Travel

13 Hidden-Gem Restaurants & Bars in NYC's Midtown Neighborhood

Just because you're near Times Square doesn't mean you're far from a good bite or drink.

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January 16, 2020
Photo by Illustration by Jordan Sondler

We've partnered with Hilton to share our favorite hidden-gem food spots, from a lively cocktail bar to a top-notch slice of pizza, in New York City's Midtown. With 54 locations around the city, Hilton makes the perfect home base for exploring all the Big Apple has to offer. For super-comfy accommodations right in the heart of the Midtown, book a room at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Times Square West or the Conrad New York Midtown.


If you're a local New Yorker, you probably know that Midtown—aka the bustling middle stretch of Manhattan where you'll find Times Square and lots of high rises—doesn't exactly have a reputation for being a neighborhood with the most exciting food in the city.

But that's not necessarily true. This central section of the island is, in fact, a top-notch destination for those who prioritize eating and drinking well. It's just a matter of knowing where to look.

So I asked the Food52 team to share their favorite hidden-gem food spots in the neighborhood. Think: a cozy Italian wine bar just around the corner from the Theater District, a lively cocktail lounge famous for its rum drinks, a Korean restaurant serving up delicious tofu-based dishes, an A+ slice of pizza (because it wouldn't be a trip to the Big Apple without one...or five), and quite a few more.

Give this list a glance, eat (and drink) well in Midtown forever.


Our Favorite Midtown Restaurants, Bars & More

1. Amma

"This tucked-away Indian restaurant may not turn up on any trendy restaurant lists, but it serves up some really exceptional fare," says Senior Editor Arati Menon. "I love their jackfruit biryani (a great option for vegetarians who feel left out when their friends tuck into the lamb or chicken version), and also their spinach chaat—it’s a lovely departure from the usual because it includes spinach and sprouted mung beans (hello, fiber!).

2. Culture Espresso

According to Copywriter Celeste Scollan, this locally owned coffee shop on 38th Street not only makes a pitch-perfect latte, but also "the best chocolate chip cookies ever in the world." Even better, it has two other locations scatted around Midtown, so you'll never be without a good brew when you're in the area.

Photo by Culture Espresso

3. Lan Sheng

"For the past 10 years, I've been stopping at this Szechuan restaurant for lunch every time I'm in Midtown," says Senior Graphic Design Tim McSweeney. "Nothing beats an $8 lunch special from a once-Michelin-starred restaurant that's as delicious as ever."

4. Briciola Wine Bar

This cozy little wine bar is another favorite of Arati's. "It’s great for an after-work glass of wine and small plates," she says, from spicy sautéed artichokes with olives to crostini topped with herbed goat cheese.

Photo by Briciola Wine Bar

5. Sakagura

This Midtown spot is quite literally hidden: to find the entrance you actually have to go into an office building and down a set of stairs. While it's probably best known for its massive collection of sakes (we're talking over 260 different kinds), Chief Revenue Officer Sam Stahl's number-one order is the maguro natto (tuna with fermented soybeans). And some sake too, of course.

6. Gazala's Place

This pick from Associate Buyer Louise de Vertuil specializes in the Druze cuisine from Chef-Owner Gazala Halabi's upbringing in Daliat el- Carmel, Israel. The recipes, which have been passed down for generations, range from hummus, babaganoush, and labneh for splitting with the table, to kebabs and falafel platters. Louise's choice way to spend an evening here? Sharing a ton of mezze with friends, she says.

Photo by Gazala's Place

7. Capizzi Pizza

"My husband and I have taken sooo many people to Capizzi Pizza," says Customer Care Specialist Kaleigh Embree. "It's small, but the pizza is to die for, and the staff honestly treats everyone like family." So, if you've been looking for an excellent slice in Midtown, consider it found.

8. The Grill

If you're in the mood to treat yourself to a fancy-schmancy dinner (with the decor, service, and price tag to match), I'd recommend visiting The Grill, set in the iconic Seagram Building. The dinner menu features a mix of steakhouse and old-school classics, from prime aged New York strip to caviar vichyssoise. But if you've only got time for cocktails, sipping a martini at the bar feels like a special occasion in itself.

Photo by The Grill

9. Bangia

"It’s hard to feel cozy at a restaurant in NYC, let alone with a restaurant in NYC because of how limitless our options are," Associate Editor Coral Lee explains. "But at Bangia, I get pretty close. Order the cheesy tteokbokki, and as you chew, wondering whether what you’re chewing on is cheese or mochi, stretch out on their long wooden booths, and on your friends’ laps, and chew some more."

10. The Rum House

"The Rum House on 47th street is truly a hidden oasis," says Executive Editor Joanna Sciarrino. "I love their rum punch, but any of their rum cocktails are great. They also have very good warm pretzels (from Sigmund's!) and live jazz."

Photo by The Rum House

11. The Rag Trader

This bi-level spot (with a restaurant on top and cocktail lounge/piano bar on the bottom) on West 36th Street is always Financial Controller Lisa Fanniff's Midtown pick for reliably tasty food and an always-excellent time. When she's dining upstairs, she'll get the PEI Mussels (which she "absolutely loves"); downstairs, it's the Red Dawn cocktail (with vodka, spiced ginger, citrus, and lime) or nothing.

12. The Red Flame Diner

"There's nothing too fancy about this diner, but the food is solid," says Sales Director Lizzie Greene. "It's a place you come to order your favorites like fries with gravy, chicken soup, and egg salad. Plus, it's big enough that you'll always get a seat, and since they're open from breakfast through dinner it's a great spot to start your day or take a shopping break for lunch."

13. Cho Dang Gol

Also known as "Tofu House" for its variety of homemade tofu-based dishes, Cho Dang Gol is one of Senior Editor Eric Kim's go-to Korean spots in New York. "The kimchi biji jjigae is my favorite dish there—it’s so comforting and tastes almost creamy from the ground soybeans flecking the stew."

Photo by Cho Dang Gol

What to Do in Between the Eats

1. See a show

The bright lights of Broadway (and Off-Broadway) are a big part of what makes Midtown a destination, and there are a lot of great musicals and plays to choose from—like the Tony Award-winning Hadestown, a critically acclaimed Oklahoma! revival, family-friendly Frozen, and Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. If classical music is more your thing, see what's on the calendar at Carnegie Hall, which regularly showcases world-class orchestras, musicians, and vocalists.

2. Check out the Museum of Modern Art

Set right on West 53rd Street, the Museum of Modern Art (aka the MoMA) features an impressive permanent collection of—you guessed it—modern art by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and more. It also has a number of exciting exhibitions currently running, like a multimedia installation from South Korean artist Haegue Yang and an artist-curated selection of artwork that explores the concept of shape.

Photo by The Museum of Modern Art

3. Go shopping around Columbus Circle

There's a ton of great shopping to be found in Midtown (ahem, 5th Avenue), but one of our favorites in the area is The Shops at Columbus Circle, where you'll find everything from top designer stores to niche pop-ups (not to mention stunning views of Central Park). The multi-level complex also has some dining options, should you get a wee bit peckish from hauling around a bunch of shopping bags: chef Thomas Keller's casual Bouchon Bakery, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Bluebird London, and more.

4. Stroll through central park

It wouldn't be a trip to NYC without a visit to Central Park. You can explore the sprawling grounds at your own pace or take a guided tour through the Central Park Conservancy—each one has a different focus, from statues and monuments to Belvedere Castle. And if you'll be here during winter, don't worry about missing out on the views, the Park is positively stunning when blanketed in a fresh coat of snow.

Photo by Central Park Conservancy

5. Take a Pottery Class

For a bit of hands on fun, Associate Editor Coral Lee suggests taking a Japanese pottery class at Togei Kyoshitsu just below Midtown on West 30th Street. Take a one-day introductory course to learn the basic techniques, as well as create a handmade cup and plate. Basically, it's an experience and a souvenir built into one.

What's your favorite food spot in New York City's Midtown neighborhood? Add it to this list in the comments below!

We've teamed up with Hilton to share all the exciting bites and sips you can discover in New York City's Midtown neighborhood. Think: a classic diner for breakfast, a Szechuan restaurant with award-winning food, a cozy wine bar, and more. Whether you're planning a trip to New York City (or thinking about a stay-cation), book a room at one of Hilton's 54 locations, like their recently launched Conrad New York in Midtown. With stylish accommodations and an elegant bar and restaurant called Dabble (make sure to order their Jalisco Highway cocktail), the Conrad makes the perfect escape from all the hustle and bustle of the city. Other excellent options for your next visit: the DoubleTree by Hilton in Times Square West, the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Times Square, and the Hilton New York Midtown.

Image used to promote this article by Franck Michael via Flickr.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.

3 Comments

Sherri S. June 20, 2020
I never explored Food 52 Travel section before - I hope you keep adding more great adventures - especially for all of us with travel on pause. I miss the NY restaurant scene and look forward to trying out the staff mid town recommendations when restrictions are lifted. Kudos to the restaurants who have been creative during this time to keep us all excited about food.
 
emmasvt February 27, 2020
cool article! i will be sure to share this with the residents of Treasure at Tampines and JadeScape

https://www.thetreasure-attampines.com
https://www.the-jadesscape.com
 
Myra M. January 19, 2020
It would be helpful to include addresses as well as the names of restaurants. They sound great.