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Meet the New Restaurants That Are Making Midtown Manhattan NYC’s Hottest Dining Destination

Battered by the lack of office workers and tourists during the pandemic, Midtown stages a comeback.

This strange new gravitational pull toward midtown Manhattan started with a crab and a cocktail at Le Rock’s packed-on-a-Tuesday-night bar, where an open stool presents the opportunity for what could be considered the perfect solo meal: dressed whole Dungeness crab, escargot, snappy red radishes with butter, baguette slices and a Green Chartreuse–laced Bijou Blanc. And the simmering vibe at the new Rockefeller Plaza brasserie, from Frenchette chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr, is as much a draw as its wide-ranging, artfully executed menu of bistro favorites. I shared a snail with the diner next to me, ordered a second cocktail and damn if my icy New York heart didn’t melt. This is the midtown we’ve always deserved.

“Midtown was the last neighborhood in Manhattan to come back to life,” says Jeff Zalaznick, co-owner of Major Food Group, whose portfolio includes The Grill and The Lobster Club, in the Seagram Building. “There was a cream-rising-to-the-top effect. You saw lots of people who couldn’t withstand a period that was really devastating to restaurants—that made room for the next generation.”

Plenty of noteworthy newcomers were in the works pre-Covid, including Daniel Boulud’s remake of Le Pavillon inside One Vanderbilt and John Fraser’s Mediterranean Iris, which was planned as part of a redesign of 1740 Broadway. Tishman Speyer began redeveloping Rockefeller Center in 2019, hoping to push out chain eateries and attract local talent.

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