Travel

Times Square Specialty

Establishment neighborhood
Balade Your Way
144 W. 37th St., Times Square
The first thing that makes this fast-casual Midtown spot stand out is the beautiful space—the tiny sliver of a restaurant is sleek and modern, with a dark wood bar and a concrete checkout counter. From the service counter in the back, you can combine a selection of Middle Eastern appetizers and mains (which you'll eat over rice), combining elements like chicken shawarma, hummus, za'atar flatbread, lamb keba, and more. It's a refreshing alternative to the make-your-own-salad daily lunch grind.
City Kitchen
700 8th Ave., Times Square
This food market in Times Square occupies the first floor of the Row NYC Hotel. The place opened in March with nine vendors from all different parts of the city that occupy tiny outposts with simplified menus in one larger marketplace. It's not at all touristy, but the food is excellent—Luke's Lobster, Whitman's (their burgers are great), and Kuro Obi (a tiny concept shop from Ippudo ramen) all have stalls. Gabriela's serves breakfast tacos and hot coffee if you're stopping by early.
Culture Espresso
72 W. 38th St., Times Square
The garment district isn’t exactly known for a stellar specialty coffee scene, so the fact that there are two excellent options a mere block from each other is pretty great. Culture Espresso is the original, but it’s snug, which means you might have to wait for a seat. The newer and significantly bigger Culture 36 is ideal for getting stuff done, if you don’t mind the semiloud music. Both locations brew Heart Coffee Roasters coffee and serve Culture's famous house-baked chocolate chip cookies (they sell out fast, so come on the earlier side).
Murray’s Cheese Shop
Grand Central Station, 43rd St. and Lexington Ave., Times Square
Murray's seems to import every conceivable cheese in production for public consumption, and has a staff that can happily walk you through (and sample) all of them. There are cheese cave tours offered for those who want to learn even more and delicious sandwiches—or melts—for anyone who wants more than just a few hunks of the good stuff. While they supply most of Manhattan with their cheese plate offerings, they also ship across the states. The original and main location is in the West Village.
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