Best Midtown Lunches As Voted On By You: 2009 Edition

As is customary here on Midtown Lunch, I turn the site over to you at the end of the year to vote for your favorite Midtown Lunches. So… you voted… and here are the results, along with my picks. Some are were expected… some are surprises were mildly surprising… and a few were clearly influenced by Twitter. Here are the results of the 2009 Midtown Lunch Readers’ Poll:

Best Fast Food Hamburger: Burger Joint

After complete domination by Burger Joint in this category over the past few years I thought this might be the year that Five Guys take the crown.  They jumped out to an early lead- but then twitter took over, and pushed the Burger Joint to the victory.  Both are undeniably good burgers, and which one you prefer says a lot about your personal taste. If you want to eat a medium rare burger that tastes like it was grilled in your backyard on a summer day, Burger Joint is your spot.  If you prefer a thin patty, covered in cheese and toppings (like grilled onions, and mushrooms, and jalapenos), Five Guys is where you’ll be found.  I like the toppings.  Zach’s Pick: Five Guys [view full results]

Best Coffee: Joe the Art of Coffee

Photo Courtesy of Kathy YL Chan

I fully admit that I don’t drink coffee every morning (I’m a PG Tips kind of guy), but those of you who did have a clear favorite.  Joe the Art of Coffee in Grand Central.  For me though, the most exciting Midtown coffee news was the arrival of Intelligentsia- which you can now get at Culture Espresso Bar, a great new spot on 38th btw. 5+6th.  Their sandwiches aren’t too bad either.  I may not drink it ever day, but when I’m in the mood for some coffee that’s where I end up. Zach’s Pick: Culture Espresso Bar [view full results]

Best Latin Food: Margon

If you’re looking for meat + rice + beans + plantains, there are plenty of options in Midtown.  Sophie’s Cuban is the most visible, with their multiple locations (and their plantain topped fried pork sandwich is delicious!).  But it’s hard to top Margon, the super cramped cafeteria style lunch spot on 46th btw. 6+7th. They’ve won this award the past two years, and it’s hard to disagree.  Zach’s Pick: Margon [view full results]

Best Japanese Soup: Menchanko Tei

This was a great year for Japanese soup in Midtown.  We got two new Udon spots in Onya and Udon West, but ramen still reigns supreme… and Menchanko Tei is the king for a second year in a row.  I love Menchanko Tei too, but last month when I felt my sickest and most in need of a large bowl of a soup I didn’t end up at Menchanko Tei.  I ended up on 56thZach’s Pick: Men Kui Tei [view full results]

Best Midtown Happy Hour: Rudy’s

This was one of the site of one of the first Midtown Lunch happy hours ever.  And they have free hot dogs. Was there ever any doubt?  Zach’s Pick: Rudy’s [view full results]

Best Chinese Fast Food: Hing Won/Hop Won/Kar Won

Hing Won has won this award for the past two years in a row… and that was before they introduced the roast pig over rice lunch special.  I believe that’s what’s known in college football as “running up the score.”  Zach’s Pick: Hing Won/Hop Won/Kar Won [view full results]

Best Street Meat: Famous Halal Guys on 53rd & 6th

The Famous Halal Guys (on 53rd and 6th Ave.) surrendered their Street Meat Palooza title this year to Kwik Meal, but that didn’t stop you guys from voting them the best street meat in Midtown. 2009 saw them take over Shendy’s on 52nd, and I’m guessing that’s not going to be the end of it.  I love the real lamb at Kwik Meal, and the amazing rice and complex flavors you get at XPL.  But when it comes to street meat, 53rd & 6th serves up chicken and lamb over rice with white sauce and hot sauce in its most pure and basic form.  And for that, I can’t really disagree with the people.  Zach’s Pick: Famous Halal Guys on 53rd & 6th [view full results]

Best Sit Down Chinese Food: Szechuan Gourmet

How can you compete with a Chinese restaurant that gets two stars from the New York Times, especially when one of their best dishes (twice cooked pork belly with chili and leeks) is offered as a lunch special.  Answer?  You can’t.  Zach’s Pick: Szechuan Gourmet [view full results]

Best Sandwiches: Cer Te

When we launched the Midtown Lunch Sandwich Challenge at the beginning of 2009, nobody responded bigger than Cer Te.  They practically released a new sandwich every month, each crazier than the last.  And the amazing thing was, they were all delicious! One alone could have won them this prize.  Taken altogether, and it was a never a competition. Zach’s Pick: Cer Te [view full results]

Best Fried Chicken: NYC Cravings

NYC Cravings Truck was one of my favorite new lunches of 2009, and clearly you agreed… voting it best Fried Chicken in Midtown (with a little help from Twitter, no doubt.)  Their chicken is awesome, but best in Midtown?  Take away the delicious pork sauce and can it really stand up to the king?  Sorry, but I don’t think so.  I know it’s a chain, but unlike McDonald’s and Taco Bell and Chipotle, who serve a product that is inferior to any option of moderate quality, Popeye’s fried chicken can go toe to toe with anybody. Zach’s Pick: Popeye’s [view full results]

Best Sweets: Cupcake Stop Truck

Unlike some of other categories, the best Sweets award has always been a twitter driven popularity contest… and this year the Cupcake Stop Truck takes the prize!  Their cupcakes are fun, and many are tasty, but when I’m looking for that afternoon sugar rush my go to is a chocolate chip cookie from…. Pret.  I KID! I KID!  Zach’s Pick: The Treats Truck [view full results]

Best Mexican Food: El Rey Del Sabor

So anybody who knows anything about anything knows that the Mexican food in NYC doesn’t hold a candle to the West Coast.  But we can no longer complain that there is *no* good Mexican food in Midtown. El Rey del Sabor went from 1 cart to 3 this year, and the expansion meant that more voters lunchers were finally able to try the best Mexican food Midtown has to offer.  (We still have no good burritos though.) Zach’s Pick: El Rey del Sabor [view full results]

Best Japanese Fast Food: Cafe Zaiya

41st btw. Mad+5th is the center of the  Japanese fast food world here in NYC, and Cafe Zaiya was voted its crown jewel for the 3rd year in a row. Sure Chiyoda might serve up a higher quality product, and Yagura might be cheaper.  And yes, not all of the bentos at Zaiya are fantastic.  But is there a more fun place to eat lunch in all of Midtown?  I say no.  Zach’s Pick: Cafe Zaiya [view full results]

Best Korean Fast Food: Woorijip

Third year in a row that Woorijip has run away with this prize.  You guys have spoken again, and I can’t disagree.  Zach’s Pick: Woorijip [view full results]

Best Under $11 All You Can Eat Indian Buffet: Darbar Grill

After two years of Spice Fusion victory, the Darbar Grill was a bit of a surprise in this category!  Although looking back at the post I did in May, they could be considered the best from their desserts alone! Throw in a couple of less than mind blowing buffet lunches at Spice Fusion, and I think we have a new winner. Zach’s Pick: Darbar Grill [view full results]

Best Fast Food Indian: Biriyani Cart

I know Meru is from Bangladesh, but he serves up kati rolls and biriyani that could be put up against any “Indian” restaurant in Midtown. They won people’s choice at the Vendy Awards again this year, and once again the people have delivered victory.  For me though, this is a tough one. The Biriyani Cart is one of my favorite carts in Midtown, hands down, but you could argue that Kati Roll‘s rolls are better, and that there are better versions of biriyani to be had.  Plus Indus Express has had a solid year, and the former newsstand on 6th Ave. is still rocking the amazing chaat.  Separate this one into four categories and you could have four different winners.  But I guess if you ask which place I went back to time and time again, well there is only one winner in that category.  Zach’s Pick: Biriyani Cart [view full results]

Best Falafel: Maoz Vegetarian

Well that didn’t take long!  Midtown got its first location of worldwide falafel chain Maoz Vegetarian back in September, and in just 3 months they’ve already surpassed Olympic Pita, the winner from last year.  Their set up is fun (you build your own sandwich) but I think that a big part of what makes falafel great is the layering.  The best places make sure you get a bit of everything in every bite, and Maoz’s set up makes that practically impossible (I ain’t no falafel building expert!)  My favorite falafel this year was the antithesis of Maoz… rather then let you build your own, they create the crazy combinations for you.  And while nobody would mistake guacamole, corn, or sweet potato as authentic falafel toppings, the unique and expertly prepared flavor combos are delicious. And isn’t that what Midtown Lunch is all about?  Zach’s Pick: Crisp [view full results]

Thanks for voting… and here’s to a great 2010!!!


Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.