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Where/When to Eat Before Your Broadway Show

Do you have tickets to a Broadway show, but have no idea where or when to eat beforehand? When it comes to cuisine, New York City has it all- from culinary staples like Italian, Indian, Chinese, and Mexican, to more exotic options like Caribbean, Ethiopian, Moroccan, and Portuguese.

BroadwayWorld is here to help you figure out where to go and when! Let's break it down:

Where to Eat Before a Broadway Show:

Full disclosure: you can eat just about anywhere in the city and make it to your show if you give yourself enough time to get there (click here for an overview of transportation options). If you would prefer an easy journey from food to theatre, however, make your plans in the Theatre District. What is the Theater District, you ask?

Where/When to Eat Before Your Broadway Show
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski

The Theater District is an area in midtown Manhattan where almost all Broadway theatres are located. It stretches from 40th Street to 54th Street (south to north) and 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue (east to west). With Times Square situated at its center, this area is known for its abundance of restaurants, hotels, and perhaps more-so than anywhere else in the city, tourists.

Start by identifying which theatre your show will be playing at. Try to keep your dinner plans within a very walkable 4-5 blocks from there. The theater district isn't huge, but Broadway's northern-most theatre (the Vivian Beaumont) and southern-most theatre (the Nederlander) are situated almost 2 miles from each other, so you don't want to be stuck at the wrong end.

Picking a place to dine can be overwhelming, even for New York City residents. Yelp can be a very useful tool in helping you make that selection. Also, be sure to note the establishment's health inspection score, which is on display at the entrance of every restaurant (or look it up here). A= great; B= fine; C= run the other way.

As noted previously, Times Square is a huge hub for tourists, so many of the restaurants located in its immediate vicinity cater specifically to that crowd. If Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Hard Rock Café are your thing, by all means eat what you know. If you'd like a more authentically NYC culinary experience, aim for the eastern/western limits of the theatre district. 9th Avenue is bursting with great restaurants that you won't find at home. 46th Street, between 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue, known as Restaurant Row, is also home to a ton of different dining options.

Need more guidance? Consider Theater District staples with a reputations for great food like Sardi's, Carmine's, Glass House Tavern, Junior's or Joe Allen. Or check out some other top-rated options.

Where/When to Eat Before Your Broadway Show
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

When to Eat Before a Broadway Show:

Most importantly, if you can, make a reservation ahead of time to assure that you won't have to wait for a table. The Theater District is a hoppin' place and it gets even busier immediately before and after showtimes. Many other people will have plans to eat before their show just like you. Most NYC restaurants will allow you to make reservations by phone, their website or Open Table.

Timing your reservation to an hour and a half before the start of your show should give you plenty of time to eat. If your show starts at 8pm, plan your dinner for 6:30pm. If you are dining with a very large group or you are a particularly slow eater, allow for some extra time. If you specific plans to purchase food, drinks or show merchandise at the theatre, you should also get an earlier start.

And don't be afraid to tell your waiter that you are on your way to a show. They will often do their very best to get you out the door in time for your curtain.

Now you're ready to dine like a real New Yorker! Bon appetite and enjoy the show!

Want to learn even more about Broadway? We've got info on all 41 Broadway theatres, the longest-running shows of all time, which shows are best for high schools, plus tips on when to buy tickets to a Broadway show, how to get there, what to wear, and how to know if it's age appropriate!

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