8 Great Places to Grab a Bite in Midtown
Even if you avoid the tourist hordes on Fifth Avenue most of the year, there’s something about the lustrous window displays, the Christmas trees and even the brisk air that suddenly makes the busy retail mecca much more appealing. But when you’re laden with bags and your blood sugar is flagging, where do you eat? There are a handful of fancy restaurants scattered throughout midtown, but for a quick bite, stop into these affordable spots to refuel before checking off the rest of your list.
Tucked behind a curtain in the Parker hotel, this fast-food spot is exactly what it advertises: a no-frills (but very good) burger joint. Griddled burgers cost less than $10 and pair best with the quintessential fries and a pitcher of beer or a milkshake in the dim, pseudo-divey restaurant. Vegetarians can also opt in with the luscious grilled cheese, gooey and crispy in all the right ways.
119 W. 56th St.; burgerjointny.com
Momofuku founder David Chang’s latest offering is a quick-service breakfast and lunch counter inside the Time Warner Center. Before 11 a.m., you can go sweet or savory, with a cinnamon-bun-esque baked twist or a bāng (a wrap made with Korean flatbread) folded with mortadella and cheese or Zabar’s lox and cream cheese. Lunch—which runs until it’s sold out—features the same savory bāng but with spit-roasted spicy pork or chicken.
10 Columbus Circle, Third Floor; bangbar.xyz
Decked out in neon lights and tropical wallpaper, this spot specializes in SoCal-style tacos, many of which are veg-friendly, like the plant-based “beef” Impossible Taco or the Truffled Shroom in a crunchy shell. Guac is also an option, of course, and is customizable to your liking with toppings such as pomegranate seeds and crispy chicken skin.
19 W. 52nd St.; tacodumbo.com
Xi’an Famous Foods
This growing chain of hand-pulled noodle shops is becoming synonymous with New York fast food, and that’s a good thing. The numerically coded menu is always consistent, meaning fans of N2 (Spicy & Tingly beef hand-ripped noodles) or NS5 (Mount Qi vegetable hand-ripped noodles in soup) can enjoy their favorites at any of the midtown locations.
Multiple locations; xianfoods.com
The Plaza Food Hall
If high tea in the Palm Court or Champagne at the Rose Bar doesn’t fit into your afternoon plans, head to the subterranean food hall below The Plaza. Here, the basement is crowded with a maze of top-tier fast-casual food vendors, like Luke’s Lobster, Tartinery, Ori di Pasta and more purveyors of high-quality (but affordable) quick-service food.
768 Fifth Ave.; theplazany.com
Quality sushi you can shove in your face mid shopping spree? Yes, please. MakiMaki offers rapidly made-to-order hand rolls (temaki) and cut rolls (maki), in familiar varieties like California, eel avocado and shrimp tempura, as well as customizable rolls, which can include anything from shiitake to truffled unagi.
1369 Sixth Ave.; makimaki.nyc
If you have time to drop your shopping bags and sit down to slurp some soup dumplings, this Flushing-to-midtown import is certainly worth the (hopefully short) wait. Crab and pork xiao long bao are Joe’s claim to fame, but you can also dig into fried dumplings, noodles and a range of beef, chicken and seafood dishes.
24 W. 56th St.; joeshanghairestaurants.com
My Pie Pizzeria Romana
If scarfing down a slice is your ideal shopping treat, stop into this Roman pizzeria that uses imported Italian flours for all its homemade crusts. Options include a classic pie with tomato and buffalo mozzarella (also imported from Italy), a buffalo chicken pie drenched generously in ranch, and vegan varieties. Pizzas are all sold by the slice as well as in shareable trays.
690 Lexington Ave.; mypiepizzeria.com