A friend suggested that, as a native and life-long New Yorker and theater-goer, I might be able to offer some pre-theater restaurant suggestions to fans coming to NYC for Love, Love, Love, with Richard Armitage.
These suggestions may be useful to anyone, but are aimed at fans who have never been to New York City and/or dinner before theater, which has different requirements than ordinary meals. If you are from or near a metropolitan city, like Chicago, Toronto or Atlanta, some of this may seem like every day information, but it should be noted that there are few other places like The Theater District (Broadway and-off Broadway) where so many people are trying to eat fast and get to one of 50 curtains in a small geographic location, with hundreds of restaurants to choose from.
You will find plenty of information and suggestions on line, as well as maps, but I have included a map with my best effort to mark the spots. Nevertheless, I recommend that you check out the link for restaurants that interest you, then click on the box for “maps” on the website. You can put in the theater address and the restaurant address, and see exactly what’s what. I am also giving you a few general links for your own research. The menus are available on line.
The Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th street, between 6th and 7th avenues is where Love, Love, Love will be playing. This location is just on the east edge of the theater district, and away from Times Square, which in some ways, makes it easier to navigate, but it’s also a little further than most of the restaurants. On the other hand, West 46th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues and Broadway is called “Restaurant Row,” with one after another in smallish dining rooms. Many of those restaurants can be pricey, but if you’re on or near west 46th street, you’ll have a straight walk to the theater.
You might not mind the distance from a restaurant on Eighth or Ninth Avenues, though – you can probably walk to the theater in 10 or 12 minutes. If you check out the map below, you will see that all the streets going east to west are numbered consecutively. You will also notice that the avenues ( as opposed to streets) run North to South. So, it’s a grid ( with one or two variations, not important here, but check out that narrower diagonal white line that intersects the Avenues – that’s Broadway.)
FYI, walking from one numbered street to another is relatively quick, as the blocks are short. But going across a numbered street from one avenue to another, takes about twice as long. So, for example, it may take you one minute to walk along Sixth Avenue, to get from West 47th to West 46th, but 3 minutes to get from Eighth Avenue to Seventh Avenue walking along West 46th. The map will make that clearer to you.
Keep in mind that the curtain is at 7:30. Many of the restaurants have pre-theater dinner specials at a fixed price ( prix-fixe), some of which do not begin until 6 P.M. But, you should tell your server that you have a curtain, and these restaurants, in fact mostly all of the ones in the area, know they have to get you out in time to make the curtain. Food comes fast, so be ready.
Unless I indicate otherwise, I have eaten at all the restaurants listed. This exception applies to the first restaurant listed, which is the closest to the theater – one block away, if that.
Oh, and we don’t know about whether there’ll be a stage door experience yet, but if so, you might want to watch the garlic. 🙂
- Nios –130 West 46th Street, between 5th and 6th.
One block from the theater, and reasonably priced ( they have a prix-fixe menu as well as a la carte.)
I’d eaten there in its previous incarnation, The District, so I haven’t tried Nios, but I think the Muse Hotel, which owns it, would keep up the quality. Originally, the ambiance was beautiful and I think it’s probably even better now. Check out the reviews and menu on line.
2. La Bonne Soupe, 48 west 55th street. (between 6th and 7th ave)
This is 9 short blocks away from the theater, between the same cross-streets as the theater. Just walk down Sixth Avenue from W. 55th to W. 46th and make a right on W. 46th.
La Bonne Soupe is a large French Bistro. The prices are reasonable. The burgers are very good, and they’re known for their French Onion Soup. Other dishes are also good. It’s reliable. Ambiance is so-so.
Two Japanese restaurants at 152 West 49th Street (also between 6th and 7th – almost dead center in the middle of the block on the south side of the street)
3. Iroha 152 West 49th St., between 6th and 7th Aves.
http://irohagroup.com/irohahom/ (this is their Facebook page – not sure why)
I’ve eaten there for lunch many times. Reviews vary, but the sushi is fresh and I also like their cooked food. You can get a Bento Box with an assortment of dishes, sushi, sashimi or cooked dishes. Prices for Asian restaurants are generally the cheapest of any other cuisines.
4. Saki Bar Hagi 152 West 49th St., same as Iroha, different menu (downstairs entrance)
I haven’t been there, but the reviews are good, and I think it’s cheaper. Their purveyors will be the same as Iroha, so the fish will be good.
5. BXL Cafe– Belgian – 125 West 43rd Street Between 6th and 7th Avenues
If you like mussels . . .Belgian restaurants have selections besides mussels, but I go for the Moules Frites (Mussels, in many different broths, and great fries). Also good beer selection.
6. Junior’s, 1515 Broadway, between W. 44th and W. 45th (Playstation Bldg)
I couldn’t decide whether to include Junior’s, but I am. It’s only 3 blocks from the theater. Junior’s is like an American/Jewish/New York diner, in that it has a huge selection of dishes. It is/was a well known Brooklyn restaurant ( my Mom and I ate there when shopping in Downtown Brooklyn), and their Cheesecake is marketed world-wide. You could basically just have Matzo ball soup and cheesecake, but it’s also an opportunity to try some New York Deli, like a pastrami sandwich ( New Yorkers eat it with mustard, and I like cole slaw on my sandwich). I have no idea what the Manhattan Junior’s is like. The menu is vast. Stick to American/Jewish style food. This isn’t the place to order Buffalo Wings or roast chicken. (Turkey sandwich, though -Yes!)
Re: location – this is located in what is now a Pedestrian Mall, so if you look at the map, you can’t actually find Broadway right there. But if you look above the number and below it, you will see that thin white street that comes in at a diagonal – that’s Broadway)
Those are closest to the theater. Next up, are 2 Thai restaurants. There are scores of Thai restaurants in the areas, and along 9th Avenue. (See my notes on 9th Avenue, below) There are 3 called Yum Yum, practically on the same block ( they are just OKAY), but really, almost all of them are decent, have dinner specials of three courses, sometimes, including appetizer or soup and salad and a main course for under $25.00. I’ve chosen one for food and ambiance, and one for food, but really, almost any you come across is okay.
7. Qi-Bangkok Eatery, 675 8th Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd, closer to 43rd.
The décor of Qi Bangkok alone is worth seeing. The basic main dishes, especially noodle dishes, are very good. This is slightly a cut above. Good dinner specials.
8. Bangkok House , 360 West 46th between 8th and 9th,
(middle of the block, south side, as I recall.)
Next are restaurants within proximity and price ( a little higher than the Asians, Belgian and so forth) many of which have Prix-Fixe pre-theater menus that cater to theater-goers. You can also order a la carte, of course. Keep in mind that adding a glass of wine or alcohol to the Prix-Fixe can jack the bill up to almost $15.00 additional, depending on the restaurant. RESERVE EARLY, using OPEN TABLE if you can.
These are old standbys. Many are advertised, some you may have discount tickets for, and some have very old ambiance, but they are all reliable. It can be a slightly more refined dining experience ( aside from the rush) than the others listed, except for Nio’s.
9. Maria Pia, 319 west 51st between 8th and 9th avenues
Italian, with a very varied prix-fixe menu. I’ve eaten there and I like it. Big, noisy, but friendly and they’ll get you out in time.
10. Trattoria Trecolori, 254 west 47th between 7th and 8th avenues, closer to 8th.
This is a basic, southern Italian (American) style restaurant. I find it reliable, reasonably priced ( Italian is my favorite food) and most of the time, the service and ambiance are just fine.
11. Chez Napolean , 365 West 50th St., between 8th and 9th Avenues. VERY POPULAR
I’ve never had a bad meal here. Solid French food, and they have a limited prix-fixe menu for theater-goers which varies. Or, you can get a bunch of appetizers, many of which are interesting. This is a popular, well-advertised place, but I think it’s reliable if you want more than a quick bite.
12. Le Rivage –340 west 46th street between 8th and 9th Aves.
(French) adequate or uneven, is what I’d say. But there is a prix-fixe and they’ll get you in and out. Take a look for yourself.
ETA – Suggestion from Linnet Moss:
I recently tried Meson Sevilla on restaurant row (344 W 46th St, a straight shot down to the Laura Pels in 8 minutes). Good tapas (Spanish small plates) and they’re great about feeding you quickly.
http://www.lerivagenyc.com/index.html Le Rivage has a prix-fixe dinner for $ 39.00
You might want to browse yourself. Try This article from New York Magazine. Also try Menupages.com and search for NYC, Midtown, West 40’s & 50’s and Theater district. The listings include places that deliver, so there will be many choices to stop in for a few slices of NEW YORK PIZZA, or a sandwich, as well as many ethnic choices at every price range. (Note, I had trouble loading the site from Mexico). Yelp is also good, but the reviews can be ignored. Some angry people.)
You might also be adventuresome, and walk along 8th and 9th Avenue in the high 30’s to low 50’s (I’m talking about streets with the W. before them, W.45, W. 46 etc.) and walk into some ethnic joint that’s reasonable and turns out to be something new for you, and surprisingly good.
Here’s a map. ( I’m really not too good at editing images). Ignore the red balloons. The larger green circle is the theater. Then I have numbered, in purple, the selections with their locations. (Nio’s, # 1 is below the circle, all the way near the green park, is # 2, Bonne Soupe) # 3 & 4 are in the same building, on W. 49th St.) But if you check out a restaurant, as I said, there will be a map with its precise location, and you can also plug in the theater address to see how far and in what direction, you have to walk.
I hope all Richard Armitage fans who go to my home town will Love, Love, Love it. Fall is a beautiful time of year – the best – to be in New York. During the course of the run the weather can vary greatly, but I hope you all have sunshine, and crisp, fall air.
Your hotel and information on line will have lots of ideas and magazines offering ideas of how to spend the day. But if you have little time, or don’t want to spend too much money:
Get yourself to Central Park if you have a chance, and walk from 5th Avenue and Central Park West (past 57th St), where you can see The Plaza hotel and the horse carriages, and walk along CPW to the Time Warner Building on Central Park West and 59th Street. It’s a beautiful space, an indoor mall, and the whole experience is free. You can grab some hot dogs in the Park, or walk back downtown on 7th, Broadway or 8th Avenue, to check out or try inexpensive restaurants.
[ETA] I forgot Rockefeller Center & Radio City Musical Hall! West 47th and Fifth.
And St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Fifth Avenue and East 53rd St.
If you plan ahead, you may be able to get tickets to view the World Trade Center Memorial.( Check on line) Take the Number 1,2 or N, R trains downtown to Chambers or Cortland St.
Try a subway, at least for a few stops, or make your way down to Greenwich Village, SoHo or Tribeca, to flavor a different neighborhood.
Try uptown, like The Upper West Side, and walk up Columbus Avenue and back down Central Park West. Lovely shops and restaurants. Lots of inexpensive places to eat.
Find a Pizza Place and have a slice ( be wary of anything called Ray’s, Ray’s Famous, Ray’s Original, Ray’s Best) – I forget which ones I like and which I don’t. But it’s pretty impossible to have a very bad slice in NY. Avoid anything called Sbarro.
Another place to try New York Deli Food in midtown, is The Carnegie Deli
The main level of Grand Central Station is worth seeing. If you’re on the west side, midtown, the best way to get there, except for walking ( long, but doable) is to take the 42nd Street bus to Grand Central Terminal. Subway is a little complicated. Inside, there are lots of food stalls, and shops, and the lower level has benches, if you want to take out something inexpensive and sit down to eat it. If you do go to Grand Central, you won’t be far from The New York Public Library and Bryant Park, where there is always something going on.
Museums are not all exactly free. Some want a contribution or have an entrance fee. The Museum of Modern Art is near the theater area. ( 5th Ave and 53rd), and has a wonderful restaurant, The Modern. Lunch there is affordable, and it’s stunning. You can also just have a drink at the bar.(check each Museum for their closed day – The Met, The Guggenheim and the Whitney are on Fifth Avenue, uptown, starting at East 79th Street.)
Or, just walk along Fifth and Madison Avenues ( between 55th and the 70’s) and peek into some fabulous store windows. (You can avoid Trump Tower.) Just keep in mind there are hardly any places to eat along Fifth or Madison.
Don’t be afraid of New York. Just look alert. Don’t worry about getting lost. New Yorkers love giving directions.