Nobody wants to walk more than three blocks for lunch during the workday. In this series, we'll comb the city's micro-micro-neighborhoods in search of affordable spots for dining with co-workers, eating solo, or just getting takeout.
Today: The area around the intersection of 48th Street and Sixth Avenue.
Every craving can be satisfied for less than ten bucks in the area that surrounds Rockefeller Center: Falafel carts, Indian buffets, and Latin and Asian sit-downs are plentiful. Plus, the diamond district is a kosher haven.
Co-worker•Rangolé Nothing's sadder than a solo diner at an all-you-can-eat buffet, so grab an officemate and take advantage of this $8.95 bargain. The crispy, bite-size pakoras go down like popcorn, and the hot and spicy cumin potatoes (aloo jeera) more than make up for the watery saag. 41 W. 46th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-719-3474.
•Cafe Duke Ignore the pre-packaged sushi and sandwiches and head straight to the hidden Korean-food station in the back. Go light and fresh with the bi bim bap or hot and spicy with the kimchee tofu soup. A perfect compromise when lunching with that co-worker who requires a salad bar. 140 W. 51st St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-445-0010.
•Taam-Tov It's worth climbing three flights of stairs for the tender char-grilled chunks of lamb at this Glatt kosher Uzbek spot, but the real treat is the bakhsh, an earthy rice-pilaf dish, sautéed with chicken and so much cilantro it's tinted green. Bring a friend and sample the á la carte dishes — they're strong across the board. 41 W. 47th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-768-8001.
Solo•Sapporo The gyoza skins are crisp and the bowls of warm and salty miso extra-large at this "you might as well be in Japan" ramen bar. Go alone and skip the line of twosomes to grab a single seat at the bar. 152 W. 49th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-869-8972.
•Ho Yip You won't want anyone to see how much your lunch weighs after browsing this Chinese buffet, where the price drops to $3.75 per pound after 2:15 p.m. Among the rare finds: two kinds of dumplings (chicken or pork), crispy Peking pork chops with a sweet coating, and squid with eggplant braised in soy sauce. There's even free black tea to wash it all down. 7 W. 45th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-719-1788.
Takeout•Café Cello If Margon is the Latin king of midtown, then this takeout cafeteria is the quiet prince. No Cuban sandwiches, but the roast pork, covered with a big piece of crispy pork skin, is out of this world. Go early — the fried plantains run out. 48 W. 46th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-764-8600.
•Kati Roll Phone in your order and avoid the lines for the spicy "Indian burritos." Chunks of chicken tikka come wrapped in freshly made paratha, topped off with red onions and a citrus kick. Add egg (unda) to your roll and you've got breakfast. 140 W. 46th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-730-4280.
•Daisy May's BBQ This cart (dispatched from the Tenth Avenue restaurant of the same name) serves up tender brisket and pulled-pork sandwiches, covered in a thick, sweet sauce, on sesame-seed buns. For something a little spicier, go for the Texas chili, which eschews beans entirely. Then soothe your taste buds with a Mason jar of southern-style "sweet tea." 49th St. nr. Seventh Ave.
•Kwik Meal Though the lamb and rice are popular at this cart, the real prize is the falafel. Crispy and golden on the outside, moist on the inside, it comes cradled in a puffy grilled pita and topped with just the smallest amount of lettuce, tomato, and fresh white yogurt. For only $3.75 apiece, you can afford to get two! Sixth Ave. at 45th St.