The Best of Midtown Manhattan: Where to Eat Near Bryant Park

Photo: John Gillespie

Bryant Park is something of an oasis in Manhattan—the New York Public Library and wide open space (when not occupied by an ice skating rink) offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of midtown. That the park is dangerously close to Times Square means that most of its surrounding food options are counter-serve chains, ranging from Starbucks and Panera to Le Pain Quotidien and Pret A Manger. There’s no shortage of sandwiches and salads, but what if you’re looking for food that’s more than just fuel? Here’s our pick of restaurants near Bryant Park, from one-of-a-kind sandwicheries to authentic Asian eats and a taste of old New York.

Cafe Zaiya

1073 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY

Located on the second floor of the bookstore Kinokuniya, Cafe Zaiya is more of a Japanese bakery than anything else. Though cream puffs and flaky, donut-like pastries are the speciality, the café, which has a nearby location close to Grand Central, is a go-to for lunch with savory options like premade bento boxes and onigiri, seaweed-wrapped rice balls.

Good for: To-go Japanese lunch

What to get: One of the bento boxes, a to-go lunchbox with any combination of fish, meat, rice, and vegetables.


Photo: Bento box at Cafe Zaiya (credit: Stu Spivack)

Untamed Sandwiches

43 W 39th St, New York, NY

If you’re a sandwich eater, you can thank Untamed Sandwiches for saving you from the banality of fast-casual lunch chains. Since opening its doors in January 2015, this specialist of slow-braised meat has been drawing armies of desk job folk during peak lunch hours for sandwiches, hearty and creative in both name and ingredients. The wood-lined space is casual and small with less than 20 stools, split between a communal table and window seating. It’s open for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, so you might as well stop by on a hungover Friday morning for an egg sandwich.

Good for: Workday lunch, to sit or to go

What to get: The Hot Goldie, beef short-rib, red onion, sweet and sour cabbage, black pepper aioli on ciabatta roll

Keen’s Steakhouse

72 W 36th St, New York, NY

Of all the New York steakhouses dotted around Midtown Manhattan, Keen’s is the one to try for a taste of old New York. It’s been around since 1885, and everything about the place resembles a traditional dinner club, from the white tablecloths and wood-paneled walls to its mutton chops and creamed spinach specialities.

Good for: A classy steak dinner

What to get: Go surf and turf with an order of oysters and the legendary mutton chop.


Photo: Keen’s Steakhouse (credit: Edsel Little)


141 W 41st St, New York, NY

If you’re craving Japanese and have time to sit and stay a while, consider Ootoya, an outpost of a Tokyo izakaya chain. The menu features the Japanese equivalent of comfort food, specializing in set menus consisting of a main dish like breaded and deep-fried pork or chicken, served with miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables, and egg custard. There’s sushi, soba, udon and more, making it a one-stop shop for a well-priced and satisfying Japanese meal.

Good for: Reasonably-priced sit-down lunch or dinner

What to get: Tonkatsu teishoku (set meal with breaded pork loin) or homemade soba

Szechuan Gourmet

The name might be ordinary, the outdoor facade drab, and the interior basic, but Szechuan Gourmet on 39th Street is one of New York’s most authentic spots for spicy cuisine. You don’t come here for General Tso’s chicken (though it is on the menu and very good), but for fiery Szechuan specialities.

21 W 39th St, New York, NY

Good for: A casual sit-down for hot and spicy authentic Chinese

What to get: The tea-smoked duck, sliced pork belly with chili leeks, and ma po tofu with chili-minced pork.

Latest in New York

New York

‘The Design Hotels Book 2020’ Fêtes 25 Years of Visionary Hospitality

New York

Luxurious New Playboy Club Coming to New York

New York

10 Unforgettable Met Gala Moments Throughout the Years

New York

Andy Cohen Will Replace Kathy Griffin to Host New Year’s Eve With Anderson Cooper

New York

Eliot Glazer is Giving “Haunting Renditions” of “Mambo No. 5”

New York

‘Black Lives Matter Art Show’ On Through Early September

New York

John Varvatos on Urban Romantics, and the Death of the Uniform

New York

John Elliott’s S/S 17 Pairs Pastels with Pool Boys