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If you ask us, New York City is the best place in the world to be when exploring, seeing shows, and eating. But here at the center of the universe, how do you avoid eating like a tourist? No worries, we’re here to help. We’re sharing our secrets about where to eat in Times Square. We’ve rounded up the 10 best non-touristy, authentic local restaurants and bars to dine in when you’re in and around Times Square (perhaps because you’re on your way to a Broadway show, or because you’re playing host to people who’ve never been here before). Experience the real city and its beating heart – and eat like a true New Yorker!

where do real New Yorkers eat when they’re in Times Square?

We all love to make fun of Times Square. It’s a New York tradition. But today, we’re going to let you in on a little secret: it’s actually not all that bad.

Best restaurants and bars in Times Square with an authentic local vibe, where real New York residents go when they're in the neighborhood.

Best restaurants and bars in Times Square with an authentic local vibe, where real New York residents go when they’re in the neighborhood.

In addition to the Broadway shows – and let’s be honest, that’s the only reason you’re going to Midtown, anyway – Times Square is also home to a number of fantastic restaurants. Who would have thought? And if you don’t know what they are, don’t worry – we’re happy to share the secret.

The next time you have tickets to the theater, consider grabbing a meal at one of these ten spots. You can avoid the tourists (well, mostly), and maybe even start to change your mind about Times Square. Here’s where to eat like a real New Yorker in Times Square.

secrets shared: the10 best restaurants in Times Square that locals love

1. Zillions Pizza

As the New Yorkers know, there’s nothing like a slice of pizza. Especially in our great city. And if pizza’s what you’re craving, you’ve got to try the slices at 42nd street shop, Zillions. Though they’re short on tables – they have a couple inside, and a couple out front – they’re the perfect place to scarf down some five-star slices before curtain. We’re big fans of the Hot Damn – spicy tomato sauce, ricotta, oregano, scotch bonnet honey, and jalapeno – but all their pies are winners. Order a full pie or individual slices, and make sure to try their garlic cheese bread.

2. Los Tacos No. 1

Okay, the tourists might have found out about this one. But that’s only because Los Tacos No. 1 has the best tacos in the city – and this time we don’t mean “some of the best,” or “one of the best”; we mean the very best. And can you believe they’re right in Times Square? Choose between steak, chicken, pork, and grilled cactus tacos, and you’ll have one of the best meals of your life in under thirty minutes.

Where to find the best restaurants and bars in Times Square with an authentic local vibe and real New Yorkers.

3. All’Antico Vinaio

All’Antico Vinaio is deceptive. You may see the crowds snaking out the door and think that they’re another tourist trap, but trust us: this place is for the locals. And by the locals, we mean the people of Florence, Italy, where this extraordinary sandwich shop first started. But boy are we grateful we get to have them in New York. These sandwiches are stuffed with the most surprising ingredients – think pistachio cream – and every single one of them is a hit. There aren’t a lot of places to sit, but if you choose your moment right, you can snag a seat at the counter.

4. Pure Thai Cookhouse

If you’re looking to have a sit-down meal near Times Square, you won’t find better than Pure Thai Cookhouse. This intimate space is located just a little further north – in the low 50’s, on Ninth Avenue – so you may want to budget a little extra time if this is where you choose to eat. And it’ll be worth it. Their dishes are inspired by the farmlands of Phayao, Thailand, and we can’t get enough of their handmade noodles. You’ll definitely want to ask about the daily specials, and share mango with coconut sticky rice for dessert.

5. Peachy Keen

Feeding some picky eaters? Check out Peachy Keen. Their menu aims to please, with crowd pleasers like mac and cheese, fried burrata, burgers, wings, salads, and other comfort food favorites. There’s a ‘70s theme, and the bright, colorful aesthetic will leave you feeling full of show-ready energy. And so will the sugar-loaded milkshakes.

Best restaurants and bars in Times Square with an authentic local vibe, where real New York residents go when they're in the neighborhood.

Best restaurants and bars in Times Square with an authentic local vibe, where real New York residents go.

6. S. Kitchen

Calling all vegans! P.S. Kitchen’s menu is entirely plant-based, and they’re going to be your home-away-from-home in Times Square. Which seems like kind of a strange thought, but we’re into it. They’re serving up vegan versions of all your favorite foods, including burgers, burritos, pastas, and even chicken pot pie. And they’re all delicious. If you’ve been struggling to find meat-free options in Midtown, look no further.

7. Lovely’s Old Fashioned

Lovely’s Old Fashioned is relatively new to the neighborhood, and we’re so glad they’re here. And so is everyone else. They keep it simple at Lovely’s, offering burgers, fries, onion rings, patty melts, hot dogs, and one yummy vegetarian option (a Pastrami-spiced mushroom sandwich). If you need a quick meal – which is often the case before a show – but you want to sit down, Lovely’s little counter offers the perfect compromise. You can find a seat, and enjoy one of their dainty (and delicious!) burgers in ten minutes or less. But a word to the wise – you may want to order more than one.

8. Farida

Farida might be one of the city’s most underrated restaurants – and we’re glad they’re close enough to Times Square that we can consider them for a pre-show meal. They’re the only purveyor of Halal Central Asian cuisine in Manhattan, serving. fabulous dishes from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. This is a great place to come with a big group, so you can share as many appetizers – fried vareniki, lamb meat pies, puff pastries, and more – as possible. And if you find you want to come back so that you can try more of the menu? Take that as an excuse to see another show.

Best restaurants and bars in Times Square with an authentic local vibe, where real New York residents go when they're in the neighborhood. 

Where to eat in Times Square if you want restaurants and bars that real New Yorkers frequent.

9. Urban Hawker

When you have Urban Hawker, you don’t really need any other restaurants. This is a food hall modeled after the hawker centers in Singapore, and filled with more delicious options than you could possibly eat before a Broadway show. You’ll spend at least fifteen minutes checking out the numerous stalls – and hopefully you’ll still have some time to eat. Current vendors include Yum Yubu, Daisy’s Dream, Dim Sum Darling, Ashes Burnnit, Hainan Jones, and many more – plus one of our all-time favorite bakeries, Lady Wong. Food halls are perfect for groups because then everyone can find the thing they want to eat, and Urban Hawker is almost definitely the best food hall in New York. Don’t knock them as a pre-show destination.

10. The Lambs Club

If you’re looking for an upscale, classic New York meal – try The Lambs Club. Times Square has its fair share of nice restaurants, but we think this is the one you should try. They offer inventive takes on favorite dishes, as well as honoring the storied history of the building. For a night that feels special, this is the one.

where real New Yorkers go to eat in Times Square

Those are our recommendations on the best restaurants, bars and other eateries in or around Times Square if your goal is to eat like a local New Yorker at a place with an authentic local vibe. We promise, we frequent these places ourselves when we’re in the neighborhood. Enjoy!

Abbie Martin Greenbaum

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer, reader, and pop culture connoisseur, who loves storytelling, coffee, and dessert. Her work has also appeared in Playbill.