Where to Eat Near Times Square (Our Updated Guide)
Two years ago we shared our picks for where to eat near Times Square, the focal point of New York's tourist economy and home to many a chain mega-restaurant. But amid the mammoth TGI Friday's and Guy Fieri's 500-seat restaurant, you'll find plenty of quality places for a quick bite, a casual lunch, or a full sit-down meal. Here's our updated guide, omitting restaurants that have since closed and adding a wealth of new finds. Want them all on a map? Hit one up at the bottom of the post.
Street Food: Carts and Trucks
Desi Food Truck: We recommend the Haleem (a meat stew) and the Chicken Anda Kati Roll.
Biryani Cart: A streetside cart serving awesome kati rolls, as well as other Indian rice-based dishes.
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.
Burgers, Sandwiches, and Other Quick Bites
Piccolo Café: A great choice for solid sandwiches with an Italian spin. For breakfast, we love "the WORKS" egg sandwich.
Creative Juice : While this juice bar from Danny Meyer is actually located inside the midtown Equinox gym, it's not just for gym go-ers. The light to-go food and fresh juices make it an ideal option for a healthy, energizing lunch.
Margon: A Cuban diner that does fantastic Cuban sandwiches.
Schnipper's Quality Kitchen: Like fast food burgers, but much better.
Mooncake Foods: This Asian-fusion spot serves creative sandwiches and is very vegetarian-friendly.
Amy's Bread: A New York institution, and a great bet for breads, sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and more. Don't skip the carrot cake.
Caffé Bene: Try the cooked-to-order waffles at this South Korean import, a stylish alternative for weary travelers that need their coffee chain fix but are sick of Starbucks.
Olympic Pita: Another great falafel spot, with a self-serve salad bar.
Xi'an Famous Foods: The newest location of a growing Chinese noodle empire that does the best food from the city of Xi'an in New York. The slippery, spicy hand-pulled noodles are like no other.
Shake Shack: Our favorite New York burger mini-chain has a Times Square location.
Turco Mediterranean Grill: A speedy kebab spot and casual sit-down serving up filling and reasonably priced Turkish food.
Shorty's: A Philly-style sandwich shop for a tasty roast pork sandwich.
Kati Roll Company: Great for crisp, flatbread-encased kati rolls, India's answer to gyros and laffas.
Culture Espresso Bar: A coffee shop with tasty, well-balanced sandwiches.
Go Go Curry: Tasty Japanese curry in huge portions.
BonChon: Ultra-crisp Korean-style fried chicken. You'll have to wait for it as it's fried to order, but the wait is worth it.
Maoz Falafel: Yep, it's a chain, but it's another of our favorite falafel sandwiches around. The salad bar is the big draw.
Café Cello: A Spanish-American steam table joint known for its roast pork. At $6.95, their Cuban is a steal for the neighborhood.
Little Pie Co.: Great pies and desserts; we recommend the sour cream apple pie.
City Sandwich: With crusty bread and unique sandwich fillings, they're quite a few steps up from your usual sandwich shop.
Hing Won: While the Chinese-inspired bahn mi at this hole-in-the-wall noodle shop aren't the best we've ever had, they make a perfectly suitable choice for a Times Square/Rockefeller Center lunch on the go.
Le Pain Quotidien: A French café-style chain that's a reliable bet for a croissant, cappuccino, or open-faced sandwich.
Empanada Mama: A Colombian-inspired shop offering an impressive array of both wheat and corn empanadas, either baked or fried, in flavors ranging from traditional to outlandish, like caramel and cheese. The best thing about it: it's open 24/7.
Szechuan Gourmet: This cult favorite is one of the best places of its kind in the city. Nothing fancy—just authentic, often dangerously spicy, Sichuan fare.
Qi Bangkok Eatery: With a menu split into "Classic Thai" and "Authentic Bites," this flashy restaurant is likely to please both amateur and adventurous Thai food eaters.
Pongsri Thai: No frills, tried-and-true Thai that's surprisingly kid-friendly.
Marseille: French-Moroccan food we can get behind.
Totto Ramen:You'll have to wait your turn to belly up to the bar at this narrow ramen spot, whose fresh-made noodles and rich Paitan chicken broth have put in the running for finest ramen in the city.
Tabata Noodle: If you don't have the time or patience to wait an hour or so at Totto Ramen, Tabata Noodle is our second pick for a ramen fix nearby. Try the eponymous Tabata ramen with chicken and coconut milk.
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. Note that it gets loud come evenings.
Don Antonio By Starita: Some of our favorite pizza in New York, for its crisp, greaseless fried Montanara, incredibly fresh mozzarella, and a great menu with few weak spots.
Pure Thai Cookhouse: With a bold and authentic variety of Thai street food-style bites, this rustic noodle shack is a real standout in a neighborhood rife with decent Thai places. An added plus: nothing on the menu costs more than 12 bucks.
Soba Nippon: The noodles at this classy soba spot are made with buckwheat grown at the restaurant's very own farm in Canada.
Pam Real Thai: A generally reliable Thai spot, if not an exceptional one.
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.
Danji: We love this sliver of a restaurant with a Michelin star and a selection of exquisite modern Korean small plates. Given its diminutive size and no-reservations policy, you may have to wait, but it's worth it for Bulgogi filet mignon sliders alone.
Pricey To Blow-Out
Le Bernadin: Although the prices here are sky-high, the atmosphere and quality of the food are well worth every penny. Of course, it's widely revered as one of the best restaurants in the city, so either book well in advance (think one month) or try your luck at the slightlymore casual lounge, where you can order small bites that add up to a great meal.
Esca: Serving up seriously fresh fish in the Southern Italian tradition, this understated and elegant seafood haven from Mario Batali, Dave Pasternack and Joe Pastianich doesn't get as much love as it deserves. Go for the crudo.
Keen's Steakhouse: One of New York's iconic steakhouses, best known for their massive mutton chop. The burger and hash are great stuff, too.
Sushi Zen: Exquisite sushi from Toshio Suzuki—who trained "Iron Chef" Morimoto, and claims to have invented the California Roll.
Bars & Lounges
Lantern's Keep: Some of your best bets for drinking in this neighborhood are hotel bars. We're big fans of the old-school cocktail menu at this intimate watering hole inside the Iroquois Hotel.
The Rum House This dark and stylish revamped piano bar harkens back to the New York City of yore but gives it a modern polish. A civilized respite from the bustle of Times Square.
Réunion Surf Bar: Sure, the retro-tiki-surf thing is kitschy, but this underground bar does it in a pretty classy way. In the summer months, the drinks and the AC are equally strong.
The Pony Bar: With an extensive selection of $6 American craft beers and an unfussy vibe, Pony Bar is a favorite haunt of the locals.
44 at the Royalton: Large, swanky, and dimly-lit (some say to a fault), this 1940's-inspired lounge inside the Royalton Hotel is the place to go if atmosphere is what you seek in your drinking environment.
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