From Michelin-starred tasting menus to brash and buzzy newcomer restaurants, Midtown boasts a wealth of opportunities to indulge your inner gourmand. Whether you’re looking for an after-theatre meal or a standout splurge, each of these dinner options offers a delicious and memorable experience just steps from all Midtown has to offer. Bring your taste for adventure and explore the culinary heart of Manhattan.
89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
Tucked between Vanderbilt Hall and the 42nd Street passageway in Grand Central Station, this airy, contemporary space is both visually striking and soothing with its interplay of natural colors and refined finishes. Icelandic head chef Gunnar Gislason creates seasonal dishes that feature impeccably sourced ingredients in inspired combinations (and have earned a Michelin star). Dinner à la carte might include arctic char with squash, roe, and buttermilk foam; or, for an unforgettable dining experience, book a dinner tasting (available in both carnivore-friendly and vegetarian versions).
19 W 31st St, New York, NY 10001
Rising star Harlem chef JJ Johnson brings his signature bold flavors and ingenious technique to this sleek yet cozy spot. His menu takes inspiration from far-flung locations, combining ingredients and techniques from the African diaspora, Asia, and the American South. Signature dishes include bone-in short ribs with millet, hoisin BBQ sauce, and black beans; and the “AfroPot,” a savory melding of king crab, prawns, clams, mussels, sweet corn, and Chinese pork sausage.
3. EL CENTRO
824 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019
Tacos, margaritas, nachos — El Centro has all the elements for a Mexican celebration. Bright colors and funky fixtures welcome you to this Hell’s Kitchen eatery, while sidewalk seating and sharing-sized plates tempt you to stay (not to mention those scrumptious frozen margaritas!). Pozole, the famously hearty hominy soup, is offered in three varieties: traditional pork with mole, lighter chicken, and an extra-special shrimp with pipian verde sauce. Regulars swear by the meaty short rib tacos and crunchy-creamy chilaquiles.
4. MESON SEVILLA
344 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
Need a nibble before or after the show? Located along Theatre Row, Meson Sevilla serves up more than 100 varieties of tapas perfect for snacking and sharing. Classic offerings include patatas bravas tossed in a spicy aioli or a selection of classic Spanish cured meats and cheeses. For the more adventurous palate, try the chilled octopus vinaigrette or lamb shank stewed with saffron. Complement your tapas with a pitcher of Sangria concocted with seasonal fresh fruits.
5. YAKITORI TOTTO
251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
Want to feel like you’re in on a secret? This second-floor location may be unassuming from the outside, but once you’ve found your way in, you’ll discover a hidden gem that the late Anthony Bourdain counted among his five favorite spots in NYC. If it can be grilled on a skewer, you’ll find it here, from deservedly popular negima (chicken breast with Okinawa sea salt and green onions) to shatter-crisp kawa (chicken skin). Get there early in the evening for your best chance at limited-availability treats like heart, soft knee bone, and “oyster” (the tenderest part of the thigh).
6. HOLD FAST KITCHEN & SPIRITS
364 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
From the rustic brick walls to the heavy antiqued wooden bar (and the bottles glittering behind it), Hold Fast embodies the warmth and sophistication of a bygone era. But one nibble or sip of their shareable plates or creative cocktails dispels any notion of old-fashioned stuffiness. Big, audacious flavors characterize the menu: the bone marrow with scrambled egg and tobiko makes a daring pair with the Gin Mare and Amaro-based CareTaker. Open nightly until 2 a.m., it’s a perfect place to wind down your evening (maybe with a Dude Abides, an updated take on a White Russian, in your hand).
65 E 55th St, New York, NY 10010
Boasting two Michelin stars and three stars from the New York Times, Aquavit is justly hailed as the premier Nordic restaurant in NYC. Chef Emma Bengtsson melds flavor profiles from her native Sweden with flawlessly fresh ingredients and innovative techniques. Choose from one of three set tasting menus, each a series of exquisitely composed dishes that offers a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Aquavit’s housemade spirits (as well as its signature New York White Cranberry aquavit) provide bar options as fresh as its food.
8. LA GRENOUILLE
15 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001
For a peerless, nostalgia-heavy dining experience, La Grenouille provides the stately decor, superb service, and classic French dishes that hearken back to fine dining of yesteryear. Founded in 1962, it’s now the sole surviving haute cuisine restaurant of that era in NYC. Choose the storied wine list and select from such delicacies as lobster medallions with ginger and sauteed spinach, filet mignon tartare, and crepes flambeed with seasonal fruits and kirsch. The spectacular flower arrangements are justly famous, and you may find yourself dining next to designers and other luminaries from the nearby Garment District.
9. ESTIATORIO MILOS
125 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
Crisp minimalist decor brings the freshness of the Aegean to this seafood-focused Greek restaurant. Make your selection from the display of whole fish on ice outside the open kitchen. On a typical day, you can choose from more than 20 species of ultra-fresh fish and seafood. By-the-ounce pricing can add up quickly, but set-price menus make a visit more nearly affordable (if still a splurge). The Maryland crab cake with Piazzi bean puree has been named the best in town by the New York Times, and generous portions invite sharing among friends.
10. BROOKLYN DINER USA
212 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019 or 155 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036
Beyond the neon-lit exterior and retro name, you’ll find surprisingly low-key surroundings and updated takes on comfort-food classics from chicken soup to hot pastrami on rye. (Get there early to snag a chicken pot pie: they reliably sell out.) No diner meal is complete without a milkshake, and these offerings are especially decadent (the Sweet & Twisted features vanilla ice cream, pretzels, and chocolate chips).