I don’t really go to Midtown by choice. I just find it boring and business-y––nothing horrible, but nothing special in a city full of pretty awesome places. But I find myself there on occasion, and when I do, I try to make the most of what the area has to offer. I’ve wandered around in the vicinity of 42nd Street quite a lot on my way in and out of the City. I’ve been ashamed of myself for going to the Hard Rock Cafe, run from off-brand mascots in dingy costumes, been pretty inspired a hundred times over at Grand Central Terminal, and shivered on rooftops looking out over the lights of Times Square. So I have to admit despite my largely arbitrary aversion to Midtown, it is in many ways emblematic of New York City.
I go in and out of Grand Central multiple times a year, whenever I visit my family in Connecticut, but I often head over there just for the food court when I’m in the area. The dining concourse is a great sampling of the best counter service restaurants from across the city. Even though I usually stick with Shake Shack, there’s also a whole lot of uniquely New York fewd to be found on the lower level of Grand Central––I love La Chula Taqueria, Magnolia Bakery (famous for a reason), Mendy’s Kosher Deli, and Frankie’s Dogs. The Oyster Bar is an obvious classic.
One of my more recent nights out started at the station, picking up a friend visiting from out of town. We loafed around GC a bit then made our way to Times Square for dinner at Counter––a build-your-own burger joint, both retro and futuristic. Awesome milkshakes too. This is often the first place I take out of town visitors after I pick them up, quite frequently considering many of my friends and family members are not self-sufficient enough to make their way to my apartment on their own. After Counter, we went for drinks at Emmett O’ Lunney’s. I was told I sounded and looked like a gruff Vietnam vet who smokes a pack of cigarettes daily, due to multiple bouts of hoarse laughter turned to coughing fits, combined with poor posture and a camo sweatshirt. But I got a salad, which made me feel delicate. Took a long walk after that, over towards Hell’s Kitchen, and tragically was too grossly full for free hot dogs at Rudy’s. All in all, a very good night even if I did go home feeling absolutely distressed from eating so much.
Final recommendation, which I didn’t hit the other night because I would’ve felt embarrassed going there of my own accord because it’s kinda bougie––Magic Hour on the rooftop of the Moxy Hotel. It’s an amusement park themed bar, best in warmer months. Fun but kind of full of yuppies. There’s a merry-go-round with (limited) seating, a lot of bright pink stuff, and an obnoxious but photo-friendly sign that says “FOREPLAY”. Went a couple times with college friends who worked in the area. Magic Hour was the site of what was possibly the douchiest photo I’ve ever taken. Mildly good times. That’s Midtown on the whole for me—mildly good. But there are pockets of great, if you know where to look.