PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Leah”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Lunch’er for his or her “Best Lunch in Midtown” recommendations. As promised, since last week we beefed it up with the Shameless Carnivore, this week I’m profiling someone for the veggies. Meet Leah, a writer and blogger, who not only eats vegetarian, but works for an organization that is trying to help the Jewish community become more healthy and sustainable.

 Name: Leah


I work for Hazon, a Jewish environmental organization and run The Jew & The Carrot, our blog on Jews, food, and contemporary life.

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Hazon’s offices are on 35th between 5th and 6th Avenue — within blocks of not one, but TWO H&M stores

Favorite Kind of Food:
I hate to self-define as a food snob, but stinky, artisanal cheeses and hearty farmers’ market greens like kale and mustard greens generally top my list. I also love Dagoba chocolate and most homemade baked goods — brownies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, my mom’s amazing chocolate cake

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
I stay away from anything that tastes like the sea, with the occasional exception of vegetarian sushi. And honestly, I only eat sushi so that I can snack on the pickled ginger.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Anything vegetarian or veggie friendly. Hazon often orders in for lunch meetings from Madras Mahal (on Lex btw. 27+28th) — a tasty kosher, Indian place. I really like their Pea Paratha (bread stuffed with seasoned green peas) and Palak Paneer (cheese cubes in a pure of spinach, cream, and herbs — mmmm….heart attack)

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Being the environmental organization that we are, my green-minded coworkers actually bring food from home on a fairly regular basis. But most days someone was too tired or rushed to get around to packing a lunch. So the three “goto” places are:

  1. Hale & Hearty Soups— You can order your lunch online without talking to anyone! Extra points for convenience, even if your soup is lukewarm and your salad looks like it went through a washing machine.
  2. Zenith (pan-Asian vegetarian on 48th & 8th) — Their food is generally decent, but some of their fake meat dishes scare me – like the “mango temptation” which features vegetarian chicken drowning in an electric-magenta sweet & sour sauce. How does it get so red?! I probably don’t want to know…
  3. Circa (kosher, sandwiches/salads on 33rd btw. Bway+5th) — It’s easy, mostly healthy, and satisfies everyone’s dietary needs on staff, regardless of how strictly they do (or don’t) follow the kosher laws. Still, it’s a bit too “corporate lunch trough” for my taste.

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: Zen Burger — thanks!

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Hazon used to be located one block from the Chelsea Market. Amazing cupcakes, Thai food, an Italian wholesale shop, Amy’s Bread, and a fruit and veg market all in one location — I dream of it still.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers?: If you know of any other kosher or vegetarian gems in the nabe, I’m all ears. Also — where (if anywhere) can I pick up a good bottle of wine to bring to friends’ apartments after work?

Considering you are on 35th btw. 5+6th, there is one Kosher place I know about that you should be eating at every single day!  Fresh baked Kosher bread goodness, after the jump…

When Olympic Pita, the very popular Brooklyn falafel and shawarma place, opened a Midtown location on 38th btw. 5+6th, I balked at their high prices.  But after much prodding by the Midtown Lunch commenting faithful, I have given in, and finally am prepared to admit that you were right, and I was wrong.  You’re the best, I’m the worst.  You’re very good looking, I’m not that attractive. 

Basically, their fresh baked bread is just too good to ignore, and if you get the falafel, it ends up being less than $10.  If you haven’t been, you are missing out.  I’m making it a certified Midtown Lunch, with a full +/- coming soon… 

Anybody else have a recommendation for Leah?  Feel free to post it in the comments.

And as always, if you want to be the next Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er, or you’d like to nominate somebody in your office, email me at


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