Note: This guide was published in 2010. See our updated version!
As November ticks on, Santa hats line the aisles of CVS, stores erect their window holiday displays, and visitors stream into Midtown and Central Park and Times Square in even greater numbers than usual. And once the Rockefeller Center tree lights up on November 30, it'll be high season on Fifth Avenue. But when you're wandering around tourist-trafficked areas, it can be hard to find a place other than TGI Friday's or the roasted nut guy on the corner to stop and eat.
Here's our guide to good eats around Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center. Central Park, Times Square, and more coming soon!
Interactive map, after the jump.
View Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center in a larger map
Carts, Take-Out, and Chains
- Five Guys Burgers: It's not the best in New York, but as far as fast-food burgers go, we've got none better.
- 'wichcraft: Not every sandwich is perfect, and some are a little pricey, but we're rarely disappointed by the tasty sandwiches at Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortuzar's breakfast and lunch joint.
- Le Pain Quotidien: A chain French-style cafe with solid pastries, coffee, and open-face sandwiches.
- Angelo's Pizza: More-than-decent coal-fired brick-oven pies with fresh mozzarella.
- Biryani Cart: It's a long block off Fifth, but the kati rolls from Biryani Cart—thick, doughy flatbreads wrapped around various spiced meats—are a must-try for anyone in this part of the city.
- Kwik Meal: A destination for lamb pitas, falafel, and great chicken and rice.
- Tuscany and Co.: Surprisingly tasty chicken parm and smoked chicken sandwiches.
- Eggs Travaganza: A little the FIfth Avenue path (in the other direction), but it's Ed's favorite breakfast cart in New York.
One Step Up:
- Burger Joint: A self-consciously "downscale" burger joint in the super-fancy Le Parker Meridien hotel, serving one of our very favorite burgers in Midtown.
- Angelo's Coal-Fired Pizzeria: One of only two coal-fired pizza places in Midtown.
- Naples 45: Despite the name of this pizza joint within the MetLife building, we like the New York-style slices better than the Neapolitan. Dine in or take out.
- Prime Burger: Totally old-school, and one of Ed's favorites.
- Katsu-Hama: Fried Japanese pork, and more.
- Bill's Bar and Burger: Excellent crispy-edged smashed burgers that first wowed us downtown before their new, huge Rock Center restaurant opened.
- Macchiato Espresso Bar: Great coffee, better sandwiches.
- Akdeniz Turkish Cuisine: Big stews of lamb and okra, always-hot pide bread, and other warming Turkish fare.
- Men Kui Tei: Not quite our favorite ramen in New York, but you're guaranteed big steamy bowls of noodles for a fair price.
- Michael Jordan's Steakhouse: Not the steaks—the bar menu. A gorgeous $6 plate of fried clams and tasty petite burger.
- Ma Peche: Falls into the "Might have a crowd, but you should still know" camp. It's the fourth restaurant of David Chang from Momofuku, at the Chambers Hotel, and sandwiches to go can be ordered in advance. Book ahead if you're sitting down for lunch or dinner.
- 21 Club: It may be stuffy, it may require a jacket, but if old-school, Don Draper Manhattan is your thing, there's nowhere better. And much of the food is still quite good. At lunch, get three courses for $24.
- La Grenouille: As far as old-school French dining goes, this is as good as New York gets. Go at lunch for the same fare at a lower price.
- db Bistro Moderne: Modern bistro with great fries and French classics.
- The Modern: One of Danny Meyer's fine-dining restaurants; we'd recommend sitting in the more casual Bar Room for equally delicious fare at lower prices.
Have more suggestions? Add them in the comments!