In the 105 years since Grand Central Terminal, or station, transported its first travelers, the iconic transit hub and the streets that surround it have remained among New York City’s busiest footpaths. Only in the wee hours did the Grand Central area fall silent long after the sundown rush. Beyond its nomadic purpose, Grand Central and the streets that surround it have become a thriving culinary endpoint.
Restaurateur Donatella Arapaia chose Grand Central terminal to open her first upscale quick service venture called Prova Pizzabar. “Grand Central Terminal is one of the city’s micro culinary destinations and the streets and avenues within a short walk are lined with great restaurants,” said Arpaia, known for her razor-sharp palate on Iron Chef. “Opening Prova Pizzabar at Grand Central was the perfect location, with an audience eager for a better slice.”
Launching a Grand Central eatery is like the Olympics of restaurant square footage. Arapaia, a first generation Italian, underwent a grueling process of elimination to earn the space. Narrowed down to ten and then three finalists, Arapaia’s pizza prevailed. And yes, Arapaia’s award-winning meatballs are on the menu.
Here are a few Grand Central gems in and around the terminal to try now.
Nothing ruins a commute like feeling too full after grabbing a bite. Maybe that’s why patrons of Prova Pizzabar feel so good. In this bustling pizza revival, the pies contain artisanal grains from Naples, Italy, and involve a long proofing process (prova means proof in Italian). In addition to whole pies at the front counter and the lower concourse 40-seat dining area and bar, guests can also order tiny “love pies” baked to order, which they can personalize. Arapaia also offers homemade pastas, lasagna, salads, and entrées for her menu. Make a reservation at Prova Pizzabar.
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant has remained a draw for New Yorkers on the go for as long as the terminal has been carting passengers. This quintessential New York City bistro is still one of the largest spaces to eat anywhere in town. Guests dine in three seating options on the lower concourse beneath Guastavino-designed vaulted ceilings. There is usually a crowd congregated outside, where, adjacent to the archways, tourists gather to test the Whispering Gallery’s powers of sound. Pop in for a dozen oysters and crisp glass of wine from the bar’s oodles of options. [Ed. note: Don’t miss the pan roast oysters.] Make a reservation at Grand Central Oyster Bar.
For gourmands in search of a convenient lobster and barley porridge or roasted cauliflower with
sea-aged gouda as well as for curious newbies anxious to try something new, it’s tough to beat Agern, which is Danish for acorn. This historic restaurant is located between Vanderbilt Hall and the 42nd street southwestern passageway entrance. In the space that once upon a time was a hairdressing salon, Icelandic chef Gunnar Gíslason tempts diners to try things like slow-cooked pork cheeks with husk cherries and celeriac ravioli. Make a reservation at Agern.
New York Central
Suspended over 42nd Street, New York Central Bar in the Hyatt Hotel is like a second home for daily commuters racing to and from trains. It’s not just for martinis after work, although that’s the beverage of choice here. The restaurant is actually the recipient of numerous wine awards of excellence. The modern design of this spot is part lift-off, part classic New York crowd with a hearty mix of travelers staying in the floors above in the Hyatt and mingling between conferences. Light bites include a savory chicken consommé while the burrata melt with lip-smackingly crispy capers makes for a heartier meal. Make a reservation at NY Central.
Steps from Grand Central Terminal, dozens of restaurants have helped make the surrounding streets into a mini culinary hotspot within the city. Here are a few to try.
In honor of when disco ruled the Manhattan skyline, on Thursday nights, the Sushi Roxx staff presents the 1970s themed throwback to Boogie Nights (don’t miss the braised beef steamed buns during happy hour). Singing and dancing servers at this Japanese hotspot in The Tuscany Hotel are gifted performers, showcasing their talents between courses, while the Sushi Roxx culinary team is known for turning otherwise ubiquitous dishes into dazzlers. Plain edamame gets an upgrade with wild ginger and chili essence while green tea crunch adds flavor to the traditional Godzilla roll. Sushi pizza options include the bonsai pizza with caviar, spicy tuna, yellowtail, and salmon. Don’t miss this only-in-Manhattan experience with its vibrant décor and the Sushi Roxx hi-tech audio-visual system is inspired by Tokyo nightlife. Make a reservation at Sushi Roxx.
Bistango and Upstairs at The Kimberly
A trot up Lexington Avenue and 30 stories later, Grand Central Terminal visitors find 360-degree views of the city in this off-the-beaten-path East Side hotel. Begin the evening with dinner at Bistango Italian Restaurant and end it at Upstairs, or vice versa. The Kimberly’s Bistango claim to fame, aside from dishes like saffron pappardelle and scrumptious braciole, is the bread bar in the center of the restaurant with all the trimmings. You mustn’t leave without a cocktail or fine wine at Upstairs. Manhattan’s only rooftop bar with a retractable all-glass ceiling and walls delivers the city’s choicest view of the Chrysler Building. Make a reservation at Bistango and Upstairs at The Kimberly.
Park Avenue Tavern
A train delay is the perfect excuse to check out Park Avenue Tavern’s late night menu, especially Jason’s ribeye sliders with black garlic mayo, Comte cheese, and crispy maitake, plus an order of sea salt and vinegar tater tots with miso ranch dressing, naturally. Around dinner time, regulars trek here for one of Uncle Pat’s burgers, including one made for vegetarians but that even die-hard carnivores love: the quinoa veggie burger with burrata, oven-dried tomatoes, and arugula pesto. Grab a seat at the island bar in the center of the restaurant or one of the much-coveted booths lining the walls beneath copper trimmings. Make a reservation at Park Avenue Tavern.
The LCL Bar & Kitchen
Time yourself and it will take four minutes to walk from Grand Central Terminal to LCL Bar & Kitchen on 42nd Street. Among the benefits of being attached to a hotel, atop the adjacent Westin New York Grand Central Hotel is the cultivated rooftop vegetable garden dubbed ‘veggies with a view’. Some of the fresh produce and herbs in the food and beverage program at The LCL include arugula, heirloom tomatoes, squash, and peppers. The LCL is an easy between-trains hangout for small-batch spirits and dishes like cavatappi pasta with turkey Bolognese and pulled pork tostada with Adirondack Black Wax cheddar cheese. Make a reservation at The LCL.
Tudor City Steakhouse
In 1927, New York diners discovered the river views from the Tudor City Restaurant and the building has remained an eating place ever since. Now home to the Tudor City Steakhouse, this community staple is where dignitaries come to satiate their hunger pains, with choices ranging from baked clams and yellow corn Venezuelan tamales to lamb chops and Dover sole. While the steak is a star here, expect a stretch in flavors thanks to executive chef Adrian Leon’s South American heritage. His ceviche is always a bestseller, but be sure to save room for a slice of classic New York cheesecake. Make a reservation at Tudor City Steakhouse.
This Zen retreat is home to the art of kaiseki, where the timed serving of food on porcelain lacquer dishware and pottery reminds patrons to slow down and appreciate every bite. Located in New York City’s only Japanese-owned hotel, The Kitano New York, there are several traditional tasting courses, each of which is like a miniature ceremony. Splurge on the Shabu Shabu Kaiseki, prepared with Miyazaki A5 grade Wagyu beef cooked at table and served with appetizers, sashimi, udon, and dessert. Book a meal in one of the Tatami rooms, where the therapeutic practice of eating on rice straw mats and leaving your shoes behind will make you forget the hustle and bustle of the city. Make a reservation at Hakubai.
The Shakespeare’s Sunday brunch is legendary in Manhattan, during which guests chomp on a selection of three roasted meats, Yorkshire pudding, and vegetables, served family style. Between Sundays, patrons fellowship over pints of cask ale with more traditional fixings, notably Myers of Keswick bangers and mashed potatoes, chicken liver and foie gras parfait with grape chutney, and perfectly poached salmon with pumpernickel, cucumber, and dill. Seating varies from the pub, which replicates a 14th- century tavern, and the upper rooms which are inspired by 19th Century gentleman’s club (The Peacock Room) and civilized society gatherings (Garden Room), where artwork by Bradley Wood hangs beneath a Waterford Crystal chandelier. In what’s no secret to the in-vogue crowd, Raines Law Room is in the same building. Make a reservation at The Shakespeare.
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