There’s no way around it: Midtown Manhattan is essential to our collective New York experience. Whether it’s because you’re playing Times Square tour guide to out of town visitors, hopping on a train out of Grand Central, or clocking in for a good old-fashioned 9-to-5 near Bryant Park, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll have to have lunch in Midtown from time to time.
And as much as our New York existence depends on it, rarely do we find ourselves excited to go to Midtown -- a defeated, “oh I have to go to Midtown,” the familiar refrain. It’s overcrowded, too commercial, and lacks the charm of neighborhoods like Little Italy or Brooklyn Heights. When we do have to head to Midtown, we’re usually hoping to get in and out quickly, and finding a place to eat is a low priority. Good options are seriously limited: it’s just a part of town where restaurants and cafes can get away with mediocrity.
Luckily, there are plenty of salad, soup, sandwich, smoothie, sushi, taco, pasta, ramen, pizza, and even mid-day cocktail exceptions to that rule. Each of these spots are guaranteed to make your next stop between 34th and 59th Streets more delicious, even if not more bearable otherwise.