[Manhattan Midtown] Unique casual eats?

Will be travelling to NYC in a few weeks for business. Staying in midtown Manhattan. Looking for some recommendations. Here are my criteria:

  1. Since I live in the SF Bay Area near San Jose, prefer cuisines not commonly found around here. So not Ramen, Indian, Korean. Looking for things unique to NYC like NY pizza, jewish delis.

  2. Prefer non-fine dining places where formal dress is not required. Anything from fast casual to table service sitdown is fine. Any price range.

  3. Any meal is fine although could really use recs for breakfast and places open late for dessert.

Thanks in advance!

Midtown covers a lot of ground - it would be helpful to know where you’ll be and how far you’re willing to travel.

Sarge’s is a solid choice for deli. https://sargesdeli.com/
Don Antonio has very good (albeit not “New York”) pizza. https://www.donantoniopizza.com/

I agree where in midtown is important (especially east vs west). Have you visited nyc before? Any cravings or favorite cuisines?
I’m guessing it’s midtown west just because that’s where some of the biggest hotels are. Some ideas:

Thanks for the suggestions! Most likely I’ll be staying near the MoMA (is that called “north midtown”? Just south of central park). I’ve been to NYC 4-5 times and was just there in 2017 so have already tried a number of places in the area including some mentioned here: Don Antonio (agree on good pizza but prefer NY style), Best Bagel (great bagels but not sure I have time to wait during the weekday), and Pick a Bagel (good bagels, a notch below Best Bagel but line is way shorter).

Last time I also tried Ippudo, Souvlaki GR (very good), Junior’s cheesecake, Shake Shack.

Prefer places within 15 min walk of the hotel or so. I’m open to any cuisine but prefer to stick to ones that aren’t as represented in the bay area since I can find those here.

I’ve been debating going to either Sarge’s or 2nd Ave Deli. Have you been to both and any pros/cons? Last time I was in town I went to Katz’s for the first time and their pastrami indeed lived up to the hype. How do these compare?

I haven’t been to Second Ave Deli since it was on Second Ave, but I remember really liking the mushroom barley soup. At Sarge’s, where I’ve been more recently, I’m very fond of the whitefish salad. Note that I don’t eat meat, so I have no opinions on pastrami or like that. Second Ave Deli is more “iconic,” if that’s a consideration.

If you decide on Second Avenue, consider gefilte fish.

There is a branch of Xian Famous Foods right across the street from MoMA if you are into in hand pulled noodles or other interesting Chinese fare. Szechuan Gourmet on 56th is also excellent. If you are willing to go down to Grand Central, the new(ish) Scandinavian food hall has several kiosks for interesting Nordic fare, great breads, etc.

MaLa Project, Los Tacos No.1, Kati Roll Co, Sullivan St Bakery

The Plaza food hall has some good breakfast options for the area, opens at 8am

It’s just not a great area for bagels… further east. Ess-a-bagel is really awesome, ask what’s warm. Another idea is to order in delivery a dozen from them the day you’re leaving town to bring home as souvenirs and a plane snack

Urban space vanderbuilt is a bit south at 45th and has a location of Roberta’s pizza. They’re a generous individual pizza size (save the last slice for breakfast!)

There’s a Fika on 58th st near 5th that is a great breakfast stop for coffee and one of their pastries, also have oatmeal and yogurt and such. Note their chocolate truffles are crazy amazing and they sell some interesting swedish jams and such

At Columbus circle you may want to try Bang Bar (upstairs at time warner) - momofuku’s new takeout place.

Sarge’s is amazing and close to Grand Central
Pastrami Queen also has superb deli and pastrami
2nd Ave is a third choice but a bit too sedate for me.
Xian is great and unique.
Norma’s for a spectacular breakfast you won’t get anywhere but it’s fancy/casual.
Sip Sak for Turkish
Walk over to 9th or 10th ave for a good diner breakfast.

Xian Famous Foods was on my list from last time but I didn’t end up having time to go, but definitely hope to try it this time! I think the specialty of the house is the cumin lamb hand pulled noodles is that right? Anything else there worth trying?

Sounds like some great breakfast options! It doesn’t seem like Fika has a menu on their website. Do they serve anything more substantial than pastries, oatmeal, etc? Might check it out anyways as I used to travel to Sweden for work as well and have had my share of Fikas :sunglasses:

The options vary by location but that one on 58th is fairly large, this is their full menu for breakfast so they should have most of it available (or similar options)

Their coffee is surprisingly good and they make a proper espresso with a nice crema to the top :))