PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Allen”

Every Tuesday we 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 Allen, a packaging design wizard who loves General Tsao but can’t seem to find a decent slice in Midtown.

Name: Allen

Age: 28

Occupation: Packaging design wizard

Where in Midtown do you work? Right around 38th & 6th

Favorite Kind of Food: In Midtown, the less English spoken, the better. There is definitely an inverse relationship here. Outside of NYC I’ll just eat any kind of comfort foods. But seriously, Asian and Latino foods of all kinds, green sauce of all kinds, stuffed things, burgers. Not sure if this qualifies as Chinese food, but occasionally I’m still a sucker for General Tsao chicken/tofu/whatever. Chinese people make it. I never heard of the great general in the history books, but the man had a sweet tooth. Candied meats are awesome.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: “Just a salad” is not a meal. Stuffed grape leaves are the crabapples of stuffed foods. Cricket quesadillas (yes, I really tried it, and it tastes like how the back of a Petland discount smells). Dollar pizza has ruined the pizza landscape of NYC. Sometimes tourists on the street with their families in tow politely ask me where to get “a good slice of pizza.” I look across the street at the 2 Bros next door to the Indian chaat/pizza deli and politely laugh in their face and walk away. Then I cry once I’m at my desk. I will SO pay up to $10 for 2 good slices of pizza at this point. I’m getting really desperate.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Picnic Basket on 37th+6th has great Mediterranean-ish food. The sandwiches there are really well made, and the owner is a bit of a chatterbox but cool. It’s good to still see someone try to make a connection at their store instead of just grabbing your money and throwing food at you. It’s still kinda new, so we’ll see. I like Szechuan Gourmet for a good, spicy lunch, but stay away from the boring dishes like chicken with broccoli and general Tsao. I like Ming Du, despite whatever the DOH throws at them. Cafe Zaiya is good for all their baked goods — it is totally possible to have a lunch made completely out of desserts. Secretly, Yagura puts out some kind of after-lunch buffet. Not a huge selection, but really simple great stuff. Lunch is whenever my gut says it is. 4:30 can still be lunch. Dig Inn is a godsend for when I try to have a complete healthy meal. Woorijip over in K-town rules … even at 3 a.m., same great stuff. Homeboy runs a tight ship at that one cart over by 45th. Green sauce, word up. Comme Ci Comme Ca truck. All the sandwiches are good, but merguez is best. That secret Mexican place, Riconcito Mexicano, where everyone complains that nobody there speaks English. They are definitely right, but how hard is it to order tacos? Quit trying to describe your food allergy situation to these people. The place isn’t for you if you need Rosetta Stone to order enchiladas. It’s just a nice grimy quiet lunch spot.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Again, Zaiya wins here. Too easy to mix and match food and go with coworkers who are picky eaters. If I’m alone, I usually go grab the thali lunch special at Bombay Fast Food. The chaat is great too and amazing that you can even get that at all.

Places you have discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Frites N Meats. I haven’t been in a while, but that was just blessed burger meats all up in my face. El Rincon Del Sabor, even though I have to go up a few flights of stairs past all those grimy people trying to hassle me to sell them gold like I’m a leprechaun. Various food trucks over the years, too, but I still need to make an effort to go find Cinnamon Snail. When I first started reading a few years ago, I found that lady who sold Peruvian lunches in Styrofoam containers out of a small cart. That made me really happy, but I never found her again.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? A 10 minute walk from the Reading Terminal in Philly. I was only there for a few hours but I feel like I need to get a job near that place for a year to have enough time to fully explore. Also maybe LA. Also maybe Vietnam.

Anything you’d like to ask the midtown lunch readers? Anyone with me on this pizza thing? The stipulation is that it can’t be a sit down restaurant. No personal pies. Just slices. Good ones.

Yikes, pizza issues two weeks in a row. Got a suggestion for Allen? Put it in the comments. Want to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate)? Email


  • Excellent profile. Well thought out answers. Good observations. And someone is still going to call you an asshole. Welcome to the internet.

    P.S. I’ve given up on getting a slice in midtown. Gotta go out into the neighborhoods.

  • Speaking as the dollar slice guy, I like Siena Pizza for decent walk-out slices. West 40th and 8th. As good as it gets near your location.

    Before you pooh-pooh all dollar slices everywhere, at least give NYC Fried Chicken’s buck slice a shot. I won’t say that I’ve yet had a buck-slice joint that surpasses Siena but NYC Fried is surprisingly good and meets the cheapness metrics.

    Also if it’s Peruvian you seek near you, El Sabroso – the elevator shaft on 37th between 7th and 8th – does Peruvian chow on Fridays. I haven’t had but word is that it’s quite decent, as is all their food. Cheap too.

    Also you’re barely a block from Main Noodle House, which is freaking amazing.


    The “isn’t that drink size illegal?” edition

  • @MJP, I’ll take your recommendation for dollar pizza, but I’m at my wits end. I’ve grown up in Brooklyn and a bit more picky than most. Buy yeah, I’ve been to El Sabroso before and it was dang tasty. Main Noodle is a most basic chinese takeout place but they are HELLA FAST. Also someone just recommended to me and I need to study that for a little bit.

    @Fred, I’m at Coney Island Nathans so it’s beer instead. Totally legal.

    • The normal dishes are good but the noodle soups are the singular best out there. Also the wontons. It’s as dissimilar to crappy generic dragon wontons as a Ferrari is to a Corolla.

      I can have a clear winning recommendation once the pizza column is done – probably about three weeks or so – but so far, if you were to have one last dollar slice to make one final redemption of the medium, NYCFC is the one to take a shot at.

  • I can’t answer ‘where do you I go for good food around here?’ without asking at least 4 or 5 followup questions.

    Do you want to walk (conversely, will you get lost)? Like spicy? How much do you want to spend? Are you allergic to everything? Do you like ‘ethnic’ food? Are you overly concerned about a ‘sanitary’ restaurant (Only will go to DOH A’s)?

  • I second MJP on the NYC Fried Chicken $1 slice. I had one on Sunday and it was very good. Very saucy with a subtle hint of black pepper. I see from your cup that you know where to go for the quintessential New York hot dog. Nothing else needed except for mustard, sauerkraut and sauteed onions. Their french fries are also as addictive as crack. Soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. I had the fries at Steak n Shake yesterday and they were horrible. Skinny and burnt with no taste of potato.

  • i always thought previti pizza on 41st and lexington was decent.

  • A douche trying really hard to be a hipster. If you could tone it done just a little you would be cool beans.

  • Previti’s “focaccia” slices are good. Naples 45 is still good for the after 2pm special.

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