Gourmet 53 is One of Those Places I Should Have Mentioned Years Ago

Gourmet 53

About 2 and a half years ago, when I first ventured into the basement food court of the building on 3rd btw. 52+53rd to write about Fusion Grills (a typical Chinese/Japanese food court establishment), I got loads of emails recommending its neighbor Gourmet 53.  It might look like a typical generic Midtown deli, people would tell me, but it’s a really good deal- and the food is great.  Most  people recommended their coconut shrimp special (what can I say, the longtime readers know me so well!) and even though I put it off for way too long- I finally made to Gourmet 53 last week to see if all the hype was warranted.


What can I say? I love coconut shrimp.  I don’t know if it can be directly traced to my wild Bar Mitzvah attending days of 1989, but irony aside (how do you serve shellfish at a Bar Mitzvah?) I freakin’ love coconut shrimp.  So sweet.  So crunchy.  So delicious.  Gourmet 53 offers them as a lunch special every day, and $6.95 gets you the shrimp plus salad and fries.  As if that wasn’t enough (dayenu) they throw in a canned soda, your choice of jello or fruit- and…

DSC03236A cookie!  Are you shitting me?  Free jello and a soda was exciting enough. But a cookie also?  And all of it for less money that you would spend on a turkey sandwich at Lenny’s.  Gourmet 53 could be the greatest place of all time.  At the very least, it’s the best non-cheap-Chinese-food option I’ve ever encountered at a mall food court.  (Bourbon chicken counts as cheap Chinese food, fyi.)

You only get 6 shrimp, and they are butterflied to make them look bigger, but after you add the adequate fries, salad, jello, cookie and soda- you’re not leaving hungry.  It comes with mayo based-thousand island type-tartar style dipping sauce that I used a few times- but not every time.  Sometimes you just want to taste that sweet crunchy coconut. I really liked the salad too, not because I like salad or this was necessarily a great one, but because they put it on top of the fries- so as you poke down with your fork you can’t help but pick up a fry a or two with your greens. I like it!

I know there is plenty more to like about this place aside from the coconut shrimp, and tips on when to go to avoid the lines, etc.  So if you are a fan, feel free to put your recommendations in the comments.  And to all those who have been telling me about Gourmet 53 all these years… I’m sorry it took me so long.  I’m stupid. You’re smart. I was wrong. You were right. You’re the best. I’m the worst. You’re very good-looking. I’m… not… attractive.   And to the rest of you coconut shrimp loving MLers… what are you waiting for?  Check out Gourmet 53 sooner rather than later.  Don’t make the same mistake I made…

Gourmet 53, Food Court in the Basement of 875 3rd Ave. (btw. 52+53rd), (212) 223-8481


  • “I’m… not… attractive.”

    Made me chuckle.

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    You didn’t mention that you can snag amazing fresh baked pita chips while you wait in line, and of course, ask for chips to go and the owner will throw a big handful in your bag.

    The combo is great. A cup of soup, half sandwich (they’re pre-made and pretty standard – turkey, ham & cheese, tuna, chicken caesar wrap, etc), small cobb salad (which is awesome), plus the aforementioned cookie, fruit, jello, soda, and pita chips all for $6.95 (was $5.95 a year ago).

    Best deal in midtown by far, but everything is great.

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    …and here I thought that the line there couldn’t get any longer. Thanks Zach.

    On a side note, Dishes has good coconut chicken tenders. I think the greenish colored dipping sauce they offer makes them even better, but can’t remember what they call it.

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    Love the Happy Gilmore reference. My sisters and I use that all the time as an elaborate way of saying “touché”. Glad we’re not the only ones!

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    I’ve been a big fan of Gourmet 53 for years. Their cobb salad is fantastic – it’s pre-made, which is a turn-off for some, but they get so much traffic that it never is sitting out for long. It comes with a great balsamic dressing. And the pita chips are amazing. You get a good sized salad, chips or bread, jello/fruit/brownies and a cookie all for under $6. Don’t be deterred by the long line at lunch time – it goes quickly, they have pita chips out once you get inside and they often have a staffer giving out pita chips, shrimp or bruschetta while you wait in the outside area.

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    I’m also a big fan of the cobb salad. I mean, where else in midtown can you get a salad with meat and cheese for only $5.50? And the pita chips are great–they’ve been warm about half the time that I’ve gotten them, and delicious always.

    I usually go after 2:00. The line is much shorter by then, and I can usually find a free table in the food court, which means I don’t have to go back to my cubicle to eat…

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    I think that place is called the “Cowgirl” for some reason.

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    I had to order this today because it looked too good to miss. Fortunately, it was every bit as delicious as I expected. Unfortunately, it was 7.50, not 6.95. Still a great deal for 6 shrimps, fries, salad, cookie (try the macadamia chocolate chip!), fruit, and fresh pita chips, but I don’t like that they switched the price. For shame!

  • I might have paid $7.50, I couldn’t remember the price so I got that price from another site. It may have been an old listing…

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    i’ve been coming tocowgirl and regardless of what i buy, i’d been getting a paper cache of pita chips. today one of the short chubby amigos said my chicken burger w/ fries, i get no chips when he asked what I want and I told him chips… since i already got fries (but he gave it to me anyway) i appologized at that moment…
    but i started thinking as i walked away, and certainly now enough to post, when are they supposed to paperup some chips for you then?

    and i should be allowed chips cuz i already got fries… yeah, i have fries cuz I paid! for the fries, what argument is that?

    What if i ordered the chicken burger, asked for salad (because the deal is fries or salad) then would this same worker say no chips, you already got the ‘salad’???

  • Everything is 7.50 now. They changed the signs and nothing is 6.95 before that I saw. Oh well. I had their california cheesesteak last week and it was 6.95. That extra 55 cents better not turn into another 50 cents (8 total) anytime soon though or I might have to reconsider my options…

    I had the chicken burger w. fries today. It was average in taste but a big meaty burger so still a decent deal. Dude in front of me also got one and he requested extra pita chips. When you ask nicely, I think they will oblige. Plus it’s free anyway – you could stand there and eat a buttload of chips if you wanted to (they always leave a bowl out) so it couldn’t hurt them too much to give a lil batch away here and there to customers…unless everyone starts asking them. I like the free coconut shrimp at the door more than the free pita chip anyway.

  • The pita chips usually go with the salad. People who get salad only don’t get any fries. I’ve also ordered a sandwich w. fries and asked for chips before. The cashier told me the same dealie that I got fries and can’t get chips but he obliged to give me anyway (Maybe it’s a deterrence mechanism so you or others don’t ask him). I’m sure there are more people out there asking for free chips too…

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