One of the first things you learn when you move to New York City is to never go to Times Square. You just don't. Still, try as you might, you won't be able to avoid it. Out of town friends, job interviews, a Broadway Show, and M&M World are probably still going to make you end up here.

If you're just visiting NYC, this is likely your first stop anyway. Since I would be very sad if you fell into the hands of a chain like Olive Garden or Red Lobster, and because you're likely to be a little hangry after taking a selfie with Elmo, here are the 10 best restaurants near Times Square — you can thank me later. 

1. Becco

Because nothing takes the edge off of walking for blocks and blocks like a nice glass of vino and some carbs. Check out this joint on West 46th St. for their $25 wine list and unlimited, all-you-can eat pastas.  The pasta selection changes daily (check it out via Facebook), but you'll be sure to find inventive specials like swiss chard ravioli with marjoram alongside more traditional offerings like spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce, or gnocchi. 

2. Toloache

After you've worn yourself out from looking at 50-foot tall neon billboards, head to Toloache and scope out the Chapulines, or grasshopper tacos. Even if that doesn't sound like your kind of thing, this subdued, dimly-lit space offers a wonderful array of inventive pan-Latin specialties to suit any taste: ceviches, steaks, and seafood, just to scratch the surface. Mercifully devoid of gut-busting burritos and fishbowl margs.

3. The Little Beet 

If you're a bordeline health freak like me and want to balance out all of New York's glorious $1 pizza slices and bagels, this informal eatery offers a great selection of salads, grain bowls, and other healthy options. While this isn't the type of place to sit down for a full-service meal, it's a great go-to for a healthy, quick lunch or a light snack in between your frenzied sight-seeing.

4. Café at Oceana 

While the prices at the famous flagship restaurant may be steep (even if your parents are paying), the Café at Oceana offers a more casual menu of small plates, ceviches, oysters, and cocktails, perfect for some late afternoon sipping. In the summer, the café extends outside onto the sidewalk for prime people watching. 

5. Haru Sushi 

If you're still feeling a little fishy — which I personally almost always am — the Midtown outpost of local sushi darling Haru offers a broad, appealing menu that has thankfully avoided too outrageous of a Midtown price hike.

Start with the slightly unconventional lobster tacos, then take it up a notch with the Madison Avenue roll (topped with caviar and dusted with gold) to fulfill your bougiest big city fantasies. 

6. The Lambs Club

The Lambs Club is the kind of place where you pretend that you're on Mad Men. It's a little on the pricier side, so go for lunch or brunch, but live your best life eating tuna tartare in their sleek red dining room. Sounds like the perfect selfie opportunity to me. 

7. Carmine's 

Get ready to go up a pant size. Carmine's is a Midtown fixture that, while undeniably Italian-American, is the kind of place everyone has been to at least once in their life. The best bet here is to go with the tried-and-true classics, chicken Parmigiana being a personal favorite. Bring your friends, your family, and maybe even a few enemies and get ready to enter a week-long food coma. 

8. Trattoria Trecolori

In contrast to its over-the-top neighbors (ahem, above), this comparatively subdued joint serves up fare far more similar to what you might actually find in Italy. In my opinion, some of the better Italian food to be found in a neighborhood otherwise dominated by checker-cloth tourist traps and Olive Garden.

While risotto isn't typically my ish, I do have a soft spot for their risotto nero. Oh, and they've already done you a favor by not really playing into the Midtown price hike you might find at similar establishments. Che bellissimo!    

9. Sushi of Gari 46

You're probably starting to think I only ever eat sushi or Italian, and you really wouldn't be wrong. Don't go with what you know here or play it safe, and for the love of god please don't order a California roll. Plop yourself at the sushi bar, and let the chefs work their magic. In the interest of full disclosure, your wallet may not, but hey, who's counting? 

10. Frankie's Spuntino

Bizarrely, the last stop on our list is located inside the shiny new Whole Foods at Bryant Park, which is less than 10 minutes from Times Square.  Don't let that fool you, though, as this longtime West Village staple is the perfect place to grab a mozzarella, tomato, and roasted pepper sandwich to take with you to Bryant Park for people watching. 

Every New Yorker may gripe about Times Square — I'm still not a fan — but there are plenty of gems in which to take refuge from the crowds and the selfie sticks. Keep this list of the best restaurants near Times Square saved on your phone for when everyone's hungry, and you're in imminent danger of ending up at that hellish TGI Fridays. Ciao!