Lunch Chronicles

Pulled pork sandwich from Mooncake
Pulled pork sandwich
Midtown South sucks! There I said it. Its not really Midtown and its not Chelsea, what is it then?! I go on Menupages a lot always looking for lunch spots. Midtown South has its advantages its close enough to Chelsea and Ktown. When you click, in menupages, the link to Chelsea/Midtown South most of the food spots are in Chelsea. Sometimes, actually most of the time, I don’t feel like walking 10 blocks for lunch and sometimes I’m too lazy to walk over to Ktown. There are tons of food blog coverage for Chelsea and Midtown, like Midtown Lunch but what about Midtown South? Hm..? So here is my list of food places to try if you’re in the area. AND if you have any other places that I should try please let me know! Thanks!

Blarney Rock Pub
Tuna melt with fries
Tuna melt
This has to be my favorite work lunch spot. Matt and I would go here all the time. This Blarney Rock is on 33rd St between 6th and 7th Ave. There are few more Blarney Stone/Rock pubs and restaurants and Matt and I have tried all of them but none of them could compete with this one. Even though the other places were cleaner and fancier but for Irish pubs they just didn’t feel right. 33rd St Blarney Rock is dark, loud, has a low ceiling, there are always rough lookin dudes inside at all times, and no thrills foods. I always end up spending more than $20 here because when you’re in a pub, you gotta get a beer. Also I always end up still feeling full at dinner time because food here comes in big portions and doesn’t help that I tend to eat late. They have a set menu but also a daily specials menu. I usually get the tuna melt with fries (so so good) or the Blarney Rock’s burger (has bell peppers and mushroom quite messy to eat). Sometimes they have great items on the special menu like crab cakes over spaghetti. I know its not the best place to order seafood but it just sounded too awesome to not try. The dish was surprisingly delicious. I never had a bad meal here but don’t go there with high expectations. It’s pretty much what you see is what you get type of place.

? Cafe Express
Roast beef with “frizzled” onion, herb mayo, focaccia bread sandwich
Roast beef w/ frizzled onions in focaccia bread
Don’t ask about the question mark, I have no idea. Maybe they’re trying to be the answer for every question you have. How is your dog doing? Cafe Express. Where did you get that shirt? Cafe Express. Where do I get a roast beef sandwich with special dressing and fried onions “frizzle” on focaccia bread? Cafe Express! Yes yes, ? Cafe Express is the home of “The Frizzle” a mighty delicious roast beef sandwich with fried onions on focaccia bread!! I love focaccia bread. I’m not quite sure what the special dressing actually is but tasted like herby mayo. I have eaten “The Frizzle” 4 times now and all 4 times they were delicious. I did notice the decreasing amount of roast beef they were giving me as the cost of food went up. One time they ran out of focaccia so I substituted it with whole wheat, it was just not the same. Also its my coworker’s favorite lunch spot but I never noticed it until she took me to it.

Woorijip
Eel over rice with japchae and soup
Eel over rice w/ japchae and soup
Oh Woorijip Woorijip. This is my to-go spot for Korean food. They are 24/7 which helps when my friends and I have our late night karaoke parties nearby. Because they’re relatively cheap its freakin’ pack during lunch time. You’re better off getting it to go than to find a spot to eat. Woorijip offers a typical salad bar buffet. My favorite items to get at the buffet, whenever they have it, are mung bean jelly, japchae, seafood pancakes, deep fried japchae wrapped in seaweed (hard to get these fresh they are always soggy and cold but still good), slices of pork belly, cold spinach and fried rice. They also have a hot lunch box area usually around 5 to 6 dollars. It ranges from curry katsu with rice (I had it once and it was bland), meatballs over rice with gravy (quite yummie), kimchi fried rice with a hot dog and fried egg (rare to see this), kimchi fried rice with eel and etc. Towards the right side of the back area is a noodle bar area where you can order fresh hot bowls of noodles in soup. The noodle bar closes rather early and so I never get a chance to try it. They also have a fridge area where to house their kimbaps, side dishes, and cold dishes. Everything here tastes pretty good. I always see workers stocking up on food items but their heat lamps at the buffet bar aren’t hot enough. Most of the food from there tends to be cold or room temperature. As for their kimbaps….well. They tasted old to me. If you want fresh yummie kimbaps I would head over to E-mo. For a buck more you’ll get fresher kimbaps plus a cup of miso soup.
Assorted kimbaps and pork balls over rice
Assorted kimbapsPork balls over rice

Salt & Pepper
Baked chicken with rice and beans
Baked chicken w/ rice and beans
I never noticed the name of this place until I decided to write about it. I just don’t see it as a Salt & Pepper kinda place. I pass by this place everytime I have lunch at Blarney Rock on 33rd St. I always see their sign of food with pretty good price for this area. So one day I walked in to find a counter with filled with food. There were baked chicken, grilled chicken, beef stew, chicken stew, yellow rice, beans, samosas and more. Behind the counter was a grill for burgers and such. For $7 I order a whole tin platter of a baked chicken thigh and leg, yellow rice, and beans. A buttered roll was included also! Yeah! I always get the baked chicken but one time I got the grilled chicken and it wasn’t as good. It was chicken breast and I don’t like chicken breast, too dry. BUT one day while I was getting my food I noticed a back area with ANOTHER counter. I walked over and realized they served Indian food as well! JOY! The following week I went and got food at the Indian counter. Also for $7 I got an entree and two sides. It was really good and so glad I found it. I usually walk down to Whole Foods to satisfy my crave for Indian food. I know I know, Whole Foods but they do have a pretty good food bar.
Chicken tikka masala with cauliflower/potatoes over rice and grilled chicken with rice and beans
Chicken tikka masala w/ cauliflower & potatoes over riceGrilled chicken w/ rice & beans

Honorable Mention
E-mo
Like I said above, in Woorijip, that if you want good fresh kimbaps go to E-mo. It’s a tiny shop run by a couple and they make your kimbap right there and then for maximum freshness. They’re a buck more than Woorijip but hey its fresh! Also you get a free miso soup. Please support the smaller shops.

Brother Jimmy’s BBQ
Brisket with fries and baked beans
Brisket and BBQ chicken sandwich
Its definitely not the best bbq joint but hey when you REALLY need those briskets with a side of mac n’cheese, hush puppies and wash everything down with a cheap can of Pabst then yeah this is the place. I had their catfish sandwich and fried chicken sandwich both quite good and filling. It’s a good place to get lunch, there’s never too many people and a relaxing atmosphere.

Jimmy’s Burger Shack
Jimmy’s Burger Shack is a smallish burger place next to Brother Jimmy’s BBQ and from the name, its own by Brother Jimmy’s. They say they sell mini-burgers but these aren’t mini at all! Liars! Got me all full and stuff. They have regular beef, turkey and veggie burgers. You can build your own burger with different cheeses and extras. Or you can go with their pre-build versions. Their burgers are quite good but I definitely come here for their sweet potato fries and they’re not shy about the amount of fries they give you. Compare to the next nearest burger place, Brgr, Jimmy’s Burger Shack comes out on top. It’s just simple good burgers with good fries for about $5! Can’t really beat that.

Brgr
Sweet potato fries and a turkey burger
Sweet Potato fries
$14 for a burger and fries here. Oh dear. The burgers here are good but I don’t want to pay $14 for a burger and fries. I could walk down to Shake Shack and pay half of that for a waaaaaay better burger with cheese fries but I don’t have 3 hours to waste standing in line for a shack burger.

Cafe Pom Pom
Plain burger and a giant pile of condiments
BurgerGiant pile of condiments
I come here for breakfast more than lunch. Actually the only time I came here for lunch was to get a burger BUT a damn fine burger it was. I guess I should explore their other lunch options.

Kofoo
I guess this is more in Chelsea than Midtown South. Another good place to get kimbaps but I don’t go here for their kimbaps instead I get their omelette rice. It’s basically fried rice wrapped inside an omelette bathed in gravy. Yum. Not sure how much butter they use but their fried rice has a very heavy butter taste which is great of course.

Fuji Bakery
This is my to-go place for cheap Chinese baked goods. I know Fay Da is on 34th St but I went there once and was turned off by the poor quality of the buns and prices. I usually go too late to Fuji and end up getting the lone roast pork bun or hot dog bun. Sometimes if I’m lucky I get some other stuff like a bacon and scallion bun. Fuji also offers hot foods like 2 combo lunches or something off their menu.

Soup Spot
The place to go when its cooooooold also the worst place to go when its cooooooold. Super yummie hot soup is the best when its cold outside. But Soup Spot is so tiny it only fits a handful of people at once. When it gets cold everyone wants soup and there would always be a long line outside the door. Who wants to stand outside in the cold!? Their soups are sooo good, they have the usual chowders and lentil soup and chicken noodles and veggie soup and a bunch of rotating specials. A piece of bread and an apple sometimes a plum come with the soup.

Fat Annie’s Truck Stop
I only had 1 meal here. They serve the usual stuff sandwiches, burgers, pastas…etc. So why do I bother mentioning this place? TATER TOTS! Yes they serve tater tots. Nostalgia is such a weird thing.

Stout
Traditional Irish breakfast
Irish breakfast
Stout is the default lunch with coworkers spot. It has the big tables for big groups, walking distance from work, and can be in and out within 1 hour. With Blarney Rock right next store this can be Little Ireland or something. Stout is pretty much a fancier version of Blarney Rock. Flat screen tvs showing sports, serves Guinness, pub style food and the infamous Irish breakfast. I got so much attention from coworkers when I was brave enough to order the Irish breakfast. It’s just eggs, grilled tomatoes & mushroom, bangers, bacon and black & white pudding. What’s the big deal?! Oh right black pudding has pigs blood in it. I mean where were the baked beans and the portions were too small.

Mooncake
Smoked white fish salad with pickled daikon and carrots
Smoked white fish salad sandwich
I’ve been to the Mooncake in Tribeca once. The food was good but the place was tiny. The new one on 30th St is huge and airy! I was surprised to find their prices to be relatively on the cheap side. Everytime I go, I get the lychee tea which is horrible but I always forget that it’s horrible and gets it everytime. The tea is just tooooo bland. Though their food is great. I had their Smoked White Fish Salad with pickled carrots & daikon and Anise & Beer Braised Beef Shins served with tortillas. I remember the beef shins weren’t as good as I hoped it would be. The sauce was too much for me. But their smoked white fish salad sandwich was freakin awesome. It was served in a baguette with pickled carrots and daikon. Sounds familiar? Yep it was a banh mi. The smoked white fish was grind up into a paste but it was soooo good. My coworkers love their pulled pork sandwich but I haven’t tried it yet.

Mandoo Bar
Who doesn’t love dumplings?! Great winter comfort food, especially when it’s stuffed with kimchi. Really has a nice kick to it. Every time I walk by there’s a load of people standing around waiting for tables. Besides yummie mandoo they also serve common Korean food like japchae, bibimbob, pajeon and etc. Its nice to go once in a while but $10 for 10 pieces hm…a bit much for me.

– Blarney Rock Pub, 137 W 33rd St
– ? Cafe Express, 348 7th Ave # 1
– Woorijip, 12 W 32nd St # 4
– Salt & Pepper, 139 W 33rd St
– E-mo, 2 W. 32nd St
– Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, 416 8th Ave
– Jimmy’s Burger Shack, 258 W 31st St
– Brgr, 287 7th Ave
– Cafe Pom Pom, 169 W 32nd St
– Kofoo, 334 8th Ave
– Fuji Bakery, 224 W 35th St
– Soup Spot, 220 W 31st St
– Fat Annie’s Truck Stop, 121 W 33rd St
– Stout, 133 W 33rd St
– Mooncake Foods, 263 W. 30th St.
– Mandoo Bar, 2 W 32nd St #1

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5 thoughts on “Lunch Chronicles

  1. I recommend Home on 8th; it’s on 8th between 29th/30th. It serves up Chinese vegetarian dishes as well as regular Chinese food.

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  2. Home on 8th is not great.

    I also work in the dreadful midtown south area. I agree with your picks Woorjip, Mooncakes, Soup Spot,Koofoo, and Brother Jimmy’s Burgers. Never thought to check out Salt n Pepper but your pictures look pretty good. Check out Salumeria Biellese on 8th and 29th along with my other reviews of our area.

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  3. As a recent transplant to Midtown south thank you for this breakdown, I do have to take issue with your comments about the Irish breakfast.
    As a Dublin native I can tell you that baked beans are on an English breakfast, not an Irish one. Irish breakfast should consist of the following:
    Fried Eggs, Bacon (Rashers), pork sausages, white and black pudding, soada bread/toast, unlimited tea. Mushrooms and fried tomato are optional, but beans are out, and whats more worrying the English sometimes have chips with their breakfast too!
    I can also recommend McGarry’s pub on 34th and 9th, they do a full Irish breakfast which I havn’t had yet but their burger was fantastic.

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