Where to Eat a Pre- or Post-Theater Dinner in NYC (Our Updated Guide)
When we published our original guide to eating in the Theater District three years ago, the area, roughly centered around Broadway between 42nd and 54th streets, was just starting to find its mojo. We're happy to report that nowadays the dining scene there is in full swing, especially when you factor in some of the new and noteworthy spots around its western and southern edges.
Whether you're looking for a fancy pre-theater dinner or just want to grab a fast and inexpensive post-show bite, here's an updated list of our favorite Theater District eats that will help you select from the cream of the area's very crowded crop.
Unless otherwise noted, all of these locations are open until 11 p.m. or later.
Quick and Cheap Eats
Turco Mediterranean Grill: Turco offers many of the usual Mediterranean fast food suspects: kebabs, falafel, gyros. But what distinguishes the place is their lamb kofte, which have just the right amount of juiciness and spice.
Guelaguetza: Head to the kitchen in the back of this sliver of a grocery to try the handmade sopes, quesadillas, tortas, and tacos. Specials like the sangrita, a loose mixture of goat meat, onion, and blood sausage, are especially memorable.
Go! Go! Curry: This chain restaurant makes a Japanese-style curry rice that is hearty, filling, and lip-smackingly saucy. Get the pork katsu curry and feel free to go wild with the extra toppings. Closes at 9:55 p.m. nightly.
Schnipper's: Although we'd go there mainly for the burgers, Schnipper's has the full gamut American comfort foods, from mac 'n cheese to crispy chicken sandwiches. For whatever deep-fried cravings you might happen to be nursing, you're certain to satisfy them here.
Taqueria Tehuitzingo: After years of serving Pueblan style cuisine out of the back of a cramped bodega, Tehuitzingo has finally opened up a storefront solely devoted to their outstanding tacos, sandwiches, soups, and other regional specialties. Even better, they're open until 4 a.m.—perfect for any post-post-theater jaunts.
Shake Shack: With such close proximity to Times Square, this location of the iconic hamburger joint is especially prone to long lines (thus not necessarily making it the best "quick" option). But the truth is that Shake Shack still turns out tasty burgers. And in a pinch, we'd happily stop by just to grab a milkshake or concrete from the speedy C-line.
Tulcingo del Valle: This Mexican deli has an expansive menu of tacos, tortas, and other Pueblan and Tex-Mex specialties. We're especially fond of their al pastor, which goes equally well on a taco as it does on a sandwich.
Ivan Ramen: Gotham West Market may be home to several satisfying meal and drink options, but Ivan Ramen undeniably steals the show. Their ramen dishes are all quite excellent, but for anyone looking to fill up, we'd recommend one of the rice bowls. Closes at 10 p.m. nightly.
Larb Ubol: On a stretch of 9th Avenue overcrowded with Thai restaurants, Larb Ubol stands out from the rest for its nuanced Isan cuisine. Whether you go for chef Ratchanee Sumpatboon's salads, curry-based dishes, or noodle soups, everything is likely have a pitch-perfect balance of flavors. Closes at 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Cafe Edison: Tucked inside the Edison Hotel, Cafe Edison is a lesser-known gem that serves Jewish diner classics done right. Their soups, especially the matzo ball, represent the height of comfort food. Make sure to stop by The Rum House, also inside the hotel, for a late night drink. Cafe Edison closes at 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 7 p.m. Sundays. The Rum House is open until 4 a.m. nightly.
Pure Thai Cookhouse: Pure Thai Cookhouse does a fine job with familiar Thai dishes, but it really outshines its neighbors when it comes to service and ambience. Their desserts change almost daily, and are generally not to be skipped.
Inti: Inti makes a fine roast Peruvian-style chicken that is delectably moist with a delicately crisped exterior. We could easily make a family-sized meal out of their whole bird for a mere $12, but the ceviches are worth making room for as well.
Tabata Noodle: Tabata uses a coconut-chicken broth with its ramen, which is among the thickest that we've had anywhere. With sturdy, chewy noodles and tender chicken to top, it's sure to keep you filled.
Casellula: This perennially popular cafe has a cheese-centric menu with a well-curated wine list. It's hard not to enjoy their Pig's Ass Sandwich, with thin shavings of cheddar and Fol Epi cheeses, homemade pickles, chipotle, and, yes, the tender meat of a pig's posterior.
Gazala Place: Gazala Place is New York's only restaurant that serves Druze food, which is similar to other Mediterranean cuisines, but with a few noticeable differences. Think light and delicate pitas, ultra-garlicky meats, and lots of thick and creamy hummus.
Ippudo: Ippudo opened its second New York outpost last year on 51st Street, well within a stone's throw of a number of serious ramen rivals and challengers. The popular spot holds its own against the others, however, by delivering on consistency and overall taste.
Don Antonio: Don Antonio offers what is something of a rarity in Midtown: pizza worth getting excited for. While the cheese and sauce are reassuringly fresh on their Neapolitan-style pies, the real draw is the crusts of their pizze fritte, which are fried until lightly crisped and puffy.
Ootoya: Japanese restaurant chain Ootoya specializes in teishoku, meal sets typically consisting of miso soup, rice, pickles, egg custard and a choice of protein. We're particularly fond of the mackerel and the pork belly. Closes at 10:30 p.m. nightly.
Joe Allen: The traditional American fare at Joe Allen may not be groundbreaking, but its a great place to get in a decent, well-rounded meal when you're short on time. If you're going to a show, let the staff know and they'll be sure to time things appropriately.
Xai Xai: Xai Xai's menu showcases the multicultural influences that have shaped the cuisine of South Africa. Dishes like oxtail potjie and boerewors are complemented by an extensive selection of wines from the country.
Totto Ramen: Totto Ramen excels at paitan ramen, which is made with chicken broth instead of pork. At many places, it would be a dish to pass on, but here it's as rich and as creamy as the best tonkotsu.
Sake Bar Hagi: Open nightly until 3 a.m., Sake Bar Hagi might just be our top choice for winding up a night in the Theater District. Izakaya-style bites like chicken skewers and takoyaki are perfect for enjoying with one of the many sakes the cozy spot offers.
A Few Steps Up
Esca: Renowned Italian restaurant Esca serves a staggeringly impressive array of seafood dishes as well as a strong selection of pastas, seasonal vegetables, and desserts. This is where we'd go when looking to treat someone to a special dinner—or when we're the ones being treated. Closes at 10:30 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, 11:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Danji: Danji's menu consists of unabashed Korean fusion that manages to land most of the border-hopping leaps that it makes. Dishes like bulgogi sliders would be pure concept anywhere else, but chef Hooni Kim gets them right.
Marseille: As its name suggests, Marseille specializes in Provençal dishes, albeit with touches of Morocco and the wider Mediterranean. Dinner items such as the lamb shank couscous and bouillabaisse are deservedly popular, while on the weekends their brunch draws crowds.
Toloache: Toloache works hard to cover all its bases: few Mexican restaurants can boast about having both an extensive vegetarian menu AND enough lechon, chapulines, and bone marrow to satisfy even the most committed carnivore. Closes at 10 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 12 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Bar Americain: Bobby Flay's brasserie offers French-inflected takes on regional American classics, with a particular emphasis on seafood and game. Closes at 10 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Print: Print's farm-to-table menu changes with the season, but the restaurant remains consistently strong when showing off its modern American flair. Located on a stretch of 11th Avenue that is just starting to see some more dining action, it's one of the better options you'll find in close proximity to the West Side Highway. Closes at 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9:45 p.m. Sundays.
You Tell Us
Where would you recommend eating before or after a night at the theater? Let us know in the comments!