No question, Grand Central Terminal is one of the city's great public spaces, at once our best-designed transit hub, a stunning work of Beaux-Arts architecture, a landmark location filled with lore and secrets, and one of the world's top ten tourist attractions.
There's always a lot going on here, and it's been that way ever since it first opened in 1913. One thing that's relatively new: Grand Central has become something of a dining and drinking destination, bouncing back after an early-pandemic slumber with a slew of new openings and revitalized old favorites.
For out-of-town visitors, area workers, commuters grabbing a bite, and all New Yorkers looking for somewhere new to try — or something classic to revisit — here's a look at the best this beautiful old building has to offer.
THE NEW CITY WINERY
The biggest news in Grand Central dining these days is the opening of a huge City Winery right off the Main Concourse in Vanderbilt Hall, taking over all the spaces once inhabited by Claus Meyer's Great Northern Food Hall (and before that, many years ago, an actual train station waiting room with long rows of wooden benches).
It's actually more of a City Winery complex. In addition to a full service restaurant featuring live music and things like cheese boards, salads, burgers, and a $50 steak on the menu, there's also a Wine Bar, a Wine to Go station at which you can "re-wine" with special take-home bottles, and a City Jams storefront with grab-and-go sandwiches, pastries, and coffee.
But that's not all — opening soon: City Winery's fancy, self-contained, "elevated farm-to-table" restaurant called Cornelius, with a separate entrance over by the Shuttle to Times Square.
THE ICONIC OYSTER BAR
The happiest news here is that the iconic Grand Central Oyster Bar is back open after a long pandemic shutdown, and the place is hopping with business-lunchers, tourists, and just regular folks sucking down the namesake bivalves (there are usually at least 25 varieties available) and enjoying bowls of some of the best clam chowder in town.
Dine in, order a martini, and soak up that gorgeous Guastavino vaulting, or order out and pick up at their new takeout window.
THE (CLASSIC) CAMPBELL
The Campbell Bar, once a more secretive location (and called the Campbell Apartment), is now refurbished and made more accessible (and apparent) to the public. It remains one of NYC's most elegant cocktail spots, a dramatic room with soaring hand-painted ceilings, a massive stone fireplace, and 100-year-old leaded glass windows from when it was the office of railroad executive John Williams Campbell (that's his safe in the fireplace).
Carve out some extra time in your travels to enjoy a cocktail here.
DINING WITH A VIEW AT CIPRIANI DOLCI
Another mainstay is Cipriani Dolci, which has been overlooking the Main Concourse for around two decades now. It's a finer dining spot, so if you're looking for a nice meal over long conversation and aren't rushing to catch the train, check it out — you can't beat the view.
THE DINING CONCOURSE
The Dining Concourse on the Lower Level is home to many options! Shake Shack, an outpost of the now-international fast food burger chain and one of Grand Central's most popular spots since it opened in 2013, is always a reliable choice.
Also down here with a dedicated seating area is Luke's Lobster, with their signature lobster rolls and thick clam chowder, as well as a Tartinery, where you can get a variety of open-faced sandwiches and a glass of wine.
Prova Pizzabar has a hidden, full-service dining room in the back of the Dining Concourse (bonus: you'll find a bar back there, and probably some sports on the TV), or you can just grab some slices.
Not in the mood for pizza? Get some tacos from their sister restaurant, Dirty Taco, next door — it's a legit L.A. taco joint.
And in 2023, the legendary NYC institution Veselka opened a new location in Grand Central (maybe you've stopped by their East Village spot in the past? They opened in 1954!). Check out their GCT menu here, which is extensive despite their smaller space here.
To dine in, you can perch yourself at one of the standing tables in the communal dining area nearby.
If you're looking for bread and pastries, Grand Central's definitely got you covered.
On the Lower Level near Track 112 sits one of NYC's best doughnut shops, the venerable Doughnut Plant. The basic recipe for these beauties dates back to his grandfather's shop in the 1930s, but chef and owner Mark Israel brings a lengthy menu of fun, contemporary flavors to the party here, with such winners as Tres Leches, Brooklyn Blackout, and Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jam.
There’s a Magnolia Bakery in the dining concourse as well, if you’re in the mood for super sweet cupcakes or the ultimate banana pudding.
THE LATEST ADDITIONS
GRAND CENTRAL MARKET & MORE
Old-school favorite Zaro's Family Bakery maintains three locations in the terminal, including a prominent spot right near the ticket windows and Track 36, and they've always got plenty of Black & White cookies on hand.
Aussie import Bourke Street Bakery has an outpost near the 4/5/6/7 subway entrance, featuring great loaves of bread as well as buttery, savory snacks. And Brooklyn-based Bien Cuit operates a stand in the bustling Grand Central Market closer to Lexington Avenue.
Also in the Grand Central Market: A huge Murray's Cheese Shop; a Li-Lac Chocolates counter with a large selection of sweet treats; high-end produce and provisions at Eli Zabar's Farm to Table; and a takeout sushi and noodles counter from the fishmongers at nearby Pescatore.
Sushi is also available at the other end of the terminal at Joji Box (technically it's in One Vanderbilt, but it's right outside of the Grand Central exit), with pre packed selections running from $23 to $58.
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This article was last updated in December 2023