PROFILED: Midtown Lunch’er “Ruth Reichl” (PLUS Citymeals on Wheels’ “Global Street Food Festival” Ticket Giveaway)

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 I couldn’t be more excited to have Ruth Reichl, the Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine, which just so happens to be the media sponsor of “Street & Savory: A Global Street Food Festival” on Monday night to benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels. The event is in Rock Center and will feature street cart inspired fare by a long list of famous restaurant chefs as well as food from some of our favorite street vendors, like The DessertTruck, The Treats Truck, Red Hook Ballfield Vendors and (the one I’m most excited about) the Los Angeles based Korean taco truck: KOGI BBQ. Get more info about the event, plus register to win a pair of tickets (valued at $1200!) after Ruth recommends her favorite spots to eat lunch in Midtown.

Name: Ruth

Age: 61

Occupation: Eater, Editor, Writer

Where in Midtown do you Work?: Conde Nast

Favorite Kind of Food: There is almost nothing I won’t happily eat.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: The only thing I won’t eat is honey.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: The Mysore masala dosa, saag paneer, and brinjal bhartha at Minar (on 46th btw. 6+7th.) White rice, chicken, all the vegetables, no white sauce at the Halal Chicken Curry Cart (on 43rd and 6th.) Kalbi, bibimbap, yukgaejang, and soondubu from Kang Suh (on B’way and 32nd.) The spicy tendon from Wu Liang Ye (on 48th btw. 5+6th.) Ma po tofu and twice cooked pork belly from Szechuan Gourmet (on 39th btw. 5+6th.) Spaghetti neri with squid, crudo, fried blowfish tails, grilled fish, fish soup from Esca (on 43rd & 9th.) Chawan mushi with uni and omakase sushi from Sushi Zen (on 44th btw. B’way+6th). Lasagna, pasta, and salads from Insieme (on 7th Ave. and 51st.) And Le Bernardin (on 51st btw. 6+7th) is pure luxury; everything is fabulous.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? We order in from Grand Sichuan. I’m addicted to the peppers in black bean sauce.

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Taj Delhi Chat (now called Khodiar Chaat, on 6th Ave. btw. 37+38th) — how did I miss this?

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Singapore. Need you ask? Best street food on earth. I could eat carrot cake (no carrots, no cake, spicy not sweet), every day.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? Is there any great Mexican food in midtown? After 10 years in LA, I’m always hungry for real Mexican, and I have yet to find it.

Alright… before we get to that- let’s talk Street Food inspired fancy food tasting event! “Street and Savory” takes place on Monday night, June 8th inside Rockefeller Center. To win a pair of tickets to the event, recommend some Mexican food to Ruth in the comments- or wax poetic about what dish you would be most excited to try from Citymeals-on-Wheels’ “Global Street Food Festival”. A complete list of chefs and the dishes they will be serving can be found here. (I’m most excited for Korean tacos from Kogi BBQ Truck in LA, and Donald Link’s boudin from Cochon in New Orleans!)

Tickets start at $600 each, but using this discount link from Serious Eats: New York you can purchase tickets for $450. I know it’s expensive, but all the money goes to a great cause (Citymeals-on-Wheels), it’s tax deductible, and this lineup of food is probably the best you’ll see at one of these events all year long. If you can afford to go, consider buying tickets to support this great charity. If you can’t afford  the $450, but you really want to go to the event, and support the cause in some way, call the City Meals on Wheels event line at 212-687-1290. I’m sure they will be happy to try and work something out.

The comments will close, and the winner will be contacted at Noon EST on Friday (6/5).

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


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    Dear Ruth,
    You seem pretty cool and really nice, but you must be kinda dense, cuz there is a Taco Bell on 8th ave btwn 36th & 37th. Best gorditas ever! …and I’ve been to mexico.

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    For the food I’m most excited about at the event, I got to go with the Boudin. I don’t think I’ve eaten it since moving here from Dallas and when done right, what a treat! I’m also pretty pumped for Pellacio’s Pork Belly Satay. Maybe he’ll throw some watermelon on the skewer and save me a trip to Fatty Crab for one of my favorite dishes.

    Good Mexican food in NYC is a bit trickier, and that’s after I expanded your options to the entire city (and not just midtown). Tulcingo de Valle is good but the prices are personally upsetting to me. I refuse to pay $11 for a chile relleno from a bodega type establishment. The best Mexican food in the city, in my opinion, can be found in Sunset Park. There are plenty of options out there, I’m particularly a fan of the Torta’s and the Tacos de Lengua from Rico’s Tacos. While the Pambazo at Tacos Xochilmilco isn’t my thing, it’s worth a try. Finally, the best Tex Mex I have found (which means it’s semi decent) is at Maria’s Mexican Bistro on 4th Ave in Park Slope.

    Sorry for the lengthy response, I want to win those tickets and I get excited about Mexican food which is my favorite cuisine and unfortunately terribly represented here.

  • I’m going even further out of bounds than Tehuitzingo… Go subway lunching and Take the N/R to the L and go to Zaragoza Deli on 13th and Ave A. 1/4 of the size aas Tehuitzingo. If they have tamales, you must partake. If not, hopefully they’ll have goat tacos. At a minimum, its cheap, good tacos, and telenovelas.

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    Cesare Casella, Salumeria Rosi Porchetta Toscana so I can take a wiff of his rosmary

  • Apparently the El Rey carts are the way to go. I haven’t been to Mexico, I am no expert.

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    tehuitzingo is inexpensive and probably the best you will do in midtown, but even so it is not that good. Better to get your mexican fix (and numerous others) on the weekends at the red hook ball fields.

    And yeah, it is all about trying the Korean Tacos at the Rock Center event.

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    Ruth, you rock! Best Mexican in midtown (west side) is either Tehuitzingo on 10th or Mi Nidito on 8th.

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    Dear Ruth,

    First I have to tell everyone to check out your newest book “NOT BECOMING MY MOTHER,” which is a great, touching read. I loved it, I gave it to my mother and *she* loved it, and she has now given copies to her mother and sisters. (Guys and girls alike should also check out the very entertaining “GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES”, about Ruth’s career as a restaurant critic in disguise.)

    As for Mexican food in Midtown, how about Blockheads? There’s one in Midtown East on 2nd Ave between 50th and 51st, or, better yet, there’s the one in Midtown West on 50th, between 8th and 9th. That one’s right behind the New World Stages, and has a big outdoor seating area where you can get nachos and cheap margaritas before seeing a show. Makes for a great evening. Only downside is that they have only ONE restroom, so don’t have *too* many margaritas.

    Like a lot of people, the street food I’d most look forward to are these Kimchi tacos everyone raves about.

    Thanks Ruth, and best of luck!

  • man I wish I could get some mexican corn in midtown, that would be great!

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    Kimchi quesadilla? Sounds both promising and possibly disgusting at the same time!

  • Hi Ruth, I love your work! For Mexican I’d say Tehuitzingo is the way to go. I actually like La Paloma for burritos as well, but I’m not sure how authentic they are. But they are tasty.

  • Ruth, I loved your Garlic and Sapphires book! Made me want to try more foods in New York.

    As for the City Meals on Wheels gala, I’m excited about the soft shell crab po boy and the bahn mi (since I’ve never tried one). Though, I think I’d eat almost anything on that menu.

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    El Rey de Sabor

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    I’d recommend Tehuitzingo but I also enjoy Toloache.

  • The Brown nosing…………..jesus wept.

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    Nothing new on the Mexican food, but I’d back up El Rey del Sabor and Pampano (though the latter was closed yesterday due to a “plumbing emergency”). As a side note, this native Texan is constantly looking for good Tex-Mex–pretty much all the Mexican places I like in the city are authentic Mexican, which has its own place in the pantheon of deliciousness, but is different than the type of grease bomb I grew up on. Any recs (not necessarily in midtown)?

    As for the event, I’m excited about the boudin and soft shell crab po boy. Went to Jazz Fest a few weeks ago and can still taste the food…

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    This may not fall under ‘great’ street food, but it’s fun because she’s selling it from a grocery cart and coolers. The tamales lady in front of the Mexican Embassy that Zach blogged about a while back.

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    Bypass mediocre midtown Mexican for lunch and head to Hecho en Dumbo in Brooklyn for dinner. Totally worth the trek and waiting ’til dinner, plus their nightly live entertainment totally adds to the experience!

    That being said, when desperate for my Mex fix, Certe’s Mexican Fiesta/Burrito Bar or the Taco salad does the trick. A little outta price range, but the food is always terrific…

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    Hi! I agree authentic Mexican is hard to find…BUT, I know of a crazy hole in the wall, only in NY type of place that does it. It actually is a little lunch spot run by Korean food selling a menu that is half-Korean and half-mexican. There is a bunch of adorable Mexican women in the kitchen making up the Mexican portion of the menu, which changes daily. It’s hand-written on a sign by the kitchen window. Sopes, Tortas, other great foods. The chicken tinga is pretty tasty. A former co-worker who grew up in Mexico City verified it’s authenticity. Check it out, I’d love to win the tickets! Thanks!

    New York Bakery – 51 W 29th St (btw 6th Ave & Broadway) New York, NY 10001

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    mmm kimchi quesadilla sounds delicious,I would like to try that