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A small white bowl filled with a yellow half-grapefruit and toppings. Evan Sung/Dinex Group

The Definitive Guide to Dining Near Lincoln Center

Where to find solid tacos, burgers, dim sum, ramen, fried calamari, and other tasty fare near your favorite Upper West Side theaters

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As Lincoln Center continues to come back to life — with the Metropolitan Opera, the American Ballet, and the Vivian Beaumont Theater back in full swing — scores of spectators will be in search of good food and drinks nearby. The same could be said for those heading to the famed Beacon Theatre, a short walk north, or to Jazz at Lincoln Center, a quick stroll south. Indeed, for anyone seeking out pre- or post-theater dining on the Upper West Side, this map will come to the aid.

Keep in mind, however, that the post-theater scene hasn’t yet returned to full fledged pre-pandemic levels in this part of Manhattan. For a greater breadth of drinking and eating options later at night, consider heading a bit further south to Hell’s Kitchen or to the larger Midtown Theater District.

— Additional reporting by Bao Ong and Robert Sietsema

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

For more New York dining recommendations, check out the new hotspots in Manhattan, Queens, and the Hamptons and our guides to brunch, food halls, and Michelin-starred restaurants offering outdoor dining.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Jing Fong

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Ming Lam and Truman Lam’s original Jing Fong shuttered in Chinatown earlier this year, but the Upper West Side location remains open, serving up Hong Kong-style dim sum just a few blocks away from the Beacon Theatre. Expect barbecue pork buns, har gow, siu mai, fried turnip cakes with shrimp and pork, as well as classic dishes like lo mein, fried rice, mapo tofu, and snow pea leaves with fresh garlic.

Steamed dumplings in two yellow bamboo holders.
Steamed dumplings at Jing Fong.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Tacombi

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This New York Mexican chain is a decent option for a quick pre-theater snack. Drop by for a margarita as well as solid tacos made with carnitas, carne asada, and fried fish, all for under $6.50 each. There are also al pastor tacos filled with pineapple and crimson pork sliced from the trompo.

Chama Mama

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As Georgian food continues its mini-boom throughout the city, the Chama Mama folks have expanded from Chelsea to the Upper West Side. The uptown location, which opened in April, serves the restaurant’s signature breads and dishes from the Caucuses, including adjaruli khachapuri (open-faced cheese boat bread), imeruli khachapuri (folded cheese bread), merguli khachapuri (Western Georgian cheese bread), khinkali dumplings, lamb-stuffed grape leaves, chicken in walnut sauce, and giant $60 meat platters with pork, beef, and chicken skewers. 

Red Farm

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The uptown version of Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng’s modern Chinese restaurant opened in 2013 and has since settled in nicely to the neighborhood. Locals mob the place looking for pastrami-studded egg rolls, animated dumplings with faces that stare back, and meaty soup dumplings.

Pastel-colored dumplings on a plate.
Dumplings at RedFarm
Evan Sung/Red Farm NYC

Gray's Papaya

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Gray’s Papaya remains a wonderfully affordable and accessible staple in a city where just about everything feels increasingly exorbitant. The “recession special” remains a heck of a deal: two snappy griddled franks — preferably with onions, kraut, and mustard — and a tropical drink for $6.95, including tax. Those seeking a lighter pre-theater snack can order a single dog plus a drink (papaya, coconut, piña colada, banana) for $4.50.

The Gray’s Papaya sign shines in its bright yellow color while patrons inside order hot dogs.
The exterior to Gray’s Papaya
Nick Solares/Eater

Pastrami Queen

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This kosher Upper East Side (and before that, Queens) transplant turned heads when it opened a few months ago during the pandemic, and it generated long, socially distanced lines. It’s been a long time since the Upper West Side could boast pastrami this good. Matzo ball soup and hot dogs liberally smeared with mustard are tops, too. Like Gray’s Papaya, it’s located within quick walking distance of both Lincoln Center and the Beacon Theatre.

Pastrami Queen Times Square
A pastrami sandwich at Pastrami Queen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Cafe Luxembourg

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Luxembourg offers standard bistro fare, but the crowds and regulars are what make this Upper West Side institution stand out. Diners might share the dining room and bar with musicians who have just finished performing at Lincoln Center. Also: there’s just plain good people watching on any given night as you finish a plate of steak frites, a three-egg omelet, or a half-roast chicken with garlic butter.

Parm is a solid Upper West Side hangout for a quick fix of classic Italian-American fare — in a much more affordable and casual environment than the group’s Michelin-starred sister spot, Carbone. Expect all the classics from the original Mulberry Street location: crisp fried calamari, vinegar-y Buffalo cucumbers, stretchy mozzarella sticks, chicken or eggplant parm platters, creamy rigatoni fra diavola, and a stellar house turkey sandwich.

El Mitote

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El Mitote at first seems aimed at non-Mexican Americans, till you start ordering the food and poke around the corners of the menu. A case in point is the spectacular pozole in the Guadalajaran style, laced with dried red chiles and filled with chicken and hominy. It’s generously served with a bean tostada on the side. You can smell the oregano as the soup is brought to the table.

Lincoln Ristorante

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Half of the draw at Lincoln Ristorante is the avant-garde Diller Scofidio + Renfro space, with giant floor to ceiling windows propped up against a sloped lawn roof. There is where you go to enjoy a $17 negroni and look out over the Eero Saarinen-designed Vivian Beaumont Theatre. This is also where you also go for respectable pastas, even though the heralded tenure of chef Jonathan Benno ended long ago. Consider the trofie with Tuscan sausage and Calabrian chiles; also try the paccheri with short rib and black truffle when it’s available as an (excellent) special.

Paccheri with short rib at Lincoln Ristorante
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Boulud Sud

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Daniel Boulud’s ode to Southern France and the larger Mediterranean basin still ranks as one of the top options for a fancier dinner in the Lincoln Center area. Swing by for lamb flatbread, garlic shrimp, lemon saffron spaghetti, salt-baked branzino for two, or Moroccan chicken tagine. Also keep in mind that Boulud Sud still sells one of the city’s best and most fragrant desserts, a hollowed out grapefruit with citrus sorbet, sesame halva, and rouse loukoum.

A small white bowl filled with a yellow half-grapefruit and toppings.
Grapefruit givre at Boulud Sud
Evan Sung/Dinex Group

Cafe Fiorello

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Around since 1974, Cafe Fiorello has long attracted theater-goers with simple Italian fare and its prime location right across the street from Lincoln Center. But here’s the thing: This chophouse by the folks behind Bond 45 in Times Square and Redeye Grill in the Theater District actually serves some darn good food. Fried calamari are among the top versions one might encounter, with delicately tender and bouncy squid mingling with spicy fried peppers. And the rigatoni alla vodka shines as well, balancing firm bites of pasta with lightly creamy tomato sauce and big hunks of smoky bacon. Other notable items include a whole lobster pizza ($44), classics cuts of beef and veal, and tiramisu. 

Rigatoni alla vodka, bathed in pink sauce, sits in a patterned white and blue bowl with scattered parsley.
Rigatoni alla vodka at Cafe Fiorello.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

P.J. Clarke's Lincoln Square

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P.J. Clarke’s reopened last September after an extended pandemic closure, again giving theater-goers an opportunity to enjoy some of the city’s top bacon burgers and french fries. The location here is key; one could theoretically walk to the opera within three minutes of finishing up a strong martini and a fresh tray of chilled raw oysters or clams. Keep in mind, however, that this location still operates on somewhat limited hours; the restaurant is only open from Wednesday through Sunday and closes at 10 p.m.

An open-faced burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese next to a side of fries.
A burger and fries and P.J. Clarke’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Rosa Mexicano

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This local chain founded by Josefina Howard in 1984 helped set the stage for New Yorkers to appreciate an ambitious and sometimes expensive version of Mexico’s diverse foodways. Among the highlights are the made-to-order guacamole, tortilla soup, budin de pollo with chicken tinga and layered tortillas, and grilled octopus tacos with chipotle aioli. Take note that a single frozen margarita should be strong enough to get you pleasantly buzzed before a show.

Breads Bakery

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An ideal spot for a quick takeout bite en route to the theater, thanks to the fact that Breads might be the city’s finest chain bakery. Keep an eye out for stellar cinnamon rolls, rugelach with bitter chocolate, flaky cheese straws, crisp potato burekas with sesame seeds, whole loaves of chocolate Nutella babka (maybe overkill before the ballet), and a Tunisian tuna sandwich for the ages.

A tuna sandwich with potatoes and other condiments spills out of a baguette; the sandwich sits against a white background
The Tunisian sandwich at Breads.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Porter House Bar and Grill

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Michael Lomonaco’s steakhouse remains a reliably upscale option for a bite before Jazz at Lincoln Center upstairs. The menu features steakhouse staples like thick slab bacon, crab cakes, and dry-aged cuts, as well as fancy Lomonaco-esque touches like butter poached lobster. More expensive wagyu steaks are also available. Walk-ins can swing by the bar for a full menu.

A table set with stemware overlooks Central Park West and the Manhattan skyline in wintertime
The view from Porter House
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Momofuku Noodle Bar Uptown

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Momofuku’s small plates spot doesn’t boast the same ambitious menu as it did when it first opened uptown — there’s no more salsa-slicked Dover sole — but the venue remains one of the more affordable and reliable spots in the pricey Time Warner Center. Standout dishes include lamb bing with white sauce, brisket buns with horseradish mayo, dry-spiced chicken wings, extraordinarily smoky pork ramen, and ultra-spicy cumin lamb noodles. This is where you go for a quick bite before Jazz at Lincoln Center a few floors up.

Chopsticks sit over a bowl of smoked pork ramen with a yellow egg yolk; shrimp with lemon sits on another adjacent plate while fried chicken buns with orange trout roe sit on yet another plate
A spread of dishes at Noodle Bar
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Jing Fong

Steamed dumplings in two yellow bamboo holders.
Steamed dumplings at Jing Fong.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Ming Lam and Truman Lam’s original Jing Fong shuttered in Chinatown earlier this year, but the Upper West Side location remains open, serving up Hong Kong-style dim sum just a few blocks away from the Beacon Theatre. Expect barbecue pork buns, har gow, siu mai, fried turnip cakes with shrimp and pork, as well as classic dishes like lo mein, fried rice, mapo tofu, and snow pea leaves with fresh garlic.

Steamed dumplings in two yellow bamboo holders.
Steamed dumplings at Jing Fong.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Tacombi

This New York Mexican chain is a decent option for a quick pre-theater snack. Drop by for a margarita as well as solid tacos made with carnitas, carne asada, and fried fish, all for under $6.50 each. There are also al pastor tacos filled with pineapple and crimson pork sliced from the trompo.

Chama Mama

As Georgian food continues its mini-boom throughout the city, the Chama Mama folks have expanded from Chelsea to the Upper West Side. The uptown location, which opened in April, serves the restaurant’s signature breads and dishes from the Caucuses, including adjaruli khachapuri (open-faced cheese boat bread), imeruli khachapuri (folded cheese bread), merguli khachapuri (Western Georgian cheese bread), khinkali dumplings, lamb-stuffed grape leaves, chicken in walnut sauce, and giant $60 meat platters with pork, beef, and chicken skewers. 

Red Farm

Pastel-colored dumplings on a plate.
Dumplings at RedFarm
Evan Sung/Red Farm NYC

The uptown version of Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng’s modern Chinese restaurant opened in 2013 and has since settled in nicely to the neighborhood. Locals mob the place looking for pastrami-studded egg rolls, animated dumplings with faces that stare back, and meaty soup dumplings.

Pastel-colored dumplings on a plate.
Dumplings at RedFarm
Evan Sung/Red Farm NYC

Gray's Papaya

The Gray’s Papaya sign shines in its bright yellow color while patrons inside order hot dogs.
The exterior to Gray’s Papaya
Nick Solares/Eater

Gray’s Papaya remains a wonderfully affordable and accessible staple in a city where just about everything feels increasingly exorbitant. The “recession special” remains a heck of a deal: two snappy griddled franks — preferably with onions, kraut, and mustard — and a tropical drink for $6.95, including tax. Those seeking a lighter pre-theater snack can order a single dog plus a drink (papaya, coconut, piña colada, banana) for $4.50.

The Gray’s Papaya sign shines in its bright yellow color while patrons inside order hot dogs.
The exterior to Gray’s Papaya
Nick Solares/Eater

Pastrami Queen

Pastrami Queen Times Square
A pastrami sandwich at Pastrami Queen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This kosher Upper East Side (and before that, Queens) transplant turned heads when it opened a few months ago during the pandemic, and it generated long, socially distanced lines. It’s been a long time since the Upper West Side could boast pastrami this good. Matzo ball soup and hot dogs liberally smeared with mustard are tops, too. Like Gray’s Papaya, it’s located within quick walking distance of both Lincoln Center and the Beacon Theatre.

Pastrami Queen Times Square
A pastrami sandwich at Pastrami Queen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Cafe Luxembourg

Luxembourg offers standard bistro fare, but the crowds and regulars are what make this Upper West Side institution stand out. Diners might share the dining room and bar with musicians who have just finished performing at Lincoln Center. Also: there’s just plain good people watching on any given night as you finish a plate of steak frites, a three-egg omelet, or a half-roast chicken with garlic butter.

Parm

Parm is a solid Upper West Side hangout for a quick fix of classic Italian-American fare — in a much more affordable and casual environment than the group’s Michelin-starred sister spot, Carbone. Expect all the classics from the original Mulberry Street location: crisp fried calamari, vinegar-y Buffalo cucumbers, stretchy mozzarella sticks, chicken or eggplant parm platters, creamy rigatoni fra diavola, and a stellar house turkey sandwich.

El Mitote

El Mitote at first seems aimed at non-Mexican Americans, till you start ordering the food and poke around the corners of the menu. A case in point is the spectacular pozole in the Guadalajaran style, laced with dried red chiles and filled with chicken and hominy. It’s generously served with a bean tostada on the side. You can smell the oregano as the soup is brought to the table.

Lincoln Ristorante

Paccheri with short rib at Lincoln Ristorante
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Half of the draw at Lincoln Ristorante is the avant-garde Diller Scofidio + Renfro space, with giant floor to ceiling windows propped up against a sloped lawn roof. There is where you go to enjoy a $17 negroni and look out over the Eero Saarinen-designed Vivian Beaumont Theatre. This is also where you also go for respectable pastas, even though the heralded tenure of chef Jonathan Benno ended long ago. Consider the trofie with Tuscan sausage and Calabrian chiles; also try the paccheri with short rib and black truffle when it’s available as an (excellent) special.

Paccheri with short rib at Lincoln Ristorante
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Boulud Sud

A small white bowl filled with a yellow half-grapefruit and toppings.
Grapefruit givre at Boulud Sud
Evan Sung/Dinex Group

Daniel Boulud’s ode to Southern France and the larger Mediterranean basin still ranks as one of the top options for a fancier dinner in the Lincoln Center area. Swing by for lamb flatbread, garlic shrimp, lemon saffron spaghetti, salt-baked branzino for two, or Moroccan chicken tagine. Also keep in mind that Boulud Sud still sells one of the city’s best and most fragrant desserts, a hollowed out grapefruit with citrus sorbet, sesame halva, and rouse loukoum.

A small white bowl filled with a yellow half-grapefruit and toppings.
Grapefruit givre at Boulud Sud
Evan Sung/Dinex Group

Cafe Fiorello

Rigatoni alla vodka, bathed in pink sauce, sits in a patterned white and blue bowl with scattered parsley.
Rigatoni alla vodka at Cafe Fiorello.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Around since 1974, Cafe Fiorello has long attracted theater-goers with simple Italian fare and its prime location right across the street from Lincoln Center. But here’s the thing: This chophouse by the folks behind Bond 45 in Times Square and Redeye Grill in the Theater District actually serves some darn good food. Fried calamari are among the top versions one might encounter, with delicately tender and bouncy squid mingling with spicy fried peppers. And the rigatoni alla vodka shines as well, balancing firm bites of pasta with lightly creamy tomato sauce and big hunks of smoky bacon. Other notable items include a whole lobster pizza ($44), classics cuts of beef and veal, and tiramisu. 

Rigatoni alla vodka, bathed in pink sauce, sits in a patterned white and blue bowl with scattered parsley.
Rigatoni alla vodka at Cafe Fiorello.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

P.J. Clarke's Lincoln Square

An open-faced burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese next to a side of fries.
A burger and fries and P.J. Clarke’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

P.J. Clarke’s reopened last September after an extended pandemic closure, again giving theater-goers an opportunity to enjoy some of the city’s top bacon burgers and french fries. The location here is key; one could theoretically walk to the opera within three minutes of finishing up a strong martini and a fresh tray of chilled raw oysters or clams. Keep in mind, however, that this location still operates on somewhat limited hours; the restaurant is only open from Wednesday through Sunday and closes at 10 p.m.

An open-faced burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese next to a side of fries.
A burger and fries and P.J. Clarke’s.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Rosa Mexicano

This local chain founded by Josefina Howard in 1984 helped set the stage for New Yorkers to appreciate an ambitious and sometimes expensive version of Mexico’s diverse foodways. Among the highlights are the made-to-order guacamole, tortilla soup, budin de pollo with chicken tinga and layered tortillas, and grilled octopus tacos with chipotle aioli. Take note that a single frozen margarita should be strong enough to get you pleasantly buzzed before a show.

Breads Bakery

A tuna sandwich with potatoes and other condiments spills out of a baguette; the sandwich sits against a white background
The Tunisian sandwich at Breads.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

An ideal spot for a quick takeout bite en route to the theater, thanks to the fact that Breads might be the city’s finest chain bakery. Keep an eye out for stellar cinnamon rolls, rugelach with bitter chocolate, flaky cheese straws, crisp potato burekas with sesame seeds, whole loaves of chocolate Nutella babka (maybe overkill before the ballet), and a Tunisian tuna sandwich for the ages.

A tuna sandwich with potatoes and other condiments spills out of a baguette; the sandwich sits against a white background
The Tunisian sandwich at Breads.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

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Porter House Bar and Grill

A table set with stemware overlooks Central Park West and the Manhattan skyline in wintertime
The view from Porter House
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Michael Lomonaco’s steakhouse remains a reliably upscale option for a bite before Jazz at Lincoln Center upstairs. The menu features steakhouse staples like thick slab bacon, crab cakes, and dry-aged cuts, as well as fancy Lomonaco-esque touches like butter poached lobster. More expensive wagyu steaks are also available. Walk-ins can swing by the bar for a full menu.

A table set with stemware overlooks Central Park West and the Manhattan skyline in wintertime
The view from Porter House
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Momofuku Noodle Bar Uptown

Chopsticks sit over a bowl of smoked pork ramen with a yellow egg yolk; shrimp with lemon sits on another adjacent plate while fried chicken buns with orange trout roe sit on yet another plate
A spread of dishes at Noodle Bar
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Momofuku’s small plates spot doesn’t boast the same ambitious menu as it did when it first opened uptown — there’s no more salsa-slicked Dover sole — but the venue remains one of the more affordable and reliable spots in the pricey Time Warner Center. Standout dishes include lamb bing with white sauce, brisket buns with horseradish mayo, dry-spiced chicken wings, extraordinarily smoky pork ramen, and ultra-spicy cumin lamb noodles. This is where you go for a quick bite before Jazz at Lincoln Center a few floors up.

Chopsticks sit over a bowl of smoked pork ramen with a yellow egg yolk; shrimp with lemon sits on another adjacent plate while fried chicken buns with orange trout roe sit on yet another plate
A spread of dishes at Noodle Bar
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

Related Maps