PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Ian Jackman”… PLUS another book giveaway

Every Tuesday I turn over Midtown Lunch to a random worker, for their favorite places to eat lunch in Midtown. Today, it’s Ian Jackman, author of the book “Eat This! 1001 Things to Eat Before You Diet”. The book is pretty sweet, and is now top of my list of things I wish I had written. It’s one story after another of amazing food from all around the country, including some of our very own Midtown Lunch’ing favorites. I’ve got 5 copies of the book to give away at the end of the post…

Name: Ian Jackman



Where in Midtown do you Work?:
I used to work at Random House when it was on East 50th St.

Favorite Kind of Food:
My book lists more than 1,000 foods or individual dishes and it’s impossible to pick ten even. I love red and green chile over anything in Santa Fe; I love fresh fruit in season–cherries, yellow and white peaches, blueberries, raspberries. They have to be fresh. I think lamb is a very underused and underappreciated meat in this country. Greek places do wonderful things with fresh lamb. Very simply cooked–grilled–it has a lot of rich flavor. As I get older, I get a bigger kick out of ice cream. Had a couple of chocolate Brown Bonnets from Carvel this past weekend. Hard to beat. I’m glad Pinkberry is establishing a presence in NYC. I love gelato from Il Laboratorio del Gelato. Basil, Black Mission Fig, Toasted Sesame…

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
A South of the Border Burger at Islands Burgers and Shakes (9th Ave. btw. 51+52nd); a bauernwurst on a hard roll with sauerkraut, red cabbage and onions at the Hallo Berlin Cart (54th and 5th); anything with lamb at Molyvos (7th Ave. btw. 55+56th); the chopped salad at Patsy’s (56th btw. B’way+8th).

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: I don’t have any co-workers anymore, but when I did, we would go to Zarela (2nd Ave. btw. 50+51st) sometimes for some excellent Margaritas… but I guess that wasn’t lunch.

Midtown Lunch places that you wrote about in “Eat This!”: Burger Joint, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ (There is one in the Grand Central Food Court), Cabana Carioca (which is now closed), Ess-a-Bagel (3rd & 51st), Gahm Mi Oak (32nd btw. Bway+5th), Han Bat (35th btw. 5+6th), & Hallo Berlin.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Somewhere overlooking the Mediterranean with my family, eating fish straight out of the sea. Why? Because we must be doing okay if this is the case.

Anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? What is your favorite food to eat from your hometown?

My favorite hometown food, plus a chance to win a copy of Ian’s book- after the jump…

Well- I’m from Miami, so I’ve got to go with Cuban food. Churrasco, covered in grilled onions and chimichurri, black beans, rice and maduros (sweet fried plantains). Luckily we have no shortage of that in Midtown. Got your own favorite hometown eats? Chances are Ian has eaten it, and written about it in his book “Eat This! 1001 Things to Eat Before You Diet”. But just in case he hasn’t, post it as a comment below, and you’ll be entered to win your very own copy (I have got 5 to give away).

And, as always, if you have news, suggestions, or you want to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er- email me at


  • On the theme of lamb not being appreciated, my favorite hometown food would have to be a soup called “Harcho”. It is a soup developed in Russia, a culinary style that I believe is also greatly underappreciated. It is composed mainly of lamb and rice in a rich spicy broth that has a nice full bodied flavor. Have yet to have one that has that nasty improperly cooked lamb smell and it’s a great filling soup for a cold day.

  • mmm plaintains!! sadly, this profile lacks the greasy sensibility i expect from a lunch’er.

  • If you ever get a chance to try a Sarah Bernhardt, first made by Jespersens’ in my hometown of Scarsdale they are TO DIE FOR!!!

    But my penultimate, favorite hometown food would be chicken wings from the Candlelight Inn on Central Ave. Not only is the place CLASSIC (former Hells Kitchen hangout) but the food is down right awesome. The wings come in Mild, Hot, Super Hot and Chernobyl. The Chernobyl’s are for drunken-bar-bets only, but the Hot are down right deeeeelish!

  • Billy D’s Full Belly Deli in my hometown of Shelton, CT has the best bacon egg and cheese sandwhich, not to mention the cheeseburger sub.

    Also Archiemoore’s wings are a local favorite, in near by Milford,CT.

    And a city that does not get any recognition is New Haven, CT. you could right a 101 places to eat before you die book dedicated to that city. Hell if I move back there I will start a food blog for New Haven.

  • Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream — a chain that started in Cinci but there’s one in my hometown of Columbus. “Chip” in Graeter speak is actually “block”, meaning big, irregular blocks of dark chocolate which are lodged in their incredibly dense raspberry ice cream. By the time I’m done with the ice cream, there’s still a wad of dark chocolate I have to chew my way through. Yeah! I miss midwestern ice cream today.

  • New Haven has at leat a dozen places that should be in the book… maybe they are.

    Pepe’s ‘claims” to be the first pizza place in the US and has the pizza to prove they are one of the best brick oven pizza ever. est. 1925.

    Louies Lunch established 1900- amazing hot dogs
    The yankee doodle established 1950 . Hands down best american dinner in the country. Grill donuts are an awesome treat, and they have the best hamburgers/sliders.

  • Hmm, one of my favorites from my hometown, which is Kailua, Hawaii, is fried spam, rice, gravy, fried eggs (though I took ‘em scrambled), and macaroni salad. Bland, salty, fatty, ISLAND FOOD par excellence… Follow that up with a malasada, which is a yummy, chewy, big, flat Phillipino dougnuts coated in granular sugar — holy Jesus Christmas that shit is good, bra…

    Saimin is, of course, a delectable alternative. Ramen noodles with spam (of freaking course), fishcake, scallions, fish (bonito) broth… Wow. Follow that with a little smoke, bra, and head on down to Lanikai Beach…

    I want one of those books… Sounds awesome!

    BTW, if I put my email in there does it become public?


    No, your email will not become public.  Please include it so I know how to contact you if you win.  -zach

  • Just read my comment re malasada, I should have said: “that shit is ono, bra.” While a kama’aina, I have truly been on the mainland too long…

  • Well, there’s nothing that says “hometown” is confined to the U.S., and since I was born in South India, I’m gonna claim it as my “hometown” (ok, ok, I was raised in the U.S. — Miami, actually — but I go back frequently, and I only ever ate Indian food at home). Any objection?

    One of my favorites is potato stew (it’s also spellled “Ishtew” by some) served with a nice crispy dosa. It’s very simple – start with onions, jalapenos, and ginger, steep them in fresh coconut milk and toss in the ‘taters. The potatoes take on the sweet from the coconut milk, and the heat from the jalapenos, and then crumble slightly to thicken the “stew.” It’s traditionally served with idlis (the little steamed rice flour pancakes that look like flying saucers) or aappams (rice flour and coconut milk batter cooked into a bowl-shaped crepe) but I love it with a huge, crispy dosa…

  • I have to say my favorite hometown food is a plate of hashbrowns from Waffle House. Which, okay, is not particular to my hometown of Augusta, GA, but particular to the South, and the only time I get to eat them is when I’m at home. Preferably a double order smothered (which means with onions for you uninitiated folk).

  • There is no better food than poutine. It’s easy to make on your own. It’s totally affordable. And smothering french fries in cheese curds and gravy is majestic. I hate that NYC has restaurants that feel the need to ‘upscale’ such a classic.

  • Seattle:

    Something that seattle has in abundance but I find notably (and surprisingly) lacking here in NYC, are good Thai and good teriyaki shops (quick, cheap places that pretty much only sell teriyaki usually for about $5- There are a ton near UofW, and all over).

    For specifics:
    Dick’s Burgers should be noted. A drive/walk-up burger joint with great, unique fries. And its open late night

    Surprisingly Seattle has a great BBQ spot (transplants) across the bridge in the form of Daisy’s BBQ that used to be a mechanic’s garage until his wife started serving BBQ and that business took over. I usually get a brisket sandwhich every time I go back. And great cornbread.

    For the chocalte lovers- I understand that Fran’s Chocolates are great.

  • Coming from Philly (I’m sure you can guess what’s coming) I would have to say a Philly cheesesteak is my favorite hometown food. Jim’s on southstreet is the best (yes I’ve been to all of them) wit onions and peppers and of course whiz. All the ingredients just work so well together to form such a marvelous creation. I’ve been eating them since I was little and I get one (several) whenever I go home. Your clothes smell great (or terrible) after leaving Jim’s and I love it, although many people don’t appreciate it.

  • I am a sucker for indian pudding as a Bostonian. Few places still serve it. As for actual local food, I would travel hundreds of miles for a super burrito from Anna’s Taqueria. *mouth waters*

    My second hometown (ie living with my grandparents during the summer as a child) was in in North Carolina. Mmm… persimmon pudding. You can’t buy american persimmons anywhere. My grandfather had to go to golfcourses and take them from the trees there.

  • Mmmmm these comments make me miss *all* the places I have lived! Waffle House is the best! Also pizza in New Haven *is* great! I also remember getting really great wings there… I can’t remember the name of the place, though.

    My Maine hometown fave is Wasses Hot Dogs!
    counter-intuitive for Maine? Like I should be saying Lobster or something fancy schmany? No way Wasses is the best thing you could possibly have to eat.

  • Elizabeth, NJ – Tommy’s Italian hot-dogs. Hands-down. Been going there since I was a kid and they’re just as good today. Juicy Best’s hot dogs, perfectly crunchy and greasy potatoes, onions, peppers. You haven’t had an Italian hot dog until you’ve had Tommy’s. No seats, nothing fancy…you walk up, order and find somewhere to dive into the best lunch you’ve ever had. If only it was in Midtown…..

  • hey Sarah was the place called TK’s, for wings in New Haven…

    Nate – El Pelon has Anna’s beat as far as burrito/tacos

  • I would just like to second Ian’s nod to Zarela – home of quite possibly the best frozen marg’s in the city.

  • Michael stern has a great web site devoted to local eats –

    My fav local food are the franks from the Super Duper weenie man in fairfield connecticut. gary z is the man and his dogs are well known in an area with some legendary hot dog stands like Swanky’s and Rawlys.

  • I’m from Long Island, so I chose bagels. Sometimes in NYC you can get a bagel miss, but out on the Island it’s really hard to come by a bagel that’s not completely delicious! Probably from the arguable quality of the water…

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