Restaurant Row, on West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, stars a multicultural cast of eateries and clubs standing shoulder to shoulder. Broadway actors, producers and crew members, plus Hell’s Kitchen locals and out-of-town visitors patrol the tree-lined sidewalks in search of sustenance—some knowing exactly where they’re going, others less sure. For the latter group, we’ve singled out 10 places worthy of the spotlight, all practiced at getting theatergoers out in time for the curtain.
Fairy lights dress up the entrance to Barbetta, run by the same Italian family since 1906. Inside, it’s wonderfully old school—with chandeliers overhead and servers in white jackets. In back is a garden with a stone fountain. The Piemontese-style food includes risotto with porcini mushrooms and roasted rabbit in a white wine and lemon sauce. It’s best for pre-show dinners or a precise martini at the small, elegant bar. On Saturday nights, a pianist entertains on the baby grand.
Becco is packed before and after Broadway shows, and busy in between. Lidia Bastianich and her son, Joe (Eataly, Felidia, Del Posto), founded the welcoming trattoria in 1993. The right order for big appetites is unlimited servings of three pastas (selections change daily). The main menu offers good salads, antipasti, grilled swordfish and hanger steak. Wines are priced affordably.
Dim Sum Palace
Dim Sum Palace is not palatial—but it’s a pretty good-size, tranquil Chinese restaurant where service is swift. Look for shrimp and pork shumai, fried wontons, cold sesame noodles, roast duck dumplings, vegetarian hot and sour soup, General Tso’s chicken and sautéed scallops with black pepper sauce. Also good to know: there’s a full bar, and dim sum is served until 1:30am.
Don’t Tell Mama
Don’t Tell Mama regulars tend to have a weakness for show tunes, so you’ll hear them from the restaurant’s staff and professional singers. Seating is first come, first served at the piano bar, which features happy hour discounts and a menu with sliders, chicken wings and tiramisu (along with a two-drink minimum). The adjoining restaurant has a fuller, eclectic roster with the likes of cheesy garlic bread, chorizo over couscous and baby back ribs. There are also two cabaret rooms; when acts perform, be prepared for a cover charge and two-drink minimum.
This vintage hole-in-the-wall has a fun, charming staff that knows how to get patrons in and out in an hour—yet it’s no problem to stay and take your time over a grilled chicken club sandwich or penne with mascarpone, gorgonzola, sweet and hot Italian sausage, marinara sauce and pecans. Upstairs is the dark and cozy Bettibar, serving the same menu. The kitchen closes at midnight most nights (later on weekends, earlier on Mondays and Tuesdays), but drinks go on until 4am.
A classic saloon that’s been around since 1965, Joe Allen is cherished by theater people. Show talk ripples along the bar and throughout the brick-walled dining room appointed with framed posters of Broadway flops. It’s great for cocktails, business lunches, and pre- or post-theater dinners. The American favorites on the menu include a satisfying hamburger, pan-roasted salmon, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and hot fudge pudding cake.
Drag queens perform during Sunday brunch at this dark, appealing Hell’s Kitchen hangout where locals file in for margaritas and conversation. Among the tastiest menu items are beef-filled empanadas and rich pappardelle sunken under short ribs, puttanesca sauce, fresh herbs and a dash of sangria. There’s a nice selection of tequila and mezcal, and bartenders add tropical twists to classic cocktails.
This warm, welcoming Spanish taverna holds fast to tradition, with pitchers of sangria and pans of saffron-hued paella adorning nearly every white-linen-covered table. The Valencian-style paella is protein heavy, with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari, chicken and chorizo. Other options include shareable tapas like bread soaking in tomatoes and Serrano ham, springy octopus in vinaigrette and shrimp with garlic sauce. There are also prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus.
This low-key restaurant is the sort of Theatre District haunt where famous people are left alone. Part of Joe Allen’s mini empire, the place serves up a menu with an Italian bent—popular choices include beef carpaccio, pizza, linguine with clams and calf’s liver with pancetta and sage. Reservations are highly advised, especially for pre-show dinners. Unlike at Joe Allen, there is no bar for casual stop-ins (though there is alcohol).
Sushi of Gari 46
Masatoshi “Gari” Sugio is the Japanese owner-chef of several highly regarded sushi spots known for procuring the freshest fish on the market. This Theatre District branch is refined and intimate, hidden at the base of a brownstone. Go all out for the creative omakase or follow an appetizer like cold marinated eggplant with bonito flakes with an entree such as shrimp tempura with rice or the beauteous “tuna of Gari,” which includes a fabulous spicy tuna roll.