Ohhhh Times Square.
How I LOATHE THEE.
Let me count thy ways.
Ok sorry, it’s fine, I won’t count. If you’re a born and raised New Yorker like myself, chances are you hate this place too. It’s full of energy, I’ll give it that, but it’s overwhelming and anxiety-inducing.
SO MANY PEOPLE. WAY TOO PEOPLEY IN THIS AREA.
The only reason I ever come here is for a Broadway show. I love the theater and this is where that goes down, so naturally, I’ve been to many a restaurant in the area. At this point I’d like to think I have a good grasp on where to go. Because let’s face it, most of them are tourist traps.
Truthfully, I don’t mind SOME tourist traps (like Olive Garden, not sorry) but here is a nice list of non-touristy spots where you can have a bite before or after your show. The Times Square website actually has a list for “Restaurant Row”, but I’ll be honest in that I haven’t been to a lot of them, so I can’t vouch for how good they are.
If you think I’m missing something, drop a comment below! I’m sure there are places I’m forgetting about.
As always, phone number links to the Google Search for the restaurant.
Where to Eat Near: Times Square
- Lillie’s Victorian – Here’s a fun fact for your next NYC trivia: the name is in honor of the famous British actress Lillie Langtry. With a gorgeous bar in the middle of the restaurant, this is a great spot to have a cocktail or two and some bites. Also a good first date spot, thanks to the creative cocktails like the Smoking Lillie with mezcal, grapefruit juice, lime, honey, and Peychaud’s. Try the fish and chips or the wings too.
249 West 49th Street
- Toloache – One of my go-to Mexican spots in this area, Toloache is a great semi-casual spot to sit down and enjoy some guac, taco, and margaritas. Try the cheese fondue or beef short rib from their brick oven too. With a multitude of options there’s something for everyone.
251 West 50th Street
- Haswell Greens – this place opened just a year or two ago, and it’s already one of my go-to recommendations in the area. The food is good, the cocktails are great, and they have live music on most nights! The space is BIG, bi level with a balcony overlooking the stage. Very cool vintage vibes going down in here. Try the fried deviled eggs, the smoked chicken quesadilla, or any of the wood-fired pizzas. A pre-theater menu is available too.
240 West 52nd Street
- Natsumi – if sushi is your thing, this is a good option. Try the edamame dumplings and the sake flight (if you’re into sake). And considering the location (read: tourist trap), it’s pretty reasonably priced too.
226 West 50th Street
- Carmine’s – family style Italian in the heart of Times Square. If you’re with a large group (or a very hungry group), this is a classic NYC institution. Some people make fun of it because it’s a “chain”, but the food is actually solid. Great red sauce and alla vodka. The baked clams are a staple amongst my group as well. Reservations highly recommended since this is a place where people like to stay a while.
200 West 44th Street
- Los Tacos No. 1 – honestly, this is one of the BEST taco spots in NYC and I’m glad they found a new home in Times Square (the original is in Chelsea Market). The lines can get long during peak times but it’s such a well-oiled machine (usually) that it moves very fast. Try the adobada (marinated pork) or carne asada (grilled steak).
229 West 43rd St
- Danji – always a good option if you’re a fan of Korean fare! I love their bulgogi sliders. The bibimbap is delicious too but definitely on the heavier side, so if you’re looking for smaller bites to share, try the Spicy Yellowtail sashimi or the “KFC” wings (Korean Fried Chicken) – sticky, sweet, and spicy. Just perfect.
346 West 52nd Street
- The Lamb’s Club – if you’re feeling fancy, head on over to The Chatwal Hotel where you’ll find The Lamb’s Club. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s modern American restaurant has a classic NYC vibe to it, and I always kind of feel like Don Draper might sit next to me and order a martini. Or maybe that’s just what I HOPE will happen. Try the lamb T-bone chops or the short rib agnolotti, and deviled eggs to start. They also have a pre-theater menu with 2 courses and dessert available from 5-6:30 pm.
Inside The Chatwal Hotel
132 West 44th Street
- Ippudo Westside – this is one of my favorite ramen places in NYC, and the west side location is so much easier to get into than the original downtown by Astor Place. There might still be people waiting to get in before it opens, but if you get there early enough you should be fine. Get the pork buns, the shishito peppers and the Akamuru Modern Ramen with pork broth and garlic oil. It’s so damn good.
321 West 51st Street
- Becco – famous for it’s $33 wine list and unlimited pasta offering (Sinfonia di Paste), Becco has a daily rotation of three fresh pastas, and you can try all three for $25.95, served tableside. Not a bad deal for Times Square (or any part of Manhattan). You can check the website for daily pastas or call the restaurant.
355 West 46th Street
- Haru – one of my sushi favorites downtown has moved uptown to Times Square. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s very good. There’s a great Happy Hour menu too from 3-6 pm, with sushi options from $4 – $8, and a selection of drinks (wine, beer, sake, cocktails) from $5 – $11.
229 West 43rd Street #221
- City Kitchen – located inside the Row Hotel, this food court-style spot is great if you have to please a lot of different palates and don’t have a lot of time to deal with waiter service. There’s a bunch of great vendors in here, including Whitman’s (burgers), Dough (donuts), ilili Box, Luke’s Lobster, and more.
Vendors listed here
Inside the Row Hotel
700 8th Ave
- Hunt & Fish Club – the thing I like about Hunt & Fish Club is it’s good at the bar or sitting down. I popped in once when I had only about an hour before a show and was fed/served quickly at the bar. It’s primarily a steakhouse with a more upscale feel, but the menu has some creative twists. Make sure you get the wagyu meatball, which is big enough to feed 2 people. Also highly recommend the tater tots!
125 West 44th Street
- Sushi of Gari 46 – one of the best sushi spots I’ve ever been to, especially in this area. I did the Omakase once or twice and it was great, but expensive, so I would stick to the a la carte menu or the Sushi Deluxe – 9 pieces of sushi and 1 roll for $45.
347 West 46th Street
- Shake Shack – I mean, can you ever really go wrong with a Shackburger and fries?? No, you can’t. It’s pretty much always a good option if it’s not super crowded and you’re on a time crunch. I cannot resist their fries. Absolutely cannot.
691 8th Avenue
- Esca – CURRENTLY CLOSED BUT REOPENING SOON – check their website below for details. There was a fire that ripped through the restaurant in June 2019, but this is definitely a classic seafood/Italian spot that we hope will be back up and running soon!
402 West 43rd Street
- Joe’s – for the best slice in NYC, head to Joe’s. The original is in the West Village but I discovered this new location last year before I went to see Aladdin and I thought I was hallucinating. It’s usually very crowded so this is a grab-n-go situation but you won’t be sorry. My favorite classic NYC slice (with or without pepperoni), hands down.
- Le Rivage – VERY underrated burgers here – the French Onion Soup burger is delicious, as well as the Au Poivre burger. Other than that, you have a great selection of French fare in a rustic setting that’s also a “nice place”. They also have a pre-theater prix fixe menu, 3 courses for $43, from 3 – 7:30 PM.
340 West 46th Street
Main image photo credit: nycgo