Every restaurant exists in context, of neighborhood and price, of cuisine and competitors. Guy's American Kitchen and Bar—the massive big-box restaurant that Food Network star Guy Fieri opened last week in Times Square? No one expects it to be good, per se. The questions you're answering: would a tourist wandering in after a Broadway show have a better meal than he would elsewhere in the neighborhood? Would a Food Network fan visiting from out of town enjoy her Slammin' Jammin' Chicken Parm? Basically—is Guy's American Kitchen and Bar better than the Cheesecake Factory?
'theater district' on Serious Eats
As many times as I'm asked where to eat a pre-theater dinner that won't cost a fortune, a good answer often eludes me. The holy grail is a comfortable, neighborhood-y restaurant that's not egregiously overpriced or, even if deservedly pricey, won't empty your wallet; not cramped or tacky, with a menu broad enough to please anyone but interesting enough to please those looking for something exciting from their one city meal. And while Elsewhere, the new restaurant from the folks behind excellent Hell's Kitchen wine-and-cheese bar Casellula, isn't perfect, it's more than good enough to become my new recommendation.
Of all the questions visitors to New York have ever posed to me, "Where do I have dinner in the Theater District?" has to be the most common. The theater-dense stretch of Midtown, between 42nd and 54th Streets on the west side of Manhattan, puts you near the lights and sounds of Times Square and the dozens of chain restaurants that reside in it—but better restaurants are a little hard to find. Still, there are plenty of good eats even in this part of town; here's our guide.
I've been asked a hundred times where to go for a pre-matinee brunch in the Theatre District; and in Toloache, a lively Mexican restaurant on West 50th Street, I've finally found a place to recommend.
"Asian Fusion" and "small plates" were the "locally sourced" and "house-butchered" of a few years back—restaurant trends that turned into buzzwords that devolved into cliché. So it's hard not to feel a little doubt when we hear about a place like the new modern-Korean Danji, serving small plates of "Korean flavors prepared with classical French techniques." We'll spare you the skepticism: the food you'll find at Danji ranges from good to fantastic.
[Photo: Robyn Lee] In another installment of the continued and delicious saga entitled "Shake Shack Takes New York," this week saw the opening of the new Theater District outpost of our favorite burgers-and-custard joint. We headed over to check...