The Best Lunches in Midtown As Decided By You: 2013 Readers’ Poll Results

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 2013 Midtown Lunch Reader’s Poll, complete with Editor’s Pick for each category chosen by our correspondents.

Best Chinese: Xi’an Famous Foods

No question about it, Xi’an Famous Foods was probably one of the hottest topics in newcomers to Midtown in general and Chinese in particular.  Their soft-launch announcement flooded their Facebook page and sent hordes clamoring to their West 45th outpost for lamb burgers and other great stuff.  Szechuan Gourmet and Hing Won/Hop Won with their legendary implementations of duck and pork put forth one hell of a tie for second place, though – it’s going to be interesting to see what next year brings to see if Xi’an and its hype train continue putting forth awesomeness, or if the old standards make a comeback.  Dà jiā chī fàn, baby! Mike’s Pick: Main Noodle House  [View Results]

Best Hamburger: Clarke’s Standard

Newcomer Clarke’s Standard (various locations) is your burger choice for 2013, narrowly taking out Schnipper’s and handily whomping last year’s winner, Shake Shack. The mini-chain made its entrance back in February, expanded throughout the year and recently began offering some ML-friendly combos in November. Rachel’s pick: Shake Shack [View Results]
Best Ramen: Tabata Ramen

The ramen poll was almost anybody’s game, with Tabata, Totto, Ippudo, and Hide Chan battling for top stop.  But in the end, the unconventional menu at Tabata reined supreme- perhaps helped by the second location they opened this year, and the fact that Totto is always packed and Ippudo is expensive and is an East Village transplant.  Ivan Ramen came in dead last, but in fairness they just opened so it will be interesting to see what they do next year.  They all have a special place in our heart, but it’s hard to argue that there’s anything better than the akamaru modern. Editor’s Pick: Ippudo West [View Results]
Best Falafel: Pitopia

Pitopia made a surprisingly massive comeback this year, dethroning Taim from the top spot for a second time in the falafel category. In fact, Taim, last year’s reader poll winner, placed third in this year’s polls, after Crisp. As a Taim loyalist, I wish we saw more of the truck in Midtown, but we know how difficult it can be to park around here. Good thing Pitopia is on 37th and Broadway to keep our falafel cravings in check. Rachel’s pick: Taim Mobile [View Results]
Best Sandwiches: Treehaus

Midtown freshman Treehaus (on 3rd btw. 50+51st) burst on the scene about a year ago and has impressed Midtown Lunchers at almost every turn. They were even able to oust last year’s ML favorite Num Pang from the top spot of our best sandwiches readers’ poll. With a second west side location on the horizon, we look forward to many delicious lunches in 2014. Rachel’s pick: Num Pang [View Results]
Best Pizza: Pizza by Cer Te
No doubt about it, the slice community is stringy and hot over its preferences.  Sure, we had a clear winner with Pizza by Cer Te and its wonderful seasonal and unique pizza fare (matzo pizza, anyone?) but it was one hell of a clamoring for traditionalists.  There was less than a 2% spread between the runners-up, too close to call unless you’re a numerically perfect polling application on a website.  Little Italy, Bella Napoli, Previti Pizza and Lazarra’s duked it out for second place with Little Italy barely emerging as a clear runner-up.  2 Bros had one hell of a respectable showing, staking the $1 utility slice as street food here to stay amongst the gourmet big-timers.  Sadly, newcomer Savory & Sweet couldn’t shake the disadvantage of crazy weird location and newbie status to place more than a vote or two.  Just don’t forget the garlic powder and hot peppers as you go about the winners! Mike’s Pick: 2 Bros [View Results]
Best Street Meat: Uncle Gussy’s

Uncle Gussy's Truck

For the second year in a row, Uncle Gussy’s took home best street meat. Although long-time favorite Famous Halal Guys came in a close second, nothing can touch the big blue truck’s quality meats and extraordinary tzatziki sauce. Trini Paki Boys finally became this year’s Street Meatpalooza champion after over 25 years of serving Halal food on the street. I’ve always been a huge fan of their surprising tamarind sauce and their beef curry. I love what Uncle Gussy’s is doing, but I have to give a slight edge to Trini Paki. Brian’s Pick: Trini Paki Boys [View Results]
Best Coffee: Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle Rock Center

The workers in Midtown have no trouble finding their morning (or afternoon) caffeine. There were so many great options this year that we even left off many commenters’ favorites (write in votes included Joe the Art of Coffee, Devon & Blakely, Ground Central, Oren’s, and Gregory’s). But Blue Bottle in Rockefeller Center (and now in Gotham West Market) took the lead thanks to some fancy coffee brewing and New Orleans style cold brewed. If Little Collins was more centrally located, I think it would get more love with its sleek interior, Australian influence, and superb Counter Culture beans. Brian’s Pick: Little Collins [View Results]
Best New Food Truck: Sweet Chili

Although many were forced to scatter after 47th Street and Vanderbilt got shut down, lots of new food trucks still found their footing on the streets of Midtown this year. Vendy Award nominated Sweet Chili took your votes by a landslide with their “Thaietnamese” fusion food. But let’s not discount DiSo’s stellar Italian hoagies and Moo Shu Grill’s irresistibly tender meat. The latter gets my vote bringing a world of flavors (sweet, spicy, smoky) much like Korilla did in the early days, but with a much shorter line. Brian’s Pick: Moo Shu Grill [View Results]

Best Indian: Minar

After seeing newcomer Mausam Curry & Bites bring home the victory in last year’s Best Lunches of 2012 poll, it looks like the perennial Midtown favorite Minar kicked into high gear in an effort to retake the throne – winning the 2013 Best Lunches competition. I can only assume that the opening of a new location on 44th was a direct result of your votes in 2012. Kati Roll and Biriyani Cart were very close behind in the second and third spots, respectively. Midtown Lunchers can be cruel with their Indian preferences as last year’s winner Mausam Curry & Bites ended up at the bottom of this year’s poll with a small fraction of the votes. I’m happy to have all of the contenders in Midtown when the craving for Indian comes along, but for me, having my Chicken Tikka wrapped up in some Indian flat bread is just too good to pass up, so my vote was for Kati Roll. Jerry’s Pick: Kati Roll [View Results]

Best Japanese: Glaze Teriyaki
For our non-ramen Best Japanese, the choices may be limited, but they are all pretty great in their own way. Glaze Teriyaki has been getting accolades for its teriyaki because it’s, well, seriously delicious and you guys agreed. I guess housemade sauces and fresh ingredients do makes all the difference. Blondie’s pick: Glaze Teriyaki [View Results]

Best Dessert: Momofuku Milk Bar

Third time was not the charm for Wafels & Dinges. All the sweet glory now rests at the hands of Christina Tosi and her team at Momofuku Milk Bar. You guys picked cereal milk, compost cookies & cake truffles above all else! We should also point out the third place win by Lady M Cakes which has yet to be reviewed here. I always knew you guys like to keep it classy. Blondie’s pick: Schmackery’s [View Results]

Best Bagels: Bagel Express

Bagel Express may look like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill bagel place, but it’s proved good enough to edge out the reigning champion and New York standard, Ess A Bagel, as the best in Midtown. Newcomer Zucker’s finished respectably in third place, but the vast majority of votes went to the 1st and 2nd place finishers, a stark reminder that a good bagel is hard to find around these parts of NYC. Editor’s pick: Bagel Express [View Results]

Best Flatiron Lunch: Shake Shack


We have a new champion of the Flatiron Reader’s Poll. Well, kind of. Shake Shack!! Hill Country Chicken has moved from the winning position to second place. Eataly was knocked further down the rankings by newcomer Tres Carnes.  With several major closings (Rickshaw Dumpling included), we may have new blood to compete in the 2014 Flatiron Reader’s Poll.  Sarah Zilinski’s Pick: Bhatti, but all the other competitors are a close second. [View Results]

Saddest Closing: Blarney Stone

And, of course, we have to bid farewell to those we lost this past year. Based on your votes, each one of the nominees will be missed (even Rickshaw!) but our greatest sadness will be reserved for the Blarney Stone on 3rd Ave. Your ridiculously cheap burger. Your corned beef on St. Patty’s Day. And of course, those onion rings. We will definitely miss the onions rings. Editor’s Pick: Blarney Stone [View Results]

Previous Winners:


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    blue bottle won and we all lost

    • Please to explain.

      • User has not uploaded an avatar

        It’s not the best coffee in midtown. If we expand to include shops in Flatiron/Gramercy, it wouldn’t even break the top10

      • I wouldn’t go that far at all. Blue Bottle is excellent coffee. Unless they’re doing a major-league disservice to the act of brewing the coffee at this location, it’s a solid choice. I’ll grant you that there are plenty of comparable roasters and roaster’s outposts in the city, but I’ve yet to have a cup of Blue Bottle on either coast that I didn’t find wonderful.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    >Best Dessert: Momofuku Milk Bar

    I was just about to complain about Glaze winning when I saw this. Momofuku’s Milk Bar houses some of the nastiest desserts I have ever tried in my life. I assume that anyone who voted for it were kids who were cursed with parents who could not cook/back and therefore subjected to microwavable dinners that tasted akin to cardboard.

    What a depressing life to have lived…

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Any chance of showing the total votes for each category next year? Just curious how many of us expressed an opinion.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.