clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Times Square
Times Square
Shutterstock

21 Times Square Restaurants Where New Yorkers Actually Eat

A Cuban mainstay, stellar dim sum, Jamaican fare, Central Asian kebabs, and more good food amid the hordes of tourists

View as Map
Times Square
| Shutterstock

Times Square sits in the heart of New York’s Theater District, where Broadway shows are finally back, as is Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where waiters burst into songs. One would be forgiven for falling prey to the doughy aromas of a very shiny Krispy Kreme flagship, or for succumbing to the branded allure of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., but hidden among all the tourist traps are very good establishments known to folks who work in or live near the area.

What follows are Eater NY’s favorite dining spots on the square and in the vicinity. For more detailed selections in the greater Times Square area, take a look at Eater’s maps for the Theater District and Hell’s Kitchen.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
If you book a reservation through an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Donburiya

Copy Link

This a reliably delicious and affordable Japanese late-night dining spot in the Theater District. The menu is long, like at any izakaya, but highlights include the namesake rice bowls — try the one with soft eel; chicken katsu curry with a rich, beefy sauce; spicy tantanmen ramen, and sizzling crab omelets drenched in heady seafood jus.

Crimson chile broth sits in a black bowl garnished with green scallions; noodles peek out from below the surface
Tantanmen ramen at Donburiya.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Vida Verde

Copy Link

Located on the border of Hell’s Kitchen and the Theater District, Vida Verde is a solid late night Mexican spot and cocktail bar. The kitchen slings particularly stretchy chicken quesadillas and generous nacho platters studded with crumbly chorizo. But the real draw is the frozen margarita, served so cold that ice crystals don’t have the chance to form. It is the city’s best version of that icy tipple.

A frozen margarita at Vida Verde sits on a table next to a window
A frozen margarita at Vida Verde.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Victor's Cafe

Copy Link

Victor’s is definitely a spendier Cuban option than, say, Guantanamera, but it has the benefit of being located closer to the center of Times Square and the Theater District. Try the Cuban sandwich, that classic layering of ham, Swiss, lechon, and pickles. For something heartier, order the excellent ropa vieja, slow cooked and pulled prime angus skirt steak in a pepper sauce laced with garlic, tomato, and onions. Mojitos are $15, or $21 for a version with a hefty 3.5 ounce pour of rum.

Ropa vieja sits in a cast iron skillet next to a pile of rice.
Ropa vieja at Victor’s Cafe.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gallaghers Steakhouse

Copy Link

The Prohibition-era bar and steakhouse, now run by Dean Poll, continues to serve some serious cuts of charcoal-grilled meats and solid classic cocktails. Start off with the bacon-studded clams casino, then pair a funky dry-aged ribeye with fries and a blue cheese-drenched wedge salad. Those who seek the excellent prime rib roast should call ahead as it’s not offered every night; it can sell out too. Finish with key lime pie and have another martini at the circular bar, which affords views of the entire restaurant. Expect a serious crowd.

An overhead shot of the rosy pink prime rib, sitting in brown jus.
The prime rib at Gallagher’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Don Antonio

Copy Link

The top reason to visit Don Antonio by Starita is to sample classically excellent Neapolitan pies in a corner of the city that’s arguably more well known for high-end slice joints like Corner Slice or Sullivan Street Bakery. Do try the lightly-fried pizza option if you’re keen on a crust that tastes just a bit like a zeppole.

Uncut marinara pizza at Don Antonio is garnished with three shriveled basil leaves and photographed from overhead.
Marinara pizza at Don Antonio.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Pelicana Chicken

Copy Link

This South Korean chain has been expanding its presence throughout the city, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it serves some very good fried chicken. To be fair: sometimes the wings can turn out a bit bland, in which case you’ll need to add a touch of salt or soy. Every night, however, patrons can expect spicy drumsticks with such an impressively crunchy crust they don’t even lose their textural snap during delivery.

Assorted Pelicana fried chicken sits on a paper-lined metal tray
Pelicana fried chicken.
James Park/Eater NY

Jasmine's Caribbean Cuisine

Copy Link

This is where first time restaurateur Jasmine Gerald and longtime chef Basil Jones show off the multitudinous flavors of Jamaica — not typically represented well in the Theater District — and the larger Caribbean. Lightly smoked jerk wings, spicy and pungent, are a good place to start. Then move onto tender brown stew chicken dripping in rich sauce. Don’t overlook the jazzy pasta, a creamy rasta pasta-style classic flecked with peppers, jerk-style seasonings, and parmesan.

A small pile of jerk wings sit on a patterned blue plate.
Jerk wings at Jasmine’s.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY
Read Review |

The owners behind the Chinese-Cajun shellfish boil spot shuttered their original East Village location during the pandemic, but the Hell’s Kitchen sequel remains an excellent alternative. Expect pretty much everything that made the original great: meat skewers (cumin-y lamb, kidneys, tendon, sausages), and of course, piles of shellfish for face-melting seafood boils. Options for the boils include crawfish, snow crab, whole lobster, and more expensive king crab legs.

Spicy crab legs, boasting an orange hue, with Chinese breadsticks at Le Sia is photographed from above
Spicy crab boil at Le Sia.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

E.A.K. IZAKAYA

Copy Link

Now that Ivan Ramen’s Slurp Shop has shuttered at Gotham West Market, E.A.K. Izakaya is your go-to option for good Japanese noodles in the Theater District. The Japanese chain serves excellent iekei ramen, a blend of fatty pork-based tonkotsu and soy-based shoyu ramen, with wonderfully firm noodles.

Slices of pork and noodles sit in a large bowl, alongside a sheet of seaweed onto which the words “But First Ramen” are printed
A bowl of ramen at E.A.K.
Lily Brown [Official Photo]

The Rum House

Copy Link

Rum House is your staple spot for good cocktails, vibrant crowds, and live music close to the heart of Times Square. Drop by — with your photo ID, often checked at the door — and order a cold daiquiri, dark & stormy, mojito, mai tai, or any other number of classic drinks. Food options are limited in the dark and shouty space; try the warm pretzels or assorted empanadas. 

Patzeria Perfect Pizza

Copy Link

Patzeria is situated right across the street from Hamilton, where crowds used to snake along the sidewalk as you selected your slice. The plain Sicilian slice is particularly cheesy, but then there’s the lasagna slice, the three-cheese slice, the fresh-mozzarella grandma slice, and the multi-veggie slice. But don’t neglect the heroes made to order, both cold and hot, and the breakfasts.

A typical pizzeria counter with pies on display under glass, with three red capped employees behind the counter.
Pizzas at Patzeria.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tim Ho Wan

Copy Link

Hong Kong-based chain Tim Ho Wan — which famously attracted hour-plus waits when it debuted in the East Village — now boasts a Hell’s Kitchen location, where the queue is more reasonable. The smart play is a plate of steamed shrimp har gow, filled with delicately cooked crustaceans, and an order of barbecue pork buns, which are crispy on the outside, doughy within, and stuffed with an ample supply of sugary swine.

<span data-author="-1">Three round barbecue pork buns photographed from above</span>
Barbecue pork buns at Tim Ho Wan.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

It’s a miracle Margon still exists. This old time Cuban lunch counter — deep, narrow, and well-lit — was founded in 1970, when Cuban-themed nightclubs like the Copacabana still drew crowds to the neighborhood. The food has always been top notch: The menu rotates daily on a predictable weekly cycle, and you can’t go wrong with oxtails, octopus salad, fricasseed chicken, or the Cuban sandwich.

Two halves of a Cuban sandwich sit atop each other on a white plate.
The Cuban sandwich at Margon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taam Tov

Copy Link

Nestled on the third floor of a Diamond Street building, the kosher-Uzbek Taam Tov continues to rank among the city’s top hidden gems. This is where you go for succulent grilled shashlik (kebabs), especially chewy, fatty lamb ribs. Also don’t miss the excellent plov with sweet carrots and saffron.

Los Tacos No. 1

Copy Link

This Chelsea Market favorite established an outpost right in Times Square in the old New York Times building, with the same slender roster of tacos and other tortilla-based dishes. A favorite is the adobada mula, with spit-roasted pork sandwiched between a pair of soft flour tortillas filled with gooey cheese. Spoon on salsa and a fiery chile or two. Don’t overlook the excellent flour tortillas.

Patrons standing, waiting for dinner in the brightly lit room at Los Tacos
Patrons waiting at Los Tacos.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Star Lite Deli

Copy Link

This very modest spot is good for a sandwich on the run, or a selection from a steam table that offers pastas, stews, chicken cutlets, and other hot dishes, most in a Latin or Italian vein. Perhaps its most notable accomplishment, apart from looking like it persists from a bygone era, is an $8 hot pastrami sandwich. Yes, the meat is often sliced first and heated on the griddle, but it’s still good, the pastrami salty and smoky.

A pastrami sandwich, cut in half, sits on wax paper
A pastrami sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

MáLà Project

Copy Link
Read Review |

Amelie Kang’s midtown restaurant remains a fantastic spot to enjoy the wonders of Sichuan dry pots. Patrons build their own bowls filled with fiery blends of any number of ingredients, including (but not limited to) beef tenderloin, tripe, tendon, tongue, squid, crab stick, tofu skin, rice cake, enoki mushrooms, and spam. Also consider the wonderfully slippery liangfen mung bean noodles to start off with.

A spread of dishes at MáLà Project, including dan dan noodles, shelled peanuts in a cup, and dry pot in a wooden bowl
Dry pot and other assorted dishes at MaLa Project.
Anthony Bui/Eater NY
Read Review |

This pan-Central Asian spot is one of the best places to eat grilled meat on the West Side of Manhattan. Owner Farida Gabbassova-Ricciardelli and chef Umitjon Kamolov serve serious charcoal-grilled shashlik; the chicken thigh skewers balance crisp skin with fatty juiciness and tender flesh. Be sure to sample the Uzbek national dish that is plov, rice pilaf made sweet from aromatic carrots and funky with tender chunks of heady lamb.

Shashlik assortment on a white plate at Farida
Shashlik at Farida.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Empanada Mama

Copy Link

This is where you go for some of Manhattan’s top Colombian fare. Highlights include sancocho de cola (nourishing oxtail soup with corn, yucca, and cilantro); empanadas filled with beef, shredded chicken, or fragrant shrimp and crab sticks; and juicy grilled skirt steaks with red beans and rice. Also, try the larger nearby location in Hell’s Kitchen with a more substantial menu.

A golden Viagra empanada sits on wax paper, sliced in half, on the lower right-hand side of the photo, while a whole empanada lies on the upper left; a ramekin of green salsa sits in between
Viagra empanadas at Empanada Mama.
Gary He/Eater NY

Best Sichuan

Copy Link

The concentration of Sichuan restaurants in the blocks south of Times Square is nothing short of amazing, especially since these places tend not to stint on Sichuan peppercorns. One of the finest is Best Sichuan. Anchoring the menu are such standards as dan dan noodles, spicy tripe, spicy dry pots, and braised fish with soybean paste. The semi-plush interior features high ceilings and a dining balcony at the rear.

Spaghetti like noodles with ground meat sauce and chopped scallions
Dan dan noodles at Best Sichuan.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Adjacent to Times Square, the Diamond District once held many small Kosher establishments, of which few (like Taam Tov) remain. But seek out Colbeh on 39th Street just east of Sixth Avenue for a Kosher Persian meal. The elegant room twinkles with chandeliers; tables have tablecloths; and forests of tree branches decorate the walls. The Persian-leaning fare runs to shish kebabs of lamb and marinated chicken and stews featuring fresh green herbs and split peas, plus all the usual bread dips.

Tables sit empty at Colbeh next to a pink lit wall
The dining room at Colbeh.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Loading comments...

Donburiya

Crimson chile broth sits in a black bowl garnished with green scallions; noodles peek out from below the surface
Tantanmen ramen at Donburiya.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

This a reliably delicious and affordable Japanese late-night dining spot in the Theater District. The menu is long, like at any izakaya, but highlights include the namesake rice bowls — try the one with soft eel; chicken katsu curry with a rich, beefy sauce; spicy tantanmen ramen, and sizzling crab omelets drenched in heady seafood jus.

Crimson chile broth sits in a black bowl garnished with green scallions; noodles peek out from below the surface
Tantanmen ramen at Donburiya.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Vida Verde

A frozen margarita at Vida Verde sits on a table next to a window
A frozen margarita at Vida Verde.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Located on the border of Hell’s Kitchen and the Theater District, Vida Verde is a solid late night Mexican spot and cocktail bar. The kitchen slings particularly stretchy chicken quesadillas and generous nacho platters studded with crumbly chorizo. But the real draw is the frozen margarita, served so cold that ice crystals don’t have the chance to form. It is the city’s best version of that icy tipple.

A frozen margarita at Vida Verde sits on a table next to a window
A frozen margarita at Vida Verde.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Victor's Cafe

Ropa vieja sits in a cast iron skillet next to a pile of rice.
Ropa vieja at Victor’s Cafe.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Victor’s is definitely a spendier Cuban option than, say, Guantanamera, but it has the benefit of being located closer to the center of Times Square and the Theater District. Try the Cuban sandwich, that classic layering of ham, Swiss, lechon, and pickles. For something heartier, order the excellent ropa vieja, slow cooked and pulled prime angus skirt steak in a pepper sauce laced with garlic, tomato, and onions. Mojitos are $15, or $21 for a version with a hefty 3.5 ounce pour of rum.

Ropa vieja sits in a cast iron skillet next to a pile of rice.
Ropa vieja at Victor’s Cafe.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Gallaghers Steakhouse

An overhead shot of the rosy pink prime rib, sitting in brown jus.
The prime rib at Gallagher’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

The Prohibition-era bar and steakhouse, now run by Dean Poll, continues to serve some serious cuts of charcoal-grilled meats and solid classic cocktails. Start off with the bacon-studded clams casino, then pair a funky dry-aged ribeye with fries and a blue cheese-drenched wedge salad. Those who seek the excellent prime rib roast should call ahead as it’s not offered every night; it can sell out too. Finish with key lime pie and have another martini at the circular bar, which affords views of the entire restaurant. Expect a serious crowd.

An overhead shot of the rosy pink prime rib, sitting in brown jus.
The prime rib at Gallagher’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Don Antonio

Uncut marinara pizza at Don Antonio is garnished with three shriveled basil leaves and photographed from overhead.
Marinara pizza at Don Antonio.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

The top reason to visit Don Antonio by Starita is to sample classically excellent Neapolitan pies in a corner of the city that’s arguably more well known for high-end slice joints like Corner Slice or Sullivan Street Bakery. Do try the lightly-fried pizza option if you’re keen on a crust that tastes just a bit like a zeppole.

Uncut marinara pizza at Don Antonio is garnished with three shriveled basil leaves and photographed from overhead.
Marinara pizza at Don Antonio.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Pelicana Chicken

Assorted Pelicana fried chicken sits on a paper-lined metal tray
Pelicana fried chicken.
James Park/Eater NY

This South Korean chain has been expanding its presence throughout the city, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it serves some very good fried chicken. To be fair: sometimes the wings can turn out a bit bland, in which case you’ll need to add a touch of salt or soy. Every night, however, patrons can expect spicy drumsticks with such an impressively crunchy crust they don’t even lose their textural snap during delivery.

Assorted Pelicana fried chicken sits on a paper-lined metal tray
Pelicana fried chicken.
James Park/Eater NY

Jasmine's Caribbean Cuisine

A small pile of jerk wings sit on a patterned blue plate.
Jerk wings at Jasmine’s.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

This is where first time restaurateur Jasmine Gerald and longtime chef Basil Jones show off the multitudinous flavors of Jamaica — not typically represented well in the Theater District — and the larger Caribbean. Lightly smoked jerk wings, spicy and pungent, are a good place to start. Then move onto tender brown stew chicken dripping in rich sauce. Don’t overlook the jazzy pasta, a creamy rasta pasta-style classic flecked with peppers, jerk-style seasonings, and parmesan.

A small pile of jerk wings sit on a patterned blue plate.
Jerk wings at Jasmine’s.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Le Sia

Read Review |
Spicy crab legs, boasting an orange hue, with Chinese breadsticks at Le Sia is photographed from above
Spicy crab boil at Le Sia.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

The owners behind the Chinese-Cajun shellfish boil spot shuttered their original East Village location during the pandemic, but the Hell’s Kitchen sequel remains an excellent alternative. Expect pretty much everything that made the original great: meat skewers (cumin-y lamb, kidneys, tendon, sausages), and of course, piles of shellfish for face-melting seafood boils. Options for the boils include crawfish, snow crab, whole lobster, and more expensive king crab legs.

Spicy crab legs, boasting an orange hue, with Chinese breadsticks at Le Sia is photographed from above
Spicy crab boil at Le Sia.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

E.A.K. IZAKAYA

Slices of pork and noodles sit in a large bowl, alongside a sheet of seaweed onto which the words “But First Ramen” are printed
A bowl of ramen at E.A.K.
Lily Brown [Official Photo]

Now that Ivan Ramen’s Slurp Shop has shuttered at Gotham West Market, E.A.K. Izakaya is your go-to option for good Japanese noodles in the Theater District. The Japanese chain serves excellent iekei ramen, a blend of fatty pork-based tonkotsu and soy-based shoyu ramen, with wonderfully firm noodles.

Slices of pork and noodles sit in a large bowl, alongside a sheet of seaweed onto which the words “But First Ramen” are printed
A bowl of ramen at E.A.K.
Lily Brown [Official Photo]

The Rum House

Rum House is your staple spot for good cocktails, vibrant crowds, and live music close to the heart of Times Square. Drop by — with your photo ID, often checked at the door — and order a cold daiquiri, dark & stormy, mojito, mai tai, or any other number of classic drinks. Food options are limited in the dark and shouty space; try the warm pretzels or assorted empanadas. 

Patzeria Perfect Pizza

A typical pizzeria counter with pies on display under glass, with three red capped employees behind the counter.
Pizzas at Patzeria.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Patzeria is situated right across the street from Hamilton, where crowds used to snake along the sidewalk as you selected your slice. The plain Sicilian slice is particularly cheesy, but then there’s the lasagna slice, the three-cheese slice, the fresh-mozzarella grandma slice, and the multi-veggie slice. But don’t neglect the heroes made to order, both cold and hot, and the breakfasts.

A typical pizzeria counter with pies on display under glass, with three red capped employees behind the counter.
Pizzas at Patzeria.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tim Ho Wan

<span data-author="-1">Three round barbecue pork buns photographed from above</span>
Barbecue pork buns at Tim Ho Wan.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Hong Kong-based chain Tim Ho Wan — which famously attracted hour-plus waits when it debuted in the East Village — now boasts a Hell’s Kitchen location, where the queue is more reasonable. The smart play is a plate of steamed shrimp har gow, filled with delicately cooked crustaceans, and an order of barbecue pork buns, which are crispy on the outside, doughy within, and stuffed with an ample supply of sugary swine.

<span data-author="-1">Three round barbecue pork buns photographed from above</span>
Barbecue pork buns at Tim Ho Wan.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Margon

Two halves of a Cuban sandwich sit atop each other on a white plate.
The Cuban sandwich at Margon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

It’s a miracle Margon still exists. This old time Cuban lunch counter — deep, narrow, and well-lit — was founded in 1970, when Cuban-themed nightclubs like the Copacabana still drew crowds to the neighborhood. The food has always been top notch: The menu rotates daily on a predictable weekly cycle, and you can’t go wrong with oxtails, octopus salad, fricasseed chicken, or the Cuban sandwich.

Two halves of a Cuban sandwich sit atop each other on a white plate.
The Cuban sandwich at Margon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taam Tov

Nestled on the third floor of a Diamond Street building, the kosher-Uzbek Taam Tov continues to rank among the city’s top hidden gems. This is where you go for succulent grilled shashlik (kebabs), especially chewy, fatty lamb ribs. Also don’t miss the excellent plov with sweet carrots and saffron.

Los Tacos No. 1