midtown/times square survival guide (incl hell's kitchen)
I live in San Francisco and regularly come to New York for work, usually staying in the 40's between 6th and 7th. My trips are rushed, and I rarely have the time to venture far for food, but I've come to love eating in Midtown. (When I do have time to venture far, I go downtown to Yopparai, Kuma Inn, Spicy Village, Jeepney, or Russ & Daughters.)
I'm usually eating alone and on a modest expense account -- I rarely eat anywhere that I wouldn't go back to on my own dime. Here are my favorites, and then my request for more suggestions:
* Blue Bottle, Rockefeller Center -- best early morning espresso I've found in Midtown
* Bouchon Bakery, Rockefeller Center -- good savory breakfast items to go
* Xi'an Famous Foods, 45th -- my happiest day was when I discovered they opened in Midtown and I no longer had to find a way to get to the East Village on my work trips
* Wu Liang Ye, 48th (?) -- my favorite Sichuan in Midtown, though I'm happy to be pointed elsewhere
* Ma Peche, 56th -- my favorite ramen in Midtown, especially when they have lamb or duck broth
* Danji, 51st (52nd?) -- modern Korean
* Pure Thai, 9th & 51st -- my favorite of the Hell's Kitchen Thai places, though I haven't tried Larb Ubol yet
What else should I add to my regular rotation? I'd like to find:
* heartier savory breakfast options, like a great egg sandwich
* an upscale salad bar / buffet place like City Bakery
* modestly price lunchtime sushi or bentos to go
* chicken wings, any style
* other top-notch but informal regional Chinese or Southeast Asian places
Where to drink coffee in Midtown:
See Cheeryvisage's Times Square list here:
You're missing Szechuan Gourmet from your list, for sure, as well as the newer ramen options of Totto Ramen (2 locations now) and Ippudo Midtown.
Have you tried Cafe Zaiya for bentos to go?
Lady M has a Bryant Park location now.
So does Maison Kayser.
Where to eat near Times Square
I assume you know about midtownlunch.com?
For Southeast Asian food, there is Chapa's, a Vietnamese place a couple of doors down from Danji.
The new Midtown Ippudo on 51st St. doesn't fit one of your food categories, but I quite like it. Also for Japanese food, Tabata (more noodles) on 9th Ave. at 39th and Katsuhama (tonkatsu) at on 47th St.
Straying further, Tulcingo del Valle is an excellent Mexican cafe on 10th Ave., serving standard tacqueria stuff as well as regional Pueblan fare.
As a recent Hell's Kitchen transplant, I understand what it's like to navigate in a sea of terrible Midtown Thai and corporate chains. So, here are some of my favorites:
For coffee (and gourmet cookie dough ice cream!) -- Je & Jo on 47th between 10th &11th.
Breakfast/lunch/upscale buffet/treats -- Treehaus on 3rd Ave. between 50th & 51st.
COOKIES (Sorry, they're my one true love and I think everyone should try this place at least once)-- Schmackary's on 45th between 8th & 9th Aves.
Noodies and Totto Ramen are also good if you're near 9th Ave.
Someone suggested with Gotham West Market, which isn't super convenient to the exact area you stay in, but houses a Blue Bottle Coffee, Ivan Ramen, and Genuine Roadside (an upscale-ish burger joint that is comparable to Shake Shack.) All are in the "reasonable" price range for NYC standards, and will get you in and out within a reasonable amount of time.
I'm still searching for the perfect chicken wing, but I hope that helps!
Thanks for all the advice. I wasn't aware of Midtown Lunch or Serious Eats, but they seem very helpful. From your advice and those sites, I've added a few new places to my regular rotation:
* Szechuan Gourmet. I liked the twice-cooked pork belly very much, great wok hay. I should not have ordered the lamb with cumin, which is breaded and deep fried and unsauced -- not how I like that dish.
* Larb Ubol. Sour fermented sausage!
* Simon Sips. Good coffee in an office building right on 6th at 46th.
* Maguron. Their cuban sandwich was the best hearty breakfast I've had in Midtown.
* Mad for Chicken. Delicious crispy wings and homemade pickles.