Archive for '38th btw. 5+6th'

Gong Cha Classes Up Bubble Tea Near Bryant Park

Since the closure of Sweet Heaven, Midtown West has been deprived of any serious bubble tea options. Along comes Gong Cha, an international bubble tea chain, to inject some alternatives into your afternoon coffee/tea routine. Their lofty claims of “tea fit for royalty” and lack of neon colors immediately signal that this is not your run-of-the-mill teeny-bopper bubble tea cafe. But how do their drinks taste?

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There’s a Secret Indian Bodega Buffet at 420 5th Avenue!

I’ve always envied people who have a little candy or soda convenience shop in their office building to supply their 4pm chocolate pangs. But, to have an Indian lunch buffet in this same snack store? Now THAT’S taking it to a whole new level. As you enter 420 5th Avenue on the 38th Street side, there’s no indication whatsoever that such a place exists. It felt almost as if I was searching for a speakeasy Indian buffet, but thanks to a tip from Midtown Lunch’er Kimberlee, we turned the corner and there, in plain sight, was the lobby bodega, which is accessible to the general public (not just lucky employees of this building).

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Culture Espresso Bar is Perfect if You Don’t Feel Like Trekking to Sullivan Street Bakery

When Culture Espresso Bar opened on 38th and 6th back in July it was notable for coffee drinkers because they served Intelligentsia.  But it turns out it’s notable for us eaters as well.  Not only do they serve coffee and a small selection of pastries, but they also have sandwiches.  And while I’m normally not super into pre-made, fancy coffee shop sandwiches, these have a trump card that will always get me: they’re all made on bread from Sullivan St. Bakery.  Oh, and they happen to be pretty tasty too.

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Thank You Baraca For Not Changing Too Much About Olympic Pita


It’s never a shock when a bad restaurant resorts to something crazy to help boost business.  You’ll see name changes, expensive redecorating, crazy specials, and yes, even sushi being added to a Kosher falafel and kebab place.  But Olympic Pita (on 38th btw. 5+6th) was not a bad restaurant!  Home to my favorite falafel in Midtown (you may say the secret ingredient is their fresh baked laffa bread) Olympic Pita shouldn’t have to resort to this nonsense.  And yet there it was, last week their new sign, with their new name (Baraca), promoting their new menu item (sushi?!?)  Oh, and of course there was the gussied up interior.  Why Olympic Pita?  Why?


The name change is not just for show, according to an employee Baraca is no longer owned by the same people who own the original Olympic Pita in Brooklyn (not good.)  Thankfully, the take out area in the front looked like it hadn’t changed- so yesterday I stopped by to survey the situation.

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The Australian Brings Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls Back to Midtown

A few weeks ago, The Australian was the bar featured in our new Friday “Midtown Happy Hour” column, and while their food was mentioned briefly in the post, it didn’t cover their $8 lunchtime special… a fact I noticed when I walked by the place the other day:


While I normally ignore sit down lunch places, and bar specials (even the ones that are around $10, because you still have to pay tax and tip and drinks are usually super expensive) you can see why this caught my eye. Meat pie! Sausage Roll!?! With chips!!! (That’s french fries by the way.) For $8. Yes please. I’ll have both.

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New Bubble Tea/Froyo Combo Opens in Midtown

Galaxy 2.0

We can add one more location to the list of bubble tea places in Midtown that got put in the comments of this Profile last month.  Galaxy 2.0 has opened up on 38th St. btw. 5+6th serving frozen yogurt, smoothies, and a slushy version of bubble tea out of of a takeout window.  At $3.50 for a small, it’s slightly more expensive than a few of the other Midtown options, but they blend it with ice, making it pretty refreshing for the summertime.  I had Taro, which was prety tasty, but on second look I think I may have to try the “cookies and cream.”  They also serve a version of Pinkberry’ish frozen yogurt, with the green tea option being replaced by blueberry (???).  They didn’t have cap’n crunch as a topping, so I’ll be sticking with Red Mango- thanks.

More photos, after the jump… Read more »

Olympic Pita Wins Me Over With Laffa & French Fries

When Olympic Pita first came to Midtown in February of last year, I was pretty excited.  The Brooklyn location was pretty well known, and has a lot of fans (plus has been mentioned by at least 4 Profiled Midtown Lunch’ers)- but I couldn’t help but be put off by a few things.  First, the back is a sit down restaurant with most items on the menu costing over $10 (a Midtown Lunch no-no).  They had a take out counter in the front, where you could watch them bake beautiful looking fresh laffa bread, but all of those sandwiches (with the exception of the falafel) were over $10.  You could buy a cheaper sandwich on pita, but why would you want to eat something stuffed in pre-packaged pita, while there’s amazing looking laffa staring you in the face.

At the time, Kosher Deluxe’s shawarma on pita was (barely) under $10, so I was of the opinion that I didn’t need Olympic Pita.  Plus if they were going to charge that much for a sandwich, there were cheaper places to get good falafel and shawarma sandwiches, like Pick a Pita on 38th btw. 7+8th (and they’ll even put fries in your sandwich!)  Since then, Kosher Deluxe has raised their prices (a shawarma on laffa sandwich is now over $10) and so I finally caved in and tried the Olympic Pita falafel on laffa ($6.50), the only item on the menu worthy of a Midtown Lunch distinction… and all I can say is- wow.  What the hell took me so long! ?!  Read more »