Flatiron Lunch: Mad. Sq. Eats Needs to Up Its Game

Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.

I remember fondly the days when I used to gorge at Mad. Sq Eats. Now, at least in terms of ML appropriateness, I go in with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Before we dive into the food at Mad. Sq. Eats, I thought we should start with a little history lesson. In case you were wondering about the area the festival takes place in, Worth Square, it is named after Major General William Jenkins Worth. And Fort Worth, TX is named after him!

My first priority was to try Taco Town. As several readers have already noted, at $5 each, the tacos are expensive (or did they use the term overpriced?) Anyway, I went for $9 for two which didn’t seem as bad to me.

The fried chicken taco came with cheese sauce, lettuce and jalapeños (and I added a couple splashes of hot sauce.) The chicken was fairly substantial, but the bite from the jalapeño was absolutely necessary.

The fried brussel sprout taco included cheese, black bean puree and red onion batons. Overall, I loved the fillings on this taco even more than the fried chicken taco, but I was underwhelmed by the flour tortilla used for both. The tortilla detracted from the flavor enough that I ended up scooping out the fillings of both with a fork and tossing the tortilla. But maybe it was just me.

On another trip, I paid Slide, another newcomer, a visit. While I probably should have tried their namesake item (hint: the sliders), I was distracted by “The Bomb” for $6.

Considering the two guys behind the counter confirmed that The Bomb was the best, I went for it with the hope that it would be reminiscent of the glorious, fabled chicken biscuit when Pies ‘n’ Thighs had a booth at Mad. Sq. Eats. The Works never quite came together, in my opinion. I think it was because the waffle was soft. If it had been crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, I would have been more impressed with this sandwich.

Next up on my list is the bulgogi beef burrito for $10 at Seoul Lee Korean BBQ. I also have my eye on their crispy shrimp burrito for $12, but to keep in budget, I might opt for the crispy shrimp taco (either $5 or $6, I can’t remember).

A friend recently told me that he eats dinner at Mad. Sq. Eats almost everyday while it is open. Since he is the type of guy who only has condiments in his fridge and he hates leftovers, I think this is a great strategy for him: have a beer or wine and eat a pizza, arancini, taco, crepe or sandwich while enjoying the fresh air. Then, grab something sweet (donuts or another crepe) for your way home. All in, this seems less expensive than eating out at a different Flatiron restaurant every night. So far this fall, I still believe that Mad. Sq. Eats has only a limited appeal for the ML Lunch’er, because the portions are on the small size, and the prices are on the large side.

Mad. Sq. Eats, Worth Square at the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway from 24th to 25th Streets, 11AM to 9PM each day through October 25th, 2013.


  • They need to lower their prices.

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    I think I might be the only person on the planet who prefers flour tortillas. Screw authenticity!

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    The problem is that OLD corn tortillas are terrible, particularly when they aren’t heated properly. A fresh off the press corn tortilla is a beautiful thing, but those are hard to come by here on the east coast.

    That’s why you’re usually better off with flour tortillas in most cases.

  • i agree that MSE has been lackluster for a while now. Prices are insane and serving sizes are beyond skimpy. There are a few far deals–the pretzels, cookies, but a 5 dollar taco—yeah. Total ripoff. I wonder what they charge to run a booth there. I have a feeling it is as highway robbery as the food prices….

  • Yeah, $9 for 2 tacos isn’t as bad as $5 for one, but it’s still bad. Madison Eats isn’t a festival, it’s a gouge. I live around the corner and never frequent it. If you want solid tacos, head one avenue west to Great Burrito. Tacos are just $3 and they even give you TWO tortillas per taco–yeah, corn ones. Want fusion Mex food? Tres Carnes is just one block south of GB on 6th, and is as tasty as–and a far better value than–anything at ME.

    BTW, is that Bomb from Slide really a tiny piece of chicken between two slivers of waffle? Hard to tell from the pic but it looks tiny.

    • BTW, I’m ragging on MSE, not the author! The post was fine and accurate. But when I walk by and look at people crowded at MSE booths, all I an think is: Fools. Money. Parting.

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    The hong kong vendor at MSE is expensive and quite slow but SUPER delicious. Their chili shrimp in particular are crazy tasty, but costs something like $18.

  • They should just rename it the Mad Sodomy Extravaganza, because anyone paying $4.50 for a street taco getting spectacularly fucked in the ass.

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