PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Jim”

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 James, a possibly homeless editorial director with big dreams of a new Midtown street cart…

Name: Jim


Editorial Director

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
49th & Madison

Favorite Kind of Food:
Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern. Pretty open to everything.

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
At the risk of offending the fierce ML anti-vegetarian crowd, I’ve been trying to stay away from assembly line meats (ie: animals that need to be pumped full of hormones/antibiotics to live long enough so I can eat them). That said, I’m not a vegetarian.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
Okay, the first admission right off that may or may not DQ me from a profile. I generally bring in my lunch. This is because I’m cheap/poor but also because I learned I can make myself a much better lunch for less money then most generic midtown options. But I very often only bring part of my lunch and have to supplement it. I sort of make a game out of how cheaply I can do this. IE: scallion pizza ($2.50) from Cafe Zaiya (on 41st btw. Mad+5th) along with my homemade lentil curry soup=cheap, good lunch.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Several women in my office have a Mangia fetish. They go there and bring back these huge bags that have nothing but greens, seeds and air. It’s all a little frightening. That said, I go there sometimes for their bread. Many times I make part of a lunch but don’t have fresh bread at home. Their whole wheat bread is outstanding and .50 for a (big) slice. They also have good condiments there (honey, mustard, good butter). I could go on about the free-condiment salad dressings I’ve created from places like this but I’m aware that I’m sounding like a homeless person… Oh, off topic but another option when I don’t have my own bread is my local street meat vendor. A few months ago it occurred to me when I had my own lunch fillings to go buy just this guy’s bread. He gave it to me for free. I’ve been back several times since, he won’t take my money for his awesome bread even though I’ve never bought anything from him (I keep meaning to go back for lunch). Heartwarming. But again, I sound like a homeless person

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? The usual suspects: Japanese trinity on 41st btw. Madison & 5th (Cafe Zaiya, Chiyoda & Yagura), Pampano Taqueria (on 3rd btw. 49+50th), oms/b (on 45th btw. Lex+3rd), Woorijip (on 32nd btw. 5th & B’way), and the favorites of falafel week. I usually get my lunch out on Fridays and try to make it count. (James, do you realize Falafel Week occured on Week 2 of Midtown Lunch’s existence. That’s over 2 years ago… -zach)

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Well, Thailand first. The street food there is just ridiculously good, fresh and cheap as dirt. I have a friend who lives there and I curse him every time I pay for overpriced Thai and think about the incredible meals I had there for under $2. Next choice is downtown. Lower East Side/Chinatown for cheapness, East village for Yaffa and drinks at the holiday cocktail lounge, West village for Mamouns and Murray’s cheese.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? I want to start a Thai food cart. Fresh ingredients, authentic recipes, reasonable prices (for midtown). I did some cursory research and the NYC food vending policies seem prohibitive for a novice, so ideally I’d like to find a partner (or partners) who has a license and/or knows the deal with getting one. I’m vaguely serious about this. Short of such a connection, would like to know from ML readers: a) what would you be looking for in the ultimate thai cart? b) how much would you pay? c) what should it be called? If I pursue this, the support of the Midtown Lunch readers would be part of the business prospectus.

Oh yeah?  Well, I don’t think you’ll find anybody on this site who wouldn’t support a Thai food cart.  My suggestion is, if you want to make it good, you should focus on just one thing, and make it awesome.  I find that carts that try to do too much stuff, end up doing everything mediocre.  My suggestion for a Thai Cart Prototype, after the jump… 

Fresh Pad Thai @ a Bangkok Night Market

Taken at a night market in Bangkok. This guy made the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had (and nothing like it can be found in the states.) James… this photo should provide everything you need to start an awesome Thai noodle cart here in Midtown (minus the how to build it, where to get the ingredients, what ingredients to use, and how to cook the amazing food.) Good luck!

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


  • Jim, allow me to introduce you to the Freegans

    You are a box cutter and a shovel away from full membership

  • Wayne, “oops, this link no longer works”

    and i think you should name the cart whatever that cart in the picture is named (the thai name, not some translation). then it’ll feel authentic and not a thai cart run by some pasty white guy. no offense.

  • What is up with publishing? I’ve had 2 people already warn me not to get into that field. Why? Does it depend on the company you work for?

    Jim, is the pay so low that your hording free condiments?

    I seriously ask, because I’ve been applying for those jobs….

  • it doesn’t matter which company. they’ll entice you with things like summer fridays, but before you know it, it’s 11pm on a Friday and you’re still in the office, crying into an Entenmann’s cake, hoping to leave before daybreak. all to be told that you’re not a good, dedicated assistant and your heart’s not really in it. but then again, i’m still a little bitter.

  • Poor bugger.

    Not only does he bear an uncanny simularity to Gollum he’s also a pasty white guy.

    And in publishing too.

    Poor sod.

  • Since it may be the difference between emaciated Jim starving or getting fed, here it is again

  • tucker carlson is such an idiot

  • I know it’s not thai, but a banh mi cart in midtown would be amazing, especially if it were $7 or under.

  • I would love a chip cart. All things deep fried: mussels, clams, fries, fish, onions, chiwahwahs, sweet potatoes…….

  • All this talk of street carts reminds me of the trips I’ve taken to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, and China, there are these places called “dai pai dong” and it’s basically one step up from a street cart in that they set up tables and chairs right in the street/sidewalk and have a waiter, and everything is cooked right out there in the street. If such a thing were possible in NYC, it would be the greatest thing ever

  • Mamacita… that sounds good, but I want to step it up a notch.

    Why not have just a ‘Deep Fry Cart.’ You bring in twinkies, oreos, twizzlers, etc. from the tienda/bodega. Then boom, you magically have deep fried twinkies, oreos, whatever your heart desires for a small fee.

    Also they would deep-fry stuff they have on hand… like turkey legs and burgers

  • Actually……….a fish and chip cart…late nite…catch the clubbers with the munchies……


  • I’m with neil – I have yet to find a place that serves good Thai noodle soup that could compare to my mom’s. And it could work as a cart since it’s authentic Thai street food that seemingly would require less effort than curries or stir fried foods.

  • Best profiled luncher ever!

  • I would be out of the office the day of my profile…

    Mamacita: I’ve been thin and pasty since childhood, it’s not the editing. My salary is decent, and I actually eat a lot (metabolism thing) I just don’t like overpaying for lunch.

    Bossman: Thanks for the reality check. Unless my financial situation changes this is most likely pipe dream status as of now.

    Yvo: See above.

    Wayne/Rudy: Thanks for the encouragement.

    DDR: I ALWAYS offer a dollar to the free bread guy. He did very well in the street meat contest btw. Going to finally buy a meal from him this week…

  • Thai Me Up, Thai Me Down.

    Nice Thai, Thai.

  • Somewhat related, but not entirely…
    I just went to Rhong-Tiam last night in W. Village.
    Their steamed seabass with chili, lime & garlic was just as amazing as it was when I was living in thailand.

  • My dearest Jim:

    I see that the advice of an older, successful man is once again needed!

    Eating what appears to be a roasted skinned dachshund dotted with ranch dressing at your desk is no way to go up the ladder in the publishing business. This is a sad, but basic fact.

    I have a PhD in psychology and sense from your dogeared expression that there may be areas in your life that have gone wanting. Despite your wedding ring(?), I would encourage you to clean yourself up a bit, sit up straight, see the Hair Club people and hit the tanning booth. My wife (ours is a happy May-Dec relationship, by the way) may be able to help with the latter, as she owns several successful grooming salons.

    And for Godsake don’t let people even take photos of you with food littering your mouth and lips — much less allow such to be published over the internet.

    Also, the European knife and fork thing is actually quite affected and a turnoff to most normal women.

    I sincerely hope I have been of help to you, young man!

    Chuck, PhD

  • I see my husband (who at just over 250 pounds is a right about a third the man I am – and I mean that in two different ways, if such things infest you) has once again deluded himself into thinking that the faux/gimmick/gag PHD certificate (from Hamburglar U, with the big curved “M” watermark and the Hamburglar’s face and signature clearly stamped on it) we purchased for him back on his 77th birthday has once again gone to his Gonorrhea-addled brain. Last week, he thought he was Kurt Kobain – and I thank the good lord that he mistook the vacuum cleaner when he went for his shotgun, and (no harm, no foul) I only had to clean part of his tonsils out of the vacuum bag. He consoled himself with his blowup doll – calling her Courtney (I have no idea why) instead of Elizabeth (his usual name for her) for the rest of the day. I did have to talk him out of getting her a new piercing, though, as piercings don’t tend to work real well with inflatables.

    That said, that item at the lower left of the photo does indeed strongly resemble a very small hairless canine, and having removed all the hair from countless yipping beasts, I know that look well.

  • DocChuck, the Arnold Rimmer of ML. What a smeghead.

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