Best historic watering hole: The Campbell Apartment
15 Vanderbilt Avenue
This cavernous beauty's actually located inside GCT, and gets its name from the days when millionaire financier John W. Campbell used it as his private office (beginning in 1923). The 3,500sqft, lofty-ceilinged space was renovated into a stunning cocktail lounge in 1999, serving well-made drinks to patrons and travelers in search of a truly unique New York experience. Grab yourself a Prohibition Punch, and pull up a chair beside the decorative marble fireplace.
Best steakhouse: Sparks
210 E 46th St
This NY institution styles itself as the "Fort Knox of Fine Aged Prime Beef," and while you probably won't find a heavily guarded, fortified meat-vault on the premises, you definitely will find a fantastic array of expertly cooked cuts of beef, from the prime sirloin steak to the steak fromage. There's also halibut and tuna steaks on the menu, which definitely bears mentioning since A) they're both tender and delicious, and B) they're technically still steaks.
Best pizza: Previti Pizza
123 E 41st St
It's not just that you can score two classic cheese slices and a 12oz beer for under $10 here: the pizza's actually legitimately excellent, whether you opt for regular, thin-crust, or focaccia-style. Bonus points if you opt for the garlic knots, because they're delicious, although it shouldn't take bonus points to convince you to opt for the goddamn garlic knots.
Best rooftop bar: Aretsky's Patroon
160 E 46th St
The rooftop here is more of an outdoor deck than an actual space on top of a roof, and while that doesn't translate to the best views in the city, the digs are fancy enough that you won't really miss the panoramic sights while you're downing your craft cocktails. Plus, there's a legit menu of snacks and small bites up there: just be prepared to pay through the nose for pulled pork sliders.
Best cheap eats: Num Pang
140 E 41st St
Sandwiches are the sub-$10 stars of the show at this Cambodian shop, and everything from the pulled pork, to the skirt steak, to the ginger barbecue brisket is jam-packed with flavor. In fact, the sandwiches are so specifically crafted that they actually won't let you make substitutions, so you'll have to ingest them as the chef intended -- which is fine, because as it turns out, the chef had really good intentions.
Best secret cocktail bar: The Raines Law Room at The William
24 E 39th St
The second location of this hidden cocktail sanctuary is located inside The William hotel, and in addition to the cozy, 1920s vibe you'd expect from a speakeasy-style lounge, the Raines Law Room offers customers the ability to build a custom Old Fashioned from a variety of bitters, sweeteners, and liquors. Now all you have to do is figure out how to get in*.
*Enter through the Shakespeare Pub, also in The William hotel.
Best beer bar: The Ginger Man
11 E 36th St
There are 72 draft beers and 116 different bottles on the list at this sud-lover's paradise (as of this writing), and you can bring most of them home with you at a 15% "out-the-door" discount. Or, if you're not in a rush, grab pint and a seat in one of the back room's cozy armchairs, and admire the wall-mounted beer paraphernalia.
Best noodles: Udon West
150 E 46th St
As the name suggests, this place is best known its pairings of fresh and chewy udon noodles with everything from shrimp tempura and curry rice to marinated beef and fried chicken. Unlike the name suggests, however, neither of its two outposts are located on the west side; walk the two blocks from GCT to the Midtown location, then grab an order of fried fish cakes.
Best happy hour: Peter Dillon's
130 E 40th St
This bar actually has two locations within spitting distance of GCT, and both feature one of the best happy hour deals in the city: $4 pints of Bud Light, Blue Moon, and Stella, paired with $4 shots of Jameson, Cuervo, and Jager. Even better, that special extends beyond happy hour to an all-day affair on the weekends -- add in the Saturday night karaoke, plus the fact that this place is BYOF, and you're in serious danger of missing your train.
Best sandwiches: The Pullman Kitchen
959 2nd Ave
There's a ton of goodness on the menu here, from double-patty burgers to boozy milkshakes, but the grilled sandwiches are where it's really at. Dive into the Breakfast Burrito, the Slow and Low, or the Chicken & Waffles: regardless of which one you choose, you'll get a side of waffle fries, a salad, or a bowl of creamy tomato soup. Don't skip the boozy milkshakes, whatever you do.
Best old-school seafood: Grand Central Oyster Bar
89 E 42nd St
With its vaulted, tiled ceilings and rich historic pedigree, this NYC landmark is worth visiting even if you're not that into seafood. Of course, if you ARE that into seafood, the experience is even better: choose between 30+ different oysters, or opt for a non-mollusk meal like the cod filet or the grilled branzino.
Best burger: Shake Shack
600 3rd Ave
The crinkle-cut fries and concretes here are legendary for a reason, and pair perfectly with the various ShackBurgers on the menu -- from the bacon-topped SmokeShack to the veggie/meat harmony of the ShackStack. Pro tip: the Midtown East location's usually got shorter lines than the one in GCT, so unless you're pressed for time, that should definitely be your move.
Best boozy date spot: La Biblioteca
622 3rd Ave
With 400 different bottles of primo tequila on offer, as well as a bottomless brunch that includes unlimited small plates and cocktails for $40, this is absolutely the go-to spot for a date with the Marion Ravenwood in your life.
1. The Campbell Apartment15 Vanderbilt Ave, New York
2. Sparks Steak House210 E 46th St, New York
3. Previti Pizza123 E 41st St., New York
4. Aretsky's Patroon160 E 46th St, New York
5. Num Pang Sandwich Shop140 E 41st St, New York
6. The Raines Law Room24 E 39th St, New York
7. The Ginger Man11 E 36th St, New York
8. Udon West - Midtown East150 E 46th St, New York
9. Peter Dillon's Pub130 E 40th St, New York
10. The Pullman Kitchen959 2nd Ave, New York
11. Shake ShackGrand Central Terminal, 109 E 42nd St, New York
12. La Biblioteca622 3rd Ave, New York
The Campbell Apartment, which was formerly the office for finance mogul John W. Campbell, has since been turned into a luxurious bar and lounge space in Grand Central Terminal. It boasts extensive interior woodwork, a lounge and a warm hearth as its centerpiece. If there's anywhere in Midtown to go and get your Mad Men on, this swanky spot would be it.
This Midtown restaurant opened as a pub in 1966, but it wasn't until moving to its current location in 1977 that it turned into the swanky steakhouse it is today. A reputed mob hangout during its 80s heyday, Sparks boasts some serious Tony Soprano-level extravagance. The main draws are the boneless prime sirloin and massive slabs of meat like the extra-thick veal chop and lamb chop. The menu also features an impressive seafood selection and a massive wine list that's worth spending some time on.
Previti Pizza, an old school counter service joint by New York's Grand Central Station, is known for more than their slices. It may seem counterintuitive that a pizzeria would dole out a dish more noteworthy than a good old fashioned margherita (which they do do, and quite well) or a pepperoni pie, but Previti's roast beef sandwich is seriously where it's at-- piled high on savory garlic focaccia bread, this sando, offered only two times weekly, is worth waiting for.
Aretsky's Patroom is a multi-level resto and roof top bar that hearkens back to NYC's old school glory days. Situated in a repurposed pre-war townhouse, Aretsky's is where you go when you're looking for a four star experience-- impeccable service? Check. High quality craft cocktails and spirits made to order? But of course. And classic American steakhouse fare like prime rib and porterhouse? It's all taken care of.
For a delicious divergence from your run-of-the-mill turkey sandwich, head to Num Pang, serving variations on the namesake cambodian dish. Options include pulled pork, skirt steak, ginger barbecue brisket, and more, all prepared on their consistently warm, soft 'n crusty bahn mi bread.
Located inside The William in Midtown East, this cocktail lounge/speakeasy offers an intimate setting and a bevy of classic cocktails, in addition to an entire Old Fashioned-centric menu. This semi-exclusive spot isn't the kind of spot you just stumble into-- ring a bell to gain entrance to this semi-hidden spot, and you'll feel like you've been transported to Prohibition era NYC.
The Ginger Man is a beer-lover's haven. Located near Herald Square (which may be the best or worst thing about it for you), this den dedicated to all things craft beer is always open, friendly, and welcoming. Looking for something besides a Bud but not sure where to turn? Ginger Man's knowledgable bar staff will help you select the perfect beer for your complex (or not so much) palate.
Udon West's a low-key soup 'n noodle shop located on the shadowy streets of Midtown East. This decidedly no-frills spot (but really, who needs bells and whistles when the ramen tastes this good?) serves all the basics (pho, ramen, teriyaki, etc), plus hosts an extensive selection of noodle soup add-on's: fried chicken, tempura, bulgogi, soft boiled eggs, a "mountain of veggies," and more. Perfect for a quick bite or a solo dining sesh.
Peter Dillon's is a standard issue Irish pub, which is sometimes just what you need. This trustworthy standby has the beer you want (a selection of domestic and imported drafts including Guinness, of course), the bar food you're craving, and the low-key vibe makes it a solid option for post-work happy hour. There's also billiards in the back of the bar and open mic karaoke on the weekends.
The best high-level grilled cheese connoisseurs on the Midtown East-block, The Pullman Kitchen is doing astounding things with our favorite bread and cheese combo... like merging it with fried chicken & waffles. You've gotta try these gooey, ooey, savory, salty (umami?) sandwich confections if you're even gonna consider calling yourself yourself an NYC brunch expert.
Located at Grand Central Station, this Shake Shack location is just as tasty as the original, doling out the seriously delicious burgers, shakes, custard & dogs that have made it a Big Apple institution.
With an actual library of premium tequila displayed inside leather books and built-in, back-lit cages along black walls (hence "La Biblioteca"), this smart Murray Hill lounge is the spot to hit up when your happy hour needs a professional upgrade. Tucked underneath Zengo, the bar is long, dark, and handsome, and -- in addition to the 400 varieties of tequila and mezcal -- offers Latin-Asian fusion eats, such as charred tuna wonton tacos and spicy crab guacamole. Candles, Persian rugs, and leather banquettes adorn the dim, cozy space, which maintains an upbeat vibe thanks to its house DJs. Feeling extra swanky? You can rent a private tequila locker in the hidden back room, where you're free to store bottles for up to six months, and present a "library card" to a waiter whenever you'd like them to retrieve one for you.