If you’re planning to eat in the Theater District before a show, make reservations or give yourself plenty of time. Many restaurants are packed 6:30–8 p.m.
Top Chef fans can hit ‘wichcraft kiosk ($8) in Bryant Park to sample an off shoot of Tom Colicchio’s downtown restaurant, Craft. The kiosk serves superlative sandwiches and soups right in Bryant park.
Hallo Berlin (626 10th Ave., 212/977-1944), “the Wurst Restaurant,” as their menu proclaims, specializes in wurst (sausage) and provides great German food from their 10th Avenue restaurant. An associated, very popular Hallo Berlin Cart, sits at 5th Avenue and 54th Street; wursts are $5.
In the Theater District, inexpensive eats can be found at bustling Ollie’s Noodle Shop (200B W. 44th St., near Broadway, 212/868-6588), offering a wide variety of noodle and dumpling dishes.
Popular Virgil’s Real BBQ (152 W. 44th St., between Broadway and 6th Ave., 212/921-9494, $13) serves up enormous portions of spare ribs, smoked brisket, and the like in a lively, two-story setting.
Tony’s DiNapoli (147 W. 43rd St. in the Casablanca Hotel, 212/221-0100, $11) offers reasonably-priced, generous family-style platters (serves 2–3) of solid Southern Neopolitan Italian fare. There’s a bustling atmosphere with warm service and salads made tableside under the gaze of Broadway’s best in caricature.
West 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues is known as Restaurant Row. Here you’ll find Joe Allen (326 W. 46th St., near 8th Ave., 212/581-6464, $24), a classic, well-known pub with a celebrity-studded clientele.
Not far away is the Firebird (365 W. 46th St., between 8th and 9th Aves., 212/586-0244, $47). Housed in two posh brownstones, the Firebird resembles a prerevolutionary St. Petersburg mansion, complete with paintings, objets d’art, antiques, crystal, and authentic cuisine.
During warm weather, both Bryant Park (between 40th and 42nd Streets, 5th and 6th Avenues) and the steps of the New York Public Library are good spots for lunch. Nearby vendors sell everything from hot dogs to gourmet fare.
Overlooking Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library are the Bryant Park Grill and the Bryant Park Cafe (25 W. 42nd St., 212/840-6500, $19). Both serve imaginative American fare in a handsome setting, but the grill is somewhat more formal. In summer, a rooftop terrace opens up.
Farther north, Rock Center Cafe (20 W. 50th St., 212/332-7620, $20) serves American-style food in a superb setting overlooking the skating rink at Rockefeller Center. Be sure to make reservations.
The Carnegie Deli (854 7th Ave., near 54th St., 212/757-2245, $12) is a New York City landmark, famous for enormous overstuffed deli sandwiches. Similar in style is Stage Deli (834 7th Ave., between 53rd and 54th Sts., 212/245-7850, $12), the Carnegie’s major competitor.
Ninth Avenue between 42nd and 59th Streets is lined with one ethnic restaurant after another. Among them is the Afghan Kebab House (764 9th Ave., between 51st and 52nd Sts., 212/307-1612, $11), serving succulent kebabs in exotic surroundings, and airy, well-lit Uncle Nick’s (747 9th Ave., between 50th and 51st Sts., 212/245-7992, $13), one of Manhattan’s few Greek restaurants.
Murals on 54 (63 W. 54th St. in Warwick Hotel, 212/314-7700) offers excellent opportunity for sampling Chef Alan Ashkinaze’s best via the $24 three-course, prix fixe lunch.
For a drink in the city’s only revolving bar, overlooking Times Square, take an elevator to the top of the glitzy Marriott Marquis (1535 Broadway, at 45th St., 212/398-1900).
Back on ground level, near the Theater District is the elegant, wood-paneled Algonquin Hotel (59 W. 44th St., between 5th and 6th Aves., 212/840-6800), offering several bars and lounges.
The Plaza Hotel’s famed Oak Bar (5th Ave. and 59th St., 212/546-5200) is a plush and pricey one-of-a-kind spot, usually filled with tourists.
Me Bar (17 W. 32nd St. in the La Quinta Hotel 212/290-2460) is a relaxed and surprisingly affordable rooftop bar with stunning views of the Empire State Building.
If a Met vs. Yanks/Giants vs. Jets conversation is of interest, many sports fans regard ESPN Zone (4 Times Square Plaza, 212/921-3776) as the best sports bar in town.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition