Escape the Tourist Traps: A Guide to Non-Chain Eats in Times Square

You can explore Times Square without settling for fast food and chain restaurants. We've assembled a guide to dining options for tourists that even locals enjoy.

April 26, 2024

Where to Find Great Food in Times Square

Feeling hungry in the hustle and bustle of Times Square? We understand the struggle. Surrounded by big-name restaurants and flashy signs, finding a good meal can be tough. But don't worry! Hidden among the chaos are some great local spots that won't take you too far from your next stop. Join us as we guide you through the maze of lights to find the best pizza, burgers, and dining experiences right here in the heart of New York City. Let's satisfy those cravings together in the city that never sleeps!

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Ok … On to the list

John’s Pizzeria of Times Square

John’s Pizzeria of Times Square, nestled within the walls of a converted 19th-century church, offers more than just a slice of history—it serves up some of New York City's finest thin-crust brick oven pizza. With its spacious interior capable of accommodating large groups, it's the perfect spot for pre- or post-theater meals with family and friends. Despite its location in bustling Times Square, John's maintains a leisurely atmosphere, making it a welcoming haven for both locals and tourists alike. Whether you're craving a classic margherita pie or something more adventurous, John's delivers a satisfying taste of NYC at an affordable price point.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

At Ellen’s Stardust Diner, you get more than just a meal—you get a Broadway-worthy performance with every bite. This iconic diner in Times Square is renowned for its singing waitstaff, many of whom are aspiring stars of the stage and screen. Owned by local legend Ellen, this diner serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner alongside unforgettable entertainment. Despite its fame, prices here are surprisingly reasonable for New York City standards, making it a budget-friendly option for a memorable dining experience. Soak in the atmosphere as you enjoy your favorite diner classics while surrounded by 1950s nostalgia.

All'Antico Vinaio

All'Antico Vinaio, a chain of sandwich shops from Florence, Italy, made its debut in NYC in 2019, instantly drawing crowds eager to sample its Italian sandwiches. Although it falls under the category of a chain eatery, it's a rare find outside of Italy. Tucked away on 8th Ave, it's the ideal spot for a quick bite before catching a Broadway show. Crafted on Tuscan schiacciata bread, these sandwiches are bursting with flavor, featuring indulgent spreads like pistachio and 'nduja. With only a few stools available, be prepared to savor your sandwich curbside or en route to your next attraction.


Carmine’s, a staple in Times Square, offers classic Southern Italian-American cuisine in a family-style setting. Known for its oversized portions that make every meal feel like a festive Italian-American wedding feast, Carmine’s serves up platters of home-style antipasto, pasta, and decadent seafood or meat entrees meant for sharing. Carmine’s is perfect for large groups of travelers and families who want an extra cheesy and filling meal before their next Broadway show.

Gallaghers Steakhouse

Gallagher's Steakhouse, a historic Prohibition-era establishment in NYC, serves up classic cocktails and expertly grilled meats. With its iconic hickory log-grilled steaks and timeless ambiance, it's been a Manhattan favorite since 1927. Indulge in their signature dishes like bacon-studded clams casino and dry-aged rib-eye, paired with classic sides and decadent desserts. Whether you're a steak aficionado or a first-time visitor looking for iconic eats, Gallagher's promises a high-end dining experience in the heart of the Manhattan.

Joe Allen

Joe Allen, a vibrant and budget-friendly New York City bar founded in 1965, is a beloved spot for Broadway enthusiasts. Its quaint brick-lined interior, adorned with posters of Broadway flops, creates a unique ambiance that captures the heart of visitors and locals alike. While known for its unassuming charm, Joe Allen delights diners with unexpected gems like shrimp and crab ceviche and great cocktails. With a tradition of celebrating Broadway's underdogs, it's a must-visit destination for theater aficionados looking to immerse themselves in the city's rich theatrical history.

Los Tacos No. 1

Los Tacos No. 1, a beloved establishment known for its offerings at Chelsea Market, can now be found right in the center of Times Square, having set up shop in the historic New York Times building. Despite its slender menu, this outpost delivers the same authentic and flavorful tacos and tortilla-based dishes that have garnered it a dedicated following. With its standing-room-only setup, Los Tacos No. 1 in Times Square offers a quick and satisfying bite of Mexican street food favorites like carne asada, pollo asado, or nopal tacos amidst the bustling energy of Manhattan.

Don Antonio

In the vibrant hub of Times Square, Don Antonio offers a surprising twist on traditional Naples-style pizza. Despite its unconventional location, this hidden gem near the 50th Street stop on the C and E trains boasts a wood-burning oven that produces pizzas with a char-stippled crust and mozzarella made from authentic water-buffalo milk. Under the leadership of Giorgia Caporuscio, daughter of renowned pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio, the restaurant continues to innovate, offering tantalizing options like the deep-fried montanara topped with porchetta.

Patsy's Italian Restaurant

Stepping into Patsy's, you're greeted by the statuesque presence of Frank Sinatra and a signed headshot of Liza Minelli—a testament to its storied history. Since 1944, this iconic red sauce joint, owned and operated by the Scognamillo family, has been a cherished fixture. With its nostalgic ambiance, dining at Patsy's feels like a journey back to a bygone era when West 56th and Broadway reigned supreme. Whether it's a pre-theater meal or a romantic date night, Patsy's offers an experience that transports you to Old Hollywood glamour, making it a standout against the giant Olive Garden nearby.

Lovely’s Old Fashioned

At Lovely’s Old Fashioned in Hell’s Kitchen, travelers seeking an authentic taste of New York City can escape the fast-food chains that dominate Times Square. Here, simplicity meets flavor in their signature smash burger with cheese, served on a buttered bun with classic toppings like mayo, pickles, and raw onion. It’s a nostalgic taste of after-school burgers with a modern twist. Pair it with spiral-cut fries or upgrade to onion rings, and finish off your meal with indulgent desserts like chocolate chip cookies or bundt cakes.

Bibble & Sip

Bibble & Sip Bakery Cafe is your spot for sweet indulgences in Midtown. Offering a variety of specialty drinks like matcha, teas, lattes, and floats, it's perfect for satisfying your cravings. Their French-inspired treats, including cream puffs, macarons, and cakes, are both decadent and delightful. Don't miss their cloud-like matcha cream puff or their almost-too-cute-to-eat macarons with unique flavors like ube coconut, strawberry milk, lychee, milk tea, and passionfruit.

Urban Hawker

Urban Hawker, a food hall curated by Singaporean food expert KF Seetoh, brings a vibrant mix of cuisines to Midtown Manhattan. Featuring multi-generational vendors, including 11 from Singapore's renowned hawker centers, it offers diverse flavors from Malay, Peranakan, Chinese, and Indian cuisines. Conceived with input from Anthony Bourdain, this hub promises an authentic street food experience. However, be warned snagging a table during peak hours can be a challenge, given its popularity among New Yorkers seeking an affordable and diverse culinary experience.

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