The Best Restaurants At Rockefeller Center
photo credit: Kate Previte
Rockefeller Center is known for many things like SNL, a giant tree, and an ice-skating rink patronized exclusively by tourists who watch too many rom-coms. But it’s not really known for its food. That's quickly changing. In the last few years, restaurants have sprouted up here at a ridiculous pace—and, against all odds, many of them are actually worthwhile. From a couple of Italian spots and a buzzy French brasserie to a Southeast Asian food hall and reliable bakeries, here are our favorite sit-down and takeout restaurants around Rock Center. Some of these places are only open on weekdays for lunch, so check their hours before you go.
THE SIT-DOWN SPOTS
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 from the Frenchette team is another reason to go there. You’ll see plenty of raw bar items on the menu, in addition to classics like buttery and garlicky escargots. But the meat dishes are priority number one. The bison au poivre is ridiculously tender, and if you’re into dry-aged beef funk, you’ll enjoy the steak haché. Even though Le Rock is technically in Midtown, it feels a lot like a downtown bistro with a crowd that’s energetic and a vibe that’s sceney (in a good way).
Lodi used to be the obvious choice for Italian at Rockefeller Center, but now it has some competition with Jupiter, a restaurant from the King team that's located on the concourse. As soon as you’re seated in their warm and lively dining room, order the zucchini fritti. The marinated crab toast on olive oil-drenched bread is another strong starter—but pasta is why you’re really here. Get the housemade agnoli stuffed with slow-cooked, shredded rabbit.
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. This place almost exclusively spotlights Italian ingredients, and a meal here pretty much always makes us wish we were OOO in Tuscany. You can get housemade ricotta, a whole host of salumi, and a plate of plump anchovies. We recommend grabbing 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.
Naro, located right next to the rink at Rockefeller Center, is from the team behind Atoboy and Atomix. While it isn’t quite as exciting as those two places, you’ll have a very pleasant meal with impressive-looking dishes here. You can order a la carte in the indoor terrace, but if you eat in the main dining room—which looks like a space station movie set from the 1970s—you can choose between one of two eight-course menus ($165). The vegetarian one has more aggressive flavors throughout, but we prefer the omnivore menu, which includes a refreshing raw striped jack dish, served with kohlrabi and seaweed.
This second outpost of 21 Greenpoint is on the concourse at Rockefeller Center, and it has a bright space that feels part daytime cafe, part wine bar. Cocktails and a handful of wines are available, in addition to some perfectly decent dishes like a mortadella sandwich with parmesan cream, a double cheeseburger, and a wedge salad. If you happen to see Bill Murray here, it’s not a random encounter—his son is the chef and owner of this place.
Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar is your only option for sushi at Rockefeller Center, and you could do a lot worse. Open on weekdays until 6pm, this casual place has all the usual suspects like edamame, a chirashi bowl, and some combos, like six pieces of nigiri and a roll for $26. You can also customize your own poke bowl or grab sushi and sides to go if you don’t have time to sit down at the 11-seat sushi counter. (The only other seating is at a window counter with four stools.) The fish quality is like the third Strokes album: good, but not special.
THE TAKEOUT SPOTS
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.
A quick lunch in Midtown doesn’t need to be as forgettable as it sounds. Just get something at Samesa (only open during lunch on weekdays). This is a counter-service spot where you can get a variety of Middle Eastern dishes from a vegan chickpea seitan plate with beet spread, to pita wraps with pickled eggs and roasted eggplant. But your relationship with Samesa should begin with the slightly charred chicken shawarma, covered in bright and creamy sauces.
After spending an entire day reveling in holiday cheer on Fifth Avenue, it can be refreshing to step away for a bite. Though Urban Hawker, a Singapore-style food hall, isn't technically in Rockefeller Center, it’s just about a five-minute walk away—and it has some excellent take-out options, including our favorite Hainanese chicken in the city. It’s an even better option if you’re in the neighborhood with a big group: there are 15 vendors and everyone will find something they like. There are tables too, though it can be tricky to grab one at peak meal times. Cocktails are available at the in-house Sling Bar.
Fieldtrip's concourse-level location is perfect for when you're bored of Sweetgreen and want to grab a quick lunch that doesn’t taste like it was made on an assembly line. The menu at this counter-service mini-chain is all over the place, but pretty much everything is served with rice. Options include brown rice topped with braised beef, steamed salmon with black fried rice, and a bowl of jollof rice with greens, grilled chicken, and a garlicky avocado sauce.
The Rockefeller Center location of this Israeli bakery has grab-and-go items like salads and sandwiches. But the only reason we come here is for the baked items—especially the chocolate babka that reminds us of gooey cookie dough straight out of the oven with warm layers of chocolate pudding folded in. Other favorites include the cinnamon roll (basically a cinnamon croissant), the bureka filled with herbs and mashed potatoes, and the soft cheese straws topped with burnt cheese.
We’re incapable of walking by a Lady M without stopping in. Even if we manage to take a few steps past the entrance, we eventually turn around and give in to the gravitational pull of this dessert shop. Yes, they have a few “regular” cakes, but the mille crêpe cakes are Lady M’s real draw. They’re made with 20 super-thin crêpes stacked on top of each other with pastry cream spread between each one. We prefer the OG signature version, but there are a bunch of other flavors like green tea and butter pecan.
If you eat Subway once a week, we want you to know there are better options out there, such as Alidoro. You can build your own Italian sub here with ingredients like burrata, fennel, and olive paste. Or, you can get one of their house creations with names like Marcello and Fiorello. Whether you’re in the mood for prosciutto, speck, or mortadella, you’ll find something that sounds good.