The holiday season is fast approaching, and if you're visiting the city (or just here already) anytime between now and the new year, there's a very good chance you'll be near Rockefeller Center or be strolling down Fifth Avenue at some point. Unfortunately, finding good food in the area can be difficult, and it's all too easy to end up at a faceless national chain, generic Midtown deli, or overpriced hot dog cart (all price-adjusted for tourists). But whether you're shopping, checking out the Christmas tree (which is being lit this year on December 4th), surveying 30 Rock like Jack Donaghy, or just exploring the area, here's our updated guide to good eats around Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center.
Street Food and Quick Bites on the Go
Angelo's Pizza: One of only two coal-fired brick oven pizzerias in this part of Midtown. A definite standout in this neighborhood.
Tuscany: Solid Italian sandwich eatery with solid parms and smoked chicken sandwiches.
Eggs Travaganza: Breakfast cart with fresher food and a much more comprehensive menu than its competition, such as freshly made pancakes and breakfast sandwiches with chorizo. Cheery service to boot!
Macchiato Espresso Bar: If you need a quick breakfast or lunch, this place has good coffee, even better sandwiches, and three locations in Midtown. Try the halloumi sandwich.
King of Falafel and Shawarma Express: The midtown outpost of Queens' best chicken and rice cart, with excellent falafel and shawarma to boot.
Margon: A cheap hole in the wall diner that's an unlikely but delicious source for Cuban and other sandwiches.
Cafe Cello: Another small Cuban diner worth a look if you're nearby, even if we like Margon more.
Certé: Good square slices with creative toppings and a long list of sandwiches we enjoy.
Uncle Gussy's: Family-run Greek food truck with solid souvlaki, friendly service, and homemade Greek specials like pork chops and baklava. The truck is run by two brothers and many of the recipes come straight from the family. Lines can grow long; go early (around 11) or late (after 2) to skip the lunch rush.
'wichcraft: Tasty, high quality sandwiches with rotating seasonal options. More expensive than the average bodega, but also a lot better. Great for breakfast or lunch.
One Step Up
Menkui Tei: Not quite our favorite ramen in New York, but the noodles (and Sapporo) are cheap, plentiful and satisfying.
Katsu-Hama: Really good katsu (Japanese fried cutlets), including stellar kurobuta, salmon, chicken, prawn, and pork stuffed with cheese.
Akdeniz: Satisfying Turkish cooking, especially the rich, warming stews of lamb and okra, always-hot pide bread, and plenty of vegetarian options.
Burger Joint: A funky and self-consciously "downscale" burger joint in the super-fancy Le Parker Meridien hotel, a burger with a cult following.
Xi'an Famous Foods: One of the best destinations for food from western China in the city, with two other locations downtown. Try the chewy liang pi noodles or "lamb face" salad, all doused in their alluringly fiery house sauces.
The Modern: One of Danny Meyer's fine dining restaurants, located next door to MoMA. We'd recommend sitting in the more casual Bar Room for equally delicious food at lower prices with a more casual vibe.
db Bistro Moderne: Daniel Boulud's French-American mashup restaurant offers great French bistro fare alongside burgers and fries.
Smith & Wollensky: One of New York's quintessential classic steakhouses. Come for the signature 32 oz. Colorado rib steak, stay for the surprisingly good desserts.
La Grenouille: Open since 1962, family-owned La Grenouille is one of the city's true gems, a bastion of classic French cuisine, and a restaurant whose principle currency remains the cooking itself, rather than nostalgia or the patronage of city's elite. Go at lunch for the same cooking at a lower price point.
Má Pêche: It's the fourth restaurant from David Chang of Momofuku, at the Chambers Hotel (his only Midtown outpost), and lunch sandwiches to go can be ordered in advance. Book ahead if you're sitting down for lunch or dinner, where the dining is more of an upscale Midtown experience.
Snacks and Sweets
Blue Bottle Coffee: The famed San Francisco coffee roaster has continued its expansion into New York with this branch inside Rockefeller Plaza. In addition to the typical coffee options, try the New Orleans-style iced coffee made with chicory.
Bouchon Bakery: All-around great French-style bakery from Thomas Keller. We love the grilled cheese, pastries, and Oreo-like TKO cookies.
Caffé Bene: This South Korean chain has the usual espressos and cappuccinos as well as waffles made to order, but also serves misugaru, a multigrain blend that tastes distinctly of barley but also contains black beans, sesame seeds, and brown and black rices.
Minamoto Kitchoan: Delicate Japanese sweets, including a unique and delicious single-serving of jelly that turns into sorbet when frozen. Recently moved east from its original location on 49th Street and 5th Avenue to 53rd Street and Madison Avenue.
La Maison du Chocolat: Boxed chocolates, macarons, ice cream, you name it. It's a one-stop shop for all things chocolate, right inside 30 Rock.
Jacques Torres Chocolate: More serious chocolate, also inside 30 Rock, with especially good cookies.
Neuhaus: Even more serious chocolate. Belgian pralines are the specialty here, but you can also choose from a variety of other filled chocolates, truffles, or chocolate bars.
Have more suggestions? Add them in the comments!
About the author: Ben Jay is an editorial intern at Serious Eats, photographer, carnivore, beer and whisky drinker, and music nerd. He once saw a pack of wild dogs take over and successfully run a Wendy's. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.