You have an hour to kill before Sunday in the Park with George. Or your aunt and uncle decided to book a hotel “in the middle of the excitement.” Or your new office is directly across from the M&M’s store. Whatever the reason, you can’t avoid Times Square forever—but you don’t have to settle for a subpar meal. Here are eight places that are far more reliable than an off-brand Elmo.

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danji times square restaurants NY
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Danji

Upscale Korean tapas just a stone’s throw from the Naked Cowboy and blinding neon lights? Yep, in the form of bulgogi beef sliders, kimchi-bacon fried rice and spicy chicken wings.

346 W. 52nd St. (between Eighth and Ninth Aves.); 212-586-2880 or danjinyc.com

empellon midtown NY

Empellón

We're obsessed with Chef Alex Stupak's downtown spots, so we're stoked we can now chow down on his inventive Mexican fare above 34th Street. You're definitely going to need an order crab nachos with sea urchin "queso" and the unreal avocado dessert.

510 Madison Ave. (at 53rd St.); 212-367-0999 or empellon.com

lukes lobster city kitchen times square restaurants NY
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City Kitchen

Need a quick bite instead of a sit-down feast? Head to this second-floor food court, which includes Luke’s Lobster, Dough doughnuts and Mediterranean eats from Ilili Box. (If you want to mix and match a franken-meal, we won’t stop you.)

700 Eighth Ave., second floor (at 44th St.); citykitchen.rownyc.com

sake bar hagi times square restaurants NY
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Sake Bar Hagi

What this hole-in-the-wall izakaya lacks in size, it makes up for with a ginormous menu that includes everything from pork-belly skewers to salmon sashimi to green-tea crepe cake. Bonus: The kitchen stays open until 2 a.m.

152 W. 49th St. (at Seventh Ave.); 212-764-8549 or irohagroup.com

fresh from hell times square restaurants NY
Trudy L./Yelp

Fresh From Hell

OK, we’ll admit the name threw us off a bit (it’s a play on Hell’s Kitchen), but this healthy eatery won us over with its gorgeous açai bowls and fresh, tasty sandwiches.

326 W. 47th St. (between Eighth and Ninth aves.); 212-956-4355 or freshfromhell.com

victors cafe times square restaurants NY
Victor’s Café/Yelp

Victor’s Café

This bright, leafy Cuban spot feels like nothing short of an oasis in its Midtown surroundings. An oasis that serves ropa vieja, snapper ceviche and coconut mojitos.

236 52nd St. (at Broadway); 212-586-7714 or victorscafe.com

toloache times square restaurants NY
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Toloache

We take our tacos seriously, so we were stoked to discover this gem in the middle of the Theater District. Grab an order of garlic-chipotle shrimp tacos, a prickly pear margarita and—wait for it—avocado fries.

251 W. 50th St. (at Eighth Ave.); 212-581-1818 or toloachenyc.com

gallaghers steakhouse times square restaurants NY
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Gallagher’s Steakhouse

OK, so maybe the occasion calls for somewhere fancy, with a menu your grandpa would appreciate (and ideally, pay for). You may as well go to a legendary 90-year-old former Prohibition-era speakeasy and feast on prime dry-aged beef, right?

228 W. 52nd St. (at Broadway); 929-223-6684 or gallaghersnysteakhouse.com

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