Lunch near Central Park South
I'm bringing someone to the city who has never been out of the midwest before, so I'm looking for a really good lunch spot, something that's affordable (student budget!), tasty, and has a nice location (preferably near Central Park South on the West side).
May I respectfully disagree? Though Burger Joint and Bouchon offer good eats, I wouldn't necessarily recommend for a first time visitor (really, burgers or food in a mall -- this isn't the pinnacle of NYC).
What about eating IN the park? The Boathouse Cafe in the summer is an unbeatable lunch locale. Uncrowded on weekdays, overlooking the man-made lake dotted with paddleboats, it's a tranquil oasis from the bustle of the city. Ok, the food is mediocre and overpriced, but if you stick to simple food like salads it's a wonderful way of introducing a newcomer to the beauty in New York.
If you want to go more foodie, you might consider Jean-Georges for the $28 lunch prix fixe for two courses, $12 for each additional course. A bit fancy but certainly doable on a budget, well worth paying slightly more for the wow factor. Adjoining more casual cafe Nougatine might be even more attractive with a nice patio and an even less expensive lunch prix fixe. Right on the southwest corner of the park.
Lastly, if you are on a really tight budget, you can get takeout food from previously mentioned Bouchon or NY foodie haunts Fairway, Zabar's, Barney Greengrass, etc and make a picnic in the Park. Can't beat the view.
If you call Bouchon Bakery "food in a mall" then you would have to consider Per Se & Masa "food in a mall" as well.
Based on what the poster said
"something that's affordable (student budget!), tasty, and has a nice location (preferably near Central Park South on the West side).
I think you could do a lot worse then taking sandwiches from Bouchon Bakery and eating in the Park. What could be more NY then that? I would hardly call a $28 prix fix, "lunch on a student's budget". After tax and tip it would end up being almost $40 pp.
Based on your suggestions, your critism is laughable and unnecessary. Bouchon and Burger Joint are good suggestions based on the request. If they don't want Burgers, they obviously wouldn't go.
Difference of opinion. For the record, the eating area for Bouchon is "in a mall" under a giant Samsung sign in the public area, so I wouldn't say that PerSe and Masa dining rooms are the same thing. (And which is why I rec'd takeout and eating in the park.)
Thanks for your *mature* response. Try not to take a differing opinion so personally.
I feel like a broken record sometimes... but I would recommend either
a) Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien - A good burger and fries in this little hidden place in the lobby of a very fancy hotel.
b) Bouchon Bakery - Thomas Keller's (of Per Se & French Laundry) soup, sandwich and salad place on the third floor of the Time Warner Center (in Colubmus Circle). Sandwiches will run you $7 to $10 if you take them to go and eat them in Central Park.