PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Laren Spirer”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a Midtown Lunch’er for their recommendations of places to eat Lunch in Midtown.  This week it’s Laren Spirer, who you may recognize as one of the main food bloggers on Gothamist.  What you may not know is, she’s also a Midtown Lunch’er.

Name: Laren Spirer


Pro Bono Manager (& Food Blogger at Gothamist

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
55th & 3rd Ave.

Favorite Kind of Food:
Do I really have to pick one kind? That’s just downright cruel.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Goat cheese. I want to like it, I really do, but I just don’t.

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
Sadly, my favorite place and dish are no more. I loved the truffled gnudi at the recently closed Dona, so I’m hoping that Michael Psilakis resurrects it at one of his other venues. For now, I can try to make it at home.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Our office cafeteria (which is pretty good, for the record). I also have a strange addiction to the salad sandwiches at Chop’t, mostly because I think it makes me feel like I’m eating something remotely healthy on my way back from the gym.

Place you discovered thanks to MidtownLunch: I read about Oms/B and am still hoping to try it, although the 10+ block walk from my office might be pushing it.

Dream job location, purely for lunch purposes?: Chinatown. I would love to be within walking distance of kick ass banh mi, pho, dumplings, and noodles.


Have you been outside the past few days?  Going to places less than 10 blocks away is just wasting the beautifulness!  I’m also intrigued by this office cafeteria thing.  Anybody else have one of these in their office?  More on that,  plus how you can be next weeks Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er, after the jump…

Normally, I allow the profiled lunch’er to ask a question- but this week, I’m stealing Laren’s question.  What’s the deal with these office cafeteria’s???  My office doesn’t have one- so I have totally missed out on this experience.  Do you have one?  Is it free?  Subsidized?  Awesome?  Terrible?  I hear the Google one is amazing- but that’s not in Midtown.  I need to sneak into some of these places… or at least get some spies to go for me and report back (with pictures).  Anybody interested?  Comment below (and make sure to mention where you work), or email me at

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


  • the caf at my firm is subsidized. the food is definitely a lot better than you’d expect it to be and the menu changes every day so it’s hard to be too bored with it.

    however, if you eat there every day, you’ll obviously get sick of it pretty quickly. i only eat there when i have no time to leave the building. they have decent salads, sandwiches, hot meals with about 8 different choices in sides, burger grill, and then an “extra” station which might have an omelet station, fried rice station, pasta, stir-fry or other “made to order” stuff.

    re: pricing…you can get a hot entree, two sides, bottled water and dessert (pudding/fruit/jello/muffin) for $5.50.

    i would take pictures but it’s never that busy and i’d be a little more than conspicuous, i’m afraid.

  • not much helpful information in that post. it’s a nice idea to solicit opinions from the masses of midtownlunchers, but how about some more screening to make sure they have something interesting to say. . . . Laran’s “pretty good” inhouse caf. doesn’t help me with my lunch selection. thx

    Really?  I didn’t even realize people read the suggestions.  I thought everyone just liked to use it to find potential dates.  -zach

  • stan’s comment is pretty harsh…but I have to agree. To answer your cafeteria question: CondeNast! Have you never been there? It’s at 4 Times Square (42nd and Broadway). You’ve gotta know someone to get you in the building. But, once you’re in, it’s (comparatively) cheap and delicious. The atmosphere is nice too if you like pretentious glass and steel (Frank Gehry) architecture coupled with hot girls who work at fashion magazines. Try to go on a Wednesday for pasta day. Or get the stir fry (any day).

    I’ve heard about that one!!!  Anyone want to take me???  :-) -zach

  • You gotta be more specific, Teen Wolf — Conde Nast also has a cafeteria in their building at 750 3rd Avenue. Unlike the Gehry cafeteria at 4SQ, though, that one is cold, overpriced, and depressing.

  • My company has a cafeteria and it’s subsidized. Not as cheap as Jasmine’s though. It’s 4.25ish for a hot entree and two sides. Sometimes we have huge holiday specials where we can have black cod or lobster or steak blah blah…. I’ve taken pictures before but only posted them on my personal blog. Whoops. (And though I post a few pictures of myself here and there, I don’t want my “true identity” revealed nor my name linked with my company.) Ah well.

  • Our building has a cafeteria, Reuters building on Times Square, subsidized, but the menu gets old very quickly and the quality is comparable to a midtown deli. My friend works at the Hearst building on 57th, their cafeteria is supposed to be pretty good.

  • Here are a few more suggestions (since I wasn’t as prolific as the public seems to want): Taksim, on 2nd between 54th & 55th, for falafel sandwiches and middle eastern fare, and Grand Sichuan, on 2nd btw 55th & 56th — great for group lunches. I have gotten some co-workers hooked on their sauteed pea shoots and I love their spicy dan dan noodles.

  • What happened to the Cafeteria in the basement of the McGraw Hill Building (Ave. of Am. & 49th St.)?

    Yeah… it’s been gone for over a year.  That’s the building I work in… -zach

  • I agree… that was the least informative lunch’er of the week that this blog has ever done. She can’t pick a favorite food, the places she enjoys no longer exist, and the place she “discovered” on this site – she hasn’t even been to.

    I’m looking forward to something better next week.

  • I am not a Conde Nast employee, but work in the 42nd/Bdwy building and eat in the caf frequently. The food is subsidized, so you can get a good sandwich, burger & fries or huge stir fry for $5-6. The salad bar is also better than most. The variety goes in cycles, and they’ve been on repeat for awhile now – hoping that it will get better now that spring is here and there are more fresh produce options. Overall, the quality of the food is great.

    FYI, the management company that runs the CN caf also runs the Google caf.

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