea change in New York’s wellness culture. A new generation of plant-forward, Instagram-friendly cafes — among them Dimes and West-Bourne — are replacing funkier, hippyish staples like Souen in SoHo and Angelica Kitchen, which both closed in the past two years (though Souen’s East Village location remains open). And while the city has always had a thriving health and beauty scene, there has been a move toward the natural and holistic with shops like CAP Beauty and Clover Grocery, a wave of new healthful convenience stores and Taryn Toomey’s crystal-wielding workouts. Here, our list of the best New York has to offer — new and old — for those looking to get their wellness fix.
Before there was wellness, there was Souen. The macrobiotic restaurant has long been a favorite among health-conscious New Yorkers, who come for the simple plates of steamed vegetables and brown rice. An announcement in early January that the original SoHo location, which opened in 1971, would be closing due to a rent hike was met with dismay and resistance — in the form of a thousand-signature petition. For now, you can still get the signature dish, plus steaming bowls of surprisingly good vegan ramen, at the East Village location. 326 East 6th Street, souen.net.
The third iteration of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC restaurants, ABCV is a gleaming-white temple to clean, high-vibrational vegetarian fare. If you can get a reservation, try the green hummus with chickpeas and Thai basil, roasted carrots with spicy nut butter, and the optimistically named green juices (“Joy,” “Heart”) — but everything is good. At breakfast, which starts at 8 a.m., there are inventive shakes, paper-thin dosas and perfectly cooked eggs. 38 East 19th Street, abchome.com/dine/abcv/.
Though Nix has an entirely plant-based menu, it would be a stretch to describe the food as “clean,” the way people often do avocado toast and grain bowls. Opened in 2016 by chef John Fraser (of Dovetail and Narcissa), the Greenwich Village restaurant features rich dishes like cauliflower tempura, shiitake “cacio e pepe” and kale galette. The emphasis at Nix is on indulgent, delicious food — not dietary restrictions. But with recipes focused on nutrient-rich ingredients and plenty of vegan options, you’ll still walk away feeling virtuous. 72 University Place, nixny.com.
Fifty years from now, the Dimes menu will be a useful time capsule of what and how people ate in 2010s New York City: staples include açai bowls with hemp granola, za’atar-spiced salmon, breakfast tacos and matcha buttermilk pancakes, all of it plant-forward and gently inflected with elements of Mexican and Mediterranean cooking. The genre-defining Chinatown cafe, with its friendly L.A. vibes and cutely colorful furniture, has since expanded to include Dimes Deli and Dimes Market in a neighborhood increasingly referred to as “Dimes Square.” 49 Canal Street, dimesnyc.com.
Like Dimes, West-Bourne — an all-day cafe in the West Village — offers a largely plant-based menu inspired by the ideals of California living. That means an emphasis on local, organic produce and a woody interior outfitted with handmade ceramics. The restaurateur Camilla Marcus, a Los Angeles native who trained at the French Culinary Institute and Union Square Cafe, has infused the low-pretense menu with nods to her home city: There’s the La Brea Fruit Salad with honey tahini yogurt, the buckwheat Malibu Waffle and the Echo Taco, stuffed with potato hash and American cheese. 137 Sullivan Street, westbourne.com.
An Australian import with locations in TriBeCa and NoLIta, Two Hands, an airy breakfast and lunch spot with whitewashed brick walls and a canopy of string lights and hanging plants, offers all-day cafe staples with a slight twist: Avocado toast comes with sesame seeds, pickled shallots and chiles; açai bowls are topped with toasted pepitas and bee pollen; and granola is served over passion fruit yogurt. Australian coffee culture is also at its best here, with a selection of perfectly frothed espresso drinks, the requisite chai, matcha and turmeric options and Bellocq teas. Multiple locations, twohandsnyc.com.
Too often, the best coffee shops leave you with limited food options. A good croissant is always welcome, but it does not a meal make. Gotan, which serves obsessively executed versions of classic espresso drinks made with Counter Culture beans, has a full breakfast menu featuring açai and chia puddings, and muesli and oatmeal made with coconut milk. For lunch, there are creative riffs on wholesome Israeli dishes like the feta-topped fattoush, plus fresh, filling sandwiches. The large space, ample blonde-wood tables and well-placed outlets make it a great place to post up with your laptop. Multiple locations, gotannyc.com.
Whether you believe in the healing, detoxifying potential of infrared light or just want to warm up after navigating winter in New York City, Higher Dose hits the spot. The subterranean East Village spa — located beneath the Alchemist’s Kitchen, where you can stock up on herbal remedies and CBD products — offers 40-minute infrared sauna sessions that the company claims burn calories, flush toxins and improve circulation. 21 East 1st Street, higherdose.com.
The easiest way to (temporarily) leave New York may be to step into the Greenwich Hotel’s Shibui Spa, where the lantern-lit interior isn’t just inspired by, but is actually constructed from the imported wooden beams of a 250-year-old Japanese farmhouse. Don your Yukata robe and settle in for a massage featuring sake-soaked towels, a ginger-infused bath or a vigorous bamboo-and-lemongrass scrub. 377 Greenwich Street, thegreenwichhotel.com.
This sunny, natural wood-filled nail studio is a far cry from your regular fluorescent-lit salon. Seated at a sleek, Danish modern-inspired table, you can choose from simple gel and polish designs — created exclusively with nontoxic products — or go bare with a buff manicure or rose extract anti-aging treatment. For an extra $ 30, listen to a guided meditation by Inscape during your service. Multiple locations, dearsundays.com.
Don’t expect flow classes set to hip-hop at this beloved yoga school. Located just below Union Square in a funky, second-floor studio, Jivamukti was founded by the teachers David Life and Sharon Gannon, who have been instructing yogis in the Jivamukti method — an asana-based practice that incorporates chanting, deep breathing and lectures — since 1986. Stop in for an open-level class or meditation and stay for an ayurvedic kitchari or mung-bean dal at the vegan cafe. 841 Broadway, jivamuktiyoga.com.
New York Pilates
Looking at the New York Pilates flagship on Houston — with its arched windows, vaulted ceiling and rows of gleaming reformers — it’s hard to imagine that the cult-favorite method got its start in a basement. Founded by the former ballerina Heather Andersen in 2013, the studio has since grown to occupy three New York City locations and offers vigorous 53-minute classes with cheeky names like “Abs Arms Ass” and “Burnout.” Multiple locations, newyorkpilates.com.
A favorite among beauty editors and a fixture on best-of lists, Rescue Spa is the creation of the revered aesthetician Denuta Mieloch. In 2017, responding to popular demand, Mieloch opened a New York City location of her Philadelphia-based spa, which often commands a four-to-six-week-long waiting list for appointments. Regulars swear by the Bio-Lift Facial, which promises a “just-back-from-vacation glow” using noninvasive micro currents and products from Biologique Recherche. 29 East 19th Street, rescuespa.net/nyc-spa/.
Since opening its first New York City studio on Saks Fifth Avenue’s beauty floor, this U.K. import has gotten near-universal praise for its skin-lifting face “workouts.” Developed by Inge Theron, who formerly wrote The Financial Times’ “Spa Junkie” column, the noninvasive procedure involves an intense, rapid-fire massage designed to stimulate the more than 40 muscles in your face. Results may be temporary — and pricey — but they’re immediate for those chasing an instant lift. 0 Bond Street, facegym.com.
The clinically named New York Dermatology Group may not sound like much fun — and it’s not supposed to. Founder and dermatologist Dr. David Colbert is quick to note that NYDG is not a spa but a clinic staffed by medical doctors. Inside the gleaming-white treatment rooms, which look lifted from the set of a ’70s-era sci-fi movie, clients choose from a host of scientifically backed services including laser toning, acid peels and the celebrity-approved Runway Facial. 119 5th Avenue, nydermatologygroup.com.
Taryn Toomey, the sprightly founder of The Class, insists that word of mouth among “downtown moms” helped grow the cultlike following around her 75-minute, mat-based method, known to many as “the class that will make you cry.” Of course, it’s possible that the amethyst and black onyx Toomey embedded beneath the studio floor had something to do with it, too. Christy Turlington, Jennifer Aniston and Naomi Watts are all regular clients — and the only advertising Toomey will ever need — drawn to the method’s idiosyncratic blend of Pilates, calisthenics and cathartic stomping and screaming. 22 Park Place, taryntoomey.com.
The Goods Mart
A corner store for the clean-eating generation, this Los Angeles transplant opened in SoHo in 2018. The stripped-down, black-and-white interior is stocked with ethically sourced, elevated takes on standard 7-Eleven fare: sandwiches from the Italian specialty shop Alidoro, burritos from L.A.-favorite Burritos La Palma and even an organic, corn syrup-free spin on the Slurpee from Kelvin Slush Co. 189 Lafayette Street, thegoodsmart.com.
Everything is natural at ONDA Beauty — the wood, the light, the products. Co-founded by longtime friends and clean beauty devotees Naomi Watts, Sarah Bryden-Brown and Larissa Thomson in 2017, the airy TriBeCa storefront offers a list of signature facials as well as skin-care products and makeup from brands such as Joanna Vargas, May Lindstrom, African Botanics, RMS and Kjaer Weis. Watts tests every item personally. 117 West Broadway, ondabeauty.com.
Clover Grocery bills itself as a health food store, but don’t expect to encounter the familiar smell of bulk-bin spices as you step through the sliding doors of this tightly curated West Village shop. Inside, you’ll find takeaway options prepared daily by sister restaurant (and fashion crowd favorite) Cafe Clover, La Colombe coffee and a selection of natural beauty and household products. Menu highlights include an ivory lentil-and-roasted shiitake bowl and the Stress Management Mix — coffee enhanced with reishi mushrooms and CBD coconut oil. The cafe recently hired the chef Garrison Price from Il Buco Alimentari, who has revamped the restaurant’s menu to include gluten-free pastas — which will soon be available at the Grocery for diners on-the-go. 259 Avenue of the Americas, clovergrocery.com.
Founded by Cindy DiPrima Morisse and Kerrilynn Pamer, friends who met while working at Martha Stewart Living, this jewel box-like West Village boutique and spa — which has rose quartz planted under the floorboards — was the first of its kind in a city that may have once seemed too cynical for crystal healing and high-vibrational skin care. Many of the brands CAP carries — Vintner’s Daughter, Moon Juice — have become mainstream beauty staples, but the shop stays ahead of the curve with a range of more exotic herbal remedies, potions and powders. 238 West 10th Street, capbeauty.com.
Disillusioned by her job at a law firm, Tara Foley left New York for a stint on a lavender farm in France and an M.B.A. before launching her clean beauty outlet, Follain, in 2013. The brand, which opened its first New York City location in Greenwich Village last year, offers a range of nontoxic beauty products in a plant-filled, apothecary-like setting. More methodical than mystical, Foley relies on a rigorous, five-step research and approval process when selecting goods from brands like Juice Beauty, Herbivore Botanicals and Ursa Major. 92 Greenwich Avenue, follain.com.
Before launching Bonberi Bodega — one of a string of new elevated, health-conscious convenience stores to open in New York — in 2018, former Vanity Fair staffer Nicole Berrie was tracking down the latest wellness trends for her Bonberi lifestyle blog. Now you can browse her curated, plant-based picks in person at the Bleecker Street storefront she shares with the floral design studio Fleurotica. Grab-and-go vegan dishes like a dulse Caesar salad and quinoa bibimbap are on offer alongside housemade juices and a selection of natural beauty and household products. 384 Bleecker Street, bonberi.com.