Note: This guide was published in July 2011. For an updated version, see here.
Times Square is probably one of the single most frequented sites in New York among tourists. Visitors from far and wide flock to be at "The Crossroads of the World," or just to purchase discounted theater tickets at the TKTS booth. While there are plenty of chain restaurants, convenient for eating on the run as you try to catch up to your tour group, there are also numerous independent restaurants better for a good sandwich, a quick meal, or a nicer dinner. Here are some of our suggestions.
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Street Food: Carts and Trucks
Biryani Cart: A streetside cart serving awesome kati rolls, as well as other Indian specialties.
Kwik Meal: A chicken- and lamb-over-rice cart from a former chef at the Russian Tea Room; anything with lamb is a great bet.
Kim's Aunt Kitchen Cart: Lots of food for a truly low price; the fried fish sandwiches are where it's at.
Desi Food Truck: We recommend the Haleem (a meat stew) and the Chicken Anda Kati Roll.
Burgers, Sandwiches, and Other Quick Bites
Shake Shack: Our favorite burger mini-chain has a Times Square location.
Schnipper's Quality Kitchen: Like fast food, but much better.
Shorty's: A Philly-style spot for a tasty roast pork sandwich.
Amy's Bread: A New York institution, and a great bet for breads, sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and more.
Kati Roll Company: Great for crisp, flatbread-encased kati rolls, India's answer to gyros and laffas.
Go Go Curry: Tasty Japanese curry in huge portions.
Bon Chon: Ultra-crisp Korean-style fried chicken.
Pick A Pita: One of our favorite falafel sandwiches in the city.
Olympic Pita: Another great falafel spot, with a self-serve salad bar.
Maoz Falafel: Yep, it's a chain, but it's another of our favorite falafel sandwiches around.
Culture Espresso Bar: A coffee shop with tasty, well-balanced sandwiches.
City Sandwich: With crusty bread and unique sandwich fillings, they're quite a few steps up from your usual sandwich shop.
Margon: A Cuban diner that does fantastic Cuban sandwiches.
Kyotofu: An incredible Japanese dessert bar and bakery.
Little Pie Co.: Great pies and desserts; we recommend the sour cream apple pie.
Le Pain Quotidien: A French café-style chain that's a reliable bet for a croissant, cappuccino, or open-faced sandwich.
Elsewhere: With ambitious, fresh, usually excellent food and a pleasant, airy back garden, it's probably your best bet for a not-too-fancy dinner near Times Square.
Pam Real Thai: A generally reliable Thai spot.
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.
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.
Toloache: This lively, friendly upscale Mexican restaurant is an equally good bet for a pre-matinee brunch or a pre-show dinner.
Marseille: French-Moroccan food we can get behind.
Pricey To Blow-Out
Keen's Steakhouse: A civilized, respectable, and unusually friendly New York steakhouse.
Sushi Zen: Exquisite sushi from Toshio Suzuki—who trained "Iron Chef" Morimoto, and claims to have invented the California Roll.
Le Bernardin: Although the prices here are sky-high, the atmosphere and quality of the food are well worth every penny.
You Tell Us
Where would you recommend to eat near Times Square? Let us know!