Travel

Times Square

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.
The Royalton
44 W. 44th St., Times Square
Although first built in 1898, the Royalton didn't burst onto the scene really until 1988, when Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck made it one of their projects and decked it out with daring, experimental design that drew a very trendy crowd. In 2007, the hotel underwent its first renovation since Starck's initial vision, with a redesign led by goop favorites Roman & Williams; the dark, moody lobby epitomizes their signature warm, modern style. Meanwhile, the rooms upstairs (larger ones have actual wood-burning fireplaces in the winter) are crisp and light, with white bedding and mirrored bathroom tiles. If you're staying in Midtown but need to be south of all the grand dames off Central Park, it's a great pick.
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.
Muji
620 8th Ave., Times Square
This Japanese export has been quietly opening outposts all over LA and NYC (the tiny to-go kiosk inside JFK's international terminal is particularly genius), though Muji goods have been shoppable at MoMA for years. The stores are simple in both concept and aesthetic: After all the brand is predicated on the idea that the best design is the least design. Minimalist fixtures and neutral color palettes are used to display the most well-designed utilitarian goods—housewares, t-shirts, stationery, and more—that are as functional as they are generic, which allows them to fit in every home regardless of sensibility.
Refinery Rooftop
Refinery Hotel, 63 W. 38th St., Times Square
The Refinery Hotel in Bryant Park has a warm, industrial interior style—an aesthetic that's probably best exemplified by the stunning rooftop, decorated with wooden cupolas (complete with porch swings), round string lights, and plenty of plants and greenery. A retractable glass roof allows for ample open-air space in the summer, but fireplaces keep things cozy in the winter. Even from inside, there's a stunning, close-up view of the Empire State Building.
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