Eats

Dietary Restrictions in the Theater District: 8 Quests Conquered

12.05.18

BY: JULIET MAZER-SCHMIDT

So you’ve played Broadway Roulette, taking the pressure off what to see. Now it’s time to take the pressure off where to eat. Navigating the Theater District can get overwhelming – especially for those dealing with dietary restrictions. Lucky for you, Broadway Spin’s Juliet Mazer-Schmidt (a queen of complicated culinary regimens) is on-hand to share some go-tos from a kosher Jewish deli to gluten-free soul food and everything in between.

QUEST #1: Where’s the gluten-free pizza?

Two Boots.

Two Boots.

Two Boots – 625 9th Ave. (bet. 44th & 45th St.)
Hours: 11:30AM – 11:00PM (M-T); 11:30AM – 12:00AM (W-R); 11:30AM – 2:00AM (S-S)

Founded in 1987 by a pair of pizza-loving indie-filmmakers who cherished Cajun food (two boots = shapes of Italy and Louisiana), this colorful, kid-friendly chain offers everything from classics to vegan, gluten-free veggie-topped pies named after Bette Middler (the Earth Mother).

Uncle Mario’s.

Uncle Mario’s – 739 9th Ave. (at 50th St.)
Hours: 10AM – 12AM (7 days)

If Two Boots is full, walk just a few blocks north to Uncle Mario’s for a casual, authentic New York City pizza experience – with gluten-free crust options (and a larger seating area).

QUEST #2: Satisfy a broad spectrum of burger cravings – and dietary restrictions – in one location.

Bareburger – 366 West 46th St. (bet. 8th and 9th Aves.)
Hours: 11:00AM – 11:00PM (S-R); 11:00AM – 12:00AM (F-S)

Beef, bison, black bean, turkey, quinoa and chia and green pea (oh my!); sweet potato and kale in a collard green wrap – whatever you consider a “burger” (no judgment here), Bareburger’s ready to accommodate. They’ve also got vegan shakes, gluten-free beer – and *truly* gluten-free fries. (If you’re Lincoln Center bound, there’s another location up on 57th, same cross streets.)

QUEST #3: Authentic. Jewish. Deli.

Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen.

Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant – 209West 38th St. (bet. 7th and 8th Aves.)
Hours: 11:00AM – 9:00PM (7 days)

Ben’s is an institution – with a 250-seat restaurant, a fantastic staff, and a massive menu that’s conscious of diner allergies. (Before you get your hopes up: no gluten-free matzo balls here – remember, we’re talking “TRA-DI-TION!”)

QUEST #4: Fajitas and margaritas – at a reasonable price point?

Sombrero.

Sombrero – 303West 48th St. (bet. 8th and 9th Aves.)
Hours: 12:00PM – 12:00AM (7 days)

Sombrero’s fajitas can feed two (reminder to gluten-free friends to request corn tortillas) and they mix-up a solid margarita pitcher (go for fresh lime juice in lieu of the pre-made mix).

El Centro.

El Centro – 824 9th Ave. (at 54th St.)
Hours: 11:30AM – 11:00PM (M-T); 11:30am – 12:00AM (W-R); 11:30AM – 1:00AM (F); 11:00AM – 1:00AM (Sat.); 11:00AM – 11:00PM (Sun.)

Another can’t-go-wrong cantina ready to accommodate restrictions – but tends to a be a bit louder, livelier (and more crowded).

QUEST #5: Post-matinee happy hour that won’t break the bank.

Dos Caminos.

Dos Caminos – 1567 Broadway (at 47th St.)
Happy Hour: M-F 3-6PM + 9PM-close (11:00PM (S-T); 12:00AM (W-R); 1:00AM (F-S)) (Bar + Downstairs Lounge Only)

$6 guac; $6 taco duo; an $8 marg and a $4 can of Tecate (for the gluten-friendly) – SOLD. (Though tragically not part of the Happy Hour menu, the Dos Caminos Durango is this writer’s favorite spicy margarita in the city.)

Ruth’s Chris – 148 West 51st St. (bet. 6th & 7th Aves.)
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6:30PM + Sun., 4-7PM (Bar Only)

$9 martinis (with premium spirits); $9 for a seared ahi tuna appetizer – SOLD (and surprising!).

QUEST #6: Pre-show caffeine boost with a sweet treat – somewhere other than Starbucks.

Bibble & Sip.

Bibble & Sip – 253 West 51st St. (at 8th Ave.)
Hours: 7:30AM – 8:00PM (M-F); 10:00AM – 8:00PM (S-S)

A gourmet French confectionery with Asian influence, Bibble & Sip is a small, magical spot that serves all the coffee standards alongside an eclectic library of latte flavors like matcha jasmine and lavender. Though most of their in-house pastries are tragically off-limits to those with dietary restrictions, their popular panna cotta jars (earl grey, mango, matcha) are gluten-free.

Ground Central.

Ground Central – 888 8th Ave. (bet. 52nd & 53rd St.)
Hours: 6:30AM – 9:00PM (M-F); 7:00AM – 9:00PM (S-S)

Bibble & Sip too crowded for comfort? Walk up 8th Avenue a block where Ground Central offers an extensive menu of milks (including macadamia and oat), sugar-free matcha, and a variety of vegan/gluten-free baked goods (including pumpkin bread and peanut butter cookies). Bonuses: beer and wine available – by the glass and bottle, plus (luckily-timed) guests can enjoy a cozy seating area, complete with a wall of books and soft lighting.

…Still in search of a place to sit, decompress, and refuel? (Happens to the best of us.)

Le Pain Quotidien – on 55th, just east of 8th Ave.
Hours: 7:00AM – 8:00PM M-F, 8:00AM – 6:00PM S-S.

This French chain is standing by to gratify any gluten-free avocado toast or turmeric latte needs.

Bonus Insider Tip: Gregory’s [West 44th bet. 8th & 9th or corner of West 50th & Broadway] offers half-off baked goods M-F after 5pm – including an assortment of gluten-free power bites that this writer has used for many a meal substitute on-the-go.

QUEST #7: One menu that will accommodate everyone (and impress your gluten-free friends)!

Friedman’s.

Friedman’s – 228 West 47th St. (bet. Broadway & 8th Ave inside the Edison Hotel)
Hours: 7:00AM – 10:00PM (Sun.-M); 7:00AM – 11:00PM (T-Sat.)

This place has it all: fried chicken on a cheddar waffle, acai smoothie with a ginger shot, pastrami Rueben, falafel burger; all of the breakfast. Everything but the matzo balls can be made gluten-free, and there’s a full bar (including gluten-free beer). A laid-back atmosphere paired with attentive service make Friedman’s a sure-to-please option for even the most difficult diners in your entourage. (Insider Tip: show same-day theatre tickets for a 15% discount, dinner only.)

QUEST #8: Somewhere to celebrate a special occasion, a spot with a certain… je ne sais quoi.

Spoonfed.

Spoonfed – 331 West 51st St. (bet. 8th & 9th Aves.)
Hours: vary slightly each day, check ‘em out HERE (note: weekend brunch offered)

Beloved Broadway caterer Randy Witherspoon opened this South Carolina low country comfort food haven in 2017 with the blessing of – and help from – an assortment of Broadway insiders. The staff is warm and welcoming, the restaurant feels like spending time in your favorite family member’s kitchen – and the dinner menu offers a surprising number of options for the gluten-free, including wings and BBQ smoke ribs. (Vegans: the molasses-glazed cornbread and biscuits are a “go,” but entrees may be tricky – so see immediately below!)

P.S. Kitchen.

P.S. Kitchen – 246 West 48th St. (bet. Broadway & 8th Aves.)
Hours: vary slightly each day, check ‘em out HERE (note: open until 2AM Thurs.-Sat.)

A respite from the bustle of Times Square with a lovely staff – and an even lovelier mission, P.S. Kitchen is a 100% vegan restaurant that creates jobs for marginalized workers, donating all profits to charitable organizations both locally and overseas.

Bonus Insider Tip: Every Broadway Roulette order confirmation features an exclusive offer for a free drink on your show date with the purchase of any other item of equal or higher value at P.S. Kitchen. Add to that a super cute setting, healthy dining options, and a noble mission and it really can’t be beat.

Juliet Mazer-Schmidt is a Detroit-born performer, turned DC-based litigator, turned Chicago-based theatre developer – turned NYC-based all-of-the-above… and in case it’s not obvious, she is also a writer… and a foodie.