PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Alexi”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. I think it’s pretty well established that I am not exactly the healthiest eater when it comes to lunching, but I am well aware that occasionally some of you like to eat healthy. Every once in awhile a brave healthy eater will step to the plate and recommend some places for those Midtown Lunchers looking for a less gut busting lunch. This week it’s Alexi, a health and wellness coach that doesn’t like Chinese food (stick a dagger in my heart!) but likes rice balls.

Name: Alexi

Age: 28

Occupation: Health & Wellness Coach (plus I have a blog), but my day job is Office Manager/Receptionist

Where in Midtown do you Work?: Zelnickmedia – office is near Bryant Park

Favorite Kind of Food: I love creative food that is healthy and made from whole foods but doesn’t compromise taste. Basically, anything fresh and full of flavor – from Ethiopian to sushi.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Not a fan of Chinese, or anything fried

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: The dolce vita hummus salad bowl from Crisp, with whole wheat pita – SO tasty. Rice balls from Oms/B (on 45th btw. Lex+3rd) are really good. I also love picking at Free Foods‘ food bar, and their fresh shakes are juices are great. When I need a major boost I get the Curious George with cacao nibs, banana, coconut and espresso. You can’t lose. And the raw vegan macaroons are to die for. If I’m feeling uninspired I’ll hit up Dishes for a salad (but recently I was elbowed in the chaos of a lunchtime mass so I think I’ll take a break).

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? My go to place is Free Foods; downstairs, quick, healthy and I like what they’re bringing to Midtown – they’re a little unexpected, I think.

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? I don’t search around too often because honestly, I like to bring my lunch to work. However I did discover Cafe Zaiya (41st btw. Mad+5th), which has wonderfully cheap rice balls.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? I know it may sounds cliche, but: Italy. I spent some time living over there after college and I had never seen that sort of love of food before. I still dream about the fresh burrata.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? I’d love to hear about more restaurants and eateries that focus on fresh, whole foods! I think it’s important to focus on quality versus quantity. SO many places are all about stretching your dollar – which is great – but sometimes you have to stop and think of what that meal consists of and where it came from. After all, you want something that’s going to get you through the afternoon without a 3pm sugar binge!

But I like my 3pm sugar binge. And prefer not to think of where my food came from! (Especially when I’m eating from a street vendor.) And let’s not even talk about my love of Chinese food. Anyway… it’s good to have different viewpoints on the site… and FreeFoods is still open (and always crowded) so there are clearly plenty of people who share your opinion. Anybody have any healthy recommendations for Alexi and the silent minority of Midtown Lunch’ers looking for this kind of food? Put them in the comments.

And as always if anybody would like to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at


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    Nice clavicles.

  • Sadly, for a healthy lunch I usually turned to falafal with tons of veggies and hummus… but you’d have to like fried balls.


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    How can someone dislike an entire cuisine? Especially one as diverse as ‘Chinese.’ This doesn’t make any sense to me. Maybe it’s American-Chinese that, more often than not, is some of the unhealthiest food out there, but authentic Chinese is a different story. Also you can ask for food to be steamed instead of fried.

    Like if you were to go to a chinese restaurant down the street and ask for chicken and broccoli steamed w/o sauce would you still hate it b/c it’s ‘Chinese’? See how absurd that sounds?

  • She doesn’t really seem to be into the whole ‘midtown lunch’ thing.

  • You aint’ a lady boy.

    Oh no.

  • I was going to call you ‘Hot’ but then I saw you didn’t like Chinese food. You are thence forth ‘Luke-Warm’.

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    Yeah, China is huge and has tons of variety. It’s like saying you hate American food. Have you tried things like congee, noodle soups, steamed dim sum, steamed fish with ginger and scallions, poached chicken with ginger and scallions? The list goes on.

    You should give Korean food a try. There’s lots that you can eat that are on the healthy side. Most of the Korean restaurants in your hood are located on 32nd and 35th Street between 5th and 6th Ave. And South Indian items such as dosas are lighter fare. I usually go to Curry Hill, but Minar also carries some South Indian specialties.

    And while I’m not a fan of it, Pump on 38th has stuff that you would probably enjoy. They even have baked falafel.

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    Oh, fresh and whole foods? Why not try Whole Foods? =) It’s actually much cheaper to go there for lunch than ‘Free Foods.’

  • Real Chinese food is really healthy. This is especially the case for home cooked food. You’ll find whole steamed chicken and fish. Also, most of the veggies are either Blanched dark leafy greens or stewed melons. Sometimes there are lightly sauteed greens. Nothing is really ever deep fried. I would think the only unhealthy part would be all the white rice.

  • Picture? :up: No Chinese or Fried? :down: Raw vegan macaroons and Free Foods? :FAIL:

    I agree with wich above–this isn’t a ML’er at all. But I agree with Zach too–it’s good to have diverse views here. And I agree with myself for agreeing with both of these people. (But I don’t agree with ALexi’s eating preferences.)

  • No chinese? No fried? That’s Horrible! She’s missing out on two great worlds. Oh well. More for the rest of us. And you can eat chinese food with brown rice. More and more places are serving it for the health-conscious. And instead of delicious stir-fry, they offer steamed dishes instead.

    As for fresh and healthy, I’d probably do Crisp or Pret if I need variety from the Streets or cafteria fare.

  • Yeah, China is huge but since all the people look alike doesn’t the food all taste alike?

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    “I don’t search around too often because honestly, I like to bring my lunch to work.” – FAIL. Your best bet is Whole Foods or moving to LA.

    Nice pic. I bet you got (ahem) “elbowed” quite a bit when you lived in Italy. Now let’s get back to talkin bout street meat…

  • Give her a break, she is a health and wellness coach..whatever that means.

  • As a Chinese person, I can tell you that there’s a million crazy shit I want say to someone who doesn’t like Chinese food. But since Zach goes out of his way to find these midtown lunchers, maybe I’ll refrain from going all apeshit on this. Just know… woman, I got words for you, and they’re all unkind.


  • Jesus. Alexi, good luck with this bunch. My quinoa-eating, hippie ass is behind you though! The only suggestion I have for midtown lunches is the same as mamacita’s: falafel. Maoz, though? pickled baby eggplant!! That’s the best I can do.

  • F.Y.I. There are plenty of places in the city to get fantastic fresh Burrata. ‘Ideal Cheese’ on 1st Ave between 51st and 52nd gets burrata shipments bi-weekly (wrapped in leek greens to indicate freshness). I know one of the days they get it is Thursday, I used to buy it all the time for heirloom tomato salads. Go early on Thursday and it will rival the ones in Italy…

  • Bland. Boring. Colorless. White bread. Dull. Pallid. Unadventurous. Not worthy of breathing NYC air.

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