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Our Favorite Pre-Theater Restaurants Within 3 Stops of Times Square



Picking a restaurant to dine at before or after a show is almost as hard a picking the show itself (which is why we do it for you!). Many theatergoers mistakenly think that eating within walking distance of the theater will save them time and stress. However, with traffic, crowds, and touchy characters (as in people dressed up in costumes grabbing you to take pictures) everywhere you turn, Times Square eateries can be more anxiety-producing than enjoyable.

Luckily, the (less touristy) neighborhoods directly adjacent to the Theater District are littered with drool-worthy dishes in polished spaces. So next time you have tickets to a show, hop on the train and try one of these culinary gems – traveling 3 or fewer stops on the subway takes as little as five minutes. (We timed it.)

Carb-loading at The Ainsworth. Photo: Instagram, @theainsworth.

Carb-loading at The Ainsworth. Photo: Instagram, @theainsworth.

The Ainsworth – 2 Stops: N/R from 28th Street (34th/ 42nd)

If you want a burger with a side of swank, The Ainsworth is your restaurant. Between the leather tufted seating and wood-paneled walls, you’ll get so cozy it will be hard to leave come showtime. The endless menu with delicious dishes doesn’t help. With seven different burgers (one that comes with a mac ‘n cheese pattie…!), healthy salads, and a south of the border section, everyone in your group will be satiated.


Mykonos in Midtown. Photo: Instagram, @souvlakigr.

Souvlaki GR – 2 Stops: N/R/Q/W from 57th Street (49th/ 42nd)

Escape NYC for a moment and head to Mykonos, Greece, by way of subway. Souvlaki GR’s walls are painted white; and doors, tables and windows are painted blue while strung lights and potted plants hang overhead, making the interior reminiscent of your dream vacation. The food helps set the mood as well; from the hummus to the octopus, every dish is authentic and fresh.


Ready for summer. Photo: Instagram @thesmithrestaurant.

The Smith – 2 Stops: 1 from 59th Street (50th/ 42nd)

By heading up to The Smith on 63rd street, you get to tack another major NYC sight onto your day: Lincoln Center. Situated directly across the street from the gleaming fountain of the Met, The Smith is a hot spot for Upper West Side residents. The menu is casual-meets-classy with everything from their twist on avocado toast to short rib cavatelli to daily specials like fried chicken. In the warmer months, sit outside for an unparalleled view of Lincoln Center, and during colder months (or anytime of year), head downstairs to make use of their kitschy photo booth.


Bottomless brunch. Photo: Instagram, @alexandra_ellis

CK 14 Crooked Knife – 2 Stops: 2/3 from 14th Street (34th/ 42nd)

The crown jewels of the NYC subway system are the express lines. If you hop on one of these revered routes, in two stops you could be in a different borough. We won’t take you that far when there’s a show on the schedule—don’t worry. But by taking the 2 or 3 train two stops downtown, you get to experience a completely different neighborhood: Chelsea. Lively West 14th street is littered with intriguing restaurants but you can’t go wrong at The Crooked Knife, where the cozy atmosphere, airy garden, and enticing happy hour deals are beloved by locals.


A hidden treasure. Photo: Instagram, @elawford.

The Plaza Food Hall and Todd English Food Hall – 3 Stops: N/R/W from 5th Ave. at 57th Street (57th/ 49th/ 42nd)

If you thought only Eloise and Donald Trump got to dine at The Plaza, you were wrong. If you’re seeing a show on the higher end of the Theatre District, head to The Plaza Food Hall or Todd English Food Hall, both located within the famed hotel. If you want a Mediterranean meal, head into Todd English’s European inspired high end market where you’ll find nine diverse food stations from the ocean grill and oyster bar to the noodle and dumpling bar to the pasta bar. If everyone’s craving something different, The Plaza Food Hall is sure to satisfy with vendors like Luke’s Lobster, Olma Caviar Boutique & Bar, Vive La Crepe and Pizza Rollio.