Times Square is a bustling urban hotspot rammed with tourists and lined with hundreds of restaurants shops and attractions, the tourist capital of the city. There are an overwhelming amount of dining options on the Square and finding a great restraint rather than an overpriced Tourist trap is a difficult task. Most visitors to the City either say in the square or at least spend some of their time there and with the Theater Distinct right on the doorstep, Times Square is often host to the Dinner part of, dinner and a show!
To help you out we have put together our list of the Best Restaurants In Times Square New York City. We have gone in deep here to find you the perfect dining spot. Whether you are looking for casual dining, a celebration dinner the perfect pre-theatre meal, or just a cheap, quick note to eat to power you through the day. We have picked the perfect 10 but thrown in a load of alternatives to help you find the perfect meal and avoid the tourist traps and pitfalls of dining in this densely populated tourist powder keg. Showing you exactly where to eat on Times Square NYC
Avoid Eating on Times Square?
While looking for places to dine in Times Square it will not be long until you butt up against the conventional Wisdom that states “Avoid Times Square at all costs!!” On Travel Message boards and Facebook Groups, the question inevitably attracts the “know-it-all” that tells you to never dine in any times square establishment and that ALL the best spots are away from “Tourist Central”.
While this has some truth to it, in the same breath, it’s total garbage. There are some truly great places to eat o nth square, as we shall see one of the best restaurants in the City resides on the Square (3 Michelin Stars!). There are top-rated Steakhouses, incredible Italians, Fantastic Experiences unlike anything in the world.
On top of this, there are some bargain eateries that offer great food something for pennies! And while the collection of Chain Restaurants offers little you can’t find on any US mall, or retail park, sometimes you want the simple and familiar.
We think the best advice is to NOT restrict yourself to dining in and around Times Square. There are literally Thousands of Restaurants in New York and YES some of the best are not on Times Square and should be sought out. But to ignore the high concentration of restaurants on the square would be foolish. The majority of visitors stay on or near the square and to leaves, the square for every meal would be idiotic. Besides many of the eateries on the square are simply fantastic and would be anywhere in the city!
After all, completion is HIGH, Getting customers in the door is challenging and if you don’t manage it the sky-high rents will have you out of business in no time! So only the best actually survive on Times Square, any long-time business, especially the independents, must be doing something very right to continue to operate on the Square.
So when someone tells you the best place it eats in Times Square is “Not to Eat in Times Square” then know they value being “clever” and Witty, far more than giving solid advice! For every one of those, there will be 20 saying, “We ate at XXXX and had an awesome meal!” So with that in mind, we reveal our favorite places to Eat in Times Square
10 Best Restaurants In Times Square New York City
In order to try and keep our list short and useful, we have limited this to 10. And while we are listing Restaurants we have tried to break it down into types. This way we can fit more onto the list without it becoming huge and just being white noise!
While we list our top of each type, we make sure we add plenty of alternatives too, so you can decide what type of restaurant you want and then dig a bit deeper to get the absolute best choice for your trip. Some might be just off the Square others, just in our opinion not quite as awesome. But we make sure we point you in the right direction whatever type of meal you are looking for.
This way we think the list has the best BANG FOR BUCK. With a quick read, you can find what sort of thing you fancy eating then drill down more and get the best experience. We honestly think this is the most helpful way of organizing it, rather than just listing 5 steak houses, 8 delis 100, pizza shops, 19 Italians, it all quickly becomes unreadable.
So let’s get into it
- Cusine – Steak
- Price – $$$$
- Best For – Celebration Dining
New York and Great Steaks go hand in hand. The City even has its own cut named after it, The New York Strip, and grabbing a Steak while in New York is one of the most rewarding culinary experiences the City Offers. There are hundreds of Steakhouses and even regular restaurants will offer Steaks on their menu to please their clientele. But there is a real difference between a good NYC Stak and a GREAT one.
We look at all of New York’s best Steakhouses in our Top NYC Steakhouses list, but Del Frisco’s comes out very high and is the only true Times Square Steak house on our list. As such it gets top honors on our Times Square Dining list.
This incredible eatery serves up perfect juicy steaks all day. Perfectly Chargrilled on the outside and juicy and ruby red on the inside. Sheer carnivore perfection. It’s not cheap but anything this good is not going to be.
Alternatively, Gallagher’s Steakhouse is just off Times Square and is our number one pick, this really is a cut above and well worth hunting out over Del Frisco’s, at least in our opinion. These are some of the best cuts of meat in the world and a real New York Experience.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is another great choice. This is a little more of a chain experience, but it shouldn’t be overlooked the Steaks here are still out of this world and we love their Lobster Mac and Cheese, it’s also a little more wallet-friendly.
- Cusine – American Diner Classics
- Price – $$
- Best For – Breakfast, relaxed
Ok, Ellen’s Stardust Diner doesn’t get this high on the list because of the food. This is definitely an Experience Restaurant. The Food is typical American Diner food. So Large Stuffed Deli Sandwiches, Big Burgers, and other home-cooked comfort food. It’s also a great stop for breakfast serving all the 1950’s Diner Classics, Waffles Pancakes, Frech Toast, Eggs bacon, etc… along with a few more modern dishes such as the millennials classic Avocado on toast.
However, the Reason to Visit Ellens is the experience. Singing Waitstaff, Dayglow neon 50’s styling, and that full-on old-time vibe. It is just great fun and a great setting and while the food is not the absolute best in the City, the whole vibe and atmosphere just more than makeup for this.
Not that the food is bad, or overly expensive, it’s really quite good. There are just other equally good options around. There are also issues here, namely the lack of reservations. The Diner only excepts walk-up and queues can easily top 1hr! Also, not everyone wants to eat in a living, breathing, broadway show, it’s a very Kitsch experience and some people just don’t get this version of fun!
If the idea of dayglow plastic fixtures, singing waitstaff and hourlong queues do not appeal, but you still want to indulge in the US Diner experience then there are alternatives. Both the Times Square Diner and Grill and the Brooklyn Diner offer a very similar dining experience only without the song and dance!
3 – Tony’s Di Napoli
- Cusine – Italian-Amercan
- Price – $$
- Best For – Big Eats!
Tony’s is classic NYC Redsausve Italian, exactly the place you expect the mob to be dining at, and offers amazing Italian-American Classics. All Served Family Style on gigantic platters in huge portions. This really is rustic family dining in a relaxed and fun setting.
Prices are pretty reasonable, once you realize just how much food you are ordering! You can get half-portions which are great if you want more than one dish as otherwise a full platter can sink 2 people easily with leftovers and that’s before you consider appetizers or sides!
The restaurant just feels right at home in NYC and offers a dining experience exactly like you imagined. Loud Brash and a little rough around the edges but absolutely fantastic at heart!
Carmines one block over and one block up offers up a very similar style and concept, it’s a bit fancier and a bit more refined and expensive, but essentially the same. Both will leave you very satisfied, and probably needing a nap, after a hard day sightseeing!
- Cusine – BBQ
- Price – $$$
- Best For – Meat Sweats!
If you are not a Vegan or a Vegetarian then the chances are you LOVE BBQ. We know we do and while New York is not exactly the home of BBQ we really don’t care and love grabbing some slow and low meat pretty much anywhere we go in the States.
Virgil’s is a really great option for those looking to load up on the meats. It has all the desired options any real BBQ head would want, Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Ribs, and smoked Chickens. It’s not the best BBQ in the states but it stands up pretty well for a joint that isn’t in the south.
Cocktails are also a smash here with Giant mugs filled with Margaritas and Lemonade. It makes for an epic hearty meal.
Dallas BBQ sits just the other side of the square and also offers great BBQ Options. It’s a little more Chain Restaurant but still offers big eats and big cocktails!
5 – Juniors
- Cusine – Cheescake
- Price – $$$
- Best For – Tasty Treats
We really like Juniors, while it is a chain restaurant it’s a smaller New York-only chain so we give it a free pass. The Food here is good, it’s deli-style, so large Rueben Sandwiches or stuffed Deli Meat sandwiches. There are great Steak Burgers and a variety of hearty Entrees. They also do a pretty mean breakfast!
But for us, the star of the show and the reason for visiting is the stunning Cheesecake. The Cheesecake Factory is one of our guilty pleasures and the lack of a New York location is disappointing. But this is largely made up for by the existence of Juniors. There may be fewer choices and it’s not quite as fancy but the actual Cheesecake is probably better and it feels all the more rewarding knowing we are eating it in the home of Cheesecake!
There are actually 2 outlets on Times Square, the 49th-Broadway location is larger and more spacious, but we often just get the Cheesecake to take out and eat in our hotel.
Another famous spot to grab some sweet treats is Carlos Bakery. Famous Cannonlis, Pastries, and tasty cakes make this a must-visit location in the square.
6 – Los Tacos No.1
- Cusine – Mexican
- Price – $
- Best For – Quick Bite
Really good basic Mexican Street food. When you are simply looking for a quick bite to eat and fancy something a bit zingy then Los Taco’s is hard to beat. Tacos are in fairly short supply on the West Coast, over on the east coast there is barely a restaurant that doesn’t serve tacos, but over here things are different.
So While Los tacos is a fish out of water their tacos are out of this world. Their Tortillas are freshly made and the ingredients are super fresh. Stuffed with grilled meats (or Cactus!) and topped with inions, Salsa, and Guac they are simply amazing and all for <$5! Make sure you try the Mexican Soda’s While you are there”
Dos Caminos is another Mexican option but is more of a sit-down cantina and focuses on Mexican Plates that you can take your time over and enjoy whereas Los tacos is a Takeout-only joint.
7 – Le Bernardin
- Cusine – French Fine Dining
- Price – $$$$$$$$$
- Best For – Show Stopping Dining
Let’s get this clear, this is easily the best restaurant in Times Square or at least the immediate Times Square area depending on your definition of Times Square. This Fine Dining Establishment sits comfortably in the top 50 Restaurants of the year and has done constantly since 2009, it’s one of a handful of New York Restaurants to hold 3 Michelin Stars and has taken top honors in the New York Times with a 4-star rating since it opened.
It quite simply lords it over any possible competitor in the Times Square Area. However “Best” is most definitely subjective. So while we have to mention this Restaurant on our list, it’s not getting the top spot due to what we feel most people are looking for when deciding n where to dine on Times Square, and for most, a $280 per person Tasting menu does not quite hit the mark. You are also likely to struggle with reservations at this highly desirable location.
8 – Margon
- Cusine – Cuban
- Price – $$
- Best For – Cubana Sandwiches
Cuban food is heartwarming soul food and during a cold New York winter, this kind of comfort food really can lift the spirit and recharge the batteries. Margon really does serve up some of the best Buban Food outside of Cuba, and maybe Florida.
You can’t really go wrong with the Cubana Sandwich (Roast Pork, Ham, Cheese, Mustard, and Pickles on Cuban Bread), but they have a variety of awesome sandwiches and some really interesting Specialties. Portions are hearty and presentation basic.
If you arrive at this dingy run-down sandwich bar, tucked away down a dark side street, you may think we have steered you in the wrong direction, but Margon’s is all about the food. It’s not a fact place, and this is putting it mildly. A little Cuban flavor and some New York grit and you have one of the best meals in the city.
And if you need a real pick-me-up grab a Cuban Coffee, this hot sweet shot makes Red-Bull seem like dishwater.
Havana Central is a similar cuisine but served in a much more upmarket and flamboyant way. The Huge illuminated Havana Palm tree will lure you in. The Restaurant is literally across the street from MArgons so you can use the Palm Tree to find Margon’s instead. Here you can take your time a bit more, enjoy a giant Rum Punch or bulldog Margarita with your Cubana, or even grab a classic Mojito and 1/2 Price Empanadas during Happy Hour
9 – Chain Restaurants on Times Square
We could literally have filled this entire list with Chain Restaurants, but where is the fun in that! Instead, we have compiled a list of the best Chain Restaurants you will find on the square. We do not need to say much about these. They are familiar and available at just about every Retail Outlet in the country, with a couple of exceptions.
While these may seem poor choices for a BEST OF list, remember not every meal has to be an occasion. Sometimes you are just hungry and want something familiar and easy. Also, many visitors to Times Square are not actually American’s and these recognizable Chain Restaurants really are part of the New York Experience!
- Cusine – Burgers
- Price – $$
Shake Shack is actually one of our favorite Burger chains in the world. Thus New York-based Chain even outshines In-n-out and five guys in our humble opinion. The subtle smoked bacon and juicy burgers are just heaven. And of course, their Concretes are just phenomenal!
While we love Shake Shack we very rarely eat here, we mich prefer the stunning Brooklyn Outlet in the Shadow of Brooklyn Bridge with views over the Manhattan Skyline.
- Cusine – Seafood
- Price – $$$
Right in the Heart of Times Square with large windows looking right out onto the square, Bubba Gump is far more about the location than the food. Shrimp Platers that even Bubba would be proud of can fill a hole and are nice enough, it’s the setting overlooking the Square that is really worth eating here for.
- Cusine – American
- Price – $$$
Victim of a lot of snobbery and really a bit of a tourist trap, but we are all tourists in times square right! The Hard Rock offers decent food that is nice and familiar a reasonable prices in the heart of times square. You will not feel proud eating here but you will get a good meal! And for every snide remark, there will be someone else who didn’t what other people thought just had a great time in the Hard Rock Cafe.
- Cusine – Italian
- Price – $$
Very few will admit it but we all love Olive Garden really. Honestly, if you are looking for Italian then we urge you to try Toni’s or Carmines (above) but if you just have to get your OG fix then the garden is right in the middle of the square, overlooked by the TKTS Stand and M&M’s World.
- Cusine – Seafood – Live Lobsters
- Price – $$$
Lobster is supposed to be the ultimate in Luxury Dining, but Red Lobster has brought lobster to the people. This no-fuss seafood restaurant is not going to be our first choice in NY but if it’s good enough for Beyonce!
- Cusine – American
- Price – $$
It’s Applebee’s what more do you need to know!
- Cusine – Margs!
- Price – $$$
Margaritaville is one of our favorite chain restaurants in the states. Its Island vibe and menu (although we are never sure which Island) are just good fun and a nice change from the fairly intense New York Experience.
We like hitting Margaritaville at Happy hour, which is a bit early but we never have anywhere to drive in New York so it makes it an acceptable option! The Happy Hour at the Landshark Bar And Grill upstairs is a little more reasonable on time!
Really there are very few Chain Restaurants that do not appear on the Square. Despite the expensive rents more of these brands see real value in appearing on the square and getting their slice of the 350,000+ daily visitors that pass through the Square.
10 – Budget Dining on Times Square
We have included some pretty low-cost options on our list, along with some really expensive ones too. But if you are just looking for the cheapest way to get some food then despite the Times Square Surcharge, high competition means there are some real bargains to be found.
Hot Dog Carts
Times Square, along With Central Park are some of the prime locations for hot dog carts in the City, and you can normally find better if you head away from the Square. But the prices are still cheap and with so much competition these can be pretty good stands. If you are looking for something super fast and pretty cheap then an NYC Hotdog is pretty iconic.
99 Cents Pizza
Pizza by the Slice is an NYC budget Staple and we simply couldn’t write this list without mentioning it. While there are several Pizza shops on Times Square all dishing out hot fresh slices the cheapest of all is 99 Cents Pizza. Only basic Cheese comes in a $99 but other toppings are only a modest hike. It’s basically as good as any of its rivals and with a full 18″ pie only $8 it’s the mecca of super cheap finding on the Square.
There is also a host of ultra-cheap fast-food chains on offer. From McDoalnlds Flagship Restaurant to Taco Bell, Popeyes, Wendy’s, Starbucks, etc. You will be spoiled for choice of cheap fast food outlets, but really we urge you to try some of New York’s own Fast Food such as Shale Shack, Los Tacos, 99 Cents Pizza, or Margon.
Bonus – Hells Kitchen
Finally, just a couple of blocks away is Restaurant Row, in Hell’s Kitchen. This area is home to literally hundreds of restaurants offering examples of just about every cuisine known to man. While we said we would not suggest the best place to dine on Times Square if to leave, we just can’t help but mention the wonderous array of restaurants on offer just a few blocks over in Hell’s Kitchen
Have Your Say
What are your favorite Dindin spots on Times Square? Where do you like to eat most and where have you had a great experience? Maybe you found somewhere really great that was not on our list or maybe you have a really poor experience on the Sqaure. Whatever you have to say just fire away in the comments.