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Pre-Theater Dinner Spot

Looking for recommendations for a place to eat before an 8pm curtain at 45th and 8th. We don't mind traveling a distance if there is a must try place outside of the the theater district. Looking to spend 150pp or less before alcohol/tax/tip. Basically willing to spend up to 150 for the right place, but also interested in cheaper places if the food is great. Ideally wanting to have either Italian, French, or American cuisine. First choice would be italian, but it doesn't seem like there are too many great italian places nearby. Trip is in mid-June, so hopefully it's not too soon to exclude all those restaurants that book up fast. Places we have enjoyed in the past include Del Posto, Balthazar, Thalia, and ABC Kitchen, but we would like to try somewhere new.

I've been looking through the previous threads, and have compiled a list of a few places I thought might be good based on previous comments, and I would love any comments or other suggestions.

The Modern
Le Bernadin
Osteria Al Doge
Gramercy Tavern
Peasant
Rubirosa

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  1. Not in the district but close enough...

    Marea
    Lincoln
    Betony
    Ma Peche
    NoMad
    Taboon
    Gotham West Market
    The Marshal

    Last 2 are not in the same league as the rest but can be considered for a fun meal fairly close to the event

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ziggy41

      +1 for Ma Peche and Betony for pre-theatre.

    2. That's a bit of an odd list.

      Peasant and Rubirosa are way south of your theater, and not places I would necessarily consider "travel worthy".

      Modern, Le Bernadin and GT are solid options. To those I would add Betony, Vitae, and Aureole, esp if you want modern American.

      1. Ai Fiori is a 20 minute walk

          1. Hate to be a downer but when I think about dining at the places you mention, dinner is the theater of the night. When we go to theater, given the time restraints, we eat rather than dine. To my way of thinking, you need to leave at least a half hour to get from the restaurant to the theater and get settled. That means exiting the restaurant at seven thirty. Even if your reservation is for five thirty, that leaves only two hours to dine; Barely enough time at a place like Le Bernadin or Gramacy.

            Why not do what many New Yorkers do and grab a quick meal at one of the theater district's more than adequate places ( Nizza, Five Napkin and Saju come to mind) and make the play the centerpiece of your evening? Or if time allows, go to one of the places on your list for lunch, kill some time ( after all, The Modern is next door to MOMA) and have a light meal, pre-theater.

            What ever you do, enjoy.

            3 Replies
            1. re: toby1355

              Totally agree, toby1355. Given the distance of some of the places mentioned I doubt you could even eat early enough without a rush to get to the theater in time. Places like The Modern or Del Posto merit an entire evening!

              1. re: toby1355

                I totally agree with your concept, although Ma Peche might work simply because it is dim sum. We tend to prefer small plates pre-theater or sushi because you don't get weighed down and fall asleep during the theater (although we have done Five Napkin pre and post theater). Recently went to yakitori totto before Manhattan theater club, would recommend similar types of places. Thai is also a nice idea.

                1. re: toby1355

                  While I agree with this advice, we have to be cognizant of the fact that many people who ask for advice on pre-theater dining choices, such as the OP, may be only in town for 1 or 2 nights and want to cram as many activities into 24 hours as possible.

                  So while doing a nice lunch and then a light snack before curtain call would be the most relaxed option, the OP may not have such a leisurely schedule as she may already have lunch plans, and wants to squeeze in another notable restaurant at dinner *and* catch a Broadway show.

                  NYC is not cheap, and for many it's a once in a very long time destination kind of place.

                  What a local New Yorker does is not necessarily apt advice for what a tourist will want or should do.

                2. I know others have said it would be a rush but I certainly think you could do a 5PM rez at The Modern and take 2.5 hrs to enjoy it; honestly that's a bit quicker than our usual pace but I don't think you would be rushed (or rushing), based upon our recent lunch I would strongly recommend it, it would also be a lovely way to start your evening and it's an easy 15 min walk to the theater. I think Betony, which we also absolutely love, would be tougher to pull off because dinner service doesn't start until 5:30.

                  1. Thanks for all your responses!

                    I totally understand about some of these places being very time consuming and better as the main event for the evening; however, as ipsedixit says, we are only in town a few days and don't want to "lose" a meal due for a show if at all possible... Rubirosa and Peasant were on the list based on some other recommendations, but sounds like they aren't worth going to.

                    Lincoln, Betony, Marea, and Ai Fiori all look good, and it sounds like The Modern is also very good. Among those, are there some that would be more do-able as pre-theater than others? Planning on making a reservation for 5pm and giving ourselves about 30 min. to get to the theater.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kcdkcd

                      I totally understand the challenge now...Spiritchaser's suggestion of a very early dinner at The Modern and then a walk to the theater sounds like a great idea!