Travel

Midtown Specialty

Establishment neighborhood
Bien Cuit
89 E 42nd St., Midtown
One of Cobble Hill’s favorite artisanal bakeries, Bien Cuit recently opened shop in Manhattan’s Grand Central Market. Husband and wife Zachary Golper and Kate Wheatcroft offer the same hits they do in Brooklyn, including the apple cardamom Danish (puréed apple, vanilla pastry cream, cardamom-almond streusel) and the orange, coriander and olive oil pound cake, made with fresh orange juice and ground coriander. After you’ve picked up a few baguettes to save for later, stroll around the market, stop by Murray’s Cheese and Spices and Tease (an Italian-American specialty spice shop), and remind yourself that yes, in fact, you are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world.
Balade Your Way
144 W. 37th St., Midtown
The first thing that makes this fast-casual Midtown spot stand out is the beautiful space—the tiny sliver of a restaurant is sleek and modern, with a dark wood bar and a concrete checkout counter. From the service counter in the back, you can combine a selection of Middle Eastern appetizers and mains (which you'll eat over rice), combining elements like chicken shawarma, hummus, za'atar flatbread, lamb keba, and more. It's a refreshing alternative to the make-your-own-salad daily lunch grind.
Jeni’s (Closed)
600 11th Ave., Hell's Kitchen
This is the kind of ice cream shop that excels at slightly out of the ordinary, although not too outlandish, flavors: brambleberry crisp, churro, ylang ylang and fennel, Riesling poached pear sorbet, pink grapefruit buttermilk frozen yogurt. Jeni's started in Ohio, founded by Jeni Britton Bauer—James Beard award-winning author of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and has since expanded to other cities. There are two shops in Chicago (Lakeview and Wicker Park), which are both outfitted with modern communal areas to perch with your cones, and which also sell Intelligentsia coffee. (On that note, you should try Jeni's Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso ice cream.) On the West Coast, there is also a location in LA.
The Pennsy
2 Pennsylvania Plaza, Midtown
The cast of characters at Pennsy is surprisingly star-studded, all things considered. Vegetable lovers, as always, will appreciate the presence of The Little Beet, but the market is also home to The Cinnamon Snail, a brick-and-mortar version of the beloved vegan food truck, which serves the kinds of sandwiches that make veganism much more appealing. Lobster Press is there as well, Marc Forgione's take on a casual seafood spot, where the thing to order is the sandwich for which the cart was named—a hot lobster panini, pressed and served hot. There's something here for carnivores too, at Mario by Mary (a fast-casual Italian collaboration between Mario Batali and Mary Giuliani that promises excellent Italian sandwiches and muffalatas) and butcher Pat LaFrieda's first restaurant (order the filet mignon sandwich or the meatball sub). While that line-up is enough to garner a lot of regulars, La Colombe coffee really cinches the deal.
The Little Beet
320 Park Ave., Midtown
Ask someone with a gluten allergy about the Little Beet, and you're bound to get an earful of praise—the entire, delicious menu is celiac-friendly. Chef Franklin Becker was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he was in his 20's and devoted the rest of his career to rebuilding his cooking style; the menu is full of light, healthy meals with an emphasis on lean protein and tons of vegetables. The seasonal menu items are always a sure bet, as are the make-your-own-plate options. There are also locations on 50th and at Penn Plaza.
Melt Shop
877 8th Ave., Midtown
These grilled cheese aficionados have four locations in Manhattan—with two outposts in Midtown (50th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue, and 8th Avenue between 52nd Street and 53rd Street) along with one in Lower Manhattan, they pretty much have the lunch rush figured out. (Pro tip: They have a slick online ordering system that lets you skip the 1pm line.) Those with gluten allergies will appreciate that all of their indulgent, melty sandwiches are available with gluten-free bread. There's also a location in NoMad.
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