The Midtown Lunch Sandwich Challenge


Alright… so the time has come.  I know it seems coincidental that this would happen so close to the Walgreens sandwich dare, but this idea was actually inspired more by the amazing entries for the Murray’s Salami Sandwich Challenge. The sandwich ideas you came up with were ten times better than most of the boring sandwich offerings in Midtown. And that’s when it dawned on me.  We CAN do better!  That’s right.  In these economically trying times, lunchers are demanding more for their money, and I think it is time for the restaurants of Midtown to step up to the plate with something inspiring.  The days of coasting on turkey and swiss is over!  So here is what I’m proposing:

A challenge… to every single restaurant in Midtown to come up with a new sandwich.  A bold sandwich. A sandwich that pushes the boundaries of what human beings were meant to ingest.  And you shall call it the “Midtown Lunch Special”.  Add this special sandwich to your menu (temporarily or permanently) and we will post about it on Midtown Lunch.  That’s it. You get free publicity, and more business… we get better sandwiches. Easy enough, right?

Ideas, how you the Midtown Lunch’er can help make this dream a reality, and all your other questions are answered after the jump…

What are the rules? Easy.  Create a sandwich.  Call it the “Midtown Lunch Special”.  Add it to your menu.  Charge under $10 for it (the less the better, obviously.)  Email me at to let me know.  And then I will try the sandwich and post it on Midtown Lunch. You can offer the sandwich one day a week, or every day.  For one month, or for 16 years.  Whatever you want.  Obviously, the better the sandwich is, the more interest it will generate.  But that being said, EVERY sandwich will get posted about as long as the rules above are followed.

What should this special sandwich be made up of? Well, if you need inspiration, you can look to the winner of the 2008 Readers’ poll choice for best sandwiches: Sophie’s Cuban & Tina’s Restaurant.  Their fried pork and plantain sandwich is a stroke of genius, and exactly what we’re looking for.  Bold. New. Unhealthy. Wrong (but oh so right.)  The kind of sandwich that makes you say “You’re joking, right?” Burgers are ok as well… as long as there is bread of some kind, with stuff piled inside it. Burgers, hot dogs, whatever. Just make it good.

Why am I doing this? Well, this is pretty obvious. In almost three years of doing this site I’ve never done any promotion, so I figured what better way to get the Midtown Lunch name out there by forcing Midtown Lunch spots to up their sandwich game for the Midtown Lunchers themselves! In other words, I’m a fat man, who likes to eat gross sandwiches.  I’m bored with the sandwiches in Midtown, and what better way to fix that problem with a sandwich challenge.  You know things are bad when readers are begging me to eat a processed sandwich from Walgreens.  We can do better! For example, can’t we get a brisket sandwich with gravy and onion rings on top?  This shouldn’t be hard. (Blarney Stone I’m looking at you.) Goodburger… bring back your fried egg and hash brown topped hamburger! (Why did you let it go away in the first place?) And what about a Rutgers style “grease truck” sandwich in Midtown?  Is there no Italian restaurant willing to put chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and french fries on a roll and serve it smothered in cheese and sauce?  Got any other ideas? Put them in the comments. We can do this people!

Can any restaurant enter? Yes!  And this is the beauty of the thing.  There are a lot of sit down restaurants and standard Midtown delis that get ignored by Midtown Lunch’ers because they are either too expensive or uninspired. So- ignored restaurants… here is your chance!  Want to get recognized by the Midtown Lunch Readers?  Make an awesome sandwich, call it the “Midtown Lunch Special” and charge less than $10 for it (ideally a lot less)… and you will get posted about on Midtown Lunch.  I’m looking at you Cafe Metro, Pax, Europa, and Pret.  Here’s your chance to offer something truly spectacular. Lunch spots that are already well known by the Midtown Lunch crowd?  Reinvigorate your fans by adding a new and exciting sandwich to your menu. If you build it, we will come.

What can I the Midtown Lunch reader do? Here’s the thing… I can’t do this on my own. Most delis and restaurants probably don’t read Midtown Lunch, so if you can, I need your help. Have an amazing sandwich idea for the deli at the bottom of your building? Let them know about the challenge. Have a cousin who owns a Midtown Lunch spot? Let them know about the challenge. Want to effect positive change at the places you eat lunch at…. print out this post, and LET THEM KNOW ABOUT THE CHALLENGE. If we all band together, think about the delicious sandwich possibilities that are in store for us. I even made up a sign that places can print out and use to promote their sandwich [PDF]. If the restaurant has any questions, they can email me at

So there it is. Free publicity for restaurants. Free publicity for Midtown Lunch. Awesome sandwiches for everybody!!! It’s win, win, win. So what are you waiting for.

Restaurants of Midtown, you have your marching orders. Who will answer the challenge?!?!

Here are the sandwich that have been introduced so far:


  • How about Doc Chuck’s reco?

  • 1. Creamed chip beef hero!

    2. Grilled ham, tomato and cheese on scrapple.

    3. Olive oil gelato ice cream sandwich (come on, Dessert Truck).

  • Chip Beef makes a good point here. dessert sandwiches can totally steal the cheap angle.

    My rec: a espresso mocha ice cream between vanilla waffle wafers and all coated in DARK chocolate

  • Ben and Jerry’s Rum & Raisin….. and Liv.

  • @Dougiec: Yes, someone needs to call Beantown and just have them print “Midtown Lunch Special” on the packaging. Or since the sandwich is clearly assembled by some automated process, maybe a computer hacker could do it without getting Beantown’s permission.

    @Zach: You might be selling yourself short. If someone sees something called “Midtown Lunch Special,” they would have no reason to think it has anything to do with a website, so you’re shortchanging yourself on publicity. On the other hand, props to you for self-promoting in an honorable fashion.

  • Do you think it should be midtown special?

  • “This Sammich was brought to you by some bad tempered fuckers on the tin’ternet”

    I like it.

  • more like.. “this sammich was brought to you by the cheap-o’s on midtownlunch dot com”

  • I actually just wondered to myself.. .what about a sandwich of all the great ethnic foods from this site combined? So perhaps some General Tso (Chinese), mozzarella sticks (Italian), fried plantain (Spanish/Jamiacan), hot sauce from the 53rd and 6th guys, guacamole (Mexican), falafel (Mid Eastern), served on Olympic Pitas giant laffa bread… Actually sounds gross but Zach did say it wasnt meant to be healthy…

  • A Hallo Berlin special: Wiener Schnitzel topped with an egg and Jager-sauce (a mushroom sauce), then topped again with currywurst, bratwurst, potato salad, sliced meatballs, and cabbage, and served in an extra-large crusty roll. Ideally there’d be a coupon for a shot of schnapps from one of the non-cart locations.

  • i’m LOVING the grease trucks shout out! i live about 20 minutes from rutgers and have been eating at the grease trucks since high school. if a store makes a good combo, we will have to do a comparison…

  • Hot open-faced chicken salad sandwich on challah french toast. Topped with melted swiss.

    @ AL@1PP – Mitch Hedberg approves

  • You are a genius Zach. What a great idea!

  • Two suggestions from another fat vegetarian:

    1. The other night I was wondering what to do with some leftover homemade waffles. I ended up using two to make a sandwich with a (vegetarian–would be just as good, of course, with real fried chicken) fried chicken cutlet topped with a drizzle of honey. Needless to say, it was amazing, and reminded me of eating chicken nuggets dipped in honey (do they still give you tubs at that with nuggets at McDonalds?) as a kid.

    2. To play on Mamacita’s garlic bread idea, maybe cheese raviolis with marinara sauce, and maybe some broccoli rabe, on garlic bread.

  • grilled corn beef reuben on pretzel bread. It’s not all that inventive, but oh so delicious.

  • @FrankieTony – You know… there is a pretty kick ass pretzel bread sandwich at Burke in the Box in Bloomingdales. Turkey, bacon and cheese. It’s around $10, and I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I’ve eaten in Bloomingdales… but whatever. It’s freakin’ good.

  • How about a chicken cutlet sandwich between 2 waffles with thousand island dressing, swiss cheese and peppers?? Zach, I believe you have written about chicken and waffles before…

  • Savory potato hot dog bun french toast with halo berlin brat, curry sauce, frizzled onions and shredded red cababge.

  • grilled cheese filled with sharp cheddar, thick cut fried bacon, and grilled onions. Battered and deep fried. Topped with country gravy.

    Eat that!

  • I think calling it the “ Sandwich” might help with the cross-publicity.

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