M&M World isn't the only place to eat in New York's Times Square.
Times Square may be one of New York City’s most overrated attractions, but it’s practically an obligation for first-time visitors. And while you really can’t avoid the grumpy guys in character costumes or throngs of tourists fighting for sidewalk space, it is possible to sidestep the many chains and restaurants that double as tourist traps.
Don’t regret an overpriced dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., or an entirely mediocre meal at Applebee’s. Follow this guide, and you can drink and feast at some of the best-kept secrets in Times Square. You may even want to go back to this chaotic, neon-lit stretch of Manhattan for more than just a Broadway show.
Izi and Blue Fin
Downstairs at the W Times Square hotel is the izakaya-style restaurant Izi, where an edited menu emphasizes sushi and small plates. Highlights include sticky chicken with sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce, and an oversized fortune cookie filled with chocolate mousse for dessert. A thoughtful bar menu boasts many Japanese whiskeys (the light Hibiki Harmony is a crowd-pleaser). For a more traditional dinner, head upstairs to Blue Fin, also in the hotel. Order the trio of tartare—salmon, tuna , hibachi—to start, and a side of blue crab, summer corn, and red curry when it’s in season.
Unlike most Times Square restaurants, Margon’s Cuban fare is surprisingly affordable. Lines move quickly through the cafeteria-style restaurant, on West 46th, which specializes in pernil, beef stew, and oxtail.
Just a block east from Times Square is STK, a modern steakhouse that updates classic dishes. Try the Lil' Brgs to start (a duo of wagyu sliders with a creamy sauce) and order your preferred cut of meant as a main. STK offers petite, 6-ounce filet medallions and staggering 34-ounce cowboy rib steaks. An innovative cocktail program has produced such unusual creations as the Strawberry Cobbler (vodka, muddled strawberries, graham cracker crust).
The Rum House
If what you really need is a drink with a strong constitution, look no further than The Rum House, located next to the lobby of the Hotel Edison. There’s an evident emphasis on rum, with no shortage of daiquiris and mojitos. But the rum-focused original cocktails, like the Oh Yeah (Santa Teresa 1796 rum with vermouth and sherry) are as transportive as the West Indian decor.
Located at the aviation-themed Yotel, just three blocks west of Times Square, is this modern, Israeli-fusion restaurant. It’s easy to note North African and Southern European influences on Chef Gabriel Israel’s menu, but we recommend starting with a very traditional mezze of hummus, charred eggplant, and tahini. Afterward, consider a slow-cooked carrot steak with mozzarella and spices, or the extremely self-aware, not-kosher barbecue with za’atar-coated pork ribs and kohlrabi salad.
This local chain now has eight locations up and down the island of Manhattan, but the Asian-style sandwich shop is a fast, inexpensive option for lunch or dinner. Flavorful Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, and Chinese flavors create fragrant dishes like hoisin meatballs, ginger-barbecue brisket, and their signature street-food style sandwiches that will fortify you after an exhausting day navigating New York’s attractions.
Stop by one of the city’s best dive bars for a beer (less than five dollars—really!) and good jukebox tunes. Vintage photographs and memorabilia more or less give this dark, narrow spot a boxing-theme, and it’s a popular place for locals to network with members of the media.