Broadway is back and better than ever. For the ultimate dinner and a show experience, writer Meryl Pearlstein shares the list of her favorite restaurants in the theater district in New York City with Real Food Traveler readers plus her tips for the best shows to see now.
New York theatergoers joyfully returned to Broadway in 2022 after a closure of 18 months. 2023 promises to be even more jubilant. With the many openings scheduled for this spring along with continuing and long-running shows, theatergoers have a robust selection of plays and musicals to enjoy.
As any good theatergoer knows, choosing where you dine before or after a play or musical is an important decision. Here I provide some of my favorites to help you secure reservations once you have your tickets in hand.
Best Restaurants in the Theater District in NYC: Near Broadway and Lincoln Center
If you’re heading to Broadway:
Toloache – for contemporary Mexican cuisine with one of the most extensive tequila and mezcal selections in New York City, Chef Julian Medina brings you Toloache, a well-located and well-priced option on West 50th Street and 8th Avenue. It’s casual, lively, with two levels and a bar perfect for chatting up fellow theater lovers. The restaurant stays open late, too, for the after-theater nightcap.
ICHIRAN – a distinctive concept in Japanese ramen dining, originating in Hakata, Japan, ICHIRAN offers private “focus” booths where you’re encouraged to concentrate on the intricate flavors of your meal. If you’ve ever felt self-conscious about slurping while enjoying, you’ll have no worries here. Veggie and meat versions are offered. The line forms early for this popular, inexpensive eatery.
Joe Allen – The consummate theater-lover restaurant experience, Joe Allen sits on Restaurant Row (West 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues) and has been providing comfort food and beverage to theatergoers and theater folks for almost 60 years. Posters of Broadway flops adorn the walls. You might just see one of your favorite Broadway actors finishing out the evening with a glass of wine here. Reservations pre-theater are a must, and the restaurant stays open late after the shows let out.
Marseille – Sitting just west of the Broadway theaters, this 20-year-old French brasserie shows off the flavors of Provence in a stylish setting. Open late, too, the restaurant caters to both the Broadway and off-Broadway theater crowd. If you’re short on time, the bar is a delightful stop for oysters and a glass of wine from Marseille’s extensive cellar.
At Lincoln Center:
Tatiana – The newest dining establishment in Lincoln Center itself, Tatiana is located on the ground floor of the New York Philharmonic’s David Geffen Hall, across the plaza from the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The crowd is more dressed up than in other places, blending with the beautiful dining room. The elevated African- and Latin-influenced menu has an elevated price tag to match. Enjoy an adventurous, splurgy evening here.
Café Fiorello – Popular Café Fiorello has indoor and outdoor seating and stays open late for post-theater dining. The menu is a trip through Italy with pastas, meat and fish dishes, and more. But the standouts are the choices on the restaurant’s unique antipasto bar where you can create your own plant-forward meal. Additionally, the restaurant’s über-thin crust pizzas will have you asking why you hadn’t discovered them sooner.
How to Keep on Top of Broadway News
Some shows have limited runs. Others are still in previews with official openings planned in time for Tony Award consideration. The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards® on June 11 will take place at Harlem’s historic United Palace Theater. Tickets are available on Telecharge, or watch on CBS, livestream, or on demand at Paramoun.t+.
Download the TKTS app for real-time listings at the Theater Development Organization’s discount, day-of ticket booths at Father Duffy Square just north of Times Square, or at their Lincoln Center location.
For a refresher on everything Broadway, the new Museum of Broadway, just steps from Times Square, is an interactive celebration of the history, behind-the-scenes views and Broadway’s game changers. On display are hundreds of rare costumes, props and artifacts dating from 1732 to today.
Here is the latest roundup of ongoing, new or soon-to-open shows.
A Beautiful Noise, the Neil Diamond Musical – Broadhurst Theatre
A fun jukebox musical for fans of Neil Diamond, A Beautiful Noise follows the singer-songwriter over 50 years from his earliest days in Brooklyn along the path to his astronomical rise as musical superstar. Through the lens of conversations with his therapist, the artist’s trials and successes are illustrated through the Neil Diamond songbook with favorites like “Sweet Caroline,” “America” and “Cracklin’ Rosie.”
A Doll’s House – Hudson Theatre
The well-known Henrik Ibsen drama, in a new version by Amy Herzog, stars Academy Award ® winner Jessica Chastain. Shocking when it appeared in the late 1800s, the play is now as relevant as ever. The play’s limited run has been extended through June 4.
Aladdin – New Amsterdam Theatre
One of two Disney super shows currently on Broadway, Aladdin is celebrating its tenth year. A great introduction to live theater for viewers of all ages, the musical is the consummate tour of adventure mixed with song. You’ll recognize larger-than-life Genie’s “You’ve Never Had a Friend Like Me” and Aladdin’s “I Can Show You The World.”
& Juliet – Stephen Sondheim Theatre
Created by the writer of “Schitt’s Creek,” jukebox musical-comedy & Juliet asks the question, what would Juliet do if she reinvented her life without Romeo? Is Romeo totally out of the picture? You’ll have to see this musical to find out. Pop hit after hit (28 in total!) will keep you smiling and rooting for Juliet with anthems like “Since U Been Gone,” “Baby One More Time,” “It’s My Life” and “Roar.” Lorna Courtney is fabulous as the rambunctious Juliet with a fun, unusual pop turn by opera singer Paolo Szot.
Bad Cinderella – Imperial Theatre
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new West End musical about a feisty Cinderella has finally arrived on Broadway. Set in Belleville where everyone is beautiful, Cinderella stands out in more than one way.
Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ – The Music Box Theatre
With Tony Award-winning choreography by Bob Fosse, Dancin’ returns to Broadway after its original 1978 run. Reimagined for the 21st century, the show is 120 minutes of wall-to-wall dance and songs selected by Fosse.
The Book of Mormon – Eugene O’Neill Theatre
Do you love South Park? Then this play-cum-musical is a must for you. A little offensive and a lot crazy, the show irreverently tells the tale of two Mormon missionaries who have been given their first “conversion” assignments far far away from their hometowns. It’s hard to believe the show opened over a decade ago – The Book of Mormon won 11 Tony Awards in 2011.
Chicago – Ambassador Theatre
Kander and Ebb’s utterly contemporary-feeling musical has been running for over 26 years. No matter how many times you see Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly and their murderous cohorts sing about what landed them in jail, the show is as fresh and sexy as ever. If you can, try to imagine Joel Grey, the original Mr. Cellophane, when you watch the razzle dazzle. The choreography by Bob Fosse is legendary. You’ll be singing “All That Jazz” when you leave the theater.
Funny Girl – August Wilson Theatre
No, it’s not Barbra Streisand on stage in this beloved musical. Tony-nominated actress Lea Michele is perfectly cast as Fanny Brice, marking a return of Funny Girl to Broadway after its debut 60 years ago. The story is an uplifting one: Fanny Brice, a girl from the Lower East Side, dreams of life on the stage and succeeds. Tovah Feldshuh plays Fanny’s supportive mother. The book is legendary Broadway, newly revised by Harvey Fierstein. Closes on September 3.
Hadestown – Walter Kerr Theatre
You might want to brush up on your Greek mythology before seeing Hadestown. Winner of the 2019 Tony Award for Best Musical, the unusual, haunting musical by Anaïs Mitchell tells the story of two couples with disparate love themes. Hades rules the underworld from which Persephone escapes each spring to bring forth flowers above. Orpheus is a songwriter in search of the perfect tune who meets Eurydice, a soul lost in other ways. On-stage musicians present a rollicking New Orleans type score perfect for narrator Hermes, currently played by Tony Award winner Lillias White.
Hamilton – Richard Rodgers Theatre
The show that shattered all records and changed theatrical history is as glorious as ever. Rap, hip hop, ballads, deceit and ambition all mix together in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. If you didn’t know much about Hamilton and his relationship with Aaron Burr before this play arrived on Broadway or streamed on the Disney Channel, you certainly will by the end of this show. Creative staging, stunning costumes and rapid-fire lyrics add to the show’s brilliance. Hamilton won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Musical and has been playing to packed houses ever since.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Lyric Theatre
The wizardry is back, now in one extended performance, filled with special effects you might have thought possible only in film. In this latest chapter of E. K. Rowland’s Harry Potter series, your favorite characters have grown up with their own children to worry about. The rest of the Hogwarts entourage is there, too, along with some new characters. See it twice – once from an orchestra seat and once from the mezzanine where you’ll be gifted with a different view of the spectacular set changes and magic. The play won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Play and continues to delight children of all ages into its fifth year.
Kimberly Akimbo – Booth Theatre
A touching, bittersweet story about a teenager with a rare ailment, Kimberly Akimbo tells a tale of teen angst mixed with an unusual premise: Kimberly ages at an accelerated pace and has a limited time to live. Played by Victoria Clark who appears as an “elderly” teenager through brilliant acting and vocals, Kimberly encounters a bevy of issues from making friends to family relations. The rest of the cast is hilarious – from her quirky pregnant mother to the very “Jersey” aunt fixated on committing mischief which sometimes lands her in jail. Despite all, happiness prevails.
Leopoldstadt – Longacre Theatre
Originally produced in London, Tom Stoppard’s semi-autobiographical story follows one extended family from pre-Nazi, lavish life in the Leopoldstadt quarter in Vienna in 1899 through the traumas of the holocaust and the Diaspora that follows. The many characters flow in and out, developing and growing through the 50-year span of the drama’s three sections. The 19th play by Stoppard on Broadway, this Olivier Award winner is a masterpiece of theater. Closing July 2.
Life of Pi – Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
Originally from the West End and based on the beloved book (and movie) by Yann Martel, the Olivier Award-winning story of survival tells the saga of a cargo ship sinking in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a boy named Pi left stranded with a tiger. The staging, puppetry, and acting will leave you breathless.
The Lion King – Minskoff Theatre
The second of Disney’s gargantuan Broadway hits currently running, The Lion King is a visually striking depiction of the story of the animals living in Pride Land. The characters – Simba, Nala, Timon and Pumba — are familiar from the animated movie of the same name. The show’s standout “Circle of Life” song and procession will stay with you long after you’ve left the theatre. Entering its 26th year, The Lion King is a musical you should see more than once. Opened in 1997, The Lion King was the winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1998.
MJ – Neil Simon Theatre
Popular among Michael Jackson fans worldwide, MJ follows the career of the “King of Pop” while focusing on the making of Jackson’s “Dangerous World” tour. The dancing is spectacular and the songs from the Jackson Five through Michael Jackson’s solo days will have you rocking in your seat. Myles Frost, the first actor to play Michael Jackson in the play, won the 2022 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.
Moulin Rouge – Al Hirschfeld Theatre
An over-the-top, musical interpretation of Baz Luhrmann’s film about decadent literary and nightclub life in Paris, Moulin Rouge is a wondrous romp through the Bohemian lifestyles of its characters. Replete with more than 70 songs that will test your knowledge of pop music, the show rocks with dance, costuming, and superb staging in both the Moulin Rouge and the city beyond. There’s a reason Moulin Rouge won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2020. See it again and again.
Parade – Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Parade moves to Broadway after last year’s successful run at City Center. The story about a newlywed Jewish couple struggling to make a life in the hills of Georgia turns into a test of faith, humanity, justice and devotion when Leo is accused of an unspeakable crime. Starring Ben Platt. Closes August 6.
The Phantom of the Opera – Majestic Theatre
No matter if you’ve been mesmerized by this musical once or five times, the chandelier scene will still have you gasping out loud. A thriller about an opera singer and the masked phantom who yearns to be with her, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musically rich Phantom of the Opera has been a perennial favorite since 1988. After several extensions due to popular demand, this is your last chance to see the 1988 Tony winner for Best Musical — it closes April 16.
Pictures From Home – Studio 54
Broadway powerhouses Nathan Lane, Danny Burstein and Zoë Wanamaker star in this three-person play based on a visual memoir by photographer Larry Sultan. Lane’s son, played by Burstein, documents the life of his parents through ongoing photographic visits much to the annoyance of his curmudgeonly dad. The issues of growing older, evinced by all characters, with doubts and delusions about self-importance or lack of confidence present a haunting portrait of family life and independence. Closes April 30.
Six – Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Six is a rocking musical-concert telling the stories of the six wives of Henry VIII. The transplant from the West End will have you repeating the show’s “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived” chorus over and over again. Which glitter-studded wife deserved to be the king’s favorite? You’ll have to judge yourself. The pop musical is the 2022 winner of the Tony for the Best Original Score Written for the Theatre.
Some Like It Hot – Shubert Theatre
Do you remember Tony Randall, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in the award-winning movie of the same name? No matter if you don’t. This is a must-see, very current update of the film about two musicians witness to a mob hit in gangster-infested Chicago. Forced to take on a disguise as females to join an all-girl band led by the feisty Sweet Sue, Joe/Josephine and Jerry/Daphne travel cross-country where confusion reigns supreme as unexpected love interests intrude. Christian Borle and J. Harrison Ghee are perfect comic foils who tap dance and sing their way through this madcap tale. Adrianna Hicks is superb as Sugar. With sets as vibrant and flawless as the choreography, this musical is a sure-bet for a Tony Award.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
The newest version of the beloved Stephen Sondheim musical about the “demon barber of Fleet Street” stars Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford. Lighting, a duplex set, and the return to full musical orchestration set the stage for these talented actors to entrance and entertain in the nearly three-hour production.
Wicked – Gershwin Theatre
Who doesn’t love the Wizard of Oz? Wicked takes another look at the Man Behind the Curtain story in a prequel about two school chums who grow up to be Glinda the Good Witch and gloriously green Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s a good time to see the show again and refresh your memory – another retelling of the original story, The Wiz is scheduled for the yellow brick road early next year.
Shucked – Nederlander Theatre
What do you get when you pair a semi-neurotic, New York comedy writer with two music superstars from Nashville? A hilarious and audacious farm-to-fable musical about the one thing Americans everywhere can’t get enough of: corn.
CAMELOT – Vivian Beaumont Theater
Lincoln Center’s updated take on the beloved Lerner & Lowe classic features your favorite characters, King Arthur, Queen Guenevere and Sir Lancelot. Who will ever forget, “Camelot” or “If Ever I Would Leave You?” If you’re not familiar with them, now’s your chance. Philippa Soo plays Guenevere.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong – Ethel Barrymore Theatre
The Original Mischief Company arrives for 16 ½ weeks to show off what happens when they try to produce a version of the Wendy and Peter story. From the creators of The Play That Goes Wrong, the show is filled with acrobatics, nonsense, and farce.
Fat Ham – American Airlines Theatre
The Pulitzer Prize winning drama about Black masculinity and queerness is based loosely on Hamlet. Through June 25.
The Thanksgiving Play – Helen Hayes Theatre
When a troupe of well-meaning theater artists attempt to put on a culturally sensitive Thanksgiving school pageant, things get messy. The Thanksgiving Play skewers everything right, wrong and woke in America.
New York, New York – St. James Theatre
Set in 1946, New York, New York follows the lives of artists and dreamers in a resurgent New York, set to a playlist of new songs and big band classics. Music and lyrics by the talented team of Kander and Ebb, with additional lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Good Night, Oscar – Belasco Theatre
Jack Paar hosts shockingly funny character actor and pianist Oscar Levant on The Tonight Show. What transpires will provide late-night show fodder for generations to come. The limited engagement stars Sean Hayes through August 27.
Prima Facie – Golden Theatre
The legal drama export from the West End with themes of sexual violence stars Jodie Comer as a defense attorney.
Once Upon a One More Time – Marquis Theatre
An original musical featuring Britney Spears’ anthems “Oops I Did It Again,” “Toxic” and more. The story “flips the script” on favorite fairytale icons Cinderella, Snow White, Little Mermaid who meet up for their book club.
Here Lies Love – Broadway Theatre
Immersive musical Here Lies Love has guests following actors and dancing through an innovative stage set-up. Based on the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos and the People Power Revolution of the Philippines, Here Lies Love features music by Grammy/Oscar/Tony winner David Byrne and Grammy winner Fatboy Slim. The musical was originally staged at the Public Theater in 2013.
Back to the Future: The Musical – Winter Garden Theatre
Playing concurrently in London, Back to the Future: The Musical is the theatrical version of the classic Michael J. Fox film. Teenager Marty McFly is sent back to 1955 in a DeLorean transformed into a time machine by his friend Doc Brown. To return to the present (or the future as it were), Marty must make sure his teenaged parents fall in love.
Summer, 1976 – Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Emmy-winner Laura Linney stars in this story of two women living in the time of the Bicentennial. One is an artist and single mother, the other is a housewife with visions of independence. Written by David Auburn, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for the play Proof.
Merrily We Roll Along – Hudson Theatre
A revival of Stephen Sondheim’s celebrated musical starring Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff and Lindsay Mendez.
-Story by Meryl Pearlstein