At first glance, the neighboring blocks of Madison Square Garden might feel sparse when it comes to restaurants and food options. But while Penn Station loses out to Grand Central when it comes to aesthetic appeal, the dining and imbibing options are actually superior. Walk east and you’ll find yourself in the culinary mecca of K-Town; west for the hipster dives of Chelsea; south, and you’ll run into the ritzier haunts of the Flatiron District. So if you find yourself in the neighborhood for a particularly epic show or game, fret not — here are 10 long-standing establishments for every type of outing.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink Near Madison Square Garden
The best restaurants and bars if you’re in Midtown for a game or concert.
1. Keens Steakhouse
Nothing says New York like a visit to Keens, a solid competitor in the NYC steak scene. The old-fashioned restaurant is beloved by many a midtowner, collecting regulars who stay loyal for 30 plus years. Dining here is a straightforward affair: Start with oysters, because why not, and move on to the hefty mutton chop or a steak cut of your choice. If you’re still feeling peckish, garnish with fries.
2. The Ginger Man
What this dive bar lacks in ambiance, it makes up in sheer volume of beer. Just look at the stats: 68 brews on tap, plus an extensive bottle and can list, accompanied with your standard bar grub. The beer list might feel overwhelming, but is chock-full of hipster-friendly craft breweries like Other Half, Grimm, and Off Color. Chase your drink of choice with a pretzel for good measure.
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3. Ai Fiori
Ask any pasta lover about Michael White, and they’ll be sure to marvel at how a Wisconsin chef could master the secrets to perfect pasta. And yet, White has become one of the longstanding staples in the NYC Italian scene. Ai Fiori might be a hotel restaurant, but White’s signature pasta and seafood flair shines through. Case in point: The trofie nere, a chewy squid ink pasta mixed with a “crustacean ragu” for delightful results.
4. Pocha 32
K-town’s popular dive pub is the go-to final destination of many a bar crawl — and for good reason. First timers should order the refreshing watermelon soju, which comes in a cored out watermelon shell. Pros, however, arrive already tipsy and order the budae jjigae, a spicy, savory “army stew” with everything a drunk person could ask for: sticky rice cakes, Spam, bowtie pasta, hot dogs, cheese, ramen, and a smatterings of vegetables to make you feel better about your choices. You should arrive with at least four mouths to feed.
5. Hanamizuki Cafe
Hanamizuki is a minimalist’s answer to the quick-service cafe, specializing in omusubi, or rice balls. Here, the humble Japanese snack takes on many forms, from traditional pickled plum and bonito flake-flecked options to the ever-popular spam, tomato, chili, and seaweed concoction (a Hawaiian invention). Your best bet is the set menu, with a modernized miso soup (think mochi-gnocchi or bacon), and a traditional side dish, all perfectly portioned and presented in Instagram-friendly arrangements
6. Grace Street Coffee & Desserts
Nursing a sweet tooth? Grace Street Cafe’s extravagant concoctions might just fix that. Sure they pour excellent affogatos and have an impressive range of tea, but most diners come by for the ho-dduk, a stuffed Korean pancake, or the Mo-chaffle (mochi-waffle), doused with Nutella and topped with strawberries, bananas, and a mountain of whipped cream. On warmer days, opt for the shaved snow, a softer, pillow-y version of shaved ice, with chewy chunks of mochi tossed in for good measure.
7. The NoMad Restaurant
For those of us who can’t afford a meal at Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm’s posh digs at The Nomad Hotel comes close enough. Even without the main library bar attraction (now reserved only for hotel guests), tourists and locals alike can settle into the plush couches of the Nomad Bar for expertly-mixed cocktails and one legendary dish: the decadent roast chicken, served with foie gras, brioche, and a generous helping of black truffle.
8. The Pennsy Food Hall
This spacious food hall, conveniently located right next to Madison Square Garden, recently reopened with a brand new slate of vendors. Ribalta offers their build-your-own personal pizzas, while the Cinnamon Snail goes overkill with ziti-topped burgers. The star of the show, however, might just be Pat LaFrieda, the eponymous sandwich shop of the best-known butcher in New York City. Do yourself a favor and splurge on the steak sandwich; then walk out of the food hall to the neighboring Underwest Donuts for dessert.
9. Haymaker Bar and Kitchen
It’s hard to find a place with great beer, cocktails, and food, but Haymaker manages all three at once. Classic drinks like the refreshing Bees Knees top off the cocktail list, while the 19 beer taps are artfully curated with plenty of local breweries and notable international options. The food menu, however, is decidedly domestic, with southern influences. Servers deliver fried green tomatoes paired ingeniously with burrata, alongside crowd-pleasers like a feta-flecked mac and cheese so good you won’t want to share.
10. Gallow Green
If escaping the New York streets are your thing, meander over to the McKittrick Hotel, home of interactive theater experience Sleep No More. Even without a ticket, you can make your way up to the rooftop bar, where a lush garden, twinkling lights, and an occasional live bands set a romantic scene. Price points might be a bit high, but the stellar view and shareable punch bowls make up for it.