PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Steve”

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 Steve a guy who wishes that Midtown were a little more like New Orleans.  (Don’t we all…)

Name: Steve

Age: 22

Occupation: Paralegal on my way to law school in the fall. (I hope)

Where in Midtown do you Work?: MetLife Building — 44th and Park

Favorite Kind of Food: Cajun/Creole (The only type of food where every bite of a single dish tastes different than the bite before it and progressively becomes more delicious), Indian, Shawarma, Mexican (my favorite comes out of trucks along the Southern border of the US), Sushi, Butternut Squash (so delicious), bread pudding, tongue

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Grilled eggplant (eggplant is the only food I prefer fried over grilled), Whitefish salad, pineapple, licorice, pickles that aren’t as sour as it gets

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Taam Tov (on 47th btw. 5+6th): lamb kabob and chicken kabob over rice with an appetizer that I’m utterly unable to pronounce. It is kind of like a meat pie. Authentic Bukharian food served by a friendly and helpful staff. Newsstand Indian (aka Khodiar Lunch Services on 6th Ave. btw. 38+39th): I choose a different chaat every time and never ask any questions about contents. 60th St. Taco Cart (aka El Rey del Sabor on 3rd Ave. & 60th St.): This cart saved my life. When I first came to Midtown I thought Qdoba and Chipotle were the only places that would service my burrito cravings. I’d probably have relocated long ago if my triumphant awakening in the form of a ML post never came to be. It is of the utmost importance to have a reliable burrito establishment that is actually good. Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart (on 46th & 6th): the Flounder Platter is unbelievable! I was so skeptical at first, but after trying it a few weeks ago I can truly say that this is about as good a meal as you can get for $6. Even though I’m not huge on fried foods, this really hit the spot. It doesn’t hurt that the lo mein is plentiful and addicting. Also, contrary to some reports I’ve read, no fishiness to speak of in taste or smell. I’m a recent convert, so maybe the quality has improved.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Naples 45 (on 45th Park+Mad): It is 23 seconds from my elevator bank and truly outstanding. I find myself eating lunch from 1-2 and then stopping into Naples for a slice on the way back to my desk simply because, at $1.90 including tax, I can’t justify not taking advantage. Cucina & Co: Another MetLife building spot. I’ve only entered a few times for a bagel in the morning, but many coworkers seem to retrieve lunch from this place regularly. Not awful, but as unadventurous as it gets in terms of finding a meal.

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? $0.99 Fresh Pizza (43rd btw Lex and 3rd): I’ll never get tired of consuming lunch for under $3.00. Also, compared to most pizza in this area, not half bad. Naples 45 is my favorite, though, and it is right downstairs! Moshe’s Falafel (on 46th & 6th): While I eat here fairly frequently, I always leave with a guilty conscience because I know there is better. I’ve read the rave reviews and simply don’t get it. Some people even say, “This is how falafel is SUPPOSED to taste.” I’ve eaten falafel in Israel and can confirm that such a statement is absurd. The fact is that Moshe’s is good, cheap and filling. Nothing more, nothing less. I prefer the falafel from Kosher Deluxe (on the same block) for the taste — especially with the inclusion of the salad bar, but it is slightly more expensive. When I feel like lunching for $5, I go to Moshe’s. My vote for best falafel in the city, by the way, goes to Urban Pita on Houston St. Indian Fast Food Cart — I truly enjoy summer days watching a concert outside the neighboring building and eating from a styrofoam container filled with Indian food. A+ for concept, but don’t expect the greatest quality. It’s Indian food out of a truck and for an addict like me it is irresistible. Crisp (on 3rd Ave. btw. 43+44th)-  Yes, the Mexican is tasty. However, there is something about the custom made cardboard sandwich holders that turns me off. Good food shouldn’t require gimmicks and if it is truly outstanding I won’t mind dripping green jalepeno sauce on my newly dry-cleaned shirt.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? New Orleans, LA. Hands down. I was lucky enough to live in New Orleans for the four years preceding my move to NYC and am still experiencing withdrawal symptoms over the loss of Crabby Jack’s in my life. For $11 (slightly above Midtown Lunch price range) I would enjoy blackened gulf fish in a delicious hollandaise sauce with salad, mac n’ cheese (complete with jalapenos) and bread. The taste is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced at any restaurant in New York. It makes sense, since Crabby Jacks is a lunch stand run by the owner of the legendary Jacques-Imo’s. Also, an afternoon excursion to Cooter Brown’s for a pint of Abita Amber and the freshest oysters was always an option, as was posting up at the levee and throwing a crawfish boil with good friends. NOLA lunch unites amazing food and amazing times, which is why meals there are so enjoyable. Every moment in this city feels like the ending of Stairway to Heaven – epic. If anyone is heading to 2nd weekend of Jazzfest, you can find me with a hurricane in hand on line for some warm bread pudding. Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? Does anyone else wonder why in a city as diverse and populated as New York there are so many corporate food chains? Is anyone surprised that people actually patronize them? It honestly blows my mind and leaves me very confused. Seriously, who is eating Subway instead of wandering to 46th and 6th to see what’s cookin’???

Agreed. 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


  • You hit it on the spot about diversity.

    Diversity also makes room for people who like corporate food chains. Plus, those korean fried chicken places are mostly chains. I’ll get behind that. Mmm… chicken…

  • I like this future Lawman. He may have just redeemed you, Zach. I am now planning our trip to New Orleans.

    And the corporatization of New York completely blows in every way, shape, and form. I blame Giuliani.

  • You can also blame landlords for increasing rents so much that mom & pop stores are done for.

  • What, no love for whitefish already?

    That said–couldn’t agreee more about the chainification, especially in midtown. Ugh.

  • Finally a guy in a buttondown who isn’t an unimaginative fratboy , dbag. I agree w/ you on the chains and the white fish. I only like aubergines stir fried. In 10 years this place will be so like Ohio, that there will be no point in coming here.

  • i got nothing bad to say about this guy

  • Very thorough.
    Agree on Moshe’s — it’s nothing special.
    Reason there are so many chains is that rent is (or at least was) sky high.
    Job well done.

  • It’s still early but I think we can certify Steve as officially “Not a Douche”

    That’s as good as you can do on Tuesday, Stevie. Congrats

  • only minus….wants tobe a Lawyer.

    And it’s called a bloody Aubergene.

  • Help! I’m craving for Chilly Cheese Fries. Where can I get some?

  • The chains exist for a few reasons:

    Rent, as was already mentioned.

    Tourists – they feel comfortable eating in these places. It makes them feel better about coming to scary NYC. A majority of them are not here for the food (I’ve never understood this).

    Workers – all the people who come to “the city” from places outside of NYC who are a lot like the tourists – they just want to come, work, and go back to where they’re from. They too are not interested in the food and want what is safe and comfortable.

    I’m with you on the unsour pickles but good whitefish salad, with onions and tomatoes on a bagel – yum.

  • Steve i work in the same building and i must say you are more adventurous then me walking wise…then again im as lazy as they come…and its to cold to walk 15 blocks.

  • I agree with the hatred of licorice–especially black licorice—f’ing NASTY!!! Twizzlers don’t count however—twizzlers rule (unless there is a black licorice flavor I am unaware of…)

  • @CaseStreet- Try Carl’s Cheesesteaks… my co workers always have to get their chili cheese fries.

  • Got it!!

    The love child of pete sampras and tom hanks.

  • My dearest somnambulant friend, “Steve:”

    After you wake up, you might want to reconsider your choice of future professions.

    I myself am not a lawyer but am a retired “educator” and holder of not one but two PhD’s. I am also an esteemed FreeMason who often counsels young men such as yourself.

    I have had considerable personal experience with lawyers, however, and I can attest with absolute certainty that ALL of them are rapacious hyeneas who would eat their own young for a fee. There is a certain stink about them that is impossible to avoid.

    Is that the kind of man you want to become?

    Think about it, my friend.


  • Hey fellow Steve,

    I’ll just throw this out as something you might enjoy, seeing as you don’t mind walking a bit. Check out Djerdan Burek on W 38th bet. 7th/8th Aves. Great Balkan food, take-out is quick, and forsome reason I thought you’d really like this place.

    Oh yeah. Try opening your eyes when your picture is taken! (Sorry, I had to pick on *something*.)

    Is this the start of kinder, gentler ML Profile Tuesdays?

  • Can we get a freak of the week theme song going?

  • So cute, so articulate. Please don’t become a lawyer. Go to law school if you must (it’s a recession, why not), but don’t become a lawyer. You seem a little too smart to join our ranks.

  • @Goats – You’ve never seen the licorice Twizzlers? No, really?

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