I Will Never Get Tired Of Eating Lunch Out of Freight Elevator Hallway


Midtown Lunch has always prided itself on finding “hidden” gems in our part of the city (after all, you don’t need a blog to tell you where the nearest Cafe Metro is.)  And there are some truly hidden treasures, none more so than the spots that operate out of freight elevator hallways. The most famous one is El Sabroso, the Dominican/Peruvian 6 seater inside the freight hallway on 37th btw. 7+8th.  But there’s also Nick’s Place (on 39th btw. 7+8th), and of course Pick a Pita made a name for themselves in a hallway on 38th btw. 7+8th, before moving out into the open on 8th Avenue.

There’s something fun, and slightly subversive, about eating in a hallway beneath a building, dodging giant dollies full of lord knows what, as you navigate the bustling hallway to get to your lunch.  So, when I read in the ML forums that there was another one of these places on 37th btw. 8+9th, I wasted no time.

Unlike El Sabroso and Nick’s, who both have signs on the sidewalk welcoming you in, this place (at 306 37th Ave.) has got nothing.  No sign.  No name.  No menu.  If you aren’t in the habit of staring into freight elevator hallways (which admittedly, I am) you would never know this place existed.  Maybe it’s new, I initially thought.  Nope.  Been there over 15 years (45 years if you count the previous owner.)   The food is Dominican, and if you’re wondering how a place like this stays open, or attracts customers, it’s pretty simple.  One stewed meat + rice + beans = $5.  When you do find a place like this, it doesn’t take long for you to tell all your friends (or coworkers.)

The menu is pretty simple, in that there is no menu. You just walk in, ask them what they’ve got, and place your order.  The specialty is goat (which they have every day by popular demand), and stewed chicken.  A third and fourth item change from day to day.  There’s no menu, or set schedule, so if you want to find out what they’re serving on a certain day, you’ve got to call (they’ll give you a card with a number if you ask.  It’s also the only place you’ll see “Aries Cafe”, which is apparently what this place is called.)   Fried plantains (when they have them) are $1, and so is avocado.  You want two meats?  No problem.  It’s $7.  Naturally, that’s what I went for.

This kind of food never looks good in photos (that’s a whole mess o’ brown), but I can assure you it was freakin’ tasty.  The goat was nice and tender, and still on the bone (the way it should be).  Wasn’t too funky either, which could be a plus or minus depending on your point of view.  The chicken was the same… deliciously tender on the bone dark meat that made you want to get in there with your fingers and pick out every little bite (damn the mess!)  Rice and pinto beans were pretty standard, and served as a nice vehicle for sucking up the sauce.


If you don’t like bones in your food, this is probably not the place for you- although it looked like their beef offering for the day was boneless, so you can manage.  And there is no question that El Sabroso has more options (including roast pork, which I don’t think this place serves.)  But if you love eating in freight elevator hallways as much as I do, you can probably make time for both spots!  In fact, standing on 8th Ave. between the two has made me realize why the now closed Sophie’s Cuban (on 40th btw. 7+8th) never stood a chance.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I am all about stewed goat, and this place has it every day
  • Hot lunch for $5.  How can that be beat?
  • Bone in lunches always have the best flavor

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place will say)

  • I’m intimidated by ethnic restaurants that don’t have menus
  • I hate picking through bones
  • There aren’t very many seats in the place
  • El Sabroso is across the street, and has so many more options
  • No roast pork?!?  WTF?

Aries Cafe, 306 W. 37th (btw. 8+9th), 646-342-2827


  • Yes! Well done Zach. I love goat but El Sabroso holds a special place in my heart as it was one of my first meals when I started working in Midtown.

  • I used to go to these ladies all the time when they were located across the street from their current location. They were forced to move when the landlord kicked them out and refurbished the whole place.

    It’s been a long time since I went back to their new location because they used to give out larger portions, and the flavor from caked on goodness from years of subpar cleaning on the pots and pans was gone after the move. I know that they used to change the menu daily based upon what they decided to cook, but that may have changed. Used to love their pernil so it would be a shame if they didn’t have it anymore.

  • That food looks like poop on a sick day!

  • We should have an elevatorhallwayfoodapalooza to see which elevator hallway cafe has the best food.

  • Wow, what a totally unexpected comment Adam.

  • That plate looks like the bathroom stall at Giants stadium

  • <—-threw up in mouth….

  • That’s some nasty shit.

  • That sort of food doesn’t photograph well, but trust me a plate of goat in gravy with some beans and rice underneath is foodie heaven! If you don’t like that, then you probably don’t like lots of Caribbean, Indian and Latin food. Many dishes end up looking like a whole lotta brown. (what can Brown do for you?)

  • Gizmo caca?

  • New Yawk City — the center of the culinary universe. And the gourmets there eat “stewed meat + rice + beans” with bones in it while standing up in a freight elevator.

    YEP! That’s definitely us OLD hillbilly’s (from deep Rural Arkansas, according to Fred*) type of food, alright.

    * “FRED” is now posting over on EATER National as ‘Louise Chiffonade Brescia, if that interests you.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Just went there and got the beef over rice and beans. With a generous squirt of hot sauce, it was easily the most satisfying $5 meal I’ve had in a long time.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    If you are really hungry, perhaps no food that you will not going to eat, everything could be acceptable.

    Anyway, this food maybe look disgusting, but if you tried it, it taste better that what you think. We have this version in Asia and we serve it mostly to our visitors.

    Yves Miller, freight consultant for bestdropshipper.net, a drop shipping company.

  • Does bestdropshipper ship stone crusher parts? Mine needs some new o-rings

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