Your First Look at the Massive Cafe R

Cafe R Café R opened its doors to the public this Monday and I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t a bit excited for this.  Sure, it could be just another generic Midtown deli.  But it’s also huge… and maybe, just maybe, it could a bit more.  (Maybe this could be Koreatown’s Cafe Duke!)  I usually wait a bit before trying new things out, but I couldn’t wait for this one- fully knowing it would be a mob scene.

As I walked through the doors I bumped into few of my old coworkers and they all gave positive comments about the food. And one of the guys had already been there three times. There might be hope for this place!

I did a quick walk around just to see what was in the 10,000+ sq ft of space. Towards the 31st St entrance was a coffee station and a dining area with a 2nd floor. Then moving down the aisle towards 32nd St was a sushi/kimbap station, West Indies, teriyaki and noodle bar, seafood, Korean, pasta, falafel/kebab, Philly steak, burgers, fried chicken and pizza.

Cafe R

Cafe R
Menu for the pasta station.

Cafe R
Menu for the burger (beef, lamb and chicken) station. I am SUPER curious about that bulgogi burger.

Cafe R
Menu for the chicken station. Hard to decide between the half rotisserie chicken with 2 sides and a corn bread ($8.25) or 3 pieces meal with dark meat, 2 sides and a roll ($6.49).

Cafe R
The pizza looked pretty generic.

Cafe R
Steamed and raw seafood coming soon.

In the center aisle you’ve got cashiers, chips and cookies, candies, prepared foods like sushi and wraps, soups, salad bar and steamed table that served mostly Korean food plus miscellaneous stuff like beef stew and pasta.

Cafe R
Do cookies look better under purple lights?

Cafe R
Pre-made sandwiches and wraps.

Cafe R
A typical salad bar with salads, fruits and kimbap.

Cafe R
The steam table had bulgogi, japchae, beef stew, pasta, some fried foods and mixed vegetables.

Cafe R
Freshly baked bread?!

Cafe R
Then in the last aisle you’ve got drinks, desserts, Mexican, sandwiches, salad and fresh produce. (Pineapples?!)

Cafe R
You can also buy potatoes, broccoli, onions, and cereals.

Definitely not the place for the indecisive.  It took me about 20mins before settling down in front of the noodle bar and even then I wasn’t 100% sure about my decision. One bad thing about going to a place on opening week was that everyone was still trying to get used to things. The lone guy at the noodle bar station took forever to make 1 dish while there were 6-7 people in line. Many decided to leave. Since I wasn’t in a hurry I stuck it out. I ordered the shrimp tempura udon ($6.95).

Cafe R

The udon was actually okay but the broth was thin and the shrimp tempura (which was probably sitting out for awhile) completely fell apart. Then again what do you expect from cheap, deli udon. I did find little bits of seafood in the broth (shrimp and squid). It wasn’t worth $7 and I was still hungry. Not wanting to leave the place unsatisfied and semi-hungry, I decided to get one more thing.

Cafe R

Having read Chris H’s post about Pizza by Certe’s cheesesteak that morning I thought I’d give the cheesesteak here a try. For $4.75 I got a 7 inch Philly “cheesesteak” with bell peppers, onions and provolone. The guy asked if I wanted tomatoes and lettuce with my sandwich. (I know I know- who puts tomatoes and lettuce in a cheesesteak but whenever someone asks me that I instinctively say yes, sorry.)

Thankfully the cheesesteak didn’t suck. The ciabatta bread was nicely toasted, the beef was thinly sliced and tasty, and the slightly salty provolone did its job. If a 7 inch sandwich is too small for you they also offer a 12 inch for $6.75 and a double steak/double cheese 12 inch for $8.50.

The owners of Café R are definitely trying really hard to win over customers. I have to admit I’m quite curious about the stations that I didn’t get to- like the burger station, the West Indies station and fried/rotisserie chicken station. All the prices seem reasonable and everyone that works there was super friendly. I’m sure as time goes on the workers will become more efficient and hopefully cut down the wait time.  In the long run, it’s ok.  It will take us twice as long to work our way through all the stations.

Currently the hours are 7am to 7pm.

The + (What somebody who likes this would say)

  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and grocery shopping all in one place? Yes please.
  • It’s easy to mix and match different cuisine.
  • Great to see West Indies food getting some love.
  • Bulgogi burger!
  • Generic Midtown Deli on steroids.  I need to check this out…

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I hate crowds.
  • What the heck? No Chinese and Indian food?
  • I can get everything somewhere else and probably taste better.
  • Wow.  That’s a long post for a generic Midtown deli.  Are you guys feeling ok?

Cafe R, 116 W 32nd btw. 6+7th 212-695-9550


  • it will be hard not to go. big selection. reasonable prices.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Lots of places in NJ and PA add lettuce tomato to their cheesesteaks. It’s usually called a Cheesesteak Hoagie.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    1) A LOT of the stuff on the various menus isn’t available yet. No bulgobi cheesesteaks, etc.

    2) The workflow is still a bit flaky. Nobody was sure where to stand, and not all of the workers had their rhythm down for getting everything made fast enough for the crowds. I would wait on lines for a while until I realized that I wasn’t actually on line, order things that didn’t actually exist, etc.

    3) I think they’re running a grand opening special, because a bunch of things that I bought ended up being cheaper than I expected, and every time I got a free fountain drink.

    4) Burrito was a standard deli burrito. The chicken was a little better than average though because it was stewed in a pretty interesting sauce, which kept it moist.

    5) By the pound steam table was pretty standard. I think it was a little less extensive than Ambrosia’s?

    6) Chicken parm was very meh. Didn’t have much flavor.

    7) Cheesesteak was very meh. The beef was totally dried out and even though I ordered the double, it seemed like there was almost no meat on it.

    8) My wife had the sushi. Pretty standard deli/grocery store sushi. It seeemd pretty fresh.

    Still need to try the burgers, fried chicken, Korean, Japanese, and Mediterranean.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    How much is the by the pound steam table?
    Anyone knows what the ‘R’ stands for in the name?

  • @Steve stole my joke, lol

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Burgers are really good – had one last week! I also had the chicken teriyaki the 1st day it opened. Very fresh! I’ve also tried the gyros at the Mediterranean station.

    Today…it is a salad. FYI, small iceberg lettuce + 7 extras…$7.57, which is about $3.50 less than what I was paying for the same salad from Europa Cafe on 7th Ave. and it’s just as good, if not better.

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