mid • town lunch n. (mid-toun lunch) 1. An inexpensive (under $10), authentic, unique and interesting quick service lunch, preferably near where you work. 2. An adventure in urban lunching.


From the Editor

So here’s the deal… if you work in an office, then you know how lazy people are when it comes to lunch. And nowhere is that more true than in Midtown Manhattan. One block in either direction is about as far as most people will go, and usually it’s just for a crappy, overpriced salad or sandwich. I’m not one of those people. To me, lunch hour is sacred- and I’m not going to waste it in some generic overpriced “deli” (unless it doubles as an all you can eat buffet.) This site will hopefully be a place for you to find the gems in a sea of duds, wherever it is your work.

Founded in 2006, Midtown Lunch used to exclusively cover the food in Midtown Manhattan. But starting in January of 2010, we expanded out reach and now seek out “Midtown Lunches” in Downtown NYC, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. All of us are big fans of ethnic food (did I mention my love of Chinese buffets?), and not such a big fan of boring chains or salads- so if you are looking for a new salad place that gives you 7 options instead of 6, you will probably not find it here (unless it’s a salad bar/Chinese buffet). We love street food, and the challenge of eating in places that most of our co-workers would consider “dirty” (Tad’s Steak I’m looking at you), so hit us with your best shot. All in all we hope that Midtown Lunch will be a useful resource for all of you who are looking for some adventures in urban lunching. So step away from that desk, leave your boring co-worker who eats the same thing every day behind, and let’s take advantage of the one hour a day we’re given to flee the confines of our cubicles for some good eats.

About The +/-

I am a firm believer that what makes food “good” is always a matter of taste. What one person finds to be great (me at a bulgogi cart), another may think is disgusting (most people I work with). Much of what you like and don’t like has to do with personal taste, expectations, price, and so on, so I’ve always felt a straight up review is indulgent. If a place is open, then somebody must like it- so every place we write about gets a +/-. In theory the (+) is what somebody who really likes this place would say about it. The (-) is what somebody who doesn’t like the place would say about it. While it’s usually obvious whether we like a place or not, I know that information is pretty subjective… hence the +/-. That being said, everybody has got their own favorites and opinions, so comments and recommendations are always welcome.

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The current incarnation of Midtown Lunch was designed by Raphael Brion at Anderhalf Design.


  • Congratulations!
    Your site has been featured on Dave’s Cheap Eats (http://davescheapeats.wordpress.com) because you are one of the best at searching out cheap eats that are good eats.

    Happy Eating!

  • Congratulations on the NYTimes mention. You NYC restaurant bloggers are great. I wrote about the the article today at http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com/.

  • Great website and detail regarding the bulgogi cart and others. I see that you are partial to Asian food, and not scared by apparently dirty places, then perhaps you may be interested in a fantastic place at 273 W.38th Street. (212)-575-6978 (sorry, no name on the menu). 3 different (or the same) menu selections plus white rice or fried rice PLUS a cup of the house soup (self serve) for $3.75 including tax from 11am to 3pm. This is perhaps the most authentic Chinese food in the area (there is another one directly across the street, but a face to face encounter with Kenny the Cockeroach while waiting on line turned me away back to the other place). You have your choice of fried pork chops, chicken thigh and leg, Shrimp with Egg and Onions, chinese beef brisket stew, bean thread (rice vermicelli), braised spareribs with blackbean sauce, tofu & vegetables, braised veal with peppers, chicken with garlic sauce, peking pork chop, and for the adventurous, deep fried frog’s legs, braised Ox, tail, tripe with turnip and pig’s knuckles with bean thread and so much more (20 to 25 selections). To me, the quality of the food is just like Chinatown, and so is the price. I see your budget is $10 (mine was under $5 (limited to Daily Specials at Subway’s for $3.99), you can order two platters for $7.50 and still have change for one of the truly authentic Chinese pastries ($0.60 to $0.75 each) plus an Iced Coffee for $1.50.

    Also, not included for the $3.75 is the Chinese BBQ, just like Chinatown, hanging in the window, duck, Roast Pork, Spare Ribs, Soy Sauce Chicken and Salt Baked Chicken. If you want these with you selection, there is an upcharge (I think it’s $0.50 to $1), still a bargain. The decor is non existent (usually tables are occupied by men only), the service is very quick and abrupt (i.e. rude), (you just have to know how to point to what you want if you don’t speak the language).

    Ordering off of the menu is also a bargain, there is nothing over $4.50 listed. Serving a predominantly Chinese garment worker lunch crowd (W.38th & 8th Avenue) It is probably the best bargain around; the only downside is that I have to walk 11 blocks and 2 Avenues (no delivery) to get there (not good during extremely cold or hot days). Btw, breakfast is a steal also, coffee and a pastry selection or Congee (rice porridge) for under $2. Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your feedback.

  • sorry, zach. it was free for me bc my buddy bob paid for it. you have
    to have some kind of id swipe card. and it’s 40 cents an OUNCE. i was
    baiting kevin or bob to comment bc they are the research dept. at
    esquire, so they fact check everything in the magazine and i bug them
    all the time to read my blog. looks like one of them actually did.

    speaking of blogs, yours rocks. i read it back when you were trying to
    find the korean food cart. can’t wait to try those bulgoki sandwiches,
    even if they are lame.

    if you ever have to do an errand in the financial district before 3pm,
    you gotta try shirley’s cart on State St. . she has terrific carribean
    food with the most AMAZING ginger beer i’ve ever had that’s dirt cheap
    at 1.50. On Fridays she serves fish and it’s really good homestyle
    cooking. i worked a gig down there in 2005 and ate there as much as i
    could. http://i_eat_ny.blogspot.com/2005/11/never-fear-ginger-beer.html

    anyway, thanks for commenting. and i look forward to your take on the
    bulgoki sandwiches.


  • Thanks so much for this totally invaluable source–what a find. Thanks for doing the footwork–these heels don’t allow for much midtown meandering….

  • Today’s AMnewyork paper has a $2 COSI coupon on page 14. They run these coupons occasionally, and it is $2 off any sandwich, salad, or pizza.

  • I think we work in the same building because I was just reading your postings about Chipotle and the Korean food cart. I haven’t seen those $1 bulgogi sandwiches yet but next time I do, I am definitely gonna give them a try. Thanks for this site! I’m one of those people who get stuck in a rut in what I eat and have no idea where to go for something new, or where to go to get the foods I love to eat. Even better, you’ve given me insight on a bunch of restaurants I’ve seen, walked by but never had the guts to go into. Thanks!!

    For cheap Chinese food that’s not as great as Chinatown but comparable, I go to Hing Won on 48th between 5th & 6th. As for sushi, I like the lunch combos at Kiku on 55th between 5th & 6th. Freshest fish in the area!

    Happy eating! =)

  • Love this site! Great resource for all the good places to eat.. but you’re missing one– Green Symphony, it’s a great place for Vegans/Vegetarians or people that want to eat healthily. Check it out! W. 43rd, Btwn 7th and 8th.. It’s next to the New York Times Building.

  • has anyone turned your suggestions into a google maps mashup so we can see what is close to our offices? that would be totally awesome. Not that your site is hard to navigate… its not! its great! but a map would really be pretty sweet.

  • Hope you go try the Pranzo pizza truck on 55th and park
    if you like pizza you’ll love this,lunch special two slices and a soda $5.00′ the guy on the truck is Pete nice guy tell him the guy that ordered one of eveything on the menu sent ya.

  • I enjoy your blog. It was helpful in terms of finding banh mi in midtown (who knew?) for a posting I did on cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com

    I’m a writer for the NYTimes and I’d like to send you a galley of my
    upcoming book on Chinese food in America called The Fortune Cookie
    Chronicles ( fortunecookiechronicles.com). Especially excited because you are partial to Asian food.

    The galleys just showed up this week on Friday!

    I honestly think you would enjoy at least flipping through it. In it,
    I discover the true origins of fortune cookies (Japan), find General
    Tso’s family in China and try to find the greatest Chinese restaurant
    in the world (outside China).

    There is a lot of NY stuff, not a lot of midtown stuff though.

    I just would like your mailing address?


  • Happy New Year! Next time I get to NY (June) I’ll be sure to check the site for cheap (good) eats.

  • Great site. But, response time is really slow. Can you get hosted on some better servers.

  • I just read 4-5 of your reviews and i have to say that i love how you write! You have great opinions, you are very funny and you love buffets :P
    I bookmarked your website, i love buffets too and this is the perfect source of information!

  • Thanks for this Blog.

    I agree with you that lunch is very sacred & should not be wasted on bad food.

  • Love your blog–I’m something of a foodie as well, and hate to pay good money for bad stuff. I do think, however, that you gave Dishes short shrift. I’ve never tried the soup, the salads they mix for you, or the sandwiches. I go straight for the ‘by the pound’ market table in the middle. I go to the one on 54th and Park, and while the crowds and lines are a nightmare, the food on the market table is remarkably fresh, interesting and tasty–flavors are bright and distinctive, and even if you get a bit of several things, each one still stands out. There’s a lot of variety each day, (generally including a large number of Asian-themed items) they offer different selections each day of the week, and keep introducing new things, so I don’t get bored if I eat there often. It is, however, on the expensive side, so the way to keep it under $10 is not to get too greedy (better for the waistline anyway).

  • Your blog is our inspiration. We’re your newborn brother holding it down in the financial district. We’ve just gotten started, but slow and steady, right?

  • All the way from London, UK. I’m a foodlover myself and read your blog alot. Just want to say I love it and I recently decided to start my own food website called londoneater.com with food reviews in London!
    Do come check it out sometime, keep up the great eating man!

  • How do I sign up? I am a total food critic and I find this site to be very useful.

    Can a link be sent to me??

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