The Best Lunches in Midtown as Voted On By You

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 2012 Midtown Lunch Reader’s Poll, complete with Editor’s Pick for each category chosen by our correspondents.

Best Burger: Shake Shack
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Even though at the top of the year there was much hullabaloo around the inspiration behind Danny Meyer’s burgers making its splash in Midtown, not even Steak ‘N Shake could topple Shake Shack‘s reign as best Midtown burger in our Readers’ Polls. Frankly, I’d be thrilled with any of our poll nominees, but in the end, I’m partial to the Burger Joint patty. It’s not looking for world domination, it’s perfectly happy where it is, tucked away at the Parker Meridian. Plus, the atmosphere there can’t be beat by any newcomer. Rachel Goldner’s pick: Burger Joint [View Results]

Best Street Meat: Uncle Gussy’s
Uncle Gussy's Truck

This is the year that Uncle Gussy’s finally got some serious recognition. While we’ve been singing their praises for a long time, they finally got a well-deserved Vendy Award nomination and took the crown at this year’s Street Meat Palooza. And you guys picked them for best street meat head’s above everybody else, including last year’s winner Comme Ci Comme Ca! And I have to agree! After 40 years on the street (in one form or another), Uncle Gussy’s tirelessly brings perfectly grilled meat, great hot sauce, and the best tzatziki this side of Astoria. Brian’s Pick: Uncle Gussy’s [View Results]

Best Falafel: Taim Mobile
Taïm Mobile Line

Thanks in large part to the NYPL’s rotating truck spot, Taim Mobile was able to make a decisive comeback in our Readers’ Poll this year. Last year’s winner, Pitopia, didn’t even come close, which leads me to believe that while they do decent falafel, their win in the 2011 poll might have been a fluke. Personally, when Taim wasn’t able to hit up Midtown, Maoz was my standby falafel joint … but now they’re back and I am grateful. Rachel Goldner’s pick: Taim Mobile [View Results]

Best Coffee: Simon Sips

Midtown became a legitimate coffee destination this year with the opening of a handful of craft coffee shops with obscure brewing methods and crazy contraptions to go with them – the likes of which we expect to find only in Brooklyn. Surprisingly, you guys rallied behind a small coffee shop hidden inside an office building’s lobby. Serving Stumptown beans, Simon Sips stomped the competition in this category with over half your votes. The rest of the competition (like last year’s winner Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf) trailed way behind. I still love the Intelligentsia coffee (although not the lines) at the trailblazer of the pack, Culture. And the Dough doughnuts certainly don’t hurt either. Brian’s Pick: Culture Espresso [View Results]

Best Ramen: Totto Ramen

If you bet on the favored horse in this round, call your bookie and get the cash: Totto has taken the Best Ramen as per our readers for the third year in a row. Every year we’ve had a ramen category, Totto has been the one to beat and even sumo ramen couldn’t take it down. It’s interesting to look at the results from 2011′s Best Ramen readers poll and note that the actual percentages are damn near identical. The only real change is Hide Chan taking away a few percentage points from Menchanko Tei, and even an endorsement from Mark Bittman didn’t help Men Kui Tei. It’s going to take a big shake up in 2013 to dislodge these guys. Then again, Ippudo is still on the way and who knows what Tabata’s long-rumored expansion could bring? MJP’s fave: Tabata Noodle Restaurant. (Can’t beat their Kyushu ramen) [View Results]

Best Korean: Food Gallery 32
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They say that change is the only constant, and there are few neighborhoods in Manhattan who’s culinary landscape has changed as often as Korea town. And riding that wave of change into its first Best of Midtown Korean Food victory is Food Gallery 32 which upset long-time favorite Woorijip for this year’s popular vote. Not that Korilla BBQ didn’t put up a good fight, grabbing 26% of you lunchers. But I think the fact that Food Gallery has smartly re-assessed its strengths, weaknesses, and competitors, such as adding awesome new dumplings or making bold moves to find the right menu equilibrium has finally given them the edge for this year, and possibly many years to come. Chris H’s pick: Food Gallery 32 (at least until BCD Tofu House re-opens) [View Results]

Best Sandwiches: Num Pang
Num Pang

The reigning sandwich king has been unthroned, as Cer te (on 55th btw. 5+6th) did not win your pick for best sandwiches. They came in a respectable second, but it was Num Pang’s appearance in Midtown this year (on 41st btw. Lex+3rd) that got the crowds going. With their spicy and sweet Cambodian flavors, they changed the game on Midtown sandwiches. They offer something for everyone, whether you crave pork belly, chicken, brisket, fish, or vegetables (although if you are, you’re reading the wrong blog!) While I think Certe still does a great job elevating the usual deli sandwich, Num Pang’s flavors are so unique and bold, that they also earn my vote. Brian’s Pick: Num Pang [View Results]

Best $1 Pizza: 2 Bros
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The cutters have stopped their spinning rolls across fresh hot pies, the cheese has been stretched, and the garlic powder has gone on. The readers have spoken, and 2 Bros has kept a lead in popularity amongst our readers. While the chain that brought us the $1 slice holds its top post, Joey Pepperoni came not too far behind. Since pizza science did some good stuff in the column, it looks like pizza statistics or, even worse, pizza Sabermetrics, could be pointing to a rising star next year. If nothing else, we got to see how even the most basic NYC street food (save for hot dogs, pretzels, and other tourist chow) has some real and stiff competition not only in terms of production but in terms of love. MJP’s pick: NYC Fried Chicken (on 8th Ave. and 39th) [View Results]

Best Chinese Noodle Soup: Hing Won
Hing Won Roast Pork Soup

Slurping up the competition, Hing Won (on 48th btw. 5+6th) slides down the voting gullet warmly and claims the title of Best Chinese Noodle Soup. It didn’t do so easily, though. In what may well become the Midtown replacement for red states/blue states, Main Noodle House (on 6th btw. 37+38th) was only 4.31% behind, which barely clears a statistical margin if we’re actually doing real statistics. Branching Hing and Hop last year put some competition in the roast meat category, but when subjected to the fray of noodle soup alone, it seems like we’ve got two heavyweights in the arena. Step it up, Chef Yu, Evergreen, and Spring! There’s gotta be something that can dethrone these guys next year, and I look forward to checking up on these collective underdogs. MJP’s pick: Main Noodle House [View Results]

Best New Food Truck: Nuchas

This might have been the category that was tweeted out the most. With their huge social media presence, the new food trucks got their fans to show their support. The winner by a landslide was Nuchas and their full-flavored empanadas. The rookie truck that impressed me most this year was Morris Grilled Cheese, which was the first grilled cheese truck that justified the price of the sandwiches by using unique seasonal and local ingredients. Some people suggested we should have included The Cinnamon Snail in this category (and no doubt they would have won your votes) and while this was the year they started parking in Midtown consistently, they’ve been on our radar for years and we just don’t think of them as “new” – delicious, yes, but not new. Brian’s Pick: Morris Grilled Cheese [View Results]

Best Indian: Mausam Curry N Bites
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I was surprised to find out that newcomer food truck Mausam Curry N Bites has beaten out some Midtown Lunch sweethearts like Kati Roll Company and Minar to take the honor of Best Indian Food in the 2012 Readers’ Poll. With a slightly more expensive menu, Mausam’s quality and cleanliness seems to have won out over thrift. My favorite thing about Mausam is the spice level — the vindaloo, which is made with their hot sauce, packs a satisfying heat. However, my pick is Minar (which came in second) for the volume of food and low price. Jen’s Pick: Minar [View Results]

Best Dessert: Dough Doughnuts Wafels & Dinges

Our 2010 Best Dessert Truck and 2011 Best Midtown Sweets, Wafels & Dinges, won once again by a landslide taking over 50% of the vote. Momofuku MilkBar was a distant second with The Treat Truck, who no doubt was handicapped by midtown parking restrictions took third. Asking me to pick a favorite dessert, is a near impossible task. I can find an occasion (or justification) to enjoy all of them. Still, a day at the office sometimes demands a doughnut and I haven’t found a better one in the city than those from Dough. Brownie’s pick: Dough Doughnuts at the Shop at Andaz and Bryant Park Holiday Market. [View Results]

Best Happy Hour: Rudy’s Bar & Grill
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Rudy’s, the long-time Midtown Lunch favorite, won the Best Happy Hour Readers’ Poll by a hair, just beating out Jimmy’s Corner. Perhaps it’s the free hot dogs that continue to make Rudy’s a strong choice. However, a foodless Jimmy’s Corner garnered almost the same amount of votes, just one percentage point behind. The newly covered picks this year, Vander Bar, The Junction, and Galway Pub didn’t fare quite as well. But of the three, Galway Pub came in ahead of the classic Subway Inn with 17% of the votes. I’m going to have to stick with Galway Pub for the great atmosphere and $4 craft beer happy hour. Jen’s Pick: Galway Pub [View Results]

Best Flatiron Lunch: Hill Country Chicken
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Having traded the #1 and #2 slots for the past couple years, it seems that the Flatiron Lunch dual-rein of Hill Country Chicken and Eataly is slipping, at least for Eataly (with 18% of the vote.) Hill Country Chicken managed to hold on at 31%, but with Mad. Sq. Eats nipping at its heals with 29%. 6th Ave Taco Truck and Doughnut Plant and newcomers Bhatti and Jaiya all gained less that 10% of the vote. Despite only feeding us 1/6 of the year, it is hard to deny the amazing options and joy that Mad. Sq. Eats brings us and me. Sarah’s pick: Mad. Sq. Eats [View Results]

Saddest Closing: Prime Burger
The cool chairs @ Prime Burger, Midtown NYC

Prime Burger narrowly beat out Times Square Hot Bagels as 2012′s saddest closing, taking almost a quarter of the votes. I’m assuming it’s a nostalgia thing, since it hasn’t gotten much reader love in the burger polls in the past, but regardless, Midtown has lost a bit of a legend, proven by this fitting farewell video. I’m particularly torn up about several of this year’s closings, but after careful consideration and tears, I’m saddest about our distinct lack of bagels. Rachel Goldner’s pick: Times Square Hot Bagels. [View Results]

Previous Winners:
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007

8 Comments

  • I’m dubious about the Indian voting. I know C&B advertised on Twatter…

    Totto sucks for the wait alone.

    RIP Prime Burger. Only got to go once, but it was glorious in it’s “Who Gives a Fuck What It Looks Like Inside-Ness”

  • can we PLEEEASE add the location of all the winners? some of us may not have voted for them or are not familiar but may want to try, if we only knew where it was (without having to look each one up).

  • Since there are no forums to post this….
    I discovered a new cheesesteak cart. It’s on 52&6th (SW corner) called Steak & Crepes. They offer cheesesteaks, fries, falafel, and crepes. Very basic menu a la philly staples. I got a regular cheesesteak (with onions & wiz), a side of fries, and a drink for $10.
    The fries were meh. The sandwich was pretty good. Not great, but good. It could have used more cheese.
    The bread is out of philly; soft and fluffy…like the eagles (Ha!). Anyway, it’s worth a shot if you’re in that area and jonesing for one. There was only 1 person in line (at 1:20).

    Any word on the rebirth of the forums?

  • So is the best dessert Dough or Wafels? Header and pic say Dough, but text says Wafels.

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