It’s the quintessential New York tradition and the quintessential Christmas tradition: Gathering the family to see the high-kicking Rockettes in the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The annual wintertime show, a fixture since 1933, features 100-plus performers, animals, and songs, and of course those Rockettes. And what’s a day at the theater without something to eat? Here are some great spots for you and your family to dine near Radio City Music Hall.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink Near Radio City Music Hall
Need a restaurant recommendation before seeing the Rockettes? Head to these bars and restaurants.
Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room
Let’s say you’re looking for old-time New York holiday traditions. And let’s say you want to do it up right. Then the real pairing for a show at the glittering Art Deco palace that is Radio City is drinks and a bite at the rooftop Jazz Age temple that is the Rainbow Room, atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza, right next door. The Rainbow Room itself is these days open only for special events. But Bar SixtyFive, a smaller space right next door to the famous big room, is open Sunday through Friday nights for cocktails, small plates (plus some not so small), and truly amazing views.
Rock Center Café
For a Rockefeller Center eating experience that’s quintessentially New York but just a bit less elegant (and alcoholic), there’s the pair of restaurants alongside the famous skating rink, in the complex’s concourse. The Rock Center Café, on the north side of the rink, offers solid, all-American food in a classy but family-friendly environment with skaters whirling away just on the other side of the glass. You don’t get much more winter-in-New York than this.
If your all-American tastes run even more all-American, don’t forget the ‘21’ Club, right around the corner from Radio City. The former speakeasy has been a Midtown landmark since 1930 and a hangout for titans (including, for better or worse, our current president) who like a solid steak and an ice-cold martini. You’re there as much for the experience as for the food, and both are worth the money (if you’re comfortable spending a lot of money). Men should remember that jackets are required.
For a lighter bite right in the center of Rock Center — or at least a quicker one — there’s Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. Keller is the legendary chef behind The French Laundry in Napa and Per Se in New York, and his offshoot bakeries share their dedication to great food, if not their decadence and expense. Expect solid grab-and-go sandwiches, soups, and salads, plus amazingly good pastries in this spot right opposite the Today show studio. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, but not a ton of it.
If you’re really doing up your night, head just a few blocks away to The Modern, Danny Meyer’s elegant, high-end restaurant in the Museum of Modern Art. It’s probably the classiest spot on this list, and it’ll make for a great special night. In the main sleek, modernist dining room, overlooking MoMA’s sculpture garden, there’s French-inspired New American cuisine and stately service. The up-front barroom offers similar food with a hipper, almost Euro vibe. If you’re not up for a full meal, the long bar is a great place to stop for a glass of wine and — trust us on this one — a gooey, bacony tarte flambée.
For a different kind of high-end dining, try Benoit, located just a few blocks north of Radio City. It’s a classic French bistro from the internationally acclaimed French chef Alain Ducasse. It’s on the low end for Ducasse — no menu of pens to choose from when signing your check, like at his now-shuttered high-gloss establishment — but well-made traditional French dishes like pâté en croûte and poulet rôti, plus some modern interpretations. If you’re seeing a matinee of the Christmas Spectacular, there’s also a very well-priced two- or three-course lunchtime prix fixe.
Tony's Di Napoli
And sometimes you don’t want to go too fancy; you just want to stuff your face with your family and friends. (Thanksgiving every day!) That’s where Tony’s Di Napoli comes in. The Times Square standby — but east of Times Square, just a bit south of Radio City — is an old-time Italian joint, a boisterous spot with overflowing platters of food. The service is friendly, the vibe is fun, and, because each dish can serve two or three, the bill ends up being surprisingly reasonable.
In some ways the least fancy spot in the neighborhood is also the most fun. By now, the Burger Joint, hidden inside the Parker Meridien, isn’t really much of a secret anymore. But part of its pleasure is that we all agree to pretend it is. The unpretentious burger-and-fries stand is still hidden, unmarked, and behind a big curtain in the (somewhat pretentious) lobby of a grand Midtown hotel. The lines can be long, but things move quickly, and the juicy burgers and crispy fries are worth whatever wait there is. There’s only one real dilemma: In December’s cold, are you up for a milkshake, too?
The Red Flame Diner
Or you could go old-school for your burger needs. Just off Sixth Avenue a few blocks south of Radio City lies one of New York’s great old-fashioned Greek diners. With a recent(ish) renovation, the Red Flame is clean and bright, but it’s still a stereotypical — and excellent — greasy spoon. Get a cup of matzo ball soup. Get a turkey club. Get a grilled cheese deluxe or a dripping-with-fat bacon cheeseburger. It’ll be a great version of any of the classics, at a reasonable (for Midtown) price, and, if you’re lucky, your waitress will call you “sweetheart.”
Or you could skip it all and just have dessert. A branch of the famous Magnolia Bakery took up residence a few years back in a corner of Rockefeller Center just down Sixth from the music hall. They’re known for their cupcakes, of course, fresh out of the oven. But the real cognoscenti will tell you the banana pudding is the way to go. You might say it’s spectacular.