Grub New York brought news earlier this week that Midtown Lunch, the excellent blog that has devoted itself to finding lunch “gems in a sea of duds” for office workers in the Midtown Manhattan area, is expanding to Philly (in addition to downtown New York and L.A.). Midtown Lunch Philadelphia launched today with a visit to Chinatown’s Rangoon and we checked in with Midtown’s founder Zach Brooks to find out why Philly made the cut. We also chatted with Jamie, who helms the Philly version, to see what makes a Midtown Lunch in Philly.
A Midtown Lunch, according to the blog’s definition is “1. An inexpensive (under $10), authentic, unique and interesting quick service lunch. 2. An adventure in urban lunching. “
So why Philly? Brooks tells us, “Philly is an amazing food city. It’s got a great Chinatown, and a great street food scene. It’s super close to NYC. And a lot of the Midtown Lunch community is originally from there, or visits there a lot. But mostly I chose Philly because of Jamie! She’s an O.G. Midtown Lunch’er, and she totally lives to eat. I’ve always been really hesitant to expand Midtown Lunch, because the site is so organic and if it was going to grow I wanted the growth to be organic. When I heard she had moved there it just seemed too perfect.”
Jamie, a Queens native who moved to Philly in August to attend law school (she declined to specify which one or her last name), explains how the Philly and New York Midtown Lunches compare, “It’s the same concept - highlighting places that Philly has to offer for inexpensive lunches - but it’s more expansive because there’s no midtown in the same sense as New York. I’m going to try and focus on Center City area where most people are working. Chinatown’s not too far away, so I think that’s a really good source of good and cheap lunches. I plan on going to the University City area, too.”
How about the lunch offerings in Philly versus New York? Jamie says, “I think there are less hole-in-the-wall places in Philly, but they’re similar in that there are so many generic places to fall into that pattern of eating in, but there are so many places to eat a more exciting lunch if people take the time to find them. There’s Cosi, where you can get a prepackaged sandwich and it’s not necessarily bad, but it’s nothing you’re going to smile about. One example is Rangoon. You can get in and out of there for under $10 and really fill yourself up on some quality food and spicy sauces. You go back to your office feeling a little better than you would going to the corner deli.
As for how Jamie will address the inevitable cheesesteak issue: “Midtown Lunch has their Street Meat Palooza - I would definitely like to see a Cheesesteak Palooza at some point. It would definitely spark some fiery opinions!”
Visit the site here: Midtown Lunch Philadelphia