Smashingly Good Burgers From a National Chain

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Of all of the various Midtownlunch contributors and personalities, I am probably the most vocal in my outward contempt towards the chainification of New York’s restaurant scene. Not because I’m some flag waiving hippy that’s rallying against ‘the man’, but because I work in financial services and firmly believe that chain restaurants must sacrifice their integrity for the sake of profitability and appeasing shareholders. So it came as an utter surprise to me when I tried NYC’s first Smashburger – a chain over 250 locations strong – and came away as a changed man.
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The Rotisserie at Chicken Provence Might Haunt Your Dreams

Rotisserie chicken is not exactly a “hip” food, nor one that you often hear people gush about (not counting that one place on the Upper East Side.)  That second part changed for me last week when this tweet @Midtownlunch sent me to lunch at Chicken Provence—a newish French chicken takeout place—on 39th St. (btw Lex + 3rd). I got no less than five comments from people back at my office wondering what the amazing smell was. The good news was the chicken lived up to the aroma wafting from it.  Read more »

Celebrate Black Day at Son Ja Jang / Muk Eunji

If you’re a singleton and a fan of Korean food, you’ll want to drown your dating woes today with a hearty bowl of jjajangmyeon ($7.99) at Son Ja Jang in K-town (on 32nd btw. 5+6th)  in recognition of Black Day (April 14). It’s actually the same restaurant as Muk Eunji, although oddly there are two separate menus. Here, the noodles are made in-house, which makes this the only Korean restaurant with house made jjajangmyeon noodles that we know of in Manhattan, and then slathered in a rich gravy made from fermented soy beans and striated with chunks of pork. It’s served with a side of kimchi, danmuji (pickled radish), and raw onion that is meant to be dipped into a side of the same jjajang sauce or vinegar – all of which help to cut the richness of the sauce and noodles.

Nonetheless, it need not be Black Day nor do you have to be single to enjoy a hearty bowl of noodles at a Midtown lunch friendly price.

Muk Eun Ji, 34 West 32nd St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-736-0099

Flatiron News: Get Your Girl Scout Cookies!

Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.

I was a Girl Scout for about 13 years, and, proudly, I finished Girl Scouts by earning my Gold Award. This information collided with Flatiron Lunch when Mad Park News posted about a secret pop-up Girl Scout cookie shop on 23rd btw. 5+6th until May 8th. I has always found it difficult to get my fix of Samoas, Thin Mint and Tagalongs in the city, so I hope to visit this cookie shop soon, but hopefully, not on an empty stomach. Because there is only room for a box or two of cookies in my freezer.

Free Smashburger Alert: Manhattan's very first Smashburger location, which anhattans-first-smashburger/">we told you about back in January, opens today on 33rd btw. 5+6th Ave and to celebrate they're giving away free classic Smashburgers from 10am to 2pm, and then again from 5-8pm 10am to 8pm.  Limit one per customer. Curious what to expect?  Zach wrote about L.A.'s first location at the beginning of last year. 

Is Puff Cha Worth the Out-of-Bounds Trek?

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If you live by the old adage that variety is the spice of life, you can eat very well at Puff Cha, the newest addition to Hells Kitchen’s cluttered Thai food scene. The menu is one of the cheaper Thai menu’s that I’ve found in the area, and also strays mercifully away from the obvious pad thai’s and the like. Instead the menu gets its legs from a variety of both savory and sweet Thai puff pastries ($2.49 each or 3 for $6.79) as an eclectic lineup of noodle dishes and curries. An encyclopedia of cha (tea) as well as desserts round out the menu to make it not only an intriguing lunch spot, but also a destination for a sweet snack or high tea.
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It’s Free Cone Day!!!: If you didn't know that today is one of the best American holidays, you know now! It's Ben & Jerry's 35th Annual Free Cone Day and the goal is to give out a million free ice cream scoops. I think this is a cause the Midtown Lunch community to take up. Our Ben & Jerry's can be found in the Rockefeller Center Concourse, on the 4th floor of Macy's 34th Street, and on 44th Street btw 7th+8th. Freeloaders and ice cream lovers, engage!

Plenty of Pleasure With the Pain at Hot Kitchen

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I knew that I was in good hands when I sat down in the comfortable dining room of the newly opened branch of Hot Kitchen (251 E 53rd St between 2nd & 3rd Ave) and heard not a lick of English spoken amongst the wait staff and customers. Instead, at this East Village transplant, I heard only Mandarin being spoken. And I knew I was in even better hands when confronted with a diverse lunch menu (27 items in all) that rang in at $10 or less. The lunch specials include rice as well as a choice of soup (wonton, hot and sour, or egg drop) or soda.
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Zagat is already compiling data for their 2015 guide and you only have one more week to have your voice heard and score a free copy of the guide. Know Midtown and the rest of NYC like the back of your hand? Zagat is looking for local experts to take their New York City Restaurants Survey. Not only could your comments be quoted in an official Zagat review, but everybody who takes the survey will get the 2015 New York City Restaurant guide for free. In addition the 5 wittiest reviewers will win a FREE Nexus 7 tablet. You need to complete the survey by Tuesday April 15th, 2014. So what are you waiting for?!

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Cer Te’s April Sandwich is Vegetarian: We thought this might be an April fools day joke at first but it looks like it's the real deal. Cer Te's April sandwich of the month is vegetarian. It features parsley & romano crusted fried asparagus and lemon caper whipped potatoes in a chick pea crepe, is $8.95 and is available all month long. (At least it's fried!) 20 W 55th St (btw. 5+6th). 212-397-2020