The Best of Midtown Lunch’ing as Voted on By You (Readers Poll Results)

While I was away in Chile, I turned the site over to you for the first ever Midtown Lunch Readers’ Poll.  All of the nominees had to have lunch for under $10 (except the buffet category, where a $1 exception was made), and they all had to be within the Midtown boundaries (32nd St. to the South, Central Park to the North, 3rd Ave on the East, and 8th Ave. to the West).  Thanks to everyone who participated.  Thousands of votes were cast, and here are the results:

Best Fast Food Indian: Kati Roll

Despite changing locations this year (Kati Roll is now on 39th btw. 5+6th), Indian burritos just barely beat out old steam table standby (and former neighbor) Minar, on 46th btw. 6+7th.  35% to 32%  Editor’s Pick: Man do I miss being 2 blocks away from Kati Roll.  It’s the unanimous winner.

Best Cheap Chinese Food: Hing Won

“Cheap” is code for fast food, take out Chinese, and while Szechuan Gourmet (on 39th btw. 5+6th) may possibly be the best Chinese food in Midtown- Hing Won/Hop Won wins the battle of the steam tables, easily beating out the competition.  Editor’s Pick:  No secret here.  Hing Won was my first Midtown Lunch post, and still remains my favorite Chinese food take out in Midtown.

Best burger, best street carts and a best pizza shocker, after the jump…

Best Japanese Take Out: Cafe Zaiya

The battle of the bento was won pretty handily by Cafe Zaiya (41st btw. Madison+5th), as it beats out both neighbors Chiyoda & Yagura, plus Go Go CurryEditor’s Pick: Chiyoda has got the edge on quality, but Zaiya is the best value and selection (plus the most fun).  Zaiya is the unanimous victor.

Best Ramen (Under $10): Sapporo

There’s plenty of amazing ramen in Midtown, but not all of it is in the Midtown Lunch’ing price range.  Among those chosen few, Sapporo (on 48th btw. 6+7th) edges out Menchanko-Tei (undoubtedly helped by the DOH!).  Editor’s Pick: Men Kui Tei.

Best Pizza: Two Boots



In the biggest shock, and by the slimmest margin in the entire poll- Two Boots (in the Rock Center Concourse) beats out Little Italy Pizza (on 45th btw. 5+6th) as best slice of Pizza in Midtown.  Editor’s Pick: I enjoy Two Boots as much as the next guy, but Little Italy is my fave.

Best Italian Food: Little Italy Pizza

Little Italy Pizza on 45th btw. 5+6th loses out on best Pizza, but wins Best Italian food in Midtown.  Editor’s Pick: I haven’t been to Lazzarra‘s yet, but it’s top of my list to try.  Of places I’ve been to, I’ve got to go with Labeleca/La Bellezza.

Best Falafel & Best Chicken/Lamb & Rice Cart:  Kwik Meal

The Kwik Meal Cart (Main location on 45th & 6th) takes home two victories, winning both the best Falafel category, and the best Chicken/Lamb over Rice.  Editor’s Pick: For chicken/lamb over rice, I still say 53rd & 6th does it best… but I’ve got to agree on the best falafel.  It’s not conventional (yogurt instead of tahini), and it’s small- but man is it tasty.

Best Latin Food: Margon

Old standby Margon (on 46th btw. 6+Bway) takes home best latin food, with over 50% of the vote.  Editor’s Pick:  Growing up in Miami, I’ve got to go with the place that makes me feel like I’m eating lunch on Calle Ocho.  And that is hands down, Margon.  (Although for roast pork, I still think Cafe Cello is tops!  It’s all about the crispy skin.)

Best Indian Buffet (Under $10.99): Spice Fusion

Newcomer Spice Fusion, on 8th Ave. btw. 47+48th wins best Indian buffet in Midtown.  Now let’s see if they keep the price at $9.99!  Editor’s Pick: Spice Fusion

Best Cart (Unique Offering Category): Hallo Berlin

Former Vendy Award Winner, and perennial Midtown lunch’ing favorite Hallo Berlin (on 54th & 5th) beats out the new in 2007 Jamaican Dutchy cart.  Editor’s Pick: A Tie between the Jamaican Dutchy, which I think is the best new cart in Midtown, and the Chapati Roll Cart on 46th- which has gone through the miraculous transformation of standard chicken and rice cart, to worthy replacement for the now displaced Kati Roll.

Best Fast Food Hamburger: Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien Hotel

New to NYC chain Five Guys put up a little bit of a fight, but it was no match for one of the true Midtown destination lunches- The Burger Joint at the Parker Meridien Hotel (on 56th btw. 6+7th).  Editor’s Pick:  I’m a big Burger Joint fan, but the double burger and free grilled onions and mushrooms make Five Guys tops in my book.

Thanks for all your votes!  And thanks for all the support in 2007.  In the end, who really cares what one fat guy thinks about most of these places?  Your suggestions, tips, opinions and comments on the site are what make Midtown Lunch such a valuable resource for all of us working in this food wasteland.  Keep them coming in 2008!


  • Nicely done, Zach.
    I don’t agree with ‘em all, but The People Have Spoken.
    Maybe another poll should be in the works about best midtownlunch dish, regardless of cuisine. I nominate Kati Roll’s shami kabob.

  • 2007 was a great year for Midtown Lunch. Keep up the good work in 2008.

  • Hey Zach — how about a poll for best Midtown Lunch peanut gallery member?

    DDR, Rudy, SMDR (or whatever), and some others…?

  • Vote McBagel/Tyler in ’08!

  • I need to get some of the crack you Kati Roll fans are smoking. That place is vile. Other than that everything made sense.

  • I don’t get why some people love Kati Roll. I keep trying it, keep thinking it tastes like dog food, or at best a really dumbed down dosa. And it aint cheap either. I end up eating two of the same thing (no variety) and paying $10.

    I keep coming back, though, cause the place is always full of Indian people, which should mean it’s good, at least in my past experience. Anyone Indian on here care to explain what it is about this place??

  • Thanks anon, I was beginning to think it was just me. I like slop as much as the next guy but this place churns out tiny expensive shoddy slop. It needs to get cheaper and bigger and I need to start drinking at breakfast for it to be good

  • Anon – Maybe I’m missing something, but if you don’t like it, stop coming back. You’re really waiting for an Indian person to come along and explain to you why a shami roll tastes good? Jaysus!

  • DDR: Your reaction seems more than a little shrill. It’s not unreasonable to ask what people see in a particular restaurant when you’re puzzled by its popularity.

  • Not compare to anybody for there kati roll and chicken tikka masala from biriyani cart on 46th and 6th

  • These are my favorite lunch spots. Check out for our entire cheap eats list!!

    Chicken Tikka Roll – $5.00 @ Roomali (Murray Hill)

    Everything Bagel With Vegetable Cream Cheese – $3.25 @ Ess-A-Bagel (Gramercy)

    La Del Gato Arepa – $5.75 @ Caracas Arepa Bar (East Village)

    French Fries – $4.50 @ Pomme Frites (East Village)

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