PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Eli”

Every Tuesday I turn the site over to a Midtown Lunch’er for their recommendations of places to eat Lunch in Midtown. Today it’s Eli, a stooge who loves Italian, but hates Italian American…

Name: Eli


Bond Company Stooge

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
51st & 6th

Favorite Kind of Food:
Sandwiches, raw fish, raw beef, dumplings, french fries, hot sauce, cheese, anything Italian.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Italian-American, Indian, and anything that was prepared by someone who is over-ambitious and under-conscientious.

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
Dan Dan Noodle at Hing Won on 48th btwn 5+6th; Hakata Ramen at Menchanko-Tei on 55th St; Chicken and spicy rice from King Tut cart on 6th and 50th; Burger and a bag of fries at the Burger Joint.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Used to be Citarella To Go. What a reliable place that was. Now I guess it’s Chipotle (guilty pleasure). Here’s the thing about Chipotle: if you choose to spend your $9.83 for lunch there, are you sending a message to the McDonalds Corporation that there’s a strong consumer base that demands naturally raised, antibiotic-free foods?  Or are you just perpetuating the McDonald’s status quo of destroying rain forests, farming and slaughtering animals inhumanely, and making poor people fat?

Place you discovered thanks to MidtownLunch: The roast pork at Cafe Cello. I think I have an actual piece of crispy pork skin lodged in my aorta, but it was worth it.

Dream job location for lunch purposes only, and why?: Parma, Italy. The fish market in Tokyo. Anywhere lunch is called “siesta”, includes a nap, and everyone goes home for three hours.

Anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers?: Does anyone know of a Mongolian grill around here?  There used to be a place that was similar to Cafe Duke, in that it had everything, hot and cold salad bars, etc…I think it was even on the same block that Duke is now on…. they had a serve-yourself bar, with thinly sliced raw pork, beef, chicken, lamb, or shrimp, lots of vegetables, different kinds of noodles & rice.  Then you went over and chose all these different sauces, chopped garlic, ginger, different kinds of pepper sauces, fermented black beans, etc etc.  You gave them to the dude at the grill and he had these two gigantic chopstick-like things that he used to stir-fry your food. That place closed down a few years ago, and I haven’t found anything similar since. Any ideas?


Where to start.  I’m pretty sure the only message you send when eating at Chipotle is that you are willing to settle for crappy burritos!  I do however agree with you about the Burger Joint.  In fact, I ate there yesterday.  Burger Joint porn, my Chipotle Challenge, and your chance to recommend a Mongolian BBQ place to Eli, after the jump…

The Burger Joint is a great burger.  If you haven’t been, you really should check it out at least once.  And it’s in the Lobby of a super fancy hotel.  So great…  As for Chipotle- not so much.  As a matter of fact, despite craving a burrito at least once a week, I’ve managed to not eat at Chipotle since posting about the new one in my building last July.  It may seem like an easy feat, but Chipotle is my office’s collective go-to lunch (it’s in our building)… and I love burritos.  And it’s the kind of place that after months of not eating there, you forget how bad it is.  You start saying “I could really use a burrito right now… Chipotle can’t be that bad.”

I didn’t want to fall into that trap, so to protect myself I decided to not eat at Chipotle for a whole year.  July 18th, 2006 was my last post about Chipotle… so on July 18, 2007 I will re-evaluate this place I have come to hate so much- and give you my supreme theory on burritos, which I have been cultivating since moving here from L.A.  There is a reason we West Coast transplants are constantly disappointed by New York Burritos, and I am close to cracking the code.  T MINUS 3 Months, 15 Days until Chipotle

As for Mongolian BBQ, I’ve got nothing.  So if you have a rec for Eli, post it as a comment below… and as always if you have any Midtown Lunch news or you’d like to be next weeks Profiled Midtown Lunch’er, just email me at


  • Azure, on the SW corner of 3rd Ave & 51st St., has a mongolian grill. They are a hot/cold pay by the pound salad bar type of joint with a grill in the back- i think it’s not part of the pay by the pound, but not sure. I haven’t eaten the grill so I can’t speak about its quality.

  • You should note that, aside from any feelings about the relative merits of the chipotle burrito, McDonald’s divested completely from Chipotle late last year, so I’m not sure eating there sends any message to McDonald’s about anything.

  • Man! I can’t find a link to it anywhere! But there’s a place called Food World somewhere around 45th between 5th & Madison, closer to Madison. It has Mongolian by the pound. The name sounds kinda yuck but the Mongolian fixin’s are always fresh.

  • Food World on 46th between 5th and Mad. It’s a dirty-deli with sub-par food, but the Mongolian Grill is ok.

  • Yeah, Azure on 51st and 3rd Ave has Mongolian, and it is pretty good and fresh, but it is basically impossible to do it for under 10 bucks. They have pretty good sandwiches too.

  • Why do people get so bitchy about Chipotle? Get over it. Eat it or don’t and leave it at that. Send whatever pointless message you want to the evil corporate overlords; neither they nor I care.

  • there was a mongolian grill at the back of this deli on the east side of madison, between 42nd and 43rd, closer to 43rd (forget the name of the deli) – go all the way to the back of this place, and you can do it up in style…

  • Longwood Gourmet Deli (48th and Lex) has Mongolian BBQ, 6.49 / lb. Pretty tasty

  • Check out Variety on 48th between 5th and 6th, there’s a mongolian grill in the very back. Chicken, beef, scallops, shrimp, with all the sauces you might want.

  • Longwood on 48th and Lex is the way to go as it is much more reasonable than Azure and has a better selection.

  • yeah as someone else already mentioned, mc donalds no longer owns any part of chipotle. also it is not a new york burrito, it is a chain burrito. they had it in colorado and la before we got it here. that having been said it is not a good mexican, but it is not bad fast food.

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