Travel & Holidays

The disabled foodie’s top 5 New York City accessible restaurants

David Friedman is a 39 year-old foodie living in NYC who happens to be disabled. He uses a wheelchair. In August 2014 he noticed a need for accessibility information as it pertains to restaurants, food markets, food events, and anywhere else a foodie might venture, so he created his blog, The Disabled Foodie, to provide as much of this information as he can to the disability community. He has been featured in Disability News New York, and on the podcast, The Sporkful. He lives in Queens with his husband and two dogs. He works as a teacher for his full-time job.

It is a well-known fact that New York City (NYC) offers a plethora of food options. At any hour you can find almost any cuisine from around the world. The problem is that not all of these venues are accessible to disabled people. So, as a disabled person, I decided in August 2014 that I would put together a blog, The Disabled Foodie, reviewing NYC’s restaurants and food venues not only on food and service, but on accessibility as well. After writing more than 70 reviews, I present you with my top five accessible NYC restaurants. All venues are rated on a scale of 1 – 5 (1 being lowest, 5 being highest) on the following factors:

  • Accessibility of the entrance (wide doorway, barriers to entry)
  • Accessibility of the bathrooms (accessibility of the entryway and stalls, grab bars in stalls) Unfortunately, I’m only able to personally evaluate men’s rooms at this time.
  • Accessibility of walkways and interior space (wide or narrow, how closely packed is the space, can a person in a wheelchair fit comfortably underneath the tables, what is the level of interior lighting and noise)
  • Staff’s reaction to and treatment of people with disabilities
  • Does the restaurant have a Braille menu? (Rated as yes or no)


François Payard Bakery (FPB) – Columbus Circle, Manhattan (Full review)

François Payard is a third generation French pastry chef. He creates sublime pastry that is absolutely mind-blowing. At FPB Columbus Circle, you can find delicious sandwiches on artisanal breads, divine croissants and baguettes, soups, quiches, and of course, the aforementioned pastries. While it is on the pricier side, the food is worth every penny, and I found it to be highly accessible.

Picture1Accessibility Rating for FPB Columbus Circle

  • Entryway – 5: The doors are wide and barrier free. There is one set of doors at the entrance. There are no stairs.
  • Bathroom (Unisex) – 5: The bathroom itself is large enough for a wheelchair to turn around in. The toilet has grab bars around it, and the sink and hand dryer have automatic sensors. Additionally, the hand dryer is at the proper height for someone who is using a wheelchair.
  • Walkways/Space – 5: The interior space is roomy with a central aisle. The tables and chairs can easily be moved to provide room for a person using a wheelchair or other device.
  • Staff – 5: The staff was very helpful. Not only did they help me bring my food to the table of my choosing, they held the bathroom door open for me when I used it, made sure to pack the pastries I brought home tightly so they would survive the trip in my backpack (I also have to bring home pastries any time I visit a François Payard establishment), and they held the door open for me as I left. This service was excellent.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have a Braille menu.


Gansevoort Market – Meatpacking District, Manhattan (Full review)

The Gansevoort Market is one of NYC’s newest foodie destinations. It is in the hip and trendy Meatpacking District in Manhattan, and it is worth the trip. Right now, it is not as well known as Chelsea Market, so it is not as crowded, and the food quality and selection are great. You can indulge in lobster bisque, French crêpes, pizza, tacos, and Thai food, just to name a few of the many offerings available. It is extremely accessible, which makes for easy exploring and tasting. (Just be wary that some streets in the surrounding Meatpacking District are still paved in the original cobblestones). Gansevoort Market is also one block away from the new, and very accessible, location of the Whitney Museum.

Picture2Tacombi Taco Stand on Left Tacos on Right (Clockwise from Top: Pork, Beef, and Chicken)

Accessibility Rating for Gansevoort Market

I used my wheelchair to visit Gansevoort Market.

  • Entryway – 5: The entrance is wide and barrier free. There are several doors you can use, and when we left they had opened one of the front garage-type doors making entering and exiting even easier. There are no stairs.
  • Bathroom – 5: The bathroom (Men’s) is large enough for a wheelchair to turn around in. The toilet has two grab bars around it. The sink has long handles on the faucet. The door to the bathroom was wide, and it made for easy entry and exit.
  • Walkways/Space – 5: There is plenty of room to get around using any kind of mobility assistive device. There are few obstructions, and the aisles are wide. The chairs were easily removed from the table to accommodate a wheelchair or other device.
  • Staff – 5: The staff was very nice. This is different than a sit-down restaurant, as you go from booth to booth to get your food. The only vendor who was not great was at Aunt Butchie’s. He ignored me when I approached the booth for a sample. Every other vendor was excellent to me, and the overall experience was phenomenal. I enjoyed my time there very much.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Boulud Sud – Upper West Side, Manhattan (Full review)
Daniel Boulud is another master French chef who has several amazing restaurants in NYC. Boulud Sud is inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean, and the food is decadent and sumptuous. This is definitely a place to splurge or enjoy a special occasion. Let the sun-drenched flavors transport you from NYC to the shores of the Mediterranean.
Boulud Sud appetizers

Picture3Accessibility Rating for Boulud Sud

  • Entryway – 5: The doors are wide and barrier free. The entrance is smooth, and there are exterior and interior doors in the entryway. There are no stairs.
  • Bathroom (Upstairs unisex bathrooms for people with disabilities) – 4: There are two accessible bathrooms on the main floor. The bathroom itself is large enough for a wheelchair to enter, though turns might be difficult depending upon the size of the wheelchair. The toilet has grab bars around it, but the sink did not have long handles on the faucet.
  • Walkways/Space – 5: There is adequate space within the restaurant to move through using various mobility assistive devices.
  • Staff – 5: The staff was very helpful. They opened the doors upon our arrival and departure. They were prepared for me because I used OpenTable to make my reservation, and I alerted them to my needs in advance. They called me two days before dining there, and they acknowledged that I would require an accessible table that I could access with my wheelchair while we ate brunch. Upon arrival, a chair had already been removed from the table to allow me to sit there, and they removed another chair upon our request because I have long legs. They even stored the detachable footrests from my chair while we ate because I take them off in order to get closer to the table. I noticed another person entered using a wheelchair, and they helped her transfer to a table. Then, they stored her chair while she ate.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have a Braille menu.


Little Cupcake Bakeshop – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (Full review)
No visit to NYC is complete unless you venture outside of Manhattan. There is an entire city of delicious goodness to explore in the other four boroughs of NYC. To satisfy your sweet tooth and make you feel as if you’re in your grandmother’s kitchen while she bakes scrumptious desserts, visit Little Cupcake Bakeshop in Brooklyn. This bakery is halfway between NYC’s newest major entertainment venue, Barclays Center, and Brooklyn’s gorgeous Prospect Park. If the weather is good when you visit, you could easily pick up some fantastic cupcakes or desserts, and enjoy them in the park. The day I visited it was snowing, but their cozy, yet accessible space, warmed me right up.
Left: Meyer Lemon Bar Center: Cupcakes Right: Coconut Custard

Picture4Accessibility Rating for Little Cupcake Bakeshop – Prospect Heights

  • Entryway – 5: The main entrance is fully accessible.The transition from the outside sidewalk to the entrance is smooth. There are no stairs.
  • Bathroom – 4: There is a fully accessible unisex bathroom in the back of the bakery. It was a little difficult to get the door open and closed because the door is quite large in relation to the size of the bathroom and the position of the toilet and sink. The toilet has two grab bars around it. The faucet does not have long handles.
  • Walkways/Space – 5: The interior is spacious. The furniture is easily moved to accommodate all types of mobility assistive devices. The inside was brightly lit due to good lighting and large windows. The space to get to the bathroom from the dining area was a little tight.
  • Staff – 4: The staff was good. They moved a chair from the table to allow me to sit at the table using my wheelchair. The only thing they did not do was ask if there was any other way to help me.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Shanghai Cuisine 33 – Flushing, NY (Full review)
On your adventures beyond Manhattan, you should definitely include NYC’s other, and lesser known, Chinatown in Flushing, Queens. I had the best Chinese food I have ever had at Shanghai Cuisine 33. While it is a schlep from Manhattan, if you decide to go, you will not regret it. The authentic Shanghainese cuisine is amazing, and the extensive menu provides almost endless options to please any taste.

Shanghai Style Lo Mein with Shrimp, Mushrooms, & Bok Choy
Shanghai Style Lo Mein with Shrimp, Mushrooms, & Bok Choy

Accessibility Rating for Shanghai Cuisine 33

  • Entryway – 5: The entrance doors are wide. There is an exterior and an interior door. There are no stairs.
  • Bathroom – 4: The bathrooms (Unisex) are both accessible, but the bathroom in the back room is much larger than the one in the front room. When I used the front bathroom, it was difficult to get the door to close when I was inside with my wheelchair. Both bathrooms have grab bars around the toilet and long handles on the faucets of the sinks.
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The inside has enough room for a wheelchair or other mobility assistive device to get around. There is a cart that is kept for dirty dishes near the entrance to the front bathroom, but the staff happily moved it when I needed to pass.
  • Staff – 5: The staff was very nice. They moved the chair away from the table so I could sit at the table. As stated before, they also moved the dish cart out of the way so I could pass through to the bathroom. I arrived to the restaurant before my husband. I was taken to our table right away, and they told me that there was no rush and I should take my time.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


I hope my top recommendations help you explore all the delectable deliciousness NYC has to offer. If you visit and come across other wonderful and accessible restaurants I would love to hear about it. Happy eating! / Email: / Twitter: @disabledfoodie / Facebook: The Disabled Foodie / Instagram: @thedisabledfoodie

By David Friedman

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