A Look at Zagat 2007… Midtown Lunch Style!

The 2007 Zagat Guide to New York Restaurants came out last week, and I was very disappointed to discover that Midtown Lunch is not one of the special categories!  They’ve got “Business Lunch: Midtown”, and they added a ”People Watching: Hipsters” category- but no Midtown Lunch.  Which is sort of strange, because I can think of 5 times last week where I thought “Where should I eat lunch today?”, but didn’t once think “Gee, I’d really like to eat at a place where I can stare at a guy with a Rollie Fingers mustache drinking a PBR.”

Anyway, despite being snubbed again as a legitimate food category, I have dissected the guidebook to bring you all the interesting Midtown Lunch tidbits.  As always, we ignore the expensive “Business Lunch” options, in favor of the cheaper eats.  Here are the places that received over a 20:

  • 24 Burger Joint (56th btw. 7+8th)- Not surprisingly one of the best Burgers in the city, is also tops of Midtown Lunch Zagat list.  “Secret no more” and “out the door lines” confirm what we already know about this place hidden in the Parker Meridien hotel lobby.  What is surprising is that the Midtown institution, Prime Burger did not make it into the guide.
  • 22 Kati Roll  (46th btw. 6+7th) I was most happy to see this one on the list!  One of the first places ever to be written about on Midtown Lunch and the third most viewed post (after Chipotle & Oms/b).  The term “Indian Burritos” made it into the guide, as did the mention of the incredibly “slow” service.
  • 22 Dishes (2 Locations)- It’s what every deli in Midtown aspires to be… they have a buffet by the lb. but still good enough to be listed in Zagat!  “High end” “huge variety” but the “prices add up” at this “mobbed” Midtown lunch joint… so “expect to wait”.
  • 21 Chop’t (2 Midtown Locations)- Tops of the build your own salad bars… the “super fresh fixins” and the “ridiculous lunch lines” both get mentioned.
  • 21 ‘wichcraft- Any place opened by Tom Colicchio is going to get mentioned in Zagat’s.  His Grammercy Tavern (which he gave up control of a few months ago) has been voted “Most Popular” in Zagat’s for the past 493 years straight.  The ”Impeccably crafted” sandwiches are an “amazing value considering the quality”.  I don’t know about amazing value… but it’s a darn good sandwich.

The rest of the pack, and the worst rated restaurant in Midtown… after the jump:

  • 19 Menchanko-Tei (2 Locations)- One of the best Ramen houses in Midtown, I was excited to see it listed, but can’t help but wonder what happened to Sapporo & Men Kui Tei.  The “savory noodles and flavorful broth” make for an “absolutely authentic Japanese ramen” experience. 
  • 19 Hale & Hearty Soup – Top of the chains… nobody needs a description of this place.
  • 19Mandoo Bar – One of my favorite Koreatown places… “Multi-colored dumplings” at “dirt cheap prices”.
  • 18 Monster Sushi - I’ve walked by this place a few times, but never tried it.  Maybe I will after reading about its “Godzilla-size portions” of “fresh, reliable sushi”.
  • 18 Chipotle – Well, you know how I feel about this one.  The rating makes sense.  Half of the city in love giving it a 25 balanced with the other half who hate, giving it an 11.  Though, Zagat does make us proud by calling it “McMexican”.
  • 18 Cafe Spice (2 Locations) – “Flavorful & Satisfying Indian chainlet”.  Restaurant on 55th btw. 5+6th has slow service, but you can get food quick at it’s Grand Central Food Court counter.
  • 17 Burritoville- Not surprisingly, Burritoville loses to Chipotle by 1 point, but the listing is a little more positive since it doesn’t have as many haters.
  • 16 Burger Heaven – This Midtown Lunch chain scored a less then respectable 16.  Strangely enough, Zagat mentions the “Cheap Tabs”.  We actually find Burger Heaven to be pretty expensive…
  • 16 Cosi- I was sort of disappointed to see Cosi lose out to other chains like Chipotle & Hale & Hearty, but oh well.  They do give credit to the delicious bread…

If you are lucky enough to have a job where you get to take clients out and expense it, here’s the Zagat list of recommended Business Lunches for Midtown.  (As you read it, know that the rest of us ”normal” people hate you):

  • Aquavit
  • Cafe Gray
  • Dawat
  • db Bistro Moderne
  • Del Frisco’s
  • Four Seasons
  • Jean Georges
  • Le Bernardin
  • Milos
  • Nobu 57
  • Palm
  • Sushi Yasuda

There were some ranked places with ties to Midtown Lunch… including Daisy May’s BBQ (23) the Restaurant on 11th ave. and 46th which won best BBQ in New York (they have carts in Midtown), and Hallo Berlin on 10th ave. (18) which also has a cart in Midtown.  Pampano (49th btw. 2+3rd) the upscale Mexican restaurant received a 24, but Pampano Taqueria was left off.

Finally, bringing up the rear… the worst rated Midtown restaurant I could find in the guide goes to…. the ESPN ZONE!!! Pulling in a glorious 12.  In all fairness though, Friday’s, Applebee’s, Hooters and the Sbarro’s Pizza buffet didn’t even make it… so they can’t truly claim to be the worst- although with a 12, I’d almost rather be left off.  Like the old saying goes, better to keep quiet and let people think you are stupid, then to talk and have them know you’re stupid.

Places we were really surprised not to see:  Margon, Men Kui Tei, Prime Burger, Sapporo, Taam Tov, & Lenny’s.  Places we fully expect to see next year: Fika & Oms/b.  If you are a Zagat nerd (like me) and want to add anything that we might have forgotten, or just give your opinion about the ratings- feel free to post a comment below…


  • Love the site. I live in Midtown and your site is a real resource, and always fun to read.

    I hate to say it, but I doubt Oms/b will be in Zagat’s next year. Oms/b isn’t new. I used to go there 3 years ago or more when a friend used to work near Grand Central. If it isn’t in Zagat’s by now, I bet it never will!

  • Hi! It was strange and great to meet you today, literally hours after reading this blog. So cool that you know my hubby-to-be. Best of luck with everything and maybe we’ll cross paths in the food/publishing world…

  • Frankly, I’m surprised ‘wichcraft made it. I went there recently, hopeful but skeptical for my $9 sandwich, and I then learned that my sandwich is *pre-made*! I’m surprised that Zagat included a place that serves a sandwich that’s been sitting in the fridge.

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