In the decade or so since it first opened, Terminal 5 on the far west side has become a mainstay of New York's live music scene, and while it's often maligned for its heavy crowds and acoustics, for me personally, Terminal 5 is synonymous with live music at its most big, raucous, and fun. But its location on 11th Avenue and 56th Street, seemingly closer to New Jersey than the rest of Manhattan, means plenty of aggravation when looking for a decent bite nearby.
So where should you eat before or after a concert at Terminal 5? Despite the relatively remote location, there are some solid options. Here are our picks.
Good Food to Go
Azuri Cafe: Very good Israeli hole-in-the-wall with a wide variety of kosher plates and sandwiches. Home to our second favorite falafel in the city, which stands out especially well for its toppings and sauces. Closed Friday evenings, Saturdays, and major Jewish holidays.
Burrito Box: Solid Mexican lunch spot with especially good steak burritos and quesadillas, and a remarkably wide variety of vegetarian/vegan options. Also, every order comes with free chips and salsa. Very good for late at night (open until midnight), or if you want a burrito when you're tired of Chipotle.
Justino's Pizzeria: The tiny midtown outpost of Staten Island's Justino's offers heavy, greasy slices, and heavy greasy specialty slices with tons of toppings. Usually open until 4 a.m., this is a very good late night option.
Afghan Kebab House: Decent, inexpensive Afghan fare, with a solid variety of familiar kebabs, kormas, and veg-friendly appetizers (and a BYOB policy).
Hanci Turkish Cuisine: A homey, husband-wife operated Turkish restaurant, with a wide selection of grilled meats, fish, and appetizers. In Ed's words: "order the mixed appetizer plate, make sure they keep the warm, fresh Turkish bread coming, and request your sis kebab rare (to give the grill man more margin for error)."
Inti Peruvian Restaurant: Very good Peruvian standards done well. Their Pollo Inti roast chicken is moist with crisp skin, and costs as little as $5 for a quarter, or $12 for the whole bird. Don't miss the ceviche, either.
Island Burgers & Shakes: A neighborhood mainstay with hefty—if mushy—burgers that might be better enjoyed after a few beers, available with a ridiculous quantity of toppings. The real draw, though, are the fries and onion rings, worth a trip alone (plus beer).
Pure Thai Cookhouse: This shophouse-style Thai restaurant has become a Hell's Kitchen mainstay since opening in 2010. Best known for its homemade noodles, the fried dishes are also a highlight of the menu.
Totto Ramen: One of our favorite ramen spots in the city, Totto's specialty is Paitan, a flavorful chicken ramen that's uncommon in the US, made with their own fresh noodles. Pork lovers can still get their fix with the Niku ramen, which features several different kinds of pork, including their excellent torch-charred chashu. The original, intimate location on 52nd & 9th can draw long waits, but they've recently opened a second larger storefront on 51st & 10th.
A Few Steps Up
Kashkaval: A specialty cheese store by day, Kashkaval at night is a tiny neighborhood gem that fills up quickly, even on weeknights. They serve a formidable array of Mediterranean tapas, fondue, and have an inexpensive wine and beer list to boot. Also, try the popular turkey meatballs.
La Bergamote: A little patisserie and bistro that offers some of the best croissants and French pastries in the city, as well as solid bistro and brunch fare.
Taboon:A high-end Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant named for the wood-fired oven that serves as the restaurant's centerpiece. The complimentary flatbread is excellent, as are the entrées and mezze fare. Their $38 prix fixe is also available Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The American Retro Bar & Grill: A Hell's Kitchen bar with classic American bar food. In short: a solid beer selection, burgers, skee-ball, and a whole section of the menu devoted entirely to tater tots.
Ardesia: One of the few New York wine bars that serves well-crafted food to match, Ardesia is contemporary and hip, but not overwhelmingly so. The house-made charcuterie, often a pitfall, is executed well here, and the wine list is interesting and well-curated.
Valhalla: With around 40 beers on tap and many more bottled, Valhalla is without question a top beer bar. Most beers sell for about $7-8 each (standard for specialty beer bar,) but there are solid $5 specials, usually listed on a chalkboard outside.
Have more suggestions? Add them in the comments!
About the author: Ben Jay is a Serious Eats contributor, photographer, carnivore, beer and whisky drinker, and music nerd. That new New Pornographers record better be coming soon... You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.