NYCGuide

The Best Restaurants Near Grand Central

The finest places to feed yourself within walking distance of the station.
A bowl of beef noodle soup.

photo credit: Kate Previte

If New York had seven wonders, Grand Central would be one of them. It’s a historical icon with majestic ceilings, it's home to a 100-year-old oyster bar, and there’s an optometrist inside, for some reason. The area around it is incredibly busy—but there are some great Japanese restaurants, street carts, a classic steakhouse, and of course a useful food hall nearby. Whether you’re coming into town, going upstate, or just work near the station, these are the best places to get a quick bite or a sit-down dinner.

The Spots

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Cajun

Murray Hill

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerLunchSerious Take-Out OperationBYOB
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Kjun looks like the kind of generic lunch spot where you’d eat with your headphones in, but they make Cajun food with Korean twists that is worth going out of your way for. (The colorful beads on every table are supposed to clue you in.) Out of all the amazing mashups, the most interesting one is the jjajangmyeon, with fermented black bean sauce and crispy fried oysters. KJun is small and super casual, but reservations are recommended if you have a tight schedule.

If Los Tacos isn’t mobbed when you get there, your tacos are on us. The people behind this mini-chain keep opening locations in the busiest parts of Manhattan, but we get it—we need every tourist to know that there’s exemplary adobada in Midtown Manhattan, of all places. Though popular, this outlet is spacious enough for everyone to get a turn at one of the standing tables. Get pork, carne asada, nopales—whatever. It’s all good, and it all comes on your choice of an impressive handmade flour or corn tortilla.

Finding Sakagura is at least a quarter of the fun of eating here. You have to walk into a nondescript office lobby, and down a random staircase in the back. At the bottom, you’ll find yourself in a big, dark room with bottles of sake lining the walls. The food is mostly Japanese appetizers—sashimi, tofu, little rice bowls—and there’s a textbook-sized drink menu. Make a reservation if you’re set on eating at a certain time. Even though it’s not easy to stumble on this place, it gets busy.

BECs just taste better when Mama Jo makes them. For over 30 years, the Greek matriarch has been serving everything from eggs and wraps to homemade spanakopita and prossopita stuffed with vegetables from her own garden. Nothing costs more than $8, and vegan options are also available. She opens at 4am, and a long line of bankers and lawyers forms around 7:30. But once you’ve decided to become a regular (you will), ask for her number and you can text her pre-orders.

If you see a long line of people in front of this Italian sandwich truck, assume about a third of them are there for the Fonz. Every building on the block probably has at least one person who is familiar with Diso’s superior chicken cutlets, pounded thin and perfectly crispy. The herbed ricotta spread takes all of their sandwiches to another level, and the Italian meat combos are worth trying as well. Diso’s parks a short walk away from Grand Central on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10:30am-2:30pm. Confirm their location here.

photo credit: Kate Previte

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Eat oysters with the ghost of Cornelius Vanderbilt at this classic establishment inside the station. Grand Central Oyster Bar has been around since 1913, and it’s the rare tourist-filled destination that also attracts locals. The restaurant is split up into two sections—a formal dining room with tables, and a long winding bar. Grab a stool at the latter, and one of the bartenders will help you navigate the enormous menu of raw, fried, and roasted seafood. We always start with oysters and a martini.

Hatsuhana is at the lower end of high-end spots, which means it’s upscale but not unaffordable for a business lunch. This Japanese restaurant looks like a peaceful school library, and they’ve got a good takeout operation going. Most of the lunch sets are $30-$40, but if you are going to spend, the big draw is the $57 “Box Of Dreams,” a set of nine mini-boxes of sashimi. At night, you can do a full-blown $100 omakase.

photo credit: Kate Previte

$$$$Perfect For:Lunch
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There are two main reasons to go to this Indian and Himalayan restaurant: the specials, and the momos. Muna does a three-course meal all day for $29, and $17 lunch specials, with generous portions of things like chicken vindaloo and an extra-tender lamb saag. Our only complaint is that, while they are sufficiently delicious, neither of the specials include momos—their best dish. Bring a coworker to the business-casual restaurant so you have an excuse to order the fried chili chicken momos anyway.

Just one block from the station, you can eat a thick slab of filet mignon in the same steakhouse as other important Americans like Warren Sapp and Fountains of Wayne. Those are just two of the celebrity photos that line the hallway of this classic steakhouse, which, these days, is mostly the site of business meetings and family dinners. It has high ceilings, a casual bar area up front, and servers in bowties. Walk-in tables are easily available.

For spicy beef and vats of chili oil, head to this Sichuan restaurant. Preferably with a group. There’s an extensive dim sum menu to sample, not to mention their supersized portions of mapo tofu, peppercorn-covered fish, and saucey lobsters. The checkered floors, chandeliers, and vintage posters make random Tuesday nights feel celebratory, so you might want some people around to drink an extra cocktail with. 

When we don’t want to think too hard about what to have for dinner, a bowl of soup at Dun Huang is an easy option. This spot, which has a few other locations around town, specializes in Northwestern Chinese food, so you’re going to see a lot of cumin-laced lamb and hand-pulled noodles on the menu. They prepare their noodles eight different ways, and you can choose between five different noodle sizes. Eat the noodles right away, but take their well-spiced cumin lamb burger to go—just grab enough napkins to wipe all that delicious gravy and grease off your hands.

Little Collins is an Australian cafe with the kind of crowd you’d expect to find much further downtown. Fortunately for you, it’s in Midtown East, and—in addition to great coffee—you can get a breakfast or lunch here that won’t make you sad. Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones that know this, so it gets very busy. It’s still worth coming by for an avocado toast or egg sandwich. Just don’t count on getting a table during peak hours.

Pietro’s is an old-school Italian spot in every sense. It’s been open since 1932, and it’s one large room with big tables and white tablecloths—the kind of place where you’d eat with some 1960s ad execs, or before catching Our Town on Broadway. The menu is full of classics like caesar salad and various parms, but they also happen to have a very good charred steak. Get one the next time you have a group meal planned with your in-laws, or you need to eat alone at the bar after a long day in Midtown. (Pro tip: the bar has free peanuts.)

The Shakespeare feels a lot like an upscale pub in a small English town. Located in the bottom of a little hotel near Bryant Park, it’s got two big rooms, wooden walls and ceilings, and it doesn’t feel as sterile as most of the area’s drinking establishments. When the Happy Hour hang turns into dinner, consult the full lunch and dinner menu. They’ve got some solid pub food, like poached salmon and shepherd's pie. Drop by to get your bearings if you’ve just taken the train in, and need a spot to strategize your next move.

Full disclosure: this place is an expensive Midtown restaurant, where the food is decent, but tastes a lot better if someone else’s corporate card is paying for it. But things change if you book a table on the second story, open-air roof. Surrounded by twinkling lights and green shrubbery, you can appreciate the juicy lamb chops and thick, pillowy crab cakes—dishes that needed a breather from the suit-and-tie crowd downstairs to feel fresh again. To be honest, the suits are up here too, but their ties are loose enough not to harsh the vibe of a wind-down dinner or rooftop date.

If you’re looking for a solid lunch to-go, or want multiple options for a group, this food hall on Park Ave. is a convenient choice. They’ve got ramen, burgers, Taiwanese food, and more, so you’ll probably find something you want no matter what kind of mood you’re in. There are also some picnic tables and bar seats inside, and it’s not a bad place to hang out for a little while.

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