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The Best Restaurants in the NYC Theater District

Skip the overpriced Broadway tourist traps. Eat here.

Heading to New York City’s theater district? Come hungry. Here are the best NYC Theater District restaurants and places to eat around Hell’s Kitchen and Times Square — plus a few bonus spots near Rockefeller Center. [Updated May 2023]

Best Theater District Restaurants NYC
The Modern Bar Room / photo courtesy The Modern

Finding the NYC Theater District Best Restaurants

Yes, you can find a great New York City theater district restaurant. Many, actually.

To begin, let’s rip the Band-Aid right off: The fact is, there are some very mediocre to very bad restaurants around Broadway and in the general theater district area. The tourist mob scene guarantees that overpriced, underwhelming food is inevitable. (Pete Wells’s blistering one-star review of Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant in the New York Times is legend.)

But we’re looking past all that. There are actually many great places to eat around the Broadway theaters. So skip the blah tourist traps and get yourself a very good meal.

Here’s a roundup of where to eat around the NYC theater district, in all budgets and tastes. 

This NYC Theater District Dining Guide divides into several sections:

  • The Overall Best Theater District Restaurants in NYC
  • The Best Italian Restaurants in the Theater District
  • Bonus Round: Where to Eat Around Rockefeller Center 

So read on. And whatever you do: Don’t forget your appetite — or your tickets!

Best NYC Broadway Area Italian Restaurants
Resistance is futile. Touristy Carmine’s really does a good job. / Photo courtesy Carmine’s

Best Restaurants in the NYC Theater District and Broadway Area

The New York theater district dining scene (a.k.a. Broadway), can be a minefield. But not for you! There are plenty of good places to eat in Hell’s Kitchen and Times Square. Here are the Unpeeled recommendations for the best places to eat: NYC Theater District edition.

Best Theater District Restaurants NYC
The Modern Bar Room / photo courtesy The Modern

1. The Bar Room at The Modern

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has an outstanding formal restaurant, The Modern, featuring a prix fixe menu. But my preference is the adjacent Bar Room, a spacious, sleek dining room that remains perennially busy. Excellent wine and cocktails, and a menu of sophisticated and satisfying fare.

Pro tips: Get the tarte flambée, and the crudo. Also, if you really want to splurge, the formal restaurant lets you book the Kitchen Table, where up to 4 guests can sit in the kitchen and watch the chef action over a special multi-course meal.

theater district nyc wine bar
The interior of Aldo Sohm wine bar

2. Aldo Sohm Wine Bar

You can definitely make a full meal from the all-day menu served at this upscale wine bar. Owned and operated by the eponymous master sommelier of famed restaurant Le Bernardin, Aldo Sohm offers 40 (!) wines by the glass, plus substantial bar food like truffle pasta, arancini, oozy baked camembert, duck confit, and roasted beet terrine. Let the expert staff suggest the wine pairings, of course.

New York City Theater District Best Restaurants
Courtesy Sushi of Gari

3. Sushi of Gari

With several Manhattan locations, Sushi of Gari’s West 46th Street location serves a broad menu of top-quality sushi, plus plenty of tempuras, teriyaki platters, soups, dumplings, and more for non-sushi people.

4. Danji

Korean food is always a good call. And tiny Danji serves impressive and accomplished small plates, ranging from modern to traditional. The most popular dishes include bulgogi beef sliders, spicy wings, and the sizzling pan options.

Dining Guide Best NYC Theater District Restaurants
Photo Courtesy Yakitori Torishin

5. Yakitori Torishin

Torishin comes up again and again among Theater-district dining intellgentsia. Deservedly so. This secreted away Japanese spot serves the most primo yakitori in town, either à la carte or as a set menu. The small restaurant also serves rice bowls and a few assorted sides. Make a reservation.

6. Los Tacos No. 1

Not so much a restaurant as a place to grab outstanding tacos before or after the show, Los Tacos has multiple locations in Manhattan. Their Times Square/Theater District location is open from late morning until late night, and serves fresh, excellent tacos, quesadillas, and assorted sides. Don’t overlook the nopal (cactus) option.

Best Restaurant Guide NYC Theater District
Photo courtesy Iris

7. Iris

This lovely, upscale Mediterranean restaurant is a top dining deal. The dining room has a $54 three-course, pre-theater menu that leans heavily on Greek influences, plus an excellent food and drink happy hour that just so happens to align perfectly with pre-theater dining times.

8. Ardesia Wine Bar

Come for the extensive wine by the glass list, stay for the food. Ardesia combines a warm, casual atmosphere with sophisticated bar food for a top pre-or post0theater dining experience. Get the soft pretzels.

9. Joe Allen

No, and I mean no, NYC Theater District dining guide is complete without Joe Allen. A Theater District dining favorite since 1965, the bar and dining room at Joe Allen plays host to a steady clientele of Broadway “who’s who” types and theater goers alike. The food does not push any boundaries (think burgers, Caesar salad, and the like), but it is reliable, with something for even the pickiest family member. Reservations a must, especially for larger groups.

Totto Ramen theater district restaurant
Photo courtesy Totto Ramen

10. Totto Ramen

Hell’s Kitchen and the New York City Theater District has a strong ramen game (see also: Ippudo). Franchise ramen spot Totto makes an excellent, affordable Theater District all-day dining option, thanks to their outstanding chicken-based ramen bowls, plus additional offerings like dumplings, steamed buns, and fried chicken. Totto does not take reservations, so strategize accordingly.

Dining guide theater district NYC
Photo courtesy Burger Joint

11. Burger Joint

Technically, Burger Joint is closer to Carnegie Hall than the theaters of Broadway. But it’s worth mentioning because it’s such a fun, low-key, and affordable, experience.

Here’s what you do: Enter the Thompson Hotel lobby. Walk past the front desk to the big velvet drapes. Turn, walk down the narrow hallway, turn right, and find yourself in Midtown’s secret burger spot. The burger and shake hits the spot just like a burger and shake should, and the sweet potato fries are some of the city’s best.

12. Mari

Mari’s prix fixe menu of Korean hand rolls is a special occasion meal that’s both classic and out of the box. Elegant Michelin-stared Mari boasts an excellent Theater District location to boot.

The Best Italian Restaurants in the Theater District NYC

Lucikly, it’s easy to find great Italian food in the Theater District. Italian food makes a great dining option before or after your show, and works because pretty much everyone likes it (ahem, picky kids). Here are some of my top picks for the best Italian restaurants in New York City’s theater district.

Best Italian food NYC Theater District
Behold, a sandwich of All’Antico Vinnaio / Photo courtsey All’Antico Vinnaio

1. All’Antico Vinaio

This famed Florentine sandwich shop comes straight from Italy to your all-day, pre-theater meal. All’Antico is one of my top picks for “non-restaurant” good Italian meals. Their sandwiches are, in a word, outstanding. It’s the total package: great flatbread, top-quality meat, fresh fillings, and perfect seasoning.

2. Dell’Annima

Admittedly, you’ll have to traipse to the very far West Side to settle into one of the counter seats at this casual Italian spot nestled in an upscale food hall. But the pasta is satisfying and elegant, coupled with a lovely wine list.

Dining Guide Italian food NYC Theater District and Broadway
The dining room at Quality Italian

3. Quality Italian

Make a reservation fairly far in advance for dinner at this popular Italian spot near Carnegie Hall. Quality Italian’s pastas are all made in house, and the restaurant is also known for its excellent beef.

4. Orso

Another Broadway restaurant institution on par with neighboring Joe Allen, Orso goes with Broadway dining like marinara goes with spaghetti. Orso serves a lovely selection of antipasti, plus pizzas, pastas, and select meat and fish entrées, making this easily one of the best Italian restaurants in the theater district.

Broadway Italian Restaurants - Carmine's
Resistance is futile. Touristy Carmine’s really does a good job. / Photo courtesy Carmine’s

5. Carmine’s

I know. It’s a chain. And a fairly touristy one at that. However! The plain truth is that Carmine’s is very good at what they do: Turning out tasty, huge-portioned servings of family-style food squarely in the Italian American tradition. Perfect for kid-friendly, family group dining before or after a show, Carmine’s ranks among the best theater district restaurants in New York City, and certainly among the best Italian. Make sure you reserve far in advance.

Rockefeller Center best restaurants
Photo courtesy Le Rock

Bonus: Where to Eat Around Rockefeller Center

Many people visiting New York City’s Theater District will also find themselves around Rockefeller Center and nearby Radio City Music Hall. While Rockefeller Center is not technically the Theater District, it’s close enough to throw in as a bonus.

So here, briefly, are the Unpeeled Journal selections of where to eat around Rockefeller Center.

  1. Le Rock: One of the most buzzed-about restaurants in Manhattan right now. A très chic watering hole serving upscale French fare with a Mediterranean influence. Get the barbajuans, fried ravioli rarely seen outside the French Riviera and Monaco. Open for lunch and dinner.
  2. JupiterThe latest pasta restaurant from the all-female team behind the West Village’s charming King.
  3. Blue Ribbon Sushi: Always a solid bet.
  4. Aces: Detroit- and grandma-style pizza by the slice or whole pie,
  5. Pebble BarA hot new restaurant and bar in an old townhouse. They serve food (those oysters!), but cocktails are the main move.
  6. Hatsuhana: Longstanding sushi restaurant with affordable lunch specials. Entering quiet Hatsuhana gives busy sightseers a bit of calm in the Midtown storm.

Check out some additional food and travel guides here:

5 comments

  • Frank Lyal

    Joe Allen — period.

  • Another great restaurant to try:
    Sicily osteria
    330 east 46th street nyc
    Went there after lion king
    Great meal and dessert!
    Aperol spritz was perfect
    Delicious!

    • Unpeeled

      Oh thanks so much for this great tip! I looked it up and it looks so good. I’m going to head here next time in that area and check it out.

  • Jaime Iglehart

    This comes at such a great time! I’m headed to NYC in two weeks to see two shows! Can’t wait to try some of these.

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