The 10 Best Restaurants in and Around Times Square, New York City

Times Square and the surrounding area are brimming with local flavors that’ll tickle your taste buds
Times Square and the surrounding area are brimming with local flavors that’ll tickle your taste buds | © Doug Armand / Getty Images
Photo of Amy Schulman
Food Editor16 February 2021

It might be better known for spring-break bar crawls and food-carts touting questionable fare, but all around Times Square you can find some of the best restaurants in Manhattan. In fact, from hip Mexican haunts to bargain burgers, romantic cocktail joints to oodles of noodles, you can find some of the best places to eat and drink in New York.

Tourists are magnetised by Times Square, with its flashing billboards, glittering skyscrapers and 25,000sq ft M&M’s World. It’s reckoned that 100 million snap-happy visitors a year make the pilgrimage here, to the garish postcard heart of Manhattan, where men dressed as Muppets want photographs with you and the air is a cacophony of cab horns. But don’t be put off – not only is the area home to some of the best theaters and shows in the city, it has some great places to eat. Use our guide and dodge those overpriced specials with limp fries in favor of places with real NY flavor, before you make your way back uptown or downtown.

Pure Thai Cookhouse, New York

Restaurant, Thai, $$$
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Pure Thai Cookhouse, New York
© Pure Thai Cookhouse

Dishes from northern, central and southern Thailand come together in a snug space more akin to a hallway than a restaurant. None of which detracts from the pleasure of the place – or its plates. Expect hand-made ribbons of noodles, glossy with oil, morsels of crab, pucks of beef, and crisp green snow peas. Order a couple of noodle dishes for the table – they come sautéed or swimming in bowls of soup – along with vegetable dumplings, plump and juicy with tofu and spinach. For good measure request the (very spicy) green papaya salad tossed with dried shrimp, tomato, peanuts, long beans, thai chili and lime. That should see you through the afternoon and/or evening.

Danji, New York

Restaurant, Korean, French, $$$
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Blending creative Korean dishes with a flutter of French technique, Danji sends out plates bursting with authentic flavors, and textures enhanced by organic and sustainable ingredients. The menu is divided into three sections (small, medium and large) and loaded with tastebud-ticklers such as pork-belly sliders, spicy soft tofu stew with seafood and shrimp and scallion pancake with chili pepper. And to drink? Here’s your chance to try soju – a clear Korean distillation not unlike vodka, only gentler. Or go for the Japanese stalwart, sake.

Becco, New York

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Becco is a characterful slice of Italy served up on Restaurant Row (West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues) in the Theater District. Owned by chef and TV personality Lidia Bastianich, it does an all-you-can-eat ‘Sinfonia di paste’ deal that has weekenders pouring in after plays, while attracting a regular crowd too: $25.95 buys a feast from a changing selection of three pastas prepared daily; favorites include semolina gnocchi alla romana, and orecchiette with braised escarole and crumbled sausage. Among the other signature dishes are osso bucco (braised veal shank with farro risotto) and zuppa di pesce misto (seafood folded into soft polenta).

Shake Shack, Eighth Avenue, New York

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Shake Shack
© Shake Shack
With branches now in destinations as diverse as Istanbul, Shanghai and Brighton, Shake Shack has come a long way from its humble hot-dog-cart origins in Madison Square Park in 2001. But its burgers have lost none of their juicy joy along the way – as you’ll discover at this outpost on Eighth Avenue at 44th Street. Made using 100 per cent Aberdeen Angus beef, cushioned by potato buns and served with a pile of piping-hot crinkle-cut fries, they’re the best quick-fix antidote to theater-numb bums and sightseeing-weary soles. And you shouldn’t have any problem finding a seat either.

Ippudo Westside, New York

Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
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By comparison with the crowds at the original East Village incarnation of this beloved Japanese chain, the scene is a little less intense here, at Ippudo Westside. But the clients are every bit as dedicated to slurping noodles, to downing whole bowls of delicious ramen. Among the best-loved on the menu is one laden with slabs of pork, thin noodles and mushrooms swimming in pork broth. As devotees of the aforementioned downtown ramen shop will be pleased to know, this branch offers the pork, chicken and eggplant tucked into soft buns, and rounds of cucumber doused in sesame oil.

Tim Ho Wan, Ninth Avenue, New York

Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
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Tim Ho Wan, Ninth Avenue, New York
© Tim Ho Wan

Founded in Hong Kong, the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant now has two NYC locations, the newer of which is smack in the middle of the Theater District. At this low-key dim sum establishment you can get your chops around sugar-coated buns bulging with barbecued pork, translucent pink-shrimp dumplings, silky rice rolls and – if you’re in the mood for authentic – chicken feet. Prices here, as at its other locations, hover around $5 a plate, so don’t be surprised to discover crowds of people waiting to get in when you roll up.

Bea, New York

Restaurant, American, French, $$$
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On a quiet strip of West 43rd Street, this intimate, brick-walled restaurant and bar is your go-to for unfussy, comforting American food, eased down with some wonderfully tweaked-up cocktails. (The Coco Fashion is a literal hit, flavored with roasted-coconut-infused Maker’s Mark Bourbon.) Tuck into carbo-classics such as house ricotta smeared on toasted bread, grilled lamb chops and a burger topped with smoked gouda in an English muffin. Dimly lit, this is the perfect space for sharing a bottle of wine, as well as grabbing a quick pre-theater dinner.

The Little Beet

Restaurant, Healthy
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The Little Beet
© Little Beet

With light and airy branches across Manhattan, The Little Beet has a winning formula in its health-forward, gluten-free formula, which also caters for those avoiding dairy, nuts and soy. Step into this West 50th Street outlet and choose one of the many pre-crafted bowls, or customize yours by selecting grains and greens, a rotating selection of sides (think golden cauliflower and herby white beans), a protein (beet falafel, salmon, braised pork), a sauce and a garnish. That’s lunch and / or dinner sorted. If you stop by for breakfast, you can enjoy a mangoberry parfait or a turkey-bacon, egg and cheese sandwich to go.

Añejo

Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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Warmly lit and laid-back, Añejo is a Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood hotspot, where the regulars, who know what’s good for them, start with the guacamole trio. Along with the traditional variety, two riffs are served: bacon and habanero as well as spicy pineapple. Scoop them up with tortilla chips, as you sink drinks swooningly laced with tequilas, mezcals and agave spirits. Move on to tacos, blistered shishito peppers and cheeseburger fundido – the establishment’s spin on melted-cheese queso fundido, here containing burger elements. Even if you’re full, you can’t leave without tasting the octopus on a bed of pan negro (black bread), with squash confit, chorizo cream and a showering of cilantro.

Totto Ramen, West 52nd Street

Restaurant, Ramen, $$$
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This sunken pitstop near Hell’s Kitchen has welcomed crowds and generated queues ever since it opened in 2010, ladling out the Japanese soup classic with curly and straight noodles, hunks of chicken, medium-boiled eggs, bean sprouts and scallions. There’s a vegetarian version as well as tweaks featuring chicken – instead of pork – broth. Whatever you decide on can also be tailored to your tastes – ask for fried garlic, perhaps, and/or wakame seaweed. And not all customers are here to canoodle over noodles – it’s perfectly acceptable to order a seaweed salad or barbecued pork between pillowy buns.

This article is an updated version of a story created by Sasha Rampersaud.

These recommendations were updated on February 16, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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