Note: This guide was published in 2011. See our updated version here!
Of all the questions visitors to New York have ever posed to me, "Where do I have dinner in the Theater District?" has to be the most common. The theater-dense stretch of Midtown, between 42nd and 54th Streets on the west side of Manhattan, puts you near the lights and sounds of Times Square and the dozens of chain restaurants that reside in it—but better restaurants are a little hard to find. Still, there are plenty of good eats even in this part of town; here's our guide.
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Totto Ramen: In our Top 3 ramen spots in New York City, it's got excellent fresh-made noodles, tender roasted pork belly, and quick, friendly counter service.
Casellula: A gorgeous (though small) neighborhoody wine and cheese bar with an extensive small plates collection, from cured meats to salads to excellent cheese and meat sandwiches. (Waits can be long for a table, so go early, or go after your show.)
Gazala Place: This casual BYOB has two locations in New York, serving the food of the Druse, a Gnostic Islamic sect spread over Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. Try the burekas, the mixed meat platters, and the paper-thin pita.
Sake Bar Hagi: An underground izakaya with a wide range of Japanese pub-style grub and, as the name would suggest, an extensive sake list. (Another place that crowds up; leave enough time if you're rushing to a show.)
Danji: A modern Korean restaurant we love, with tasty small plates including bulgogi sliders and a memorably good brisket stew.
Pure Thai Shophouse: It's not in the running for best Thai restaurant in the city. But it easily stands up to its neighbors on 9th Avenue, and beats them by a mile when it comes to service and ambience.
A Few Steps Up
Esca: Dave Pasternack's Italian seafood restaurant is the work of a man who knows and loves the ocean—we've never had a meal there that wasn't memorably delicious.
Marseille: A French-Moroccan restaurant where steak frites share the menu with lamb shank couscous.
Toloache: This lively, friendly upscale Mexican restaurant is an equally good bet for a pre-matinee brunch or a pre-show dinner.
Bar Americain: Bobby Flay's upscale pan-American brasserie.
These are the restaurants we often send visitors to—where do you recommend in the Theater District?