PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Mike”

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 Mike, a Financial Panther who hates Brother Jimmy’s and is really pissed at Pampano Taqueria for getting rid of their Agua Fresca combo add-on.

Name: Mike

Age: 24

Occupation: Financial Panther

Where in Midtown do you Work?: My office is at the out of bounds location of 29th and Madison. I used to work on 51st and Park. That’s where I did my serious midtown lunching. I never thought I would miss that area when it came to lunch but now I actually take trips up there to get some of my favorite places that I miss.

Favorite Kind of Food: Wow that’s tough! Does cheap eats count as an answer? I live in the village so I try to bring my midtown lunching rules of nothing over $10 back for dinner and I rarely go over. My favorite type of food has to be Mexican, BBQ, or Bar Food but basically I love anything loaded with starch or carbs (healthy right?). I love all Asian food and have recently been on a soup dumpling and ramen kick (and no not Nissan cup of soup). At a pizza joint I will ALWAYS order a chicken parm sub unless were talking Neapolitan pizza. I grew up on my grandmother’s sauce so anything Italian that is not smothered in red sauce is sacrilege. Finally, a bagel with nova lox and cream cheese is my favorite all time favorite breakfast. I don’t get it that often because I haven’t been able to find a good place in the city that gives me nova with cream-cheese on a bagel for less than 10 bucks.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: It is a tie between Vegetarian and Ethiopian. When I say vegetarian I don’t just mean food with no meat. I am talking about anywhere that serves wheat grass cocktails and tofu burgers. Yuck. Eating raw fatty meaty is disgusting to me. I’m grossed out by Kosher pizza and the other day I heard of Kosher Mexican (I don’t even want to know what that constitutes).

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: For this I will stick to my old midtown location of 51st and Park. I still make the trip uptown to go to Pampano Taqueria (on 3rd Ave. btw. 49+50th). 2 or 3 Alambre steak tacos with the combo and the Agua Fresca and I am in the food zone! The Agua Fresca always sealed the deal for me and I was even so bold as to ask them how it was made. They gave me the Heisman and said, “no way” but every time I go I still try to find out that secret recipe. Now the sad news. I went there last Friday with my girlfriend and they got rid of the Agua Fresca as a add on to the combo. I called shenanigans and tried to reason with them that the Agua Fresca made the deal, but I was denied. Even without the Agua Fresca it is one of the best lunches in midtown. My go to pizza place was always La Bellezza (on 49th btw. Lex+3rd) for a chicken or eggplant parm sub. When a chicken parm is made with thin flat pounded chicken that is freshly breaded and spiced just right it is a thing of beauty. Sizzle chicken with extra sauce at Fusion Grills in the food court at 875 3rd Ave is great. Cheap generic chicken teriyaki is one of my favorite food court meals. When I found this I was so excited because I mourned the Sarku that got removed when the heartless JC Penny Corporation moved into the Manhattan Mall.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Silo Café and Tasty Cafe. Both generic midtown delis that will charge you 9 bucks for a sandwich. I found the best deals at those places is just to go with a cheeseburger deluxe.

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? I had already known about La Bellezza from some co-workers, but I was reading the comments in your midtown lunch post about it and someone was very adamant that the eggplant parm was better. It takes a lot for me to give up my staple and try something new, but that commenter was spot on. The Jiannetto’s pizza truck was parked outside my building for months and I always thought to myself, how could pizza from a truck be any good? Saw the midtown lunch review and it quickly became something I ate at least once a week. (Plus I was so close I could get the rice balls before they sold out). The Blarney Stone (on 3rd btw. 45+46th) when the onion rings were top-notch. Hop Won (on 45th btw. Lex+3rd) is amazing and I eventually got my entire office into doing take out from them.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Living in NYC is my dream location for lunch purposes, but if I had to pick another, my dream job location purely for lunch purposes would have to be Texas. The worlds best BBQ, pulled pork, and Tex-Mex makes that an easy choice.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? 2 questions. First. Where can I get a great pulled pork sandwich? (Hint: If you think the answer Brother Jimmy’s is acceptable you have not experienced a real pulled pork sandwich) Second — Where is the best buffalo chicken sandwich in Midtown?

Anybody have a suggestion for Mike?  Put it in the comments.  And as always if you would like to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at


  • Mike—You are a block from my house and couldn’t agree more on vegan/ethiopian cuisines. In general, I am chief hater of both! I will say “shame on you for supporting silo!” Especially with Captain Cafe right across the street from Silo. Better burger and fries for your buck! Same price approximately if not a little cheaper at Captain I think. You also can phone in your order and pick it up! Of course, you have my favorite cart on 28th and madison, where 4 bucks will net you a nice chicken hero as well!

    As to pulled pork, you have yuck, Bluesmoke, yuck, on 27th between lex and park, and if you are feeling like a walk, RUB on 23rd between 7th and 8th as well as Hill Country on 26 between 5th and 6th.

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    Daisy Mae cart has a good pulled pork sandwich.

    Agree on the La Bellaza. The parm rules, though the guys in my office have been talking about them slipping lately, with respect to quality.

    I’ve been getting the Chicken parm flatbread sandwich at Cafe Duke. It’s a really good take on a chicken parm without getting too fancy about it. I keep telling Zach about it in just about every email. You would think he’d be all over that place given the demographics of the cute cashiers :-)
    Anyone else tried the Cafe Duke Chicken Parm?

  • Best pulled pork is at RUB. Plus you can get the greasy onion straw as a side and feel really gross about yourself.

  • Goats, you like Hill Country over Blue Smoke? weird.


  • I also think La Bellaza has been slipping and I suspect it’s because they’re getting so popular. They ALWAYS seem rushed and frazzled, even when I try to beat the rush and get my lunch at 11:20. They’re VERY nice people in there and their food is fantastic. I hope they can figure a way to handle the crowds better.

  • Blue Smoke sucks…..I used to have to go there for Work lunches when we weren’t so cheap (and eliminated them completely)….I grew to dislike their food. their burger is meh, the bbq even worse.

    To be fair, I have only had Hill Country one and a half times, but I did enjoy what I had….and their pulled pork was good, though their lean briscuit better. I will say RUB is the best for BBQ in the City….and is my go to BBQ joint.

  • Dinosaur is good, but not exactly a work lunch. i gotta make it over to RUB soon.

  • Dinosaur–oh no— (*shudder*—*dry heaves on desk* as he recalls the 4 am body alarm of doom)….

  • Good profile, but I’m not sure “Texas BBQ” and “pulled pork” belong in the same sentance…

  • wtf is a “financial panther”? I originally read it as “partner” but that would imply a degree of success and standing.

    And buffalo chicken is found in wings, not sandwiches. But if that’s your level of discernment, then Subway has a nice new buffalo chicken sandwich on the menu for ya. (*gag*)

  • Goats, is a briscuit a biscuit topped with some brisket (hold the cilantro/curry aioli)?

  • Stevenp, check out the link on “Panther”
    Good Homer joke.

  • Woops—I guess so. Brisket, briscuit—looks right to me….

  • IVE socks that look older.

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    hi banana! yours is actually one of the more interesting profiles i’ve read…au revoir!

  • “hi banana”

    Is his new nickname banana-boy?

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    no, inside joke. he once wore a banana costume for halloween

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    There’s more to Ethiopian cuisine than kitfo, if that’s what he means by “raw fatty meaty.” Last time I checked, doro wat was delicious.

  • doro wett? Eitherway, very good.

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