You Get What You Pay For At Manhattan Gourmet

Way back in 2009, Zach shared with ML readers what he believed to be the worst burger he had had in Midtown, a $6.25 bacon-cheeseburger from some generic deli. In that post, he says, “Part of me thinks that there must be a decent one of these cheap deli burgers in Midtown, but there’s another part of me that thinks you get what you pay for.” For years now, I’ve been conflicted about the exact same thing – I really want to discover some amazing $5 burger from some unexpectedly terrific place, but the thought of making the rounds from one generic deli to the next, trying mediocre burger after mediocre burger, is absolutely daunting. So, you may be asking… what prompted my visit to Manhattan Gourmet?

Located on the corner of 6th Ave. and 56th street, this place looks just like any other generic midtown deli, except for a couple of things. First, they don’t use stock photos in their window or on their menu. The pictures of sandwiches and burgers and whatever else that they have hanging up look like actual pictures of real food made onsite. Regardless of how things may taste, it’s nice to see that they’re at least trying distinguish themselves from the hordes of generic competitors. They also happen to have the cheapest burger special I’ve ever come across…

Holy moley! Just five bucks for a burger, fries, AND a can of soda? If there was ever a time and place to try a generic deli burger, well, this was it. Once inside, I saw that they have a whole bunch of summer specials, daily sandwich specials, a relatively cheap by-the-pound buffet, an udon and soba station, and plenty of other options that seem appealing at a glance. Overall, I’d say that Manhattan Gourmet has more options and cheaper prices than your average midtown deli. How is the actual food, though?

As you may have predicted, the burger kind of sucked. Given the extremely low price, it was kind of silly to expect anything else, but I was being unfortunately optimistic at the time. The patty was mostly flavorless, possibly overcooked, and had a bit of a rubbery texture. The cheese was slapped on last minute and was not at all melted. The fries were shaped liked McDonald’s fries, but were super plain tasting. At least the Dr. Pepper was pretty good.

The good thing about cheeseburgers is that they can only suck so much. No matter how bad, they still usually taste like a cheeseburger. I can probably count on one hand the number of times in my life a burger has been so bad that I found it inedible. So sure, Manhattan Gourmet isn’t very good, but come on – five bucks for a BIG burger, fries, and a can of soda. Five. Bucks. When you find a price that unbeatable, it almost doesn’t matter what it tastes like.

Would I recommend Manhattan Gourmet? Absolutely not. But if your only goal is to buy the biggest cheeseburger you can for as little money as possible, you’ll find plenty to enjoy about Manhattan Gourmet. It’s obviously not the best cheeseburger ever, but hey, I still ate the whole thing.

Manhattan Gourmet, 1377 Avenue of the Americas (btw. 55+56th). 212-246-4410

19 Comments

  • This space filler of an article is the $5 burger special; overcooked, bland, not meaty and boring. This highlights the steady decline of midtownlunch.com into mediocrity.

    • On the other side, we’re confirming that what may be a hidden treasure is really the crap that it is.

      I mean, sure, we could only report on good stuff, but the omission of all else doesn’t necessarily mean all else is bad. We gotta prove that it is indeed a crappy burger, bland and uncreative soup, or really awful dollar slice.

      • Thanks for the support MJP.

        I love when I’m able to review something delicious that I can share with readers, but the truth is that the great deals and great food are only a part of everything out there. With so many lunch options in midtown, is it not just as important to take a look at the other stuff once in a while?

        And I’m not trying to say there should be reviews suggesting we all avoid this place or that one, I just think it’s valuable to know what to expect.

    • Not nice! but i did literally laugh out loud for a second….it’s been slow going with good trucks/other spots opening the last few months. Diso was the best that i’ve found, and ML covered it quick.

    • 100% all dick patty sandwiched between two helpings of shut the fuck up.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I would rather read 10 reviews about generic delis and finding a good burger at one than read one more article about a bullshit overpriced cart with meager portions, catering to a wealthy douche market, and where the price exceeds the set limit of $10 (or pings right against it) for what amounts to an appetizer. I would even rather read about every halal cart in every area then that. Since I don’t know them all or which ones are unique and good in their own way. So, uglyredbag, what would you like them to do, stop the deuche invasion, maybe that is all that’s left in Manhattan.

    I say bring on the deli reviews! Let’s get this website back to it’s point. Cheap, awesome food, and the search for it!

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    i visited this deli with hopes of finding an alternative to ernst and klien across the street, which makes deliciously filling sandwiches that unfortunately come out to $9+.

    my hopes were destroyed when i ordered a sandwich with similar ingredients at manhattan gourmet (i think around $5.50). i got what i paid for, but was still astounded by stark differences that could exist between wheat roll + turkey + honey mustard + pepper jack cheese + tomato + lettuce sandwiches

    but given that this deli offers a bunch of food options, i optimistically gave it another shot. and indeed found that this place is in fact an unexpectedly terrific place for the noodle soups (large, tasty beef udon for $6.75)! the food at the hot and cold bar isn’t too bad, either.

    i’d always wanted to try the food at the grill, given the success with the noodle soups. but thanks to this review, i’ll save money and hunger pangs by avoiding the burger.

    the wraps and sandwiches look like they might have potential.

    TL;DR version: thanks for this review! imho, the noodle soups at manhattan gourmet are delicious and filling!

    • agreed. their udon is cheap and filling.

      I once got a bagel with cream cheese there – never again. The cream cheese tasted really old.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      See! This is what this website is all about. Try a terrible burger or something at a deli and then find out they do something else very well, revisit , and try the communities’ referral. Thank you, Mabo! Now, ML go write up the place’s noodle soups. And that is how you run a cheap eats website! (Not that you guys ever did a terrible job) I have been reading this website for about two years or so before I ever even posted a comment. I will still read it. You used to be my bible. Now, I look elsewhere. I just like hole in the wall spots and not the latest crap fad. One of the reasons why Portland’s cart scene isn’t totally bastardized like ours here. Let’s get it together! Yay, ML. :)

  • Good to see a shitty cheap burger review. Expected from a shitty tourist central deli near 57th St and the hotel strip.

    How about a review of a burger on the outskirts of midtown that’s cheap and off the beaten track?

    I’ve been wondering about Jimbo’s Burger Place (1st and 54th) for years. Never managed to get there but it sure looks like a place Zach would stain both the outside & inside of his pants over.

  • Im with Evan. cheap good eats, not $10 finger sandwiches from some “cleverly” named truck

    • Agreed! Keep hitting up the generic delis, even if the burger is crap, someone else might chime in the comments (like mabo did) about something else that’s good there.

    • I second/third/fourth this sentiment. And we don’t need so much of the ridiculously-priced “trendy” dessert trucks that could take any street meal out of ML range. Without being filling.

      For a substantive contribution here (probably just into Flatiron range), I recommend Cafe Au Bon Gout, SW corner of 5th Ave & 30th St. A generic “mega-deli,” they have a killer half rotisserie chicken with 2 sides and soda for around $6 (tender and tasty), a bigass bulgogi bibimbap bowl (they’ll cook the egg soft if you ask nicely) for around $7, great choose-your-own-pasta with 4 add-ins for around $6 (great add-ins like meatballs, sausage, bacon, chicken, shrimp, clams, veggies), and what looks to be a generous salad bar, plus an udon station, a mexistation next to the chicken with bigass burritos, hot and cold buffets, etc. [Sorry for sticking this info in here, but I couldn't find the forums!]

  • @mabo tofu try Wellgreen Market on 6th Ave at 58th Street. Probably the best deli in the area.

  • Manhattan Gourmet is a poor mans Cafe Duke. Burger was OK and worth the $5.75.

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