PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “David”

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, meet David- an amateur foodie who is trying to make his way through the entire Tony 100.

Name: David

Age: 23

Occupation: Financial Services and Amateur Foodie (

Where in Midtown do you Work?: Bryant Park

Favorite Kind of Food: Is all of the above an option? Bagel with cream cheese and lox, chopped liver, pan-seared tuna, dumplings, hot pastrami sandwiches, fried calamari, meatloaf, seafood fra diavolo, barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, spicy mustard, cheeseburgers, eel sushi, and raad na, a Thai dish made with soft noodles and gravy; I love the fact that vinegar, hot chili flakes, and sugar are condiments used to temper the heat and sweetness of the dish).

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Green, red and yellow peppers, I’m a fan of grilled octopus, but I can’t seem to enjoy octopus sushi, capers, pears

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Though I only just made it there recently, the fried pork sandwich from Sophie’s Cuban is certainly in the upper echelon of midtown cuisine. The falafel from Azuri Cafe (on 51st btw. 9+10th), pickle pork soup from Hing Won (on 48th btw. 5+6th), salads from Ranch 1 on 41st because it’s only $6.50 for soup and salad, buffalo chicken pizza from Cafe Duke (on 51st btw. 6+7th), enchiladas suizas from Viva Pancho (one of the only places I will go to for a sit-down lunch since for under $10 with tax and tip I can get a pretty good meal).

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Chipotle is probably the most flagrant offender against the Midtown Lunch credo with Hale & Hearty and Cosi following suit. The office cafeteria just opened up and the prices look to be subsidized so I really can’t fault anyone for being lazy and just heading upstairs. For a more leisurely lunch I wind up getting pushed into Virgil’s where it kills me to pay upwards of $15 for average barbecue.

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Where do I begin? Café Zaiya (on 41st btw. Mad+5th) is now my staple for the 3pm hunger strike, Sophie’s Cuban, Hallo Berlin (made it to their spot on 9th ave but have yet to visit the cart on 54th and 5th), Lazzara’s Pizza (on 38th btw. 6+7th), Biryani Cart (on 46th & 6th), Taj Delhi (on 6th Ave. btw. 39+40th)…

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Bangkok, Thailand. As if the fact that I could get pad thai on the street for under $2 wasn’t enough, I love the way that their food courts work with a prepaid debit card that you use to pay at the different stands. Any mechanism that gets food to my plate faster is a good one. Whole fried fish, roast pork, spicy noodle soups, Chang beer. I miss Thailand. Maybe if the Dow hits 6,000?

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? For sit-down lunches, my coworkers always want to go to Virgil’s and I can’t justify the price tag. Where can I go for a sit-down meal on the cheap? Anything besides Viva Pancho and House of Brews?

I have to say, my favorite sit down meal is at Aoki (on 48th btw. 7+8th).  I’ve written about the takeout sushi, but sitting down and eating is pretty nice too, and the 3 rolls and a soup or salad for $11 is still a great deal (even though it used to be $10).  For a sit down lunch, it’s downright cheap.

Got a suggestion for David?  Put it in the comments… and as always if you want to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at


  • Olympic Pita, Szechuan Gourmet and Wu Liang Ye all have eat-in space. As does Sophie’s, which you mentioned.

  • I liked Aoki until I tried Akane… 39th and 3rd I believe? 3 rolls… soup AND salad for $10.50… I thought Aoki was soup and salad too but its been a while… Akane has a great miso soup… oh… and fried ice cream.

  • OMG a Luncher that LOVES Thai! Woo Hoo!

  • I have no sympathy for that Korean cart. It’s not that hard to marinade meat and make it taste good. It’s very easily actually. You need to be pretty incompetent to mess that up.

  • How about Go Go Curry, Chef Yu and Ginger


  • Thanks for the ideas so far. Looking for something closer to Aoki and Szechuan Gourmet than Sophie’s. A sit-down spot that has waiter service that isn’t just a take-out space with a few tables.

  • When I used to work in the Bryant Park area, my co-workers and I frequented Evergreen Shanghai. It’s on 38th between Madison and 5th. It’s quick and tasty. Their lunch specials are $6.95.

  • Two awesome places for a sit down meal on the cheap: Spice Fusion has the $11.95 all you can eat indian buffet. (and it’s really good). and Roberto Passon has a very good prix fixe lunch, three courses for $13.95. Not prices but it’s a phenomenal deal for what you get.

  • Sapporo is the only sit down I do regularly in Midtown. I’ll also hike over to Azuri and sit down sometimes.

  • Menchanko-Tei by Grand Central or on 55th is decent for a sit-down lunch.

  • Buffalo chicken pizza? No such thing. Whatever it is that you ate at Duke that included buffalo chicken (whatever that is) wasn’t pizza. Where are we, California?

    And that website name is terrible. More like amouse douche.

    Not sure why this guy has brought out the cranky in me. I think its because he’s a self-described foodie who includes among his favorite lunches and foods such mundane things. And he doesn’t like capers, which is just about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard since that dude who didn’t like thai food. So, yeah, at least this guy likes thai food. But its not enough to save him.

  • Are you the victim of a tragic Dart throwing accident?

  • I just was at Spice Fusion last week and it really is good, although a bit far west from BP. Another inexpensive sit-down option, which was reviewed here, is (of course) Tad’s Steaks.

    David, an out-of-bounds recommendation for ya: For awesome ell sushi, check out Funayama on Greenwich Ave bet. 6th/7th Aves (near 10th St). The best (and largest) eel I’ve had. They have AYCE on Mon and Thurs eves, and the eel-avocado hand rolls are killer.

  • Best and largest eel you’ve had? In the west village?

    Stevie, lemme guess… you were dressed like a cowboy, with assless chaps?

  • Szechuan Gourmet is probably the best option (and they take reservations!). Also, I haven’t been to the other Sophie’s, but the one on Lex between 40th and 41st has sit down and waiter service (although it fills up quick).

    Oyster Bar is also a good place to sit, but you have to sit at one of the bars and make sure you ask for the sandwich menu.

    Smorgas Cafe inside the Scandinavia House (Park between 37th and 38th) isn’t the deal it was when it was AQ Cafe, but if you’re going to pay $10-$15, it’s better to go there than Virgil’s.

  • @Wayne and Rudy…bah-zing

  • Viva Pancho ??? I liked many of your other choices – but Viva Pancho was pretty uninspiring when I ate there.
    Anyway – I just had a delicious lunch at Dafni today – a new Greek place on 42nd between 8th and 9th. For straightforward Italian, I like Figaro on 44th between 5th and 6th.

  • My dearest David:

    Bravo for actually eating more than turkey sandwiches. Zach’s previous entries for the weeks’ “Midtown Lunch’r” have all been overwhelmingly feeble.

    I am greatly worried, however, that you are under the influence of hypnosis. Many financial service firms hypnotize their employees without their knowledge or consent. I have several PhD’s and was instrumental in the creation of several successful subliminal hypnosis programs for Fortune 500 companies back in the 1990′s.

    If and when you wake up, please contact me and I will provide you with more details.

    Chuck, PhD

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