Eating in Midtown Manhattan
It’s estimated that on the island of Manhattan alone there are over 24,000 restaurants and places to eat. Needless to say, in this, there is definitely something for everyone and as such, it’s no surprise that this city is known for having some great food (and even better pizza!).
Though NYC may be known for being a great place to get a quality bite to eat no matter what the time of day, it seems to be that when you tell someone you’re going to eat in Midtown, you always get the same face...and it’s not an encouraging one. It’s a face that suggests
‘huh, tourist! Why? Really? Hmmm, you should know better, and, shame, why don’t I help you’ all at once. And that is a lot of things for one facial expression to need to say!
Now, when you’re someone like me, yes, by technicality you’re a tourist as you do not live in New York but you’re there every 6 months and you have your favourites, your own ‘locals,’ your routines, etc. You feel like you’re more than a tourist even if you do live far away (again, technically speaking).
So no, I don’t want to eat touristy food at touristy prices BUT, and here is the real kicker, I DO go and see shows usually 8-9 times a week whilst in the city. And where are the shows? MIDTOWN at dinnertime! So, I have spent years looking for options that deliver delicious food in or right nearby the theatre district and now I am excited to share this list with you so you have a perfect defence when you get looked at with ‘that face.’
Here is my guide to where to eat in Midtown Manhattan
Firstly, I should note that this is not a cheap part of town to grab something due to a little known attraction called Times Square. The closer you are to Times Square, the more the prices are jacked up. As such, I’ve divided these suggestions into $,$$,$$$ not to imply a particular value of the meal but to allude to what you may expect, depending on what you choose to order/what they’re famous for.
As these restaurants are those that I visited prior to starting this blog, I unfortunately don't have photos from my visits to each of them. Each are however linked so please feel free to visit their websites for photos and menus.
123 West 52nd Street
Nestled in a lux, well appointed restaurant in the middle of Midtown, Ocean Prime is best known for its high quality steaks and extensive seafood offerings. The restaurant also has a carefully crafted wine list but my personal favourite are the cocktails - here is mine.
I’ve always found the food to be very good here and the atmosphere to be quite electric. It’s definitely on the higher end of the price scale of these options. Their full dinner menu is available here.
101 W 57th St
The Wayfarer is an American Grille serving fresh takes on classic dishes in an airy and sophisticated setting. Though all the food walking past looked great and the menu was hard to pick from, I ended up choosing a cold seafood platter which was beautifully prepared and featured some of my favourites. As a massive seafood lover, I love restaurants that serve fresh seafood as it should be eaten in my opinion, over ice and in the shell. I love the beautiful restaurant and the ambiance of this establishment too! You can see their full menu here.
60 W 57th St
Rue 57 offers a unique combination of Asian flair and American treatment of traditional European food. The combination may sound confusing but the food just works and the restaurant, which looks like a sweet bistro that belongs on a street corner in Paris more than down Ave of the Americas, seems to be always packed, with a line out the door for weekend brunch. I’ve had everything from sushi to eggs benedict to spaghetti bolognaise here and have enjoyed them all. You can see their full menu here.
55 W 44th St
Set just a block from the heart of the theatres, Daniel Boulud's modern French bistro cuisine with New American touches offers really delicious food and an awesome location for theatregoers! The dining room is stylish and never over-crowded despite always being full (you definitely need to book ahead to get in for lunch or dinner) and the staff is attentive and helpful in their suggestions of the menu and wine. Everything I’ve eaten here has been lovely but just a word of advice - leave room for dessert! Yum!!
414 W 42nd St
In my opinion, if you like French food, Chez Josephine is a must on your way to or from a show because of the atmosphere - there is good reason that it has been a Broadway tradition since the mid 80s. I love this place! With a live pianist and singer in the small dining room and adorned with eclectic but ornate decor, this place instantly feels like ‘the place to be.’ The steak that I had was delicious but what really stood out was my appetizer which was ‘chinese ravioli’ with fresh goat cheese and pine nuts - so simple and so good! I loved the vibe here and will 100% be going back! You can see the full menu here.
123 W 44th St
Offering all day dining, this is a great place to stop by any time of the day if you’re a fan of french cuisine. I stumbled upon this bistro style restaurant on a freezing winter’s day when I just desperately needed to warm up and was determined to go into the next restaurant I found. I have been back to this restaurant on every trip since because it is just SO convenient, the food is good, the staff is friendly and really, anywhere where a cheese plate can be ordered in main meal size, is a place I want to frequent. Their menu is available here.
132 W 43rd St
I don’t want to surprise you too much here but this restaurant’s menu largely features...burgers and lobster. The decor is pretty cool in this establishment - lots of lobster cages everywhere and a really nicely designed modern wood aesthetic to compliment them. They are known for their happy hour and also for their many options of lobster and burgers. I’ve only been once and liked the experience - especially because of the super convenient location of the restaurant, in the middle of the theatre district.
301 W 45th St
To be 100% honest, because I am so lucky and so spoilt by the awesome Japanese food that we have in Australia (and that I have been privileged to eat in Japan), Americanised Japanese food often doesn’t hold up in the same light. I do find that I can be a bit picky so I was very happy to find a Japanese restaurant in midtown that I have had countless seriously yummy meals at now! Kodama’s sushi is fresh and the cooked food all really tasty - I’m a fan! I’m also a fan of it’s 45th and 8th location - the perfect after theatre restaurant (especially if you’re seeing a show at the Al Hirschfeld theatre...it’s across the road!). See their menu here.
An intimate American restaurant with share plates, small, tapas style food and hand-crafted cocktails, this little restaurant is the perfect after show spot to continue your night out with friends over some good quality food and good drinks without being in an environment too loud or stuffy. There is the perfect balance here of atmosphere and privacy at this well-spaced spot. I had a really good Tuna Tartare here if that excites anyone else as much as it does me. Thoroughly enjoyed. See their menu here.
334 W 46th St
I’ll be honest, there is nothing glamorous about dining here but that is definitely not why you go. With locations around the city, you can definitely choose where to go but wherever you end up, you can be sure you’re walking into a dumpling feast! This dim sum/yum cha restaurant has all the goods. You order from a menu (Aussies looking for yum cha on trolleys, your options are quite limited in NYC but they do exist...not here though) and the menu is EXTENSIVE! You can seriously get everything here. A great brunch in my opinion!
308 W 50th St
Great place for a nice brunch in Midtown (though they serve other meals of the day as well!). Definitely book ahead as this little Midtown favourite definitely books out, particularly on weekends. They have a good menu with many breakfast-style options or sandwiches, salads and burgers for brunch, as well as plenty of brunch time cocktails. I know that most brunch in NYC recommendations will be downtown but if you’re looking for something in the area, particularly before seeing a matinee, this is one of my favourites for sure! See their menu here.
1515 Broadway, W 45th St
Juniors is best known for its cheesecake - they’ve been using the same techniques and recipes since their founder perfected their cheesecake recipe in 1950. 3 generations later, the restaurant remains in the family’s hands and though they have continued to expand to more locations, the premise stays the same - serve good Brooklyn style food at a fair price with good cheesecake. That’s been their mantra from the beginning and it’s what they continue to do today. They have an extensive menu, a full bar and patio dining, as well as a second times square location just blocks away on 49th St because of how popular they are. Personally, my absolute favourite thing there is their hot chocolate - love it!
136 W 55th St
No doubt you’ve seen this one on instagram courtesy of their freakshake craze that took over insta maybe 18 months-2 years ago. As well as the crazy milkshakes however, this burger restaurant actually has a really good menu and great food for the price it is! You’ll need to prepare yourself for the fact that there is always a line to get in but once you’re in, it’s worth it! Love their burgers - so delicious! And also really love the teriyaki broccoli side option - yum!
119 West 56th Street
Behind a curtain in the lobby of the Parker Meridien is a great little burger joint that seems to be one of those ‘best-kept-worst-kept secrets’ of New York. You’ll need to take cash to this little hidden burger bar because the small no-frills restaurant is cash only, no substitutes or alterations, come as it is with limited but delicious options. I really liked this place and would definitely recommend. You can see their menu here.
754 9th Ave
Though I’ve only been once so far, this is one I’d definitely go back to because both the food and atmosphere were great. I’m not a fan of chilli or spicy foods so as much as I like Mexican food, I definitely get a bit annoying and ask a lot of questions to ensure I pick something with no spice. I was so grateful that the staff was so lovely and helpful and loved the food and the cocktails! Will definitely go back.
615 9th Ave floor 1
A simple but tasty Japanese restaurant in Midtown with really good deals on Bento Boxes or meals. A good, affordable option for nice food and flavours. I’ve only been once so far but would definitely go back.
Diners can be so hit and miss but this diner was absolutely more like a sweet little restaurant. We were there only briefly before seeing a show next door but I really appreciated the friendly and helpful staff and what we ate there was very tasty and reasonably priced.
Grab and Go
Melt Shop - Grilled Cheese and Chicken Tenders
The Little Beet - Vegetarian Food
Patzeria Perfect Pizza - No-frills pizza joint with seriously delicious slices
Amorino Gelato - Rose shaped gelato cones
Baked by Melissa - Bite sized cupcakes
Schmackary's - Cookies famous in Midtown
City Kitchen - Food Hall on 8th and 44th St - offers diverse range of food in industrial, cool environment (great lobster bisk!)
Areas To Look For More
I would personally advise against looking in Times Square to eat (or anywhere too close). Instead, if you’re looking for more suggestions, I would have a look at:
Restaurant Row on 46th St between 8th and 9th Ave - there are lots of different restaurants down this street and I’ve been to a number of good ones including a Spanish Tapas and a Steak restaurant.
Hell’s Kitchen - Walk down 9th Ave and pick something there. Being over just those couple of blocks makes a big difference!