We've already shown you the best cheap lunches in Midtown East, but we didn't want to leave our readers on the other side of 5th Avenue hungry. To that end, check out some of our favorite lunch spots in Midtown West.
Cuban Deli: Margon
This hole in the wall diner is a great bet for classic Cuban sandwiches like the cubano and media noche—none of which will run you more than $7.50. The restaurant also serves hot entrees. Check the specials board for dishes like tripe soup, shrimp ceviche, and oxtail. The lines can get long, but it's well worth the wait.
Korean and....a Reuben: HIT Deli & Korean Food
A restaurant serving Korean food and deli staples in a Chelsea office building sounds like a joke, but HIT's food is serious. The deli food is fine, but you're better off going with the Korean dishes like bibimbap and kimchi pancakes. Owner Kevin Kim makes his own kimchi—pick up an order even if you come for a sandwich.
Indian Street Food: Biryani Cart
The Biryani Cart serves its namesake, a pile of tender, spiced basmati with slivers of juicy chicken, a whole egg korma, and a mango pickle, and chicken tikka masala, but you really want are the kati rolls, flaky flatbread stuffed with spicy fillings. Try the fiery, mint-habanero Spicy Buradi roll, spiced chicken tikka King Koti roll, or the Pune roll, flavored with a far milder chaat masala.
Loading Dock Latin Lunch Counter: El Sabroso
Tony Molina opened this lunch counter in a Midtown loading dock in 1996. There's a long menu of dishes such as Bistec Encebollado, a well-seasoned steak dressed with buttery onions. Your best bet, though, is to ignore the menu and do as the regulars do: approach the counter and ask Molina what's good today. He'll give you a dish that's been simmering away all morning, served on a styrofoam plate with rice and beans.
El Sabroso: 265 West 37th Street, New York, NY 10018 (map); 212-284-1118
Turkish Snacks: Mmm...Enfes
Mmm...Enfes sells a variety of quick-service Turkish breads and snacks (go for the sigara burek and simit), but if you're looking for a sandwich you should try the Ayvalik Toast. This unusual creation features sucuk sausage, tomato, pickles mozzarella... and hot dogs, pressed into a fairly compact double decker. It all ties together nicely into a simple, cheap, and satisfying lunch.
Mexican Sandwiches and Tacos: Tehuitzingo Deli & Grocery
Tehuitzingo is an unassuming little taqueria in the back a Hells Kitchen bodega. There is a range of taco fillings, from meat options like barbacoa and oreja (pig's ear) and vegetarian ones like huitlacoche and squash blossoms. The tortas are demure but tasty, made better with spears of pickled jalapenos from the well-stocked condiment bar that also offers salsas, limes, escabeche, radishes, and a full line-up of bottled hot sauces.
Great Slice: Pizza Suprema
Pizza Suprema's Upside Down pizza is essentially a Sicilian pie, but with sauce on top of the cheese as opposed to the other way around. The pizza is about more than novelty—it's a very satisfying slice. The restaurant makes its own mozzarella, which you can find on its Fresh Mozzarella with Basil Pizza. Perhaps the best slice in the neighborhood.
Italian Deli: Sergimmo Salumeria
This Italian deli makes fairly simple classic Italian hero sandwiches, but high-quality ingredients make them shine. You won't go wrong looking for the salumi, mozzarella, and ricotta, all of which are made made in-house. The Marche features the salumi and mozzarella paired with herb-marinated artichokes and arugula.
Portuguese-Italian Sandwiches: City Sandwich
City Sandwich traces its roots to chef Michael Guerrieri's native Naples and one-time home of Lisbon. The sandwiches are served on crusty Portuguese baguettes and stuffed (but not overstuffed) with ingredients from both places. Try the Dave, which is filled with sausage, tomato, melted mozzarella, peperoncini, and a satisfying bundle of broccoli rabe.
Not Your Average Chinese Takeout: Xi'an Famous Foods
With locations all around the city, Xi'an Famous Foods has become a destination for Chinese food. The noodle dishes and dumplings are all great, but for something more portable, try the lamb burger. The sandwich isn't a burger at all, but rather chunks of cumin-spiked lamb with onion and jalapeño stuffed into a flat roll. You can also get the "burger" with pork or beef—they're cheap enough to try them all.
Mexican Street Food: El Rey del Sabor
People across midtown deserve good Mexican food, so El Rey del Sabor has a cart in Midtown West as well as Midtown East. Owned by siblings Ofelia and Vilio Cardoso, El Rey del Sabor puts out the food from their youth in Puebla, made fresh to order. Overstuffed tortas are delicious—bursting with meat and various fixings. Fat quesadillas, topped with homemade salsa, are a great choice too.
El Rey del Sabor: 43 Street and 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10036 (map)
Cambodian Sandwiches: Num Pang
New Yorkers looking for a good sandwich on 48th Street should head to the Midtown West location of Num Pang, which features sandwiches inspired by chef-owner Ratha Chaupoly's native Cambodia (though authenticity is definitely not the shop's main concern). These are big, meaty sandwiches, Americanized if you want to think of them that way. The produce gets lost on the Pulled Duroc Pork, but the massive pile of tender, moist marinated pork belly more than makes up for it. Picky eaters beware—Num Pang has a strict "No Modifications" policy.
Seafood Shack: Luke's Lobster
A $15 lobster roll might not be the most affordable lunch, but sometimes you need to treat yourself. Luke's recently placed as having one of our favorite lobster rolls in the city. It's made with sweet claw and knuckle meat served in a top-split griddled bun with nothing but a thin swipe of mayo and a sprinkle of lemon butter, along with a shake of their "special seasoning." At $3.75 per ounce of lobster, Luke's serves the best value for a lobster roll in New York.
Gonzo Sandwiches: Certé
We're big fans of the slices at Pizza by Certé in Midtown East, but just down the street at their other location it's all about the sandwiches. Certé does soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as catering. We're consistently impressed by the often-gutsy sandwich of the month special, which has included offerings such as Lobster French Toast and a stellar pambazo torta.