Help me, I am trpped in Midtown!
I have just started working around 54th and Madison, like many many people I bump shoulders with on the street. Everyone orders in around here or gets fancy EAT sandwiches that are prepackaged, or nasty tuna sandwiches from Cosi that are overpriced. Where are the markets that don't sell lowfat muffins? Does anyone know if there are any great places for sandwiches or a market in the vicinity that sells healthy good take out or charismatic food?
Having worked at 55th and Madison for more than 3 years, I have sampled a large variety of places in the neighborhood. While I used to go to C'est Bon for salads, I have found a much better place with fresher ingrediants, more variety and a much more pleasant atmosphere (although there is no place to sit). This is Lite Bites just off Park on 55th Street. The pricing with C'est Bon is almost identical
Other places in the area I like are the odd deli on the north side of the street on 55th Street, between Madison and Park for their chocolate pudding. There is a very good italian place, with small seating area, on 55th between 5th and 6th, on the north side of the street closer to 5th. They have very good, although a little pricey pastas, but it is good for a small (2-person)work lunch. They are associated with La Vineria next door. For croissants, down that same block on the south side of the street, is a french place (cannot remember the name, as it has changed several times). They also have o.k. salads, and sometimes have crepes (although the crepes are not usually so great). And for dessert (obviously, this is a focus of mine), there is the Buttercup Bakery on 2nd b/t 52 and 51st, although not as good as Magnolia, a good 2nd choice, and the restaurant at St. Barts, at least in the summer, has good food, they are on Park around 50th I think. That cafe has great devils food cupcake items (too bad they don't really do take out).
For a hamburger, there is the very odd but fun place on 52nd between Madison and 5th on the South side of the street. It is a sitdown place with these very old type seating arrangements. Hard to describe but they have a good, cheap burger.
And finally, you should check out Rockefeller Center. I believe they are getting a few more takeout type restuarants which should be good but again expensive. They already have Dean and Deluca, and I think that Two Boots is coming. It is a little far for me but worth a walk to meet someone else.
Hope that helps.
Some nearby options:
D&S on 56th st between 5th & 6th Avenues makes decent sandwiches and has a salad bar too. They have tables to sit upstairs.
Ten Kai also on 56th betwee 5th & 6th has sushi takeout outside their restaurant.
Fresco To Go on 52nd between madison & park has sandwiches and salads although they are pricey like Cosi.
Kiku on 55th between 5th & 6th has good cheap sushi lunches.
There is a Devon & Blakely at 5th ave & 52nd st. which has salads and sandwiches etc.
Cafe Fonduta no 56th betwen 5th & 6th has inexpensive pastas which are good and made fresh.
I'll also second the suggestion of c'est bon on 55th between madison & 5th which has lots of different food by the pound. There is seating upstairs.
re: Aaron Tell
Looking forward to trying some of the places you mentioned. Im not sure if Cafe Fonduta has more than one location but the one I frequent is on 57th betw Lex and Park. You get an enormous take out portion of pasta with your selection of add-ins and it runs only about $8. Upstairs sit down cafe is cute but way overpriced and lousy service. take out pastas are definitely a step above the average midtown lunch spots.
Try Mangia on 57th between 5th and 6th for a serious salad bar, good sandwiches and tasty prepared meats. Im a huge fan of their seared tuna...make sure to get extra miso dipping sacue. Its not cheap, but thats midtown.
Menchanko-Tei on 55th between 5th and 6th (downstairs) has great soups. Try the menchanko or the miso menchanko while you are still craving hot soup. Great value for under $10.
Otabe on 56th and Park Ave is an excellent midtown expense account sushi restaurant. They offer very reasonable take out during lunch hours.
C'est bon cafe on 55th betw Madison and 5th has the best selection of fresh ingredients for take out tossed salads. Stay away from the prepared foods.
Kaplans Deli on 59th and Park is a throwback old-school Jewsih deli. Ive only been a couple times and was very pleased.
Viand Diner on 61st and Madison for an omlette, open faced turkey sandwich or a burger. Talk about a quintessential NYC dining experience...order fast and keep your head down!
Luckily, you're pretty close to Ess-a-Bagel on 3rd Avenue at 51st Street. Damn good bagels and sandwiches. I'm a fan of the whitefish salad.
If you're in the mood to walk a bit, also try El Margon on 46th between 6th and 7th for a cubano sandwich, or a roasted chicken sandwich. Not the greatest cubanos, but for midtown, it's a treat.
I guess these aren't necessarily healthy, but charasmatic at least.