Best Midtown Lunches As Voted On By You: 2010 Edition

You nominated the finalists, argued in comments, and voted for your favorites. And now… it’s time for the results. Here are the winners of the 2010 Midtown Lunch Reader’s Poll, complete with Editor’s Pick for each category chosen by our correspondents.

Best Burger: Five Guys


Once Shake Shack opened on 8th Ave. earlier this year you would have thought they would have been a shoe-in for this award.  Not so fast.  One year after being the Editor’s Pick for best burger, Five Guys takes home the big prize- ending a three year Burger Joint winning streak.  Editor’s Pick: Shake Shack “I withstood the Shake Shack hype for years, and finally tried it when the Midtown West branch opened.  I now understand the hype, and am pretty happy to wait in line (within reason) for those burgers.   And c’mon people, Five Guys is a National Chain, and not even from New York!  -Chris H.”  [View Results]

Best Sweets Truck: Wafels & Dinges

Is this the sign that cupcakes are finally on the way out?  Last year The Cupcake Stop powered to victory, this year they barely got one percent of the vote… leaving Wafels & Dinges to cruise to victory.  Editor’s Pick: Kelvin Slush: “Ooooh, it’s hard to make Brownie choose between desserts. Tough, tough one, but I’m going to cast my vote for Kelvin. Their slushes are amazing. Fresh and delicious, I hope that they make midtown a regular destination when they return to the road this spring.” -Brownie [View results]

Best Pizza: Previti

Last year we forgot to even give away a pizza award (that’s how underwhelming the pizza was in Midtown), but Previti Pizza seems to have changed that.  Is it worth traveling across the city for?  Maybe not, but it’s clearly the best in Midtown.  They got twice as many votes as their nearest competitor, and it’s hard for us to disagree.  Editor’s Pick: Previti

Best Korean Fried Chicken: Bon Chon

This was a huge year for Korean fried chicken in Midtown. Kyochon opened their flagship location, Mad For Chicken changed their name (again), and Bon Chon just keep on expanding. But what about the actualy chicken!? Is it possible to determine who is the best? You guys seem to think so. Bon Chon in a landslide. Editor’s Pick: “Bonchon for Spicy, Kyochon for Mild” -Clay [View results]

Best Ramen: Totto Ramen

After years of watching Sapporo, Menchanko Tei and Men Kui Tei battle it out in this category, the Totto empire took over opening two new (and much heralded) ramen places in Midtown this year. Menchanko Tei put up a good fight, but in the end it was too much to beat Totto Ramen (and our man Chris H. completely agrees.) Editor’s Pick: Totto Ramen “I happily trudged through the snow during Snowmageddon 2010 and waited an hour in line in sub-freezing temperature to eat a $10 bowl of ramen. ‘Nuff said.” -Chris H. [View results]

Best Bagel: Ess a Bagel

Ess a Bagel, Midtown NYC

You would think great bagels grew on trees in NYC, but if they do none of those trees are in Midtown. For a decent one  you’ve got to go to the outskirts. When Vic’s Bagel Bar opened we thought that Ess a Bagel might finally have some competition for best bagel honors- but you guys disagreed. Ess a Bagel is the undisputed champ (and we’d be stupid to disagree, right?) Editor’s Pick: Ess a Bagel [View results]

Best Falafel: Taim Mobile

We have never wanted for falafel here in Midtown, but this category was turned on its head this year by the food truck launched by West Village institution Taim. Clearly you guys were excited… they beat out previous winners Maoz, Olympic Pita and Kwik Meal pretty handily.  Editor’s Pick: Chris H. says Taim Mobile, Blondie says Maoz, and Jeremiah goes with Olympic Pita. [View results]

Best Indian Steam Table: Minar

Minar, Midtown NYC

After years of watching Kati Roll and Biryani Cart dominate the “Fast Food Indian” Category, we finally decided to give the Indian steam tables their due. And despite some strong competition from Indus Express, the ultra classic Minar takes home the prize. Editor’s Pick: “Minar is another spot that I’ve frequented since my early days as a Midtown Lunch’er. The new food trucks are starting to step on their turf in terms of price/value, but for steam table they are still tops in my book. The Dum Aloo (spicy potato curry) Friday special is a fav. -Blondie” [View results]

Best Korean Fast Food: Woorijip

Bann Next Door put up a good fight, but it’s hard to dethrone a king. Woorijip takes this award for the 4th year in a row. Editor’s Pick: Woorijip [View results]

Best Coffee: Financier Patisserie


There aren’t many more important decisions than where to get your coffee, and thankfully Midtown is blessed with plenty of great coffee options. Last year’s winner Joe the Art of Coffee made this one super close, but Financier Patisserie eeked out a victory. Editor’s Pick: Chris H. agrees with you guys, but Blondie is all about Joe. [View results]

Best Latin Food: Lena Latin Grill

Lena Latin Grill definitely surprised us when they opened back in September, but better than 3 time reigning champ Margon?! You guys say yes, but we’re sticking with the old school. Editor’s Pick: Margon [View results]

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

No surprises here. For the fourth year in a row, roast pig over rice wins the hearts of Midtown Lunchers everywhere. Editor’s Pick: Hing Won/Hop Won/Kar Won [View results]

Best Cupcakes: Robicelli’s @ Lily O’Brien’s

Crumbs and Magnolia Bakery dominate the Midtown cupcake landscape, but if you want the best (according to you guys) the place to be is Lily O’Briens- which carries Robicelli’s Cupcakes. Not all of us love cupcakes, but if we’re going to eat them these are clearly the ones. Editor’s Pick: Robicellie’s “Dark Chocolate Dulce, Strawberry Champagne, Bananas Foster, Creme Brulee…sorry Magnolia, but you aren’t going to find more interesting cupcake combinations in the city than those made by the mom and pop team of Alison and Matt Robicelli. -Brownie” [view results]

Best Seafood Dish: Fish Sandwich at Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart

It’s nice to celebrate this sandwich during a time outside of Lent! There are certainly higher quality seafood options in Midtown, but in true Midtown Lunch fashion size and value wins out. And as much as we love the octopus salad at Margon, the Cod Schnitzel from the Schnitzel & Things Truck (and the coconut shrimp at Gourmet 53) it’s tough to go with anything other than the fish sandwich king of Midtown. Editor’s Pick: Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart [View results]

Best Japanese Fast Food: Cafe Zaiya

When Sunrise Mart opened on 41st btw. Mad+5th this year, and Chiyoda Sushi became Mai Cuisine, 3 time winner Cafe Zaiya saw it’s strongest competition yet in this category. But in the end it wasn’t nearly enough to beat the champ. We love Go Go Curry, and look forward to watching Glaze Teriyaki rise through the ranks, but for now Cafe Zaiya is still the one to beat. Editor’s Pick: Cafe Zaiya [View results]

Best Sit Down Chinese Food: Szechuan Gourmet

This is about as easy a victory as you’ll see anywhere. And now that Szechuan Gourmet has two locations it doesn’t seem likely that anybody will be challenging in this category anytime soon. Editor’s Pick: Szechuan Gourmet [View results]

Best Sandwich from Cer Te: Chubby Chinese Girl

2010 was a big year for Cer Te with the opening of their new pizza joint, but in the end people still love this place for the sandwiches. And they gave us some great ones this year… but none of them were better than the one suggested by (and names after) the Chubby Chinese Girl. And we concur. Editor’s Pick: Chubby Chinese Girl Sandwich “I swear they must lose money on this sandwich – duck breast meat is not cheap, yet they pack on a very generous amount of tasty, tender duck breast onto this sandwich. When I’m not ‘on assignment’ for Midtown Lunch, this is my default Thursday lunch. -Chris H.” [View results]

Best Thai Food: Wondee Siam

Won Dee Siam
Photo Courtesy of Adam Kuban

This was hands down the closest race of the year, with 4 different places all within 3 percentage points of taking the title. Pongsri is clearly the place most people go (it’s one avenue closer for most), Pam Real Thai has long been considered the best of 9th Ave., and the newly opened Pure Thai Shop House made quite the splash when they opened this year. But in the end, Wondee Siam was too powerful for them all. (Too bad the secret Thai menu isn’t a bit cheaper!) Editor’s Pick: Pure Thai Shop House “I both live and work fairly close to Pure Thai Shop House, and since my original assessment, I’ve returned on a weekly basis for both lunch and dinner, and have yet to be disappointed. -Chris H.” [View results]

Best Street Meat: Kwik Meal/Kwik Gourmet

Nothing divides people more than street meat, and when you eat as much as we have you start to realize all the little differences from cart to cart. It’s hard to really pick one favorite, but you guys did it awarding this one to the winners of Street Meat Palooza 2 & 3Kwik Meal/Kwik Gourmet. Not surprisingly our panel was completely divided. Editor’s Pick: Blondie likes XPL, Jeremiah and Chris H. go for Kwik Meal, while Brownie says Kwik Meal for Lamb, 53rd and 6th for chicken. [View results]

Best Happy Hour: Rudy’s

Should we even bother with this award any more? The pig. The free hot dogs. The general atmosphere. Rudy’s is the defacto Midtown Lunch Happy Hour. Always has been, and probably always will be. Editor’s Pick: Rudy’s [View Results]

Best Flatiron Lunch: Eataly

The Flatiron area exploded this year, with one huge opening after another, and in the end Eataly just beat out Hill Country Fried Chicken for the victory. But the real winners are the people who work just south of 32nd Street. Shake Shack is no longer the best, most exciting lunch in the area. Clay, our Flatiron correspondent, couldn’t bring himself to pick between all the options… but Chris H. had a favorite that somehow didn’t make the final list! Editor’s Pick: Rhong Tiam Express “Despite the controversial Michelin star, spotty service and endless amounts of drama, Chef Andy Yang still serves up the best version of khao soi in Manhattan in my opinion. An ounce of that amazing soup makes up for a multitude of flaws of the Rhong Tiam empire. -Chris H.” [View results]

Best New Food Truck: Korilla BBQ/Comme Ci Comme Ca/Taim Mobile

For the first time ever we suspect some cheating in this year’s Reader’s Poll, and it happened in one of the most anticipated categories: Best New Food Truck. Over 100,000 votes were cast in this category (almost 100 times as much as any other), despite using cookies and IP detection to limit each person to one vote. And as much as we’d like to think every single person who has ever looked at this site cast their vote in this popular category, it’s more likely that cheating was involved. So… we’re just going to turn this one over to the panel. Editors’s Pick: Chris H. says Korilla BBQ, Brownie goes with Comme Ci Comme Ca, and Blondie is all about Taim Mobile.

And finally we say good bye to all those we lost with the Saddest Losses of 2010 category. There’s no real winner here, and the loser is us.

Thanks for a great 2010, and here’s to an even better 2011!


  • Great article.
    What truck was the cheating aiding? – Name and shame.

    • LOL. Well it was weird. Three trucks had waaaaay higher vote totals than any of the other nominees in any other category. But I’m not convinced the trucks themselves did the cheating. It seems like it might have been a third party just ruining the voting for everybody (not sure why, exactly.)

  • SHAKE SHACK! 5Gs is good but not better than SS. Oh well.

    Joe should’ve won for Best Coffee. Though, Financier does serve up a delicious brew too.

  • I love both SS and 5Guys, but there is no way in hell 5Guys is better.

  • Burger cheat investigation needed

    Send in Mamacita with her mayo bloodhounds

  • I was going to write another complaint about all the shenanigans, but I’ve decided to be apathetic instead…


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I work near the MSP Shake Shack and a Five Guys just opened in my neighborhood in Queens. At this point, when I’m craving a burger during the day, I wait until I get home for some 5 Guys. I like the burger a little bit better and their fries blow SS out of the water.

    Not that I’ve abandoned Shake Shack – I actually just finished a Shack-cago dog – but if I’d voted I would have ranked 5 Guys higher.

    • So true. Their fries are waaaaaaaaaaay better… didn’t even think of that.

      • Maybe so but was the category best burger? Or best burger and fries?

        Or did the chubby blogmaster’s brain shut down whilst he was stuffing his goosh with taters

  • Ha. Listen man, I didn’t pick this stuff. You guys did! Just trying to make sense of it all…

  • I changed my vote from SS to 5 Guys this year. So I don’t think it’s too crazy for people have come to appreciate that 5 Guys is pretty dang tasty!! SS is great too, but just in a more subtle way. 5 Guys just has some serious beef grease going on that make it so good!

  • i think shake shack is good for overall awesomeness. burgers, dogs, shakes. five guys just has awesome burgers with a TON of toppings (and yes, those spicy fries are Insane)
    I voted for five guys, even though they are a national chain….

  • heathens, the lot of you

    i figured only mamacita would vote that she enjoyed 5 guys in her mouth

  • I think you should have turned the Best Food Truck award over to the commenters on the poll. Which would give the win to Comme Ci, Comme Ca.

    Of course the fact that I was one of those commenters and voted for Comme Ci, Comme ca may kinda gives away my motives there.

    Still…Can’t deny Chef Samir’s talen!

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