While Broadway’s mask mandate has been extended until April 30th, it seems as though The Great White Way may finally be hitting its post-pandemic stride. With the curtain going up on both established juggernauts (Hamilton, The Lion King and — finally — Book of Mormon are all back) as well as hotly anticipated new offerings (Hugh Jackman’s Music Man is now open, the first ever New York revival of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite starring Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker is in previews, and Billy Crystal’s new musical comedy Mr. Saturday Night arrives March 1st), the time is ripe to make a Theater District pilgrimage and get a solid dose of song and dance.
However, this brings us to a bit of a conundrum: aside from the fact that it is home to the country’s most vibrant and storied collection of live theater venues, Midtown is not what one would typically refer to as a “cool neighborhood.” Just ask John Mulaney, who lovingly skewered it in a gonzo musical number on SNL this past Sunday. Comprised largely of corny souvenir shops, tourist trappy restaurants and office buildings like the one that houses this very publication, it’s just not really an area that most self-respecting New Yorkers would choose to hang out.
We do know, though, that every neighborhood in New York — even Midtown — is not without its hidden gems. So in the interest of making one’s Broadway sojourns a more lively and involved affair, we tapped William van Wassenhove, general manager of the M Social Hotel Times Square and longtime resident of the area, for a couple recommendations on spots worth sticking around for.
For you out-of-towners, it bears noting that the M Social is a delightful stay for theatergoers: situated on 52nd Street smack dab in the middle of the Broadway action, it features spacious, well-appointed rooms, a top-shelf lobby bar and lounge, a terrace overlooking Times Square and one of the most friendly and accommodating staffs we’ve ever come across. Additionally, the hotel often plays host to the infamous Sunday Night on Broadway dance parties that draw cast and crew from various shows to blow off steam after a long week of performing. Add a rooftop curling rink for good measure and you’d be a fool to hang your hat anywhere else.
Below you’ll find William’s endorsements (along with one of our own) — now all you need to do is grab some tickets, brush up on your theater etiquette and get ready to paint the town.
“Naturally, my first recommendation would be to enjoy the stunning views from M Social’s 7,500-square-foot wraparound terrace. You can enjoy locally inspired craft cocktails from Beast and Butterflies sitting on The Perch overlooking Times Square. Beast and Butterflies also offers a full breakfast buffet and all-day bar and bar-fare menu.”
“Gallaghers Steakhouse, adjacent to M Social, is a great place to stop in and have a fantastic Beefeater martini made by their expert barman Paul. Following a couple of drinks at the bar, I highly recommend the Littleneck clams and the New York filet mignon. Don’t forget the creamed spinach and hash browns!”
“From the team that opened Tribeca’s classic (but unfortunately now closed) Ward III, The Rum House is a can’t-miss Times Square cocktail haunt. Offering a curated rum cocktail list and spectacular live music on a nightly basis, it’s a great place to catch a pre-theatre drink or a late nightcap.”
“Chef John Fraser — who studied under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry — recently opened an elegant Mediterranean restaurant just around the corner from our hotel called Iris, They’ve got a wonderfully curated cocktail menu and delectable Aegean-inpsired dishes that are perfect to share with friends.”
“Going beyond the standard Irish pub, Haswell Green’s surprises with not only a truly extensive selection of fine spirits, but also unique homemade pizzas cooked in a wood-fired brick oven.”
Editor’s Recommendation: Speaking from recent experience, at least three InsideHook editors can attest that Dolly Varden on 51st Street is a charming ode to the Roaring Twenties with a creative cocktail list and an exceedingly reasonable (and tasty) dinner menu. Ring ahead to book a spot in their replica vintage train car out front.
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