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Restaurants Locals Love in the Center of Manhattan
Times Square is a popular destination for visitors to New York City, but the area is home to many mediocre chain restaurants. Most tourists will find themselves in Times Square at some point during their visit—whether they want to go see a Broadway Show or just take in the bright lights and energy of the neighborhood—and the good news is that it's easy to skip the tourist traps and have a great meal at one of many great local favorites instead.
From the celebrity-owned Becco Restaurant's all-you-can-eat pasta special to the Sichuan cuisine at Wu Liang Ye, these restaurants offer an escape from chains like Olive Garden and McDonald's on your trip to this bustling tourist epicenter of the city.
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People flock to Becco Restaurant mostly because co-owner Lidia Bastianich (of PBS) prepares antipasto or salad and three kinds of pasta nightly. Although you're unlikely to spot Lidia, you won't leave hungry. However, it's highly recommended that you make a reservation here if you want to be sure to dine without a long wait, as it's definitely a popular choice. They also have a $29-per-bottle wine list, offering great wine values if you'd like to have a glass with your dinner without breaking the bank.
- Address: 355 West 46th Street (at 8th Avenue)
- Cuisine: Italian
- Price Range: pasta special is $20 for lunch and $25 for dinner while a la carte options are approximately $40.
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Since 1992, Carmine's second location has been serving up delicious Italian-American cuisine in large family-style portions. It's a great choice for groups visiting Times Square for the first time because the food is both familiar and delicious, and it's also a solid choice for holiday gatherings as it offers large group reservations when booking far enough in advance.
- Address: 200 West 44th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
- Cuisine: Italian
- Price Range: Dishes made for sharing are $25 or more each.
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Brazilian rodizio at Churrascaria Platforma is a great choice for those with big appetites and large groups who are seeking a celebratory atmosphere. The prix-fixe includes the endless grilled meats and the extensive salad bar but not dessert. Diners use a double-sided green/red chip to indicate when they want more meat served.
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- Address: 316 West 49th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues)
- Cuisine: Brazillian
- Price Range: Lunch costs about $40 ($7 more on weekends) and dinner is usually $63 ($2 more on Fridays and Saturdays).
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Housed in a deconsecrated church, John's Pizzeria is renowned for its coal oven pizza. The Times Square outpost of the famed Greenwich Village original serves up the best pizza in the neighborhood as well as solid Italian sandwiches and entrees. Pizza is served in whole pies only (small and large), with whole-wheat and gluten-free options available.
- Address: 260 West 44th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
- Cuisine: Pizza/Italian
- Price Range: Entrees and sandwiches range in price up to $18 while pizzas typically cost $24 to $26.
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Affordable sushi served in a simply decorated environment is the reason to check out Kodama, and their lunch specials are a great deal. Kodama is known for serving solid maki including a Canadian roll featuring salmon and spicy greens.
- Address: 301 West 45th Street (at 8th Avenue)
- Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
- Price Range: lunch ranges from $8 to $15 while dinner costs $10 to $25.
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Shake Shack's original location may be in Madison Square Park, but that's no reason to miss their Theater District location. In addition to the Shake Shack staples of Shack Burgers, fries, and flat-grilled Chicago grilled hot dogs, they have signature dishes for this location and floor-to-ceiling windows giving diners a great view of the action and plenty of opportunities for people-watching. It's definitely a popular spot, and since it's quick-service there are no reservations, so be prepared to wait in line to order and to have to prowl for an available table during peak times.
- Address: 691 8th Avenue (at 44th Street)
- Cuisine: Burgers/American
- Price Range: A Shack Burger costs a little over $5, but meals typically cost between $10 and $15.
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Sushi of Gari
Sushi connoisseurs will appreciate the sophisticated preparations at Sushi of Gari's Theater District Outpost—the original location is nestled in a residential neighborhood on the Upper East Side. Gari is best known for high-quality fish and special sauces that dress the nigiri, so don't make the mistake of dousing your sushi in soy sauce or you'll miss out on what makes this restaurant special.
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- Address: 347 West 46th St (between 8th and 9th Avenues)
- Cuisine: Sushi
- Price Range: Sushi entrees range in price from $29 to $55, but are meant to be shared.
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Surprisingly, Virgil's offers some of New York City's best barbecue, including Memphis ribs and Carolina pulled pork. Portions are generous and they have a full bar with signature drinks, but reservations are recommended and you should allow plenty of time if you're going to a show afterward as service can be slow.
- Address: 152 West 44th Street (between Broadway and 6th Avenue)
- Cuisine: Southern/BBQ
- Price Range: Sandwiches cost around $10, but barbecue platters with all the fixings can cost upwards of $30.
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Wu Liang Ye
Wu Liang Ye is regarded as one of Manhattan's best Sichuan restaurants, offering Sichuan dumplings, Kung Pao chicken, and cold sesame noodles as some of the most popular dishes. Be warned, though, that Sichuan dishes tend to be hot—if you prefer your food less spicy, be sure to let the waiter know.
- Address: 36 West 48th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
- Cuisine: Chinese/Sichuan
- Price Range: Lunch specials cost under $8 while entrees cost between $8 to $20 regularly, with seafood and specialty items at the top of the price range.
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Lillie's Victorian Establishment
Lillie's Victorian Establishment also has a location in Union Square, but its Times Square venue features an $18 brunch deal on Saturdays and Sundays that comes with a choice of one brunch cocktail, a draft beer, or a glass of wine. Choose your own preselected brunch or lunch meal for one flat fee or come for dinner and pick out whatever you want from this British establishment.
- Address: 249 West 49th Street (between 8th Avenue and Broadway)
- Cuisine: American/British
- Price Range: Entrees range from $15 to $35 while the lunch and brunch specials are $14 and $18, respectively.
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Tonic Bar Times Square
If you're looking for something a bit more laid back or want to eat somewhere you can watch all of the latest sports games, the Tonic Bar Times Square serves up standard bar food like buffalo chicken strips, hot wings, a variety of sliders and burgers, and an appetizer menu. Kids eat free at Tonic, but the prices are slightly higher than most people would experience at their hometown sports bar.
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- Address: 727 7th Avenue (between 48th and 49th Streets)
- Cuisine: Bar Food/American
- Price Range: Appetizers cost between $8 and $15 while entrees cost between $15 and $27.
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R Lounge at Two Times Square
Located inside the Marriot Hotel, the R Lounge restaurant offers gourmet cuisine and stunning views over the bustling Times Square streets. The menu may be a little pricey, but it offers a "From the Farm" section featuring delectable entrees like Creekstone Filet Medallions, Grilled Lamb Chops, and Edan Farms Pork Belly Tacos.
- Address: 714 7th Avenue (on Times Square)
- Cuisine: American
- Price Range: Appetizers ("bites") range from $9 to $17 while entrees range from a $12 to $25.
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Chef and owner Julian Medina brings a taste of Mexico City and the best in Latin cuisine to the heart of Times Square in the traditional Mexican restaurant known as Toloache. Here, diners can enjoy exotic and unfamiliar dishes like Bacalao Trufado (Miso-tequila glazed black cod, corn, and hon shimeji mushrooms in chipotle-black truffle butter) or classic dishes like Carne Asada (grilled skirt steak with potato gratin, guacamole, and a mole-cheese enchilada).
- Address: 251 West 50th Street (between 8th Avenue and Broadway)
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Price Range: Appetizers range from $9 to $20 while main courses cost between $22 and $42.
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Osteria al Doge
This upscale Venetian (Italian) restaurant offers pizzas, pasta, and pesci (fish) at relatively reasonable prices, especially for Times Square. Osteria al Doge does, however, require a reservation as seats often fill up during the busy tourist season.
- Address: 142 West 44th Street (between Broadway and 6th Avenue)
- Cuisine: Italian
- Price Range: Appetizers and small bites cost between $12 and $19 while entrees range between $23 and $38.
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Inakaya New York
Witness your food being prepared right in front of you at Inakaya New York, an upscale Japanese robata and sushi restaurant right off Times Square. Robata grills require a slow-cooking process over a charcoal flame, which guests sit around while the food is prepared. You also can choose from signature Edo and Kyoto courses, Chu-Bo (from the kitchen) meals, sushi options, or just stick with the Japanese-style barbecue known as robata.
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- Address: 231 West 40th Street (in the New York Times Building)
- Cuisine: Robata/Japanese BBQ
- Price Range: The two signature courses cost $70 (Inakaya) and $58 (Edo); From the Kitchen items cost between $5 and $20; and Robata costs $6 to $13 for vegetables and mushrooms and between $15 and $50 for meats to share.
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Junior's Times Square
Although Junior's Times Square is a tourist attraction, it's also a pretty great place to get a famous New York cheesecake and pretty great meal, and they opened a second location in Times Square in 2016. These Brooklyn-themed restaurants offer barbecue, deli sandwiches, specialty cocktails, and an old-timey diner feel reminiscent of the local chain's first 1950s restaurant.
- Address: 1515 Broadway at 45th Street and 1626 Broadway at 49th Street
- Cuisine: Deli/American
- Price Range: Appetizers costs between $7 and $17 while sandwiches cost between $10 and $21 and entrees cost between $18 and $38.
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The chic and stylish Butter restaurant offers an updated menu of typical American comfort foods paired with craft cocktails. The restaurant caters much more to business professionals and the 30-and-over crowd, with slightly more expensive prices than others in the area.
- Address: 70 W 45th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
- Cuisine: Comfort Food/American
- Price Range: The lunch menu costs $29 per person while the dinner menu is $42 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
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DB Bistro Moderne
Named after chef and owner Daniel Boulud, DB Bistro offers modern French bistro cuisine with an updated American spin. Boulud claims to have launched the gourmet hamburger craze of 2001 with the release of the DB Burger, which is still served stuffed with red wine-braised short ribs and foie gras.
- Address: 55 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenue)
- Cuisine: French/New American
- Price Range: Two-course lunches cost $35 ($7 per additional course) while pre-theater dinners cost $55 for three courses.
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More Ideas for Where to Eat
If you want some other ideas of where to eat, the first place to start would be these pre-theater dining recommendations, which are located in the same area as Times Square. Of course, there are plenty more ideas for where to eat all over town, as well as some of New York City's must-try food experiences.
Be sure to try classic NYC foods like bagels, black and white cookies, pizza, deli sandwiches, and cheesecakes, or sample some of the best steakhouses in NYC for a treat to some prime NY strip steak. Alternatively, if you're planning to visit Manhattan's Chinatown or South Street Seaport, there are a number of other great options nearby as well.