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East 50s - quick lunch suggestions?

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Lisa Z May 8, 2000 11:41 AM

This board did so well with west side sugggestions, I'm hopeful that someone can point me to good, quick, cheap places in the East 50s (or even high 40s/low 60s -- I'm desperate!)

Is there a decent turkey sandwich ("off the bird") around here? A particularly good falafel cart? Pizza other than Ray's? A tasty wrap?

I found Spoon's at 235 E. 53rd and am working my way through their menu (particularly tasty salmon sandwich), but everywhere else I've been has been pretty dismal. Save me from Au Bon Pain!

Thanks!

  1. a
    alison May 8, 2000 09:08 PM

    NY Magazine staff people recommend Rafiqi's (sp?) cart on 47th and Madison for "the best" gyro sandwiches. Don't know if the gyros are the best in NYC, but they're tasty, even with the inauthentic BBQ sauce. Service is friendly, food seems fresh. Haven't tried their other stuff, but the prices are reasonable.

    4 Replies
    1. re: alison
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      Savannah May 13, 2000 07:55 PM

      I agree about Bunchberries, great salads. The best pizza IMHO, is in the Citicorp Center, the Market Cafe. I also like the cafe in the building lobby opposite to the Lipstick building on 3rd ave and 53rd, they have a wonderful real mottzarella & tomato sandwich.

      1. re: Savannah
        l
        Lisa Z May 15, 2000 09:32 AM

        Wow, I never would've figured that place for good pizza. Thanks for the tip; I'll give it a try. I've been going to Ray's at 3rd and 56 because it's convenient but it's pretty pathetic.

        1. re: Lisa Z
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          Savannah May 21, 2000 03:39 PM

          I feel that Ray's has way too sweet a sauce. Tell me what you think of The Market Cafe's slice.

          1. re: Savannah
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            Lisa Z May 22, 2000 11:54 AM

            I tried the Market Cafe pizza last week and thought it was quite good - definitely better than Ray's. Tangier sauce, tastier crust.

            There's a little pizza/cafe place on the southe side of 55th (or 56th?), west of 3rd that I want to try again -- seems promising, but it was really crowded and I was in a rush, so I didn't really analyze it!

    2. b
      Beth May 9, 2000 09:57 AM

      I work in the area, and it's definitely tough. I have yet to find anything that's stellar. But here's what I've found:

      Chinese-- Taipei Noodle House, 2nd Ave between 52nd and 53rd. Good cold sesame noodles, good dumplings, a dish of dried baby shrimp and cabbage that I get cravings for. It's not Chinatown, but it's pretty good. Inexpensive and fast.

      Thai-- Puket, 2nd Ave between 50th and 51st. Good pad thai. Lunch special is $7.95. Pretty fast.

      Indian-- I think it's called Tandoori something. 45th between 3rd and Lex. A bit greasy, no ambiance, but fast and cheap (mostly takeout, a few tables). Good chicken vindaloo, yummy eggplant curry (no idea what it's called; it's on the buffet and I just point).

      Mexican-- Tokyo Joe's Classic Burrito, 52nd between 2nd and 3rd. Or Blockheads, 2nd Ave between 50th and 51st. Tokyo Joe's is your garden variety inauthentic but relatively tasty burrito place. I'm fond of the spinach burrito (nice and juicy). Blockheads is slightly more inventive, with burritos that border on wraps. The barbecue chicken or Jamaican jerk chicken burritos are quite good. Both fast and cheap. There might be a slight wait at Blockheads, but it's rarely more than 5-7 minutes.

      Sushi-- Sushi Rose, 52nd between 2nd and 3rd. Sushi special (5 pieces of sushi and two rolls, but YOU get to choose) for around $13. DON'T EVER ORDER SALMON ROE, but otherwise this place has consistently edible fish, and sometimes the fish is fresh enough to give me that special sushi feeling.

      I also like Spoons. Pretty yummy bibimbap (must get the egg). I also like the tofu and kimchi. Have you been to Bunchaberries across the street? Healthy salad bar place, with a limited number of decently prepared options. Everything's very fresh.

      If you like berries, Azure (3rd between 50th and 51st) is the place to go. They make a million things here, and most of it is unexceptional and expensive. But go in a week or two and they will start to have big piles of cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. right on the salad bar.

      Expensive for a sandwich, but still... Cosi Sandwich Bar, 52nd between 3rd and Lex. I don't have a recent menu, but if they have turkey, it would probably be whole meat rather than deli slices. Is it me or has the bread lost some of its essential soul lately?

      And if you can find decent pizza, let me know. This area is a pizza wasteland.

      I hope that list helps some. Let me know if you find anything worth mentioning.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Beth
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        Maria May 9, 2000 01:38 PM

        Beth! Where were you when I was at Random House? :)

        It's a wasteland indeed. I often found myself ordering bread and spreads from Cosi.

        I'm sending your suggestions to friends that are still there! Thanks for the suggestions.

      2. c
        Chris Armstrong May 10, 2000 09:48 AM

        I once quit a job because it was on East 57th Street. I simply could not get through the day without the expectation of a decent lunch.

        The upper reaches of 5th and Madison Avenues are too high-rent to allow for decent eating. My boyfriend works on Lex and 55th though, and discovered the block of 54th between 3rd and 2nd which is filled with pretty acceptable ethnic dining, including a solid Middle-Eastern place called Casablanca (it's below-ground). Haven't tried it, but there is a Vietnamese restaurant on that block. (I hope it's the right block!)

        -Chris

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chris Armstrong
          l
          Lisa Z May 10, 2000 10:46 AM

          I love it -- quitting a job because of the lack of lunch places! (Tho it doesn't bode well for my quest.)

          I'll check out Casablanca (it's on 53rd).

          Disappointing turkey sandwich at Cosi yesterday. Had better luck at the Lipstick Cafe takeout ($5 chicken and tomato on nice, grainy bread).

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