Staying Near Times Square - Looking For Unique, Fun, and Semi-Quiet
It has been forever and a day since I've stayed in New York City, and had time to just hang out. And I'm hanging out with an old friend I haven't caught up with in forever.
I'm staying at a neat hotel near Times Square, and am looking for a good recommendation - someplace where the food is excellent, where it might not be too crowded (it could be off the beaten path - yes, I know that's an odd request for near Times Square, but I think we're willing to venture afield), someplace where we can eat and talk for a few hours.
French bistro fare works or contemporary American. I'm not sure if my friend likes Asian - and while I would have liked to have tried Sofrito, I'm not sure the ambience is right (on the other hand, if there are cubano or puertoriqueno places in that neck of the woods, that would be fine, too).
Oh, most importantly - a quiet little bar recommendation would be helpful, too - for either before or after dinner.
For excellent French bistro fare, Chez Napoleon is the sort of place where you can linger over dinner in a setting that has not changed in 50+ years. It's simple and has a certain charm, the sort of restaurant once known as "theater district French" that there are so few of anymore. Food is authentic and well-prepared, prices moderate.
I would go to Becco as long as you are not in prime theatre time (8pm is a good time for a rez). Cute little place with excellent wine and pasta. For drinks after I would head down 7th and hit up Bar Veloce. It's a little (by little I mean tiny) wine bar with good atmosphere and snacks.
Becco is not a cute little place. It's a townhouse with several dining rooms + a bar room on the street floor, and dining spaces on the second level. More importantly, the pastas at Becco are mediocre at best.
I do agree that In the Times Square/Theater District area, if one is looking for quieter atmospherics, it's best to reserve after 8 p.m. in order to avoid the rush and crush of the pre-theater crowds,
West Bank Cafe serves excellent New American cuisine and is a really good choice for comfortable, i.e., well-spaced tables, and relaxed dining.
Take a northbound stroll up Ninth Avenue starting around 43rd Street, there are many good places fitting that description up till around 57St. Find one that appeals to you.