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Pre-theatre No Reservations

In town from Chicago for a friend's wedding this weekend (5/15). Hoping to grab a good meal and a show on Friday. Looking for a nice pre-theatre dinner for two where you don't need reservations (not sure if this is even possible). Would like to keep things near the theatre district since we don't know the city well. I'd love to find a place with a nice prix fixe menu so somewhere under $45 (even better if it's lower). New to chowhound and searched the forums a bit and there is a wealth of information out there so any suggestions/direction would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Hey, ochuang,

    Welcome to Chowhound!

    It is very dicey to go to restaurants in the Theater District pre-theater without reservations, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. So, I stongly advise that you make a reservation. If you decide to ditch your plans, you can always cancel without any penalty.

    dbBistro Moderne, on 44th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs., is one of 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's restaurants. At this one, he is serving contemporary French bistro cuisine. Needless to say, the food is very high caliber. The a la carte menu is expensive; however, there is a pre-theater 3-course prix-fixe for $45 -- a great opportunity to sample the cuisine of one of the city's major chefs at a bargain price.


    Marseille, on the corner of 9th Av. & 44th St., is an attractive, bustling brasserie with very good French/Mediterranean cuisine. They offer a 3-course prix-fixe for $38.50.


    Cascina, on 9th Av., b/t 45th & 46th Sts., serves homestyle Italian food in a pleasant, rustic setting. Their pre-theater 3-course prix-fixe is $24.50.


    2 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        Add jfood for Marseille. Right around the corner from Hair and if it is nice you can sit outside

      2. It really depends on what cuisine you're looking for. Uncle Nick's offers nice Greek cuisine that's very reasonably priced. Hell's Kitchen (not related to the TV show) offers Mexican cuisine that will also not break the bank. There are plenty of other restaurants along 9th Ave that might be what you're looking for.

        Hell's Kitchen
        679 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

        Uncle Nick's
        747 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

        1. Roberto Passon and Center Cut, the latter is in Lincoln Center but has a fantastic prix fix for $35.

          1. It's not very much of a foodie spot but you can probably get into Langan's, it's got a great bar, and it's very inexpensive.

            1. The last time we were in Manhattan we got into Sardi's at the last minute with a phone call. The food was okay, but the atmosphere was great for a pre-theatre dinner. I remember dining there several timeswith my parents when I was a bit younger, so perhaps it is a bit nostagic for me.

              1. My BF lives in the nabe so we eat there a lot. Below are some of our favorites:

                Nizza, on 9th Ave between 44th and 45th: Italian. Creative and good quality pizzas pastas, and salads. The socca (chickpea pancake) is supposed to be excellent. I love their homemade mascarpone gelato and blood orange sorbetto. Nice wine selections. I've gotten in without a reservation on Friday and Saturday nights without much of a wait (and they have a nice bar to sit at and have a drink if there is a wait for the table).

                Bocca di Bacco: Italian wine bar on 9th between 54th and 55th. Great selection of Italian wines, small plates, and terrific homemade pastas. Try the fried olives and mushroom bruschetta! They don't take reservations, and the wait can be long on Friday and Saturday nights but worth checking out. Same owners as Roberto Passon, which I've also heard is good.

                Chanpen: delicious, reasonably priced Thai restaurant on corner of 9th and 51st and. Love their tom yum soup and curries, especially the yellow curry dishes.

                Five Napkin Burger: right next door to Nizza, good burgers, fries, onion rings, etc. Cute and newish space, lively scene on weekend evenings but I've gotten a table for 3 with <30 minutes wait at the bar.

                5 Replies
                1. re: smartpalate77

                  I would have mentioned Nizza, but I've only been for brunch. Looking forward to dinner there next time!
                  I've heard wonderful things about BdB! Man, I miss the old hood.


                  1. re: smartpalate77

                    I was wrong about Bocca di bacco - they do take reservations! Sorry!

                    1. re: smartpalate77

                      Thanks smartpalate! Was looking for a place for pre-theatre dinner this past Thursday evening and saw your posting.
                      Nizza is nothing short of an excellent choice for their reasonable food, large portions and prompt service.
                      We had the Socca which was good not great and a Veal and Chicken dish that were $15-$17 each - which I find very reasonable especially for the large portion. Both of these dishes were excellent.
                      The resto' was very busy, I'd recommend making a reservation as there were no empty tables @7 p.m. and keep in mind that there are a lot of people in a small place ~ so it's a little loud.
                      My only complaint is that I live in Middlesex County NJ where there are no restaurants of this quality, especially considering the cost.

                      1. re: eatinman

                        Hey eatinman - glad you enjoyed Nizza!

                        Have you checked out the restaurant scene in Montclair, NJ? Not sure how far a trip that would be for you, but it's worth checking out sometime - quite a foodie-oriented town, maybe due to the large influx of ex-Manhattanites. I lived there for a couple of years and had lots of great meals.

                        My favorite Italian restaurant in Montclair is Trattoria Giotto, on Midland Ave about 1 block north of the intersection with Bloomfield Ave. Excellent blend of traditional and modern Italian dishes (not a heavy red sauce place) - I would actually choose it over most NYC Italian restaurants!

                        The chef is from Italy and trained there, the staff is wonderful, and it's a very inviting and nicely designed space. They make their own pastas, including fabulous gnocchi. There was a bit of a wait on Christmas Eve one year - people were having a great time and evidently didn't want to vacate their tables - and after our meal the hostess presented us with a bottle of olive oil and a panettone as a "thank you for your patience"!

                        Another great place is Tuptim (thai) on Bloomfield Ave.

                        1. re: smartpalate77

                          Thanks for the recommendations smartpalate77.
                          While we don't get up to Montclair often, we will try Trattoria Giotto - as we're always looking for very good Italian resto's and although there are many (actually to many) Italian restaurants in New Jersey - most of them are mediocre at best. We do eat at Tuptim, Thai Chef and stop at the Belmont Tavern - for real Chicken Savoy and a taste of what NJ was like many years ago.