The Midtown Lunch Guide

All the best things to eat for lunch in Midtown, from high brow to low brow and everything in between.

Eating lunch in Midtown on a daily basis can be a daunting task. We did it for many years, and know the struggle well. You don’t want to spend a lot of money, but you don’t want to eat sh*tty food. What’s the solution? Well, you’re not seven anymore, so you probably don’t pack a lunch. Instead, you venture out into the world and wander. Usually, nothing good comes of it. Because this is Midtown.

The food options in this area have actually been improving over the last few years (thanks, Little Beet), which is why we’re back with this new update on our Midtown Lunch Guide. But while there are plenty of good new spots to get into your rotation, there are still so many more awful things to avoid. Things like deli steam tables with weird looking meatballs on them that nobody ever eats - except you know someone eats them. Why else would they keep putting them out? On second thought, don’t think about that.

Instead, simply follow this handy guide to our favorite spots for lunch in Midtown, which includes excellent options from low brow to high brow and everything in between. May your sad sandwich and scary meatball days finally be behind you.

The Spots

You can’t have an argument about the best burgers in the city and not have Burger Joint in the mix. This place gets slammed during high lunch hours, but by 3pm it’s dead. Eat a late breakfast to hold you over.

This little American restaurant is one of Hell’s Kitchen’s best kept secrets - at least until we can change that. The food here is all sourced from NY state, and the sandwiches they serve for lunch are fantastic. Don’t tell anyone. Just kidding, tell everyone.

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The Little Beet

$$$$(212) 459-2338

Why did it take so long for someone to figure out that healthy food would do well in Midtown? The Little Beet is reaping the rewards of being first in, serving excellent food that won’t kill you slowly to long lines of people every day. It’s worth the wait.

Between The Bread is an all time Infatuation favorite lunch destination. It’s basically a high level catering operation with a takeout counter. They serve solid, simple entrees with delicious sides. Count on at least two fish options, some sort of glazed chicken thing, sandwiches, and soups.

A weird Buddhist bookstore that actually serves pretty decent dumplings with a side of inner peace. Inner peace and ponzu sauce, actually.

Topaz serves delicious Thai food that can be a pain in the ass to procure - the restaurant is always busy and delivery is slow. But it’s always worth it. Order Drunken Noodles and Panang Curry.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Xi’an Famous Foods review image

Xi'an Famous Foods


Affordable, spicy, excellent Chinese food that will save you from the monotony of the daily salad. You want the cumin lamb noodles.

Melt Shop


A good grilled cheese never hurt anyone, and Melt Shop’s grilled cheese sandwiches are about as good as it gets. This isn’t exactly health food, but it’s a nice place to have at your disposal on the Thursday after a Wednesday night got out of hand.

Delicious rotisserie chicken from a very clean, very to-go friendly little restaurant. We like Poulette because the food is always fresh and the prices are reasonable.

The original spot, the original halal guys. Everyone else is an impostor (even though it all sort of tastes the same).

Cuban sandwiches and other latin delicacies that people line up for. Smart people.

Ivan Ramen, Court Street Grocers, The Cannibal, and Ample Hills, all under one roof. Yes, that roof is all the way over on 11th Avenue, but it’s worth the cab ride. Or walk if you’re feeling frisky/want to burn some more calories before you eat a bucket of ice cream for lunch.

If you have an hour to kill waiting to sit down for a weekday lunch, congrats on whatever situation you’ve worked out for yourself. Spend some time in line at Totto Ramen. It’ll be worth it. For the rest of us working stiffs, maybe hit Danji down the street.



Excellent, modern Korean food in a small, slightly uncomfortable environment. Danji is not the kind of place you choose for a business meeting, unless your business is eating a giant bowl of bimbimap alone while you plot some power moves.

Pork buns, a bowl of Akamaru Modern, and maybe a Sapporo. Don’t go back to work after this, go to sleep.

An Australian coffee shop that does great sandwiches and salads - just do it to go. There are only a few seats in the shop itself, and it’s usually mayhem in there.

A serious lunch for serious people. Aburiya Kinnosuke is a very authentic Japanese restaurant, and we’re not talking sushi. We’re talking fully composed meals that someone spent more time putting together than you’ve spent doing...anything. You’re going to want a reservation and enough time set aside to enjoy it.

Pizza By Cer Tè

$$$$(212) 813-2020

This is a pizza spot run by the owners of the solid catering deli, Certe. It’s surprisingly good. It is not, however, healthy. Proceed as you wish.

Glaze Teriyaki Grill

$$$$(212) 935-3400

Why there is a second Glaze Teriyaki mere blocks from the one we previously mentioned, we do not know. Don’t question the good things in life.

This Midtown East staple does a solid lunch, especially if you’re meeting people and need a nice, laid back environment with good food from which to discuss your mergers and acquisitions. As you should with any big meeting, end it with a cookie.

On an average day with decent weather, it’s not uncommon to see 40+ people standing in line to get some Greek food from this truck, and for good reason. The food is excellent, and $7 will get you a lamb platter that you might be embarrassed to finish in front of your coworkers, except for the fact that you don’t give a f*ck.

An east side fascimile of the original Totto Ramen, only this one has more space. That means you have a (somewhat) better shot at getting a seat.

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Suggested Reading

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