Times Square & Theater District
Every non-native resident of New York probably remembers the first time he or she set foot in Times Square. The glaring neon lights, huge stores blaring loud music, masses of people crowding the streets. "This is New York City," he or she may have thought. And then left, and tried never, ever to go back if it wasn't absolutely necessary. Maybe this is an exaggeration, but most New Yorkers try to avoid Times Square like the plague (especially on New Year's Eve!) mostly for the very reasons it has become synonymous (for those who don't live here) with New York itself: the lights, the crowds, the Naked Cowboy, etc. etc.
That being said, there are some very good reasons to go to Times Square, most of them involving Broadway productions. The TKTS booth is there, where you can get same-day discount tickets (or next-day, if it's a matinee) to one of the many shows playing on- and off-Broadway. For the most part, the immediate area around Times Square is not the best area for dining or non-theater nightlife, although there are some exceptions (including Blue Fin and Insieme for dining and B.B. King Blues Club & Grill for live music).
For pre- and post-theater meals or refreshment, head west from Times Square past Eighth Avenue into Hell's Kitchen. Once the notoriously seedy center of the New York underworld--hence the lurid name, which has stuck despite attempts to call it the more neutral "Clinton" or "Midtown West"—Hell's Kitchen is now home to a fantastic variety of restaurants and bars and a bustling nightlife.
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