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do you regularly read and use the advisement of midtown lunch?

after reading the founder's love letter entry to a pay & weigh that featured fake shrimp (and how to plate your deli selections to get more "bang for your buck"), i realized that this is probably not the sort of website i want to follow. i understand the target demographic is for people who want to find a good lunch for under 10$/day but i personally do not find eating meat from street carts appealing and would rather pony up a few extra bucks than risk dysentery.

i am also admittedly very uninformed in regards to the whole food truck craze.

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  1. Midtown Lunch is not limited to just street carts (though on the topic, food safety laws in NYC are equally applied to food vendors whether they are in a brick and mortar shop or street cart, making dysentery highly unlikely). The blog, within parameters, spotlights all decent options in the Midtown area whether they are a sit down spot or, more likely, a grab and dash venue. There is certainly a quirky sense of humor the writers all share, but it doesn't detract from the valuable information these hounds have sussed out in the Midtown doldrums.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      Do you work in Midtown? If you did, you'd go insane after two weeks of crappy deli sandwiches. There are very few options for us wage slaves. Midtown Lunch can help me find the one good thing to eat at a deli, it can tell me what is near my brand new office and help me get oriented, and tell me when something new opens. I'd like to be that person who had the time to walk around and wander into every new food place but some days it's all I can do to get from the subway to the office and I'm glad they care enough to do it. I actually feel like there's more useful content to me on the site once zach left because there are now more local people covering - when he was here, he took pride in writing as much of the content as he can.

      It's not Zagat. It's a food blog about how to eat interestingly in one part of NYC. Not everyone can eat at WD-50 every single day of their life. How do YOU find your lunch in NYC?

      (I have nothing to do with the site, I just dislike the snobby attitude towards a site that makes it very clear what they're about.)

      Cer Te
      20 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

      1. re: coyote64

        how do i find lunch? menupages. i've been using it since it debuted. i have also worked in the same areas on & off over seven years (my industry tends to be concentrated in one area) so i have amassed a log of places i like. i tend to order from the same three or four places, though today i did stray out of the norm and go to le bernardin for lunch.

        1. re: selenster

          the same three or four places? sounds rather boring, if you take a look at the weekly profiles (every tuesday), you'll see that "midtown lunchers" have enough regular places to not repeat a meal if they choose so for weeks (but many repeat because the variety and deliciousness at such places is addictive). the amount of locations in midtown "discovered" or "uncovered" by midtownlunch is astonishing, but i dont think the site or street meat are for you, a midtownlunch'r does not typically frequent le bernadin for lunch.....a true midtownlunch'r could enjoy sushi, world class sandwiches, leg of lamb over basmati rice, cuban sandwiches, amazing soups, the best falafel, for 10working days for the price of your prix fixe lunch a la eric ripert
          lastly, don't knock it til you tried it, it may not be spaghetti w/ sea urchin & crab, but you should try a few midtown lunch spots, such as Margon, Lazzara's, 'wichcraft, Hing Won and if you can put your personal feelings aside, try some chicken or lamb over rice on the SW corner of 45th n 6th, with the fresh tzatziki many spices, it is arguably the best in the city

          1. re: bullit531

            i find that when i do experiment and go outside of my work area comfort zone, i am inevitably disappointed. i know what to expect when i order from my de facto sushi place, chinese place, korean place, italian place, etc (still need a good thai place in herald square area, and am open to suggestions!). i don't much care for sandwiches, i hate lazarra's because i find it really salty) and 45th/6th is a bit far for me.

            i live in a brooklyn area where i get cubanos and all the delightful oxtail/pernil over yellow rice i could ever want, so eating it at work seems kind of redundant.

            1. re: selenster

              its nice that u had a response to everything......except for the overall concept/point....the point being that midtown lunch separates the seemingly similar de facto sushi place, chinese place, korean place, italian place from the ones that excel in quality while maintaining same price, that is the point of the reviews....so you know which de facto sushi place to go to, cause there are tons of each category, but what are you supposed to do? try them all and be inevitably disappointed? No....you read a great site like midtownlunch.com so you can have the "best" de facto sushi possible.... thats the point.....
              there are street meat carts on every other corner, but which ones are good?
              let me check menupages.com ... hold on one sec.....
              / http://goo.gl/CbXcG

              1. re: bullit531

                as i have already expressed, i have worked in this area for nearly a decade and know of the spots i like; when i do venture outside of my comfort zones (and the suggestions of other coworkers whom i trust), i am inevitably disappointed. just because someone has a blog and posts about XYZ street cart being good, or ABC sushi joint being really fresh and amazing, how am i supposed to just inherently accept that? i won't.

                i've tried numerous places that you listed and 'wichcraft? lazarra's? both of those used to cater work functions/meetings. never really cared for them. i don't care if the former is a tom colicchio joint. i didn't care for craft either.

                when i said "de facto" i misspoke; i meant that i have a stable, a cadre, if you will, of restaurants that deliver that i know and trust/enjoy. for instance, BCD tofu house (though it doesn't deliver) is a favorite, as was its brick & mortar predecessor, dae dong. i'll go there or to han bat, though both options are probably over the general 10$/lunch max rule of midtown lunch.

                so while this blog might help to shed light for some on where to go, personal preferences do come into play, and though some writer for ML might rave about XXX chinese spot, i might prefer Q for dumplings.

                my point is, if you are suggesting that i only dine at fancy pants places, that is simply untrue and faulty thinking on your part. i regularly (once a week) order pernil, yellow rice, beans and cubanos from a dominican place near my apartment, or chicharron from a mexican joint around the corner. heck, i will get a bucket of fried chicken from popeye's or KFC (both are close to my apartment).

                so yeah, i still fail to see your point.

                1. re: selenster

                  ughh i'm bored at work and already read enough news/blogs for one day, i'm bored enough to retort point by point, so lets give it a go

                  it is difficult to venture outside your comfort zone and not be inevitably disappointed, you've been eating in your area ten years, so how many uncomfortable zones do you have left? there is probably nothing left for you to discover that you have not tried. a blog like ML for me, at the beginning was about discovery, first time having street meat, trying different pizza places, different burgers, sandwiches etc, now i know all the kinds of things that i like that were once new. So now i know my comfort zones, now I can peruse for new establishments within said zones that I would not have known otherwise thanks to ML.

                  I apologize for listing 'wichcraft and lazzara's, they were just chosen for generalized examples since they're well known and well established. Lazzara's on 9th ave has a kick ass thin crust cheese slice for $1.50, personally I love it, food tours stop there, but if its not in your comfort zone, then that is OK, but reading about it is one way to decide if it is worth trying or not.

                  I used to work at 50W 34th St so I ventured to Dae Dong a few times, and later 5Penn, where I found other spots a bit more west, sorry for mis interpreting your de facto whatever... it is nice that you have a go-to list of places for food, but again, one of the Main reasons i visit ML and sites like it, is for discovery of new places to add to the list. Menupages is great, but i think of it more as a reference site because it has no personality, no guide, browsing by area and cuisine and then sorting by rating and price is fun, but then reading through all those reviews to try and decipher which place to finally choose? That is what review sites do for you, they sort through the masses to bring you their opinionated best. And if your reading reviews about places within your comfort zone, they maybe you'll discover a new place?

                  I'm not sure what to say about x spot food versus q spot food. I dont think i have the same tastebuds as any review writer and i do not expect you do either. But what if Q spot owner opened a new place that was closer to your office and was throwing free (something you like) with your favorite dumplings, how would you know? wait to stumble upon it or hear by word of mouth? instead of missing out, a review site would report it and you would know and be able to enjoy it a lot faster.

                  I did not mean to suggest you dine only at fancy spots, you said le bernadin was a fluke, I just meant that more money does not necessarily translate to more enjoyable meals, and straying away from your daily go-to list does not have to end in disappointment every time, and sites like ML are the catalyst of this discovery. i have no comment for your rice/beans, but i do love chicharron, which i only get from the mexi-carts in jackson heights.

                  lastly, the internet does not allow you to divulge tone, and the tone of this message can be misinterpreted, but I mean it in the sincerest way, if only in defense of ML and street meat, I just want people to use the blogs to discover more places to add to repertoire such that the foodie community can ever be expanded and each and every ML'er CH'er, happier and more knowledgeable.

                  All the best,

    2. The founder tends to make frequent jokes about how he is overweight (I've seen pictures and he's not really that overweight), so a lot of his odes to buffets and stuff are just part of that line of humor.

      Normally the site is a pretty good source of information about getting lunch in the area. The $10 guideline is their general rule, but they will frequently review places out of their price range and just note that it's a pricey option for lunch.

      I like it because they tend to be eagle-eyed and notice things like changes to menu or restaurant openings that might affect me. As with any review site, take their opinion with a grain of salt.

      1. Note also that Zach who founded Midtown Lunch doesn't even live in NYC any more. Other people are writing the NYC content. Zach lives in LA now.

        1. think of it as a site trying out different places in the otherwise dreary office-land landscape, helping unearth places that offer an alternative to Cosi. Not all the reviews are good (as they shouldn't be), but they may point out a decent (if not amazing) place you overlooked that serves some decent __(something other than a deli sandwich)__.

          it's just fun, kinda like a "do with what we have" vibe

          1. Do you really think that food carts give people dysentery? I have been eating "street meat" for a long time in a lot of countries and have never gotten sick. I cannot say the same about some brick and mortar establishments. Besides the cleanliness issue you have the fact that some of these vendors have been cooking the same dishes day after day for years. You would think that would help them perfect their craft, no?

            When work or something else brings me to the midtown area, that blog has definitely helped me hit some places I might not have otherwise so it is indeed valuable.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MVNYC

              hahaha no, i don't really believe people get dysentery from street meat. i was being flippant, which i suppose nobody picked up on since internet messageboards aren't the best for conveying tone.

            2. We all risk dysentery every time we step out of our apts.
              I think its snobby to write off the site, it serves a purpose for those of us in that area. Its at least good to leaf through every once in a while to see if you missed an opening that you might be interested in.

              I dont pay much attention to it, but I havent noticed the content going downhill since Zach moved out west.

              Also, Ill note, there are a lot of sites on the internet that I dont visit, but I also dont ask boards about them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Hey19

                Strongly agreed! That comment about dysentery is ridiculous. Street meat is yummy! Some of us aren't wealthy upscale types who go to Le Bernardin for lunch.

                I like Midtown Lunch a lot and I check it regularly, much like Eating in Translation and other food sites. That said, Midtown Lunch occasionally covers things that I wouldn't touch with a 25-foot Italian sausage, like gross fast food. Or fake shrimp. And the signal-to-noise ratio gets a bit messed up by their need to post something new every day to up their hit count. But it's often funny and irreverent.

              2. I read it just about every day for the past 3 years or so, even though I don't work anywhere near midtown anymore. I've gotten some good tips from it and enjoy the different writers' style.

                1. I agree with Jungmann, kathryn and the rest of the usual crew on Chowhound. Midtown lunch isn't here to guide you towards your 3-course michelin star restos. (Although, can I please thank the writer to blogged about the 3 course meal at Ricks?? Most entertaining, awkward and actually pretty yummy lunch I've had in the dead zone of herald square).

                  The writers simply dig their best to find all the possible options in midtown, investigate it for you and gives their view. my i've taken multiple recommendations there and they have yet to lead me astray. Everyone I know in midtown loves this blog. it adds a dimension that yelp and menupages doesn't.

                  1. I think its a fun happy quirky blog.
                    If you're looking for lunches around 10 bucks that not from one of the chain "bourgeois delis", good deals, new/random finds then midtown lunch will work for you. I wish they spent more time in my part of midtown (midtown east).... its dire here.

                    Street cart eating can be good eats. And as not every cart is good, midtown lunch can weed them out for us. And the way NYC regulates these guys, I'm not sure dysentery is a problem. (Does anyone else hear Sam Fujisaka?)

                    1. I've never gotten dysentery. However, the excess grease can cause you to have an unpleasant bowel movement the first few times.

                      Halal street meat isn't exactly the healthiest food kind of food -- especially when people drown it in white sauce (AKA ranch/mayo) which is already about 65-75% oil. Coupled with the famously fatty 'gyro meat,' whose oil content alone is generally enough to lube up your chutes for days, you've basically got a hot and spicy $6 laxative.

                      Have you seen how oily the rice gets after a while? That stuff runs right through you like Chinese takeout and Indian cuisine. But, having had all of these foods before, I'd say any potential discomfort can be avoided by exercising moderation. I say moderation because abstinence is ridiculous. These kinds of foods are extremely delicious. Can't you tell by the smell alone?

                      To deny this is to deny your humanity. :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Deanlo

                        heh, the grease is what makes things delicious, and keeps me regular :)

                      2. I don't share the guy's penchant for fake shrimp, and I'm not really a bang for your buck kind of a gal (those Chinese pick 4 dishes over rice for $4 are pretty gross), though I always love a good deal. But the website has its purpose -- to find relatively inexpensive lunches in Midtown (and I guess other areas). I find the most useful page on that blog to be this one. I don't read the blog or the forums as I don't have the time to read both Chowhound and Midtown Lunch.


                        Think of it as a condensed version of menupages.

                        And street meat is awesome! My favorites are probably too far away from your Herald Square location. But there is a not too bad one on 36th Street off of 6th Ave.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          ah, thank you for posting that link! i think your points are very valid. i'm going to peruse the link you just posted...i may have just ordered breakfast but lunch is only a few hours away!