The Best Restaurants In Midtown
Where to eat when you find yourself in the land of office buildings and Broadway shows.
There are lots of reasons why you might wind up in Midtown. Maybe there's an office there with your name on the door, or perhaps you've scored tickets to watch people sing and rap about Alexander Hamilton. Regardless of why you find yourself in this part of Manhattan, you might need to feed yourself. From an old-school red sauce joint and a yakitori spot to a few of the city's best options for a big night out, here's where to grab food.
This Midtown institution, which has been open for over 30 years now, is a well-oiled machine that’s been fine-tuned to perfection. The service here skews north of impeccable, but the seafood—shrimp custard with geoduck and uni, for example—is the main reason why this is still an amazing place to eat. If you’re looking for a highlight-of-the-presidential-term, upscale restaurant experience where you won’t feel like an idiot for spending hundreds of dollars, this is it.
You might think that an old-timey steakhouse smack in the middle of Times Square couldn’t possibly be good, but Gallaghers is just that. From the moment you glimpse the dry-aging room through the front window to the time you walk out lugging a heavy bag of leftovers, you’re going to be very happy. We recommend ordering steakhouse classics: Start with a round of Hemingway daiquiris with a wedge salad, then move on to a porterhouse with some creamed spinach. All the desserts here are great, but the New York-style cheesecake is about as real as it gets.
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photo credit: Alex Staniloff
This “contemporary Asian” spot from the Marea team is right next door to the MoMA, so it’s only fitting that it raises the bar for restaurant design in NYC. The main dining room features sweeping curved, rainbow-colored blades across the ceiling that will make you think of strings on a giant harp. For your next big night out, come for the best soup dumplings we’ve had in a while, and don’t even try to decide between the sambal-smothered skate and the incredibly moist Hainanese chicken—just get both.
Keens has been around for more than 130 years, and the ceilings of this Midtown steakhouse are covered with the smoking pipes of former regulars like Teddy Roosevelt and Babe Ruth. You may be tempted by the comically large king’s cut, a 32-ounce prime rib straight out of a Ron Swanson fever dream, but you should focus your attention on the drenched-in-butter porterhouse and their famous mutton chop. Be sure to save room for the ice cream sundae that has a thick layer of melted fudge at the bottom.
photo credit: Monkey Bar
This revamped, old-school Midtown restaurant still has a big sunken dining room that features plush red booths and a wraparound mural of Jazz Age celebrities, but now it's run by the people behind 4 Charles Prime Rib. Hearty and unpretentious, the food includes everything from pasta and fried chicken to steakhouse staples like a dry-aged porterhouse. Notably, they serve the same cheese-smothered burger that you’ll find at Au Cheval, and you should eat one in the walk-in-only tavern area.
Marea is one of our favorite places to eat pasta in NYC, simply because the options go way beyond usual suspects like linguine and clams or frutti di mare spaghetti. The headliner of Marea’s menu is the octopus and bone marrow fusilli. With tender octopus, bone marrow, and a red wine-spiked tomato sauce that gets a boost from some garlicky breadcrumbs, this is one of the top pasta dishes in the city. Even if you just come to this upscale spot to have that one dish and a glass of wine at the bar, you'll have a meal that will occupy your thoughts for a long time.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Los Tacos No. 1
The original Los Tacos No. 1 is in Chelsea Market, and they do some of the best tacos in the city. This location is, unfortunately, in Times Square. But the good news is: They make the same tacos. So the next time the R train breaks down, and you find yourself stranded in the land of tourists and Mickey Mouse impersonators, get some food here. It isn’t as busy as the one downtown, but there aren’t any seats, so you’ll have to eat standing.
photo credit: Kate Previte
You might head to Rockefeller Center only once a year to glance at a very tall tree that was sacrificed to wear an outfit of colored lights. This brasserie is another reason to go there. Le Rock is from the Frenchette team, so it’s no surprise that the food here is French and the large Art Deco space is packed every night. Think of the best filet you’ve ever had. It'll get bumped to second place after you try the ridiculously tender bison. Tripe wrapped in breadcrumbs and the giant profiterole covered in warm chocolate sauce are two more reasons why you’ll want to keep coming back.
Lodi serves some of the most impressive Italian food within a few miles of Liz Lemon’s office. It just so happens to be located directly outside of Liz Lemon’s office. Standouts at this Rockefeller Center restaurant from the team behind Estela include the housemade ricotta, an incredible porchetta panini (available before 5pm), and the plate of plump anchovies. We recommend you grab a table on the large patio where your neighbor's huge shopping bag from their trip to the Harry Potter flagship store won’t infringe on your personal space.
Sushi 35 West
To get to Sushi 35 West, you walk into a smoke shop a few blocks from Penn Station, turn right, and head up a grungy industrial staircase, at which point you’ll arrive in what feels like a freight elevator hallway. Yes, you’re in the right place. Here, you’ll find some of the best takeout sushi we’ve ever had. Try the $22 lunch set that comes with six nigiri and a roll, or get one of the donburi options. The quality of the nigiri is as good as many omakase-style spots.
What’s fun about Yakitori Totto in Midtown is that you get to try so many different things. Kid… candy store… you get what we’re saying. Definitely go for some juicy tsukune and tender chicken oysters as well as non-chicken options like pork neck (mostly fat, not complaining) and okra with bonito flakes (our favorite among the vegetables). It’s fun to come solo and sit at the counter right in front of the grills. However, coming with one or two other people will enable you to try a lot more things.
photo credit: Rockefeller Center
There are things you need to experience before you die. One is falling in love, and another is Detroit-style pizza. Ace’s has some of the best in the city. Varieties like vodka meatball and buffalo chicken are available, but we prefer the plain cheese. The thick, deep brown, crispy burnt cheese edges are what make each pie special, and you’ll want to hoard the corner slices. The pizzas are baked to order, so you won’t get your food quickly. They’re worth the wait.
The Polo Bar
You might be skeptical of a sceney restaurant run by the guy who’s single-handedly responsible for millions of popped collars, but the food here is surprisingly good. A trio of things made with beef—the burger, corned beef sandwich, and strip steak—happen to be some of the best dishes. If you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation (taken over the phone), you’ll earn the right to sit in a subterranean dining room with a massive collection of equestrian art and play the “who can spot a celebrity from SNL or MSNBC first” game.
Most of New York’s great steakhouses are housed in dim, wood-paneled rooms designed to make you feel like you’re playing an elaborate game of D&D, but this spot in the Time Warner Center turns that trope on its head. Here, you eat your red meat in an elegant, airy space overlooking Central Park. At $170, the porterhouse here is one of the priciest in the city, but it’s cooked perfectly, seasoned well, and comes with an unparalleled view. At the end of your meal, you’re morally obligated to get the ice cream sundae.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
This all-day restaurant from the King team is located on the concourse at Rockefeller Center. After one visit, you’ll start sending everyone you know here for any situation that requires eating a meal in Midtown. As soon as you’re seated in their colorful, warm, and lively dining room, order the zucchini fritti. The tempura-like batter will make you forget about all the soggy fried zucchini you’ve ever had. Round out your dinner with the beef sott’olio, rabbit-stuffed agnoli, and grilled whole dorado.
Hainan Jones is officially our favorite vendor at Urban Hawker, and we’re not alone. Wait times for their Hainanese chicken rice can approach an hour, and they sometimes run out long before closing. You can get your chicken roasted or fried, but we prefer the classic poached version. The uber gingery rice and broth that come on the side are plenty flavorful by themselves, but the spicy chili and sweet sesame soy sauce help the dish realize its full potential.
photo credit: Blue Willow
If you’re near the bottom of Central Park and looking for great Chinese food, check out this Szechuan and Hunan restaurant on 56th. With its velvet banquettes and frilly lamps, the space is perfect for a date night or a meal with some visiting family members. Their mapo tofu is one of the city’s best versions—its silky tofu cubes hold up against prodding chopsticks, and you can taste the fermented black beans hiding in the tingling, mala-spice sauce.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Patsy's Italian Restaurant
When you walk into Patsy’s, the first things you’ll see are a statue of Frank Sinatra and a signed headshot of Liza Minelli, so you know this place is legit. This red sauce joint has been around since 1944, and Old Blue Eyes himself was a regular. Stick to the classics, like rigatoni fra diavolo and anything parmigiana. They also have a dessert cart that looks like it’s been there since the restaurant opened. On this cart, underneath a cloudy cloche, is one of the best carrot cakes we’ve had in a very long time. Save room for this.
In 2019, All’Antico Vinaio popped up in NYC, and the lines made people seriously weigh the value of their time against the need for an Italian sandwich. A permanent location of this Florence import is now in Midtown, and everything on the sandwich-only menu uses thin, crusty Tuscan schiacciata bread. They offer a lot of popular Italian meats like prosciutto and mortadella, as well as some creamy spreads that come in varieties like pistachio and ‘nduja. The sandwiches are huge, and once you try one, you’ll want to try the rest. It’s good to have goals.
photo credit: Libby Vision
Sushi By Bou
The team behind Sushi by Bou runs a bunch of restaurants (Chemistry Room, Sushi Lab, and Omakaseed, to name a few), but their tiny underground bar in Times Square is our favorite of the bunch. Here, you’ll settle in for a rapid-fire $60 12-piece omakase that’s guaranteed to be over in 30 minutes, which makes it an ideal choice for pre-theater dining. The pieces are straightforward, the fish is high quality, and the space feels like a cool teenager converted their parents’ garage into a secret restaurant.