7 Delicious Midtown Spots Where You Can Grab a Bite Before Your Show
Learn the food secrets of the theater district from our team.
No matter who you are, you've got to eat. And if you're a theatergoer about to sit through several hours of drama (or musical comedy), it's even more important that you calorie up. If you're on a budget but scarfing down a PBJ on the subway isn't the vibe you had in mind for date night, here are seven midtown eateries that might have just what you need, vouched for personally by TheaterMania's editorial staff.
587 9th Ave.
Americans are increasingly health-conscious, yet fast food is still junk food more often than not. That's why I love Chirping Chicken on 9th Avenue at 42nd Street. They feature rapidly served flame-broiled deliciousness that won't clog your arteries. One quarter chicken plus a hot vegetable side costs less than $10. And while bird is their specialty, the menu is a cornucopia of burrito bowls, Greek sandwiches, fish, burgers and even baby back ribs. Right around the corner from off-Broadway venues like Theater Row, Playwright's Horizons, and Signature Theatre and only a 10-minute walk from the main Broadway houses, this place is as convenient as it is quick. Just keep alert or you might miss a celebrity picking up preshow grub. This patron spotted Adam Pascal!—James Monohan
700 8th Ave.
On the second floor of the Row NYC Hotel, directly next door to The Phantom of the Opera and across the street from Frozen, is City Kitchen, a grownup food court serving everything from ramen to duck schwarma, with several different restaurants taking up the space. If you want Mexican, you can go to Gabriela's for a delicious quesadilla. The duck schwarma (which comes with an outrageous fig mayo) is from Box, an offshoot of the Lebanese restaurant Ilili. The ramen from Kuro Obi is extremely flavorful, and you can wash it down with a brightly colored doughnut from Dough. There's something for everyone.—David Gordon
Daltons Bar & Grill
611 9th Ave.
Ninth Avenue offers a delicious string of noodle-filled Thai restaurants that can't be beat for quality and value. But when you want an inexpensive place to chow down on a juicy burger and wash it back with a beer before a show, Daltons Bar & Grill should be on your list of go-to pre-theater eateries. This spacious sports bar, located between 43rd and 44th Streets just a few blocks from dozens of Broadway venues, serves up big plates of sharable nachos, hearty salads, flatbread pizzas, and some of New York's best burgers customized to your liking with loads of toppings. Portions are ample, so bring a hungry friend and tuck into some sliders to avoid that mid-Act 1 stomach grumble.—Pete Hempstead
578 9th Ave.
If off-Broadway is your jam, chances are you'll be spending a lot of time on W 42nd Street, where Theater Row, Playwrights Horizons, and Signature Theatre are located. And chances are also that you're on a particularly strict budget. The perfect solution is Foody's Dumpling on the corner of 42nd and 9th. Foody's offers limited seating, but you can usually find a spot, and if you can't, you can always take your dumplings to one of the aforementioned venues (just double-check to make sure it's allowed at the theater you'll be attending). What Foody lacks in space, it makes up for in awesome Western Chinese food at prices so reasonable you'll think you're in Flushing.—Bethany Rickwald
Kung Fu Kitchen
811 8th Ave.
If you're not averse to carbs, Kung Fu Kitchen is the best place to load up on noodles and soup dumplings before a Midtown show (the Hell's Kitchen location specifically — no one wants to eat in Times Square). Service is fast, portions are hearty, and every menu item is under $15. If you're lucky, you'll catch their Chinese harp player, whose schedule I haven't been able to figure out. But even if you don't dine with live music in the background, the proprietors are usually projecting videos of master chefs hand-pulling noodles, which will keep you sufficiently hypnotized until your food arrives.—Hayley Levitt
New York Beer Company
321 W 44th St.
One of my most reliable munch spots in the theater district is New York Beer Company on W 45th Street. With a delicious American-style menu and a beer list to rival the hippest of craft breweries, New York Beer Company doesn't disappoint. The perks of this spot are never-ending: happy hour till 8pm, free live music on Fridays, spacious dining without the tourists, amazing lunch and brunch specials, clean restrooms, and impeccable service. You can even buy beer at current market value by following their beer stock ticker. This place is perfect for a date night or large parties. I rely on New York Beer Company for any occasion — preshow or otherwise.—Seth Walters
614 9th Ave.
One of the last great New York City Diners in the theater district, Westway is always good for a pre-theater bite. The practically encyclopedic menu ensures that there's something for everyone — even the pickiest eaters. It's a dress-it-up, dress-it-down kind of place: You can have a three-course steak dinner, or just a cup of joe (Westway is also great for post-theater coffee and dessert). Westway attracts a lot of police officers who work the midtown beat, so you know the food is good and the prices are reasonable. And while it's no Joe Allen, Westway (with its proximity to the artist housing in Manhattan Plaza) is a great place to spot theater celebrities having an informal nosh. This is 9th Avenue's safe bet.—Zachary Stewart