Quality vs. Company: The loneliness of Midtown Lunch’ing

Midtown lunch’ing can be a very lonely place. If you are like me, than you must know what I’m talking about. Every day, lunch rolls around and the troops gather- trying to decide where to eat. Well, gather isn’t necessarily the best word for it. Sometimes it’s phone calls or emails… but for me, the questions usually start around 9am, when I get into work. For one guy, it’s the first thing he asks when I walk in the door… “Where are we going to lunch today?”

But here’s the thing… he almost never comes with me. Why? Because when I’ve finally made up my mind, the place is either too far to walk, or he doesn’t like whatever ethnic food I’ve decided to partake in on that day. In other words, I don’t eat at generic delis- the lunch of choice for almost every single person I work with. If I went to Metro every day, I’d have 27 people to eat lunch with. Who says no to Metro? There’s something for everyone! And that’s why those places exist on every corner of Midtown. Quick, easy and there’s something for everyone.

Not me though. Generic delis don’t do it for me. I like to venture. 15 minute walk in the rain for sausage and cheese filled corn fritters? Sure. 10 minute walk to wait in line for take out cuban food, when there are 2 other perfectly good places within a block of my office. Why not? And Chinese food- there is no distance I won’t travel for cheap Chinese food.

The people I work with… not so much.Sure, I get takers for some adventures. Depending on the day, or where I’m going, there are a few friends who will go with me. But then the complaining starts. “How far is this place?” “Where the fuck are we going?” “We walked all this way for this?” It’s almost not worth it. If I go alone, I can walk however far I want, eat whatever disgusting food I find, and the only person that can blame me for a bad lunch, is me. Midtown lunch’ing is a very lonely place.

When I lived in Boston, it was easy. I worked in a place called Lynn, about 30 minutes north of the city. A small dump of a town, the options were really limited. Wendy’s, a diner, Panera and a pizza place were the standbys. When this little Salvadorean place with amazing tacos opened up, it was an epic event. Lunchtime was easy. The office was small, and I had my group of lunch friends. There were fewer places to choose from, and you had to drive to most of them, so lunch wasn’t about food, it was about friends (and getting away from work for an hour). If people weren’t too busy, we’d go to the all you can eat chinese buffet, Kelly’s Roast Beef, or the mall food court. Those were the days…

But in New York, it’s not that easy for me. My priorities have changed. Lunch is still about getting away and spending time with friends… but my friends are now Ressie Mae, Sophie, & Jiannetto. With friends like these, who needs real friends!

But sometimes I cave, and the desire to “fit in” causes me to go somewhere I would never eat, just to hang out with work friends. This happened last Thursday, when I picked “being normal”, over walking ten minutes in the rain to eat somewhere good (but alone). We went to a diner, that I won’t even bother mentioning the name of- but you know it. There’s one on every block of Midtown, the menu is huge, and there’s something for everyone. It’s like a “splurge” to all those people who normally get a salad at Metro.

Lunch was fun, but the food was super greasy, a little too expensive for Midtown Lunch, PLUS it put me in the bathroom for the rest of the day. That’s right. Of all the garbage I eat for lunch, it takes a steak and cheese at a generic Midtown diner to take me down. It’s amazing what I’m willing to do for friends.

Which do you choose? Food or co-workers? Don’t you wish they could both get along? You know how you feel on your birthday, when all your different friends get together and attempt to co-mingle, and you feel weird, and it never really works out. That’s how I feel every day going to lunch. I want my co-workers to come with me, and meet my “lunch” friends- but it’s just too much. Sophie lives too far away, Ressie Mae is way to fat, and nobody likes any of my weird Asian friends. They’re much happier with their $8 salad.

Midtown lunch’ing can be a very lonely place.


  • No one I work with goes out to lunch. They all order food off of seamlessweb and eat in their offices. I’d totally be game for not only leaving the office, but meeting up with other adventurous eaters.

  • I know that this is an old post, but it’s still relevant to me.

    Luckily, I always find 1-2 people who are willing to head out to lunch with me. I, mostly, bring back my lunch to the office to eat so I always get people who ask to come with me to get whatever I got…or they go there by themselves.

    Sometimes, if I go pretty far, I do end up going by myself, but I am a midtown luncher on a serious mission…to eat a good lunch on a SERIOUS budget. No want of having ‘lunch friends’ can detour me off of my mission. EVER!!!

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