44th Street between 8th and 9th is just off the beaten path enough to have some good dining and drink options along with a rich history in the film and recording industry. This block was once home to offices of 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Record Plant – the recording studio that revolutionized the recording industry, where Jimi Hendrix recorded Electric Ladyland and where John Lennon recorded “Walking On Thin Ice” the day he was shot and killed.
Todd English serves the Theater District well at Ça Va, a French brasserie serving as the restaurant for the InterContinental Hotel, meaning so-so hotel decor and 3 meals a day.The dinner pre fixe is your best bet and a great way to try out some of the more interesting menu options for the more adventurous diner. Don’t expect accommodating service – it seems the staff is happier daydreaming about that standing ovation they’re hoping for after their next stint on Broadway.
This Japanese BBQ Chain gets two thumbs up for reasonable pricing and a run place to take the kids. A menu geared toward the American taste bud
is what has made this place such a success around the country (know your audience, right?) along with the experience of grilling your own food right at the table. It’s not authentic, but who cares? You’ll have a great time with nearly anyone you bring of any age (except maybe the food snob in your life).
321 W 44th Street – New York Beer Company
This pretty massive bar near Times Square features fluctuating beer prices featured on a ticker board. Prices go up with popularity,
but it seems like even the least popular selections are selling for more than we’d like to pay for. Most try to ignore the gimmicky theme and agree that this is actually a decent neighborhood hangout, if Times Square is your ‘hood. *Come early and snag the table with its own tap.
339 W 44th Street – Smokey Burger
This recently opened burger shop sports organic burgers piled high with organic toppings. Options range from beef to ostrich and lamb, but with average prices hitting the $17 mark before even a side of fries some are looking around at the fast casual setting waiting for even the tiniest slice of truffle or hint of foie gras to justify the prices.
339 W 44th Street – One Thai Chef
It would seem that the above restaurant and One Thai Chef share more than an address – what does the same owner mean for these two new restaurants? Only time will tell; but my advice is that they both lower their prices – stat.
352 W 44th Street – Etcetera Etcetera
Etcetera Etcetera stands a bit apart from the other mundane pre-theater options in the area with a neighborhood feel despite its proximity to Broadway and the Theater District.
The menu reads to please – something for every taste with standard Italian favorites at reasonable prices. The pasta will satisfy every time, but most locals suggest leaving this place to the out of town crowd.
356 W 44th Street – Harley’s (f.k.a. The Irish Rouge)
The second of two locations for Harley’s (the original located in East Harlem), this newly opened BBQ haunt features a surprisingly large menu of cheap-o BBQ. A $14 dollar brunch special including two drinks might just be the best deal on the block!
357 W 44th Street – Reunion Surf Bar
Don’t miss the understated entrance of Reunion Surf bar on 44th St. This bar, named after a tiny volcanic island off the coast of Africa which happens
to be a prime locale for catching serious waves, serves surf inspired cuisine (think Hawaiian surf shack) that would satisfy any hungry dude or dudette. Some complain that this place isn’t what it used to be, now that the shubees have taken over.
358 W 44th Street – Don Giovanni
Ok, so it’s not the best you’ve ever had but you’ll find something for everyone at this red sauce Italian serving all the basics including pizzas and heroes.
Geared toward the out of town crowd due to its proximity to Times Square, it might just work if you don’t know what you’re missing elsewhere.
358 W 44th Street (Upstairs) – The Producers Club
This storefront rental space for off-Broadway productions features 5 theaters and a downstairs bar/lounge area. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of shows from Shakespeare to comedy to the Avant Garde. The digs could use some updating, but most agree it just adds to the charm.
630 9th Avenue (@ 44th Street) – Marseille
Around since 2001 Marseille has been supplying Hells Kitchen with dependable French fare with an emphasis on the cuisine of its namesake port city.
Brunch is the standout, especially during the summer to take advantage of the prime 9th avenue people watching. Executive chef and partner Andy D’Amico
seems to have taken over the block (of 9th Avenue) with restaurant openings at every store front. (See: Nizza and Five Napkin Burger).