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Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

Illinois
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Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

We will be in NYC (myself and 16 y/o daughter) and will be seeing Wicked one night, Les Mis another night, and a concert at Carnegie Hall on a third night? Do we need to make reservations for dinner before the theater? Usually we just find something we like when we're hungry, but I'm thinking that near the theaters we might need to have reservations.

If so, any recommendations? Just nothing spicy.

Thanks.

Syracuse, New York
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1. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

I have done this both ways. If there is a restaurant I want to eat at definitely, I'll make a reservation.

If I want to wander, NYC has a law that requires all restaurants to post a menu visible from outside. You can just wander & check out the menu & perhaps peek in the wiindow to see if it strikes your fancy. Then if you like it, go in & see if they have any availability.

I recommend being in the restaurant no later than 2 hours before curtain.

Illinois
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2. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

Thanks, cyblume. Does that mean there will likely be availability at restaurants near the theaters? We've usually done it that way in London, but last month we had opera tickets there and everywhere was booked. We ended up finally finding a Thai place, but I didn't want to have to try 20 restaurants before we found one to eat at or get stuck with McDonalds (yuck!).

Les Mis will be Wed, Carnegie Hall Fri, and Wicked Sat, if that matters.

Teaneck, NJ
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3. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

Like cyblume, I've done it both ways and second her(?) advice. With just one or two exceptions, whenever I've made a reservation it turned out to be unnecessary. Now, I don't go to "hot" restaurants but I do go to nice ones and my wife and I try to be in the place by 6:00 PM at the latest and then we don't have a problem.

The immediate area around the Times Square area can be an issue due to the crowds, and the quality of places is generally not the best. But if you just just head over to 9th Avenue between 42nd street and the mid 50s you'll find one place after another, all styles and many price price points. My wife and I usually just start walking down (or up) the street until we find something.

Restaurant Row along 46th between 8th and 9th Avenues has a bunch of places too and they for sure are used to getting people in and out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restaurant_Row_(Manhattan)

Wherever you go, be sure to tell them that you have a show to make.

Re your experience with the opera, there are lots more restaurants in or near the theater district than around Lincoln Center and more price points too

Edited: 24 February 2014, 14:17
New York, NY
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4. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

I would make reservations. NYC is packed these days and pre theatre is often booked up. For the Gerswhin Theatre I recommend Serafina at the Time Hotel - 224 West 49th Street, (212) 247-1000. serafinarestaurant.com‎. For the Imperial try Osteria al Doge, 142 W 44th S.

(212) 944-3643 ‎ osteria-doge.com Or La Masseria, 235 W 48th St (212) 582-2111. lamasserianyc.com For Carnegie Hall try Pazza Notte, 1375 Avenue of the Americas 212) 765-6288, pazzanotte.com. All these restaurants are reasonably priced. I would book reservations and if you happen to be walking by the theatre and see something you prefer or only want to grab a sandwich you can always cancel your reservation. This way you will have the option in case everything is booked up.

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

Here are the facts as I see them.

-there are a lot of mediocre to bad restaurants in the theater district. Unless you walk around with a smartphone and access reviews on yelp and/or menupages or elsewhere, it's hard to know by just looking the good from the bad. How busy/crowded they are is not necessarily a good indication since there are loads of tourists just like you who may not know good from bad.

-Any national chain whose name you recognize is likely to be bad and overpriced in NYC. I'm not talking about fast food like McDonald's (although not the best) but places like Applebees, TGI Fridays, Red Lobster etc. It's not just NYC snobbery but the way the food/ingredients are sourced by the chains and the high prices they pay for rent.

-The theaters you mention are not all in the same location. The Gershwin theater where Wicked plays is further north than most of the other Broadway theaters and Carnegie hall even further.

http://goo.gl/maps/5e8iI

-There are a lot of good ethnic restaurants in Hell's Kitchen, west of the theaters from 8th ave. and further to 9th ave. Poster Ziggy's blog

eatingwithziggy.com

has a good guide to Hell's Kitchen worth reading. Some of the places may not take a reservation.

-it's easier to book a restaurant and cancel it than find one with a table when you need it.

I would book something for each of the nights if you and cancel if you change your mind.

Toloache (Mexican) and Don Antonio (pizza) are 2 I like (and popular on the forum) near Wicked. Capital Grille in the Time Life building is also near Wicked and not that far from Carnegie Hall and has a $39 pre theater dinner that includes steak or lamb chops or salmon. Very nice. Near Les Miz, there's Shake Shack for burgers (no reservations) John's Pizzeria (no reservations for2 ). Joe Allen's for burgers and American food is on restaurant row and a theater district institution. Food is ok. Walls hung with posters of Broadway flops. After theater you may get some celeb sightings.

Brooklyn, NY
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6. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

I agree with Whiz. If you don't want to risk wandering and not finding anythng that suits, I would pick somethng and book. If you're willing to get to the area early and invest some time looking around, and hope you end up someplace good, then it's fine to not make a reservation.

Illinois
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7. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

That's actually an idea I hadn't thought of - making a reservation and cancelling it if we don't end up going. I think in my mind reservations are (were?) set in stone - once you commit to being there you go unless you're in the hospital or something.

Thanks for the suggestions on restaurants as well.

Syracuse, New York
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8. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

One problem on not making a reservation. I wanted to go to Bobby Flay's Bar Americain the last time I was in NYC. I had made a 5:30 dinner reservation & got there about 5:15. I asked for the restroom before I was seated. When I came back to the hostess station, there was a group in front of me who asked about availability & they were told they were fully committed until 9:30.

As far as wandering, that's why I recommend not only looking at the menu but also looking into the restaurant. Even that may not help. I have friends who recommended La Marseilles & I went in for an early seating since it was raining. The place looked really nice but the food was awful.

One never knows, do one?

9. Re: Should we reserve for pre-theater dining?

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