Most of the spots in here are "destination" recommendations. But midtown is such a wasteland, and so full of tourist traps, that I wanted to give you a list of spots that, while not necessarily outstanding overall, are by far the best options hereabouts, and all very good besides. One often finds oneself here for a show, or a performance at Lincoln Center, and must have a dossier!
Margon(136 West 46th Street between 6th and 7th) a tiny Cuban luncheonette with delicious sandwiches (Cubano especially), a hot buffet, and great cafe con leche. The Gourmet staffers used to eat here all the time!
Edison Cafe (228 W 47th Street between 7th and 8th) A converted hotel ballroom known, amongst actors and writers, as the Polish Tea Room. Coffee shop fare with especially good Jewish classics like blintzes, latkes and matzoh ball soup. A favorite of my grandfather from the days when he worked in radio.
Burger Joint (119 West 56th Street, in lobby of hotel, between 6th and 7th) The "secret" burger place inside the lobby of the Parker Meridien is a tad gimmicky, but makes a darn good, no-frills burger.
Entrecote (590 Lexington Ave, @52nd) The best food in midtown is really steak - Wolfgang's, Strip House, Sparks. Well, since the best steak of all is at Peter Luger in Brooklyn, much better to go to Entrecote. This is the first US outpost of a cult Parisian mini-chain that only serves steak frites, in an addictive sauce that's a big secret. And they bring you two portions! I actually love it; the weird location keeps me from giving it its own entry, though.
Chez Napoleon (365 West 50th Street @8th Ave)
Another super old-school, rather campy French spot. "Sadie, you've outdone yourself this time," said the friend whom I made meet me there. But the food was good, the souffle a poem, and we had a blast: such a good alternative to the mediocrity of the theatre district!
Amy's Bread (672 9th Ave @ 47th St)A reliable mini-chain making delicious sandwiches and baked goods. Favorites: NY State goat's cheese and roasted vegetable sandwich; white bean and avocado sandwich; spicy grilled cheese.(Veggie-approved)
Manganaro (9th Ave. btw 37+38th) This venerable red-sauce spot has a reputation for crankiness, but be nice, don't act like an ass, and have some excellent eggplant parm! I love it ;)
Afghan Kebab House (764 9th Avenue @51st St) Cheap, good, no-frills Afghani! (Veggie-approved)
Bouchon Bakery (Time Warner Center, 59th and Broadway) Despite being in a weird, glorified mall, the food - at both the takeout counter and the sit-down restaurant - is AMAZING: the best pastries, quiche, soups, salads...