PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Joe”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. This week it’s Joe, a Graphic Design guy who’s into Pho and looking some Banh Mi (what else is new?)…

Name: Joe


Graphic Design Guy

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
37th & Broadway

Favorite Kind of Food:
This is totally dependant upon my mood, as I’ll eat pretty much anything you put in front of me. I guess my top food choices lately have been BBQ & Middle Eastern. I like anything that has lots of flavor, or can make me sweat when I’m eating it.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
I hate the TGI Applebennigachili’s type restaurants. I had a job that required a lot of travel and inevitably the popular vote would land us at one of these sit down glorified McDonald’s. There’s always a better option than those types of places. I also have a texture issue, so things like jellyfish and most raw meats get the thumbs down from me.

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
One of my coworkers took me to Pho 32, on, well…32nd street, which was great. Sometimes you just need some pho. I also dig Arang (32nd btw. B’way+5th) if I have a little extra cash.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: There are two places. When I want something “healthy” I’ll usually go to Bryant Deli (6th Ave. btw. 37+38th) for a salad. They’ve got the same type of set up as a Metro or Pax for half the price. I hadn’t been there in a while, and the last time I went it seemed like it wasn’t quite as fresh as when I first found the place, and it was a buck more, but still totally reasonable, comparatively. The other is the Chicken and Rice cart on 36th & 6th ave. This conversely has gone from “okay” to one of the better chicken and rice carts in the immediate vicinity.

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: Last week about half the production staff in my office went to Kati Roll (39th btw. 5+6th). I loved it, but most everyone else seemed to spend a half hour groaning, holding their stomachs and inevitably slipping into a food coma. A handful of us made the walk uptown to Kwik Meal (6th Ave. & 45th St.) the other day as I loved their sandwiches at the Vendys.  Their chicken and rice place was awesome, by the way.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? I’d love to work from home in Astoria. There’s so many great, inexpensive options, and a short bike ride to Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. With an hour lunch in Astoria I think it’s possible to get pretty much anything my cold heart desires.

Anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? Where can I get a good Banh Mi in the Macy’s / K town area? I searched the site, and came up empty handed, and I have a hard timebelieving that there are no good (or at least passable) Banh Mi placesin K town.

Ah yes… the Banh Mi question again.  What ever happened to that Banh Mi cart some of you readers were going to start up?  Any progress on that?  In the meantime, I finally made it over to Saigon 48 the other day (on 48th btw. B’way+8th).  Not the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had, but it was ok.  A photo of one of the dishes I tried, after the jump…

The lunch special is pretty cheap, especially for a nice sit down restaurant ($6.95)- but it’s actually even cheaper if you order it ahead of time and take it to go ($6.45). I think I might try that the next time (before giving it the full +/-).

And, as always, if you want to be the next Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er, email me at


  • Zach, what is that dish? it looks like bun (my favorite!) but … is that peanut sauce?

  • It is indeed… they actually give you a little cup of peanut sauce, and a little cup of nuoc cham. I think the peanut sauce is to dip your spring roll into, but I actually like pouring the peanut sauce on my rice noodles. Does that make me weird?

  • Astoria! I too would love to work from home b/c Astoria is the best for variety of food – however, I like people watching in midtown better – they’re like ravenous animals in suits. It’s great.

  • I think I could deal with hanging out in one of the 30th Ave cafes all day, downing endless frappes and people-watching. Working is so over-rated. :)

  • Nice, Margot: “Ravenous people in suits.”

    Sounds like G Bar, a gay bar on 19th Street, on a Friday at ~5:00… LOL!

  • why would there be banh mi in ktown?

  • peanut sauce is one of the best sauces there is, of course you’re not weird! I’ve just never seen it served with bun, that’s all

  • rate the luncher: A-

    Other than the request for a Vietnamese sandwich in “koreatown,” darn strong review.

    Pros: Use of term TGI Applebennigachili’s
    Love of Astoria food
    Mention of Vendys
    connection between texture and dislike of certain foods
    desire to become sweaty while eating
    Overall easy, sensible read
    Clearly a food lover

    Cons: Southeast Asian confusion
    cold heart
    I believe there was an inference to his current favorites, BBQ and Middle Eastern, and the sweat factor. Those are not the kinds of food I would choose for such a connection.

  • i wanna know what’s in his take away boxes!

  • Guh, people. Where in this city do you go to get your banh mi? Okay somewhere out in the fringes of queens. Let me try again, where to you go to get a cheap, good banh mi in Manhattan? *China*town which offers a proliferation of asian foods apart from solely Chinese food, believe it or not. Similarly, you can get Japanese food in Koreatown, even though the area is named for the Koreans who, though ethnically similar to the Japanese, are from a different country! I don’t find his question that off the wall/ill-informed at all. Sadly I have no answers for poor Joe.

  • You can get Folded pizza in korea.


  • Oh Rudy, I’m so happy, I was worried you’d gone.

  • All attempts at finding banh mi in midtown have been in vain — and I am excluding Boi to Go since its prices are ridiculous and their banh mi come with avocado (!!??) So not only is it criminally inauthentic, but criminally-priced. Can’t wait for that midtown banh mi cart, though!

  • What places in Astoria?? i live in Astoria & can’t find a decent meal.

  • Even though it’s totally overpriced compared to Chinatown and probably nothing anyone on this blog would be interested in, I felt it worth mentioning that Dishes (at least the one at 54th & Park) does offer what it calls a Banh Mi in both Chicken ($9.95) and Shrimp ($11.95) varieties.

    It’s ridiculous they don’t have a pork one, but nonetheless I’ll probably cave one of these days and try the chicken.

  • If you can’t find a decent meal, then you don’t really LIVE in Astoria. Perhaps you only reside in the neighborhood. Hit up any of the following: Mundo, Fatty’s Cafe, Agnanti, Mombar, Ovelia, Wave Thai, JJ’s, Watawa, El Boqueron

  • Stan, the sweaty eating wasn’t really a connection to the BBQ / Middle Eastern, those were just two categories that I’m digging on lately. Flavor explosion and heat are simply two more things that I appreciate when I’m eating.
    In the take out boxes are two orders of Sammy’s Halal. One chicken and rice, one lamb and rice.
    Some of my favorite Astoria places include, but are not limited to: Kabab Cafe & Mombar (Alexandrian and Egyptian respectively on Steinway near Astoria Blvd), The King of Falafel and Shwarma (30th st and Broadway), Valverde (near the Western Beef on Steinway), El Rey Del Tacos (late night taco truck – better than the guys at the vendies both this and last years – 30th ave in front of the Rite Aid – after 8PM). I could go on and on, but I should be making computer drawings right now…
    Janet, there might be Banh Mi in K-Town because I can find sushi, pho, and other non Korean food there, much like I can find Banh Mi or bulgogi in Chinatown. Just sayin’.

  • Glory! I am in heaven with all the Astoria recommends! WHOOPEE!! THANK YOU!!!! I’ve been living in Astoria for 3 years & the best food I ever had was on Steinway at an Egyptian place. I remember ordering some mixed grilled meat platter. It’s was huge, tasty & only $9.

  • Marina, check this link for more Astoria food reccommendations:
    They don’t ever dump threads, so there’s literally years of reccommendations.

  • Thanks Joe!! I signed up with that website Astorian….!

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