If you’re a music or sports fan, there’s a good chance you’re one of thousands of people who have been part of the crowd at Madison Square Garden. Billed as “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” The Garden has hosted countless unforgettable experiences since it opened in Midtown more than 50 years ago.
As home of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, and as the ultimate stage for the world’s biggest artists, an event at MSG calls to be made into a night out. Whether you arrive early for the show or have plans to stay in the area and keep the good times going late into the night, consider this your guide for what to eat, drink, and do before and after a show or game at this classic venue.
Where to eat
For a quick bite: The Pennsy
If you don’t have the luxury of time and want to avoid the high costs at the actual venue, head to this massive food hall where you’ll find six vendors that have every taste covered.
Chow down on creative pizza pies from Ribalta, dumplings and rolls from Sabi Sushi, and health-conscious Mexican-inspired eats from Taco Dumbo. If those don’t pique your interest, there are also seasonal pasta dishes from The Cinnamon Snail, grain-based bowls from The Little Beet, and meat-heavy sandwiches from Pat LaFrieda.
No matter what you get, you can wash it down with a drink from The Pennsy Bar, which offers New York-themed cocktails.
For upscale dining: Keens Steakhouse
In business since 1885, a meal at this renowned establishment pairs well with an event of equally great magnitude at MSG. Known for their mutton chop but also impressing foodies far and wide with their prime filet mignon and steamed whole Maine lobster, Keens isn’t the place for a cheap meal for two, but it will be a meal to remember.
And make sure you save room for dessert, considering the heavenly taste of both the carrot cake and the butterscotch sundae.
For a casual meal: Stout
Despite its spacious digs spread throughout three floors, reservations are absolutely recommended on the night of a game or show at The Garden. As New York City’s largest Irish pub, this place gets busy, and for good reason.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it here, with oysters, salads, burgers, pizza, and European classics like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips on the menu. The beer menu is one of the most extensive you’ll find in Midtown, so prepare to arrive early enough to explore several varieties.
Where to drink
For cocktails: American Whiskey
You can’t go wrong beginning or ending your night at this trendy watering hole that’s known for their signature cocktails.
Kick back and relax with the lavender julep (Filibuster bourbon, lavender demerara, mint) or get a little wild with the un poco loco (Cazadores tequila, Branca Menta, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, orange bitters). In warmer months, a seasonal slushie selection is available to help cool down before or after a show.
For a dive bar: Tempest
If you’re just looking for an affordable way to get your drink on before a show or game, Tempest is the king of pregaming spots.
With pints as low as $4 and well drinks that are reasonably priced compared to most other bars in the area, you can achieve full-on tipsiness for less than $25 a person. Two beers at The Garden will run you much more, so take advantage of drinking on the cheap!
If you’re really looking to save a little dough, pop over to NY Pizza Suprema just a few storefronts away for some of the best slices in the city.
For craft beer: The Ginger Man
One step inside The Ginger Man and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the ridiculously long list of beers available. With more than 200 brews available between the taps, bottles, and cans, beer lovers will fall hard for this place.
To avoid getting too drunk too quickly, take advantage of the bar’s bites, like the parmesan garlic soft pretzel or the buffalo shrimp.
What to do
For culture: MSG All Access Tour
Some of the biggest moments in sports and music have taken place at MSG, so it’s not exactly a shocker that the venue offers behind-the-scenes access for the most diehard of fans.
An expert will lead guests on a tour that includes learning about the venue’s storied history along with seeing iconic memorabilia like a setlist signed by Sir Elton John and one of Dave Matthews’ old guitars.
The MSG All Access Tour operates daily every 30 minutes from 9:30am to 3:00pm, and tickets can be purchased at the MSG Box Office. Tickets are $30 for adults and $26 for kids age 12 and under.
For exploring: The High Line
Barring any harsh weather conditions the day of the show, take a walk high above the city’s streets along this public park that stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street between 10th and 12th Avenues.
You can simply walk along the 1.45-mile path and take in the sweet views or see if any special events are happening the day of the show. From spring through fall, you can also enjoy food and drinks from vendors along the High Line.
For letting loose: The Spot Karaoke Lounge
If you’re attending a show or game with a group of five or more and want to keep the fun times going long after the show ends, walk just five minutes from The Garden to Koreatown to get to this swanky joint.
Sing your heart out among friends and make use of the full bar if you need some liquid courage. Don’t worry about getting hungry, either — The Spot features a menu of Korean-inspired food with options like kimchi pancakes and egg rolls.