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


  • I don’t know the name of the restaurant, but when I’m in Houston I have to visit a place in Chinatown that serves hand-shaved noodles – the seafood version is my favorite even though I tend to eat the noodles and avoid the cuttlefish, imitation crab, etc. I think it has a ton of garlic – yum! They also serve bowls of savory tofu (translates to tofu brains …)

    I also like the vietnamese sandwiches common in Houston – I’ve only had bun mi thit nuong in NYC once and the pork reminded me of Chinese char siu, in terms of flavor and color.

  • I had ‘proper’ fish & chips in Stratford upon Avon UK last summer,huge piece of Cod fried in beef dripping as were the Chips……..hmmmmm the smell of malt vinegar always evokes that perfect summer evening sat on the river bank.

  • I’m from Minas Gerais, Brazil, and my favorite dish from there is “Frango ao Molho Pardo” [], fresh killed chicken in a sauce made with it’s own blood and served with soft polenta and okra – if you never had it, you must trust me: it is delicious…

  • Roadfood is an excellent website :)

  • My hometown is in Northern Alabama, near the Original Gibson’s Barbecue (called Big Bob now), king of pulled pork, and Greenbriar Barbecue, home of the all-you-can-eat roast chicken. I miss fried catfish and hush puppies too. Oh, and cream of corn, chicken fried steak, and collard greens. Southerners always eat like it’s their last meal.

  • I grew up on the South Shore of Long Island, so I am all about seafood. Freeport’s Nautical Mile has a bunch of really good seafood places and during the summer when you can eat outdoors, there’s nothing like it. Montauk is also great but it’s a helluva trek.

  • There are many favorites in Buffalo, NY – but there is only one Buffalo Chicken-Finger Sub. Crispy chicken fingers doused in Buffalo hot sauce, melted provolone, lettuce, tomato, topped with a chunky blue cheese dressing on a toasted hero roll.
    There are many places serving them these days, even Topps (a local supermarket chain) turns out a good sub. But my favorites are John’s and Viola’s subs.

  • Town Hall Deli in South Orange, NJ makes the greatest sandwich on earth – the Sloppy Joe. This is not the ground beef Manwich sloppy joe. It is “a double-decker gourmet sandwich traditionally consisting of:

    2 meats of your choice on three layers of thin-sliced, light rye bread
    Swiss cheese (atop both meats)
    Homemade cole slaw and Russian dressing”

    Sounds like a normal deli sandwich, but it is so much better.

  • cheeseburgers at White Rose System in Highland Park, New Jersey

    Fried w/ onions, great kaiser bun, order is ready before you are finished paying.


  • Nothing like good old Chicago (yes, I am from and still is in NY rival city) and all its great hot dogs and pizza. Really Greys Papaya has horrible hot dogs. (I spend at least 80 days in Midtown East on 50th and Broadway (across the street from where Wicked is playing), so I do need to know where cheap and good eats are. If you remember seeing a tall Chinese kid lugging six 12-packs of soda and dropping them every ten feet that was me)

    Well since my mother was a Chinese chef, I have to say its traditional Chinese food. Canton cooking is good. Any noodle soup will make me happy.

    But my all time favorite is Stinky Tofu, which is fried tofu covered in a fermented spicy sauce with some pickled cabbage and sometimes radish.

    I do like NY style pizza a little more than Chicago style.
    New York bagels suck.

    question for the people of Midtown. Is there a place that had better pastrami than Katz’s.

  • I am another one from Miami. I love Cuban food too–ropa vieja, maduros, and those guava and cheese pastries… One word: Versailles. I also love fresh seafood and drinks by the ocean.

  • i’m just getting around to reading ML now, and with 30+ comments, i can’t believe no one has mentioned food from new orleans!! i would pay serious money to be able to eat a fried shrimp po’boy from radosta’s in metairie…dressed plus ketchup, pickles and hot sauce. and if i was feeling especially fat, i’d follow it up with the bread pudding souffle and coffee from commander’s. surely there must be mention of some new orleans food in ian’s book, right?

  • Well, I’m from New Orleans and I have lots of favorites from back home. But at the moment, my biggest favorite would be a tie between the barbecued oysters and new potatoes at the late lamented Uglesich’s and a meatball po-boy dressed at Rocky and Carlo’s.

    BTW, CHow, I’ve been to Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur, AL. Darn good ‘cue and interesting white sauce. Love the smell of the place from the road.

  • I’m a native NY’er so I’ll just go with Deli. Real delicatessen like Katz. Now when I say “real” I mean Kosher or Kosher Style. Corned beef served fatty, greasy and hot on real rye bread. Oh, and only spicy brown mustard will do. None of this neon yellow stuff!

  • im from chicago — the food i miss the most are chicago style vienna beef hot dogs from any place within city limits and a few places in the ‘burbs.. luke’s, tore’s, the weiner circle, clark street dogs… anywhere as long as they have vienna beef hot dogs, cheese fries made with the fake orange cheese and rc cola or coca-cola.

    better than what you get at nathan’s. but, nyc pizza beats chicago style any day.

  • Also from Chicago – where pizza, dogs and ribs run rampant. Not sure what Sarah is talking about as Chicago pizza beats NYC pizza hands down – a little bit ashamed we share the same home town. I could talk about Chicago pizza, dogs, and ribs all day but I think midtownlunch is looking for something original.

    Anyways this very original Chicago creation hauls from the North Suburbs at a place called the Chuck Wagon.

    The name of the sandwich is the “Nikki Special”. Grilled cheeseburger piled high with slices of lamb gyro. Top it off with grilled onions. Lettuce and tomato optional. Usually go with ketchup but have used taziki. Its a life changing sandwich.

    Side note they also do a grilled cheese with gryo called the Waitress Special.

  • I think my favorite food from my hometown (Odessa, TX) would probably be the chihuahua sandwich from the Skyview drive-inn (originally in Lamesa, TX) with two fried corn tortillas, flat and in between them like a sandwich is pimento cheese, taco meat and chopped raw cabbage – a delicious combination…

    I also love bean and cheese burritos done Tex Mex style – Rosa’s and Garibaldy’s really have the best.

  • Miami. You have to mention Joe’s Stone Crab. Until you have had Stone Crabs, Hash Browns and creamed garlic spinach you haven’t lived.

  • I am from Queens, yo. I say nuthin beats an Italian ice from the Lemon Ice King of Corona. Summer would not be summer without them.

    Now can I have a book? Pretty please? Pretty please with pudding and italian ice and sprinkles and whipped cream and pumpkin and fried pork on top?

  • Like Sarah, I’m from Maine, so I’d have to say red hot dogs. Yum! Reds–the hot dogs, not the lobster!–are the taste of summer for me.

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