Where to Eat Lunch in Midtown Manhattan

If you just bought a brand new car, and its owner's manual instructed you to use premium gas, you wouldn't just put any old brand of generic non-premium gas into your gas tank right?  If your car sustained some damages, you wouldn't get a replacement part from a rusted out hurricane Sandy flooded car, right? So then my question is, why do so many people eat at crappy lunch places?  Why do so many people fill their bodies, which, as machines, are the equivalent of a Rolls Royce, with GMO/chemical laded CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) food?
  See this link for more on what a CAFO is: http://www.epa.gov/region7/water/cafo/.

In case you are following the Would John Eat It Diet, here is a list of approved places to eat lunch in midtown Manhattan that will help you avoid as much as possible the aforementioned "crappy foods" and ingredients such as GMO's.  Of course, there is no substitute for bringing lunch from home, but sometimes you are in a rush or just don't feel like preparing something yourself.  On such days, I recommend eating at one of the locations mentioned below:

  • Dig Inn Seasonal Market (formerly "The Pump")

  • Free Foods NYC

  • Organic Avenue

  • Westerly Natural Market

Dig Inn Seasonal Market (formerly "The Pump")

150 East 52nd Street (Between 3rd and Lexington Avenue)

40 West 55th Street (Between 5th and 6th Avenues)

275 Madison Avenue  (Between 39th and 40th Streets)


Dig Inn is up there as one of my favorite places to have lunch whenever I forget to pack one from home.  As a supporter of local farms, Dig Inn fits the bill as one of the few lunch places that you will not see a SYSCO or a Jane's Quality Natural Truck parked outside delivering "Food Products."

They try to keep it as local as possible, including a list of what farms some of their veggies come from. They are very honest and open with regards to every single one of their ingredients. It is also called a Seasonal Market for a reason, their menu changes every so often because different veggies are available at different times of the year! Wow! What an innovation! See their excellent blog (http://blog.diginn.com/) for both a source of nutrition and diet information as well as the latest information regarding their food farm sources and and upcoming changes to their menu.

In general Digg Inn has good sources of high quality food, so check them out, it is hard to get something that is bad for you from here. In fact, I once brought a friend of mine there and half way through his meal he stops eating and says "This is disgusting." And I respond like a mother to a child saying "Eat your vegetables or no dessert!" The food has no sugar or added sodium to make it taste good, if you are used to eating fast food you will not like this food, but once you get used to it, you will wonder how did you ever eat so unhealthy before…

The closest location to me is on 55th street between 5th and 6th avenues, it has very limited seating so get there before 12 otherwise you will be forced to wait outside in the cold. This place is literally becoming like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld where upon entering you have to select a cardboard plate filled with the base veggie of your choice and you have to be ready to tell the person behind the counter exactly what else you want.

They are all pretty nice and polite and don't get mad at me when I say "I'll have that purple thing over there in the middle." My advice is to avoid the rice base, choose spinach or mixed greens, and I say spinach because most people are iron deficient, especially women of child-bearing age. Then get either the tofu, meatballs or beef. Yeah, good chicken is hard to come by, especially for a restaurant that goes through so much of it… And avoid the sauces and salad dressing if you really want to be healthy, although their sauces do not taste like a lot of sugar or an alternative sweetener has been added to make it taste the way it does.

As for their tzatziki? Not as good as mine… but hey, what are you going to do? I don't have enough to go around!

Oh… and before I forget, you must try their Serious Green juice. A perfect blend of many green vegetables, in a non-pasteurized form, so that means it has to be fresh and it has to be local…

Beware: When you first start eating here you will not like the taste, especially the taste of the Serious Green juice, but to me, their food tastes great and their Serious Green juice tastes like ice cream. How things have changed… So give them a try, and you won't be let down, trust me!

 Free Foods NYC

45th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues


I found out about this place from a little blue book called "Clean Plates" which is a pretty handy guide to restaurants throughout Manhattan that pass a semi-organic test. Free Foods has a nice buffet and many decent sandwiches. I avoid the sandwiches because I try to follow the Paleo diet theory of avoiding grains. Their buffet does have some nice options however, but I avoid the nut-heavy and grain heavy items, as well as any chicken or salmon options. As you know, I avoid chicken from restaurants like the plague, except for one noted exception: Butcher Bar in Astoria. Too bad you can't go there during your lunch break, but more on that in another article, we are talking about midtown right?

So Free Foods also has a nice juice bar and nothing beats their "Bloody Marry" juice which consists of Beets, Apple, Lemon, Celery and Cayenne.

Overall this is a good place, and I once brought another friend here who cringed at the prices… But hey, I'll pay this premium any day to avoid Monsanto and SYSCO food. Want to see a picture of what a "free-range" chicken looks like? Head over to peta.org… here is a direct link:


In a picture worth a thousand words, that is why I avoid eating chicken unless I know for a fact what farm it came from and I have seen a picture of that farm as well as the Google Satellite imagery to make sure that it is not a CAFO or CAFO-like operation. That's Consolidated Animal Feeding Operation, a synonym for corporate profits and dividends that are taxed at a much, much lower rate than you are… Think Romney on the right, Warren Buffet on the left, that's right, that's how they make their millions of dollars of money each year and pay so little in taxes… from CAFOs.

Also, remember, think about the children!!! Children in our public schools are fed this crap meat almost every single day! So are you still against school vouchers and other freedoms? PETA convinced me otherwise.


Get one of their veggies shakes, don't buy their overpriced Kambucha, bring that from home and try the salad bar. Remember avoid grains, nuts and meat – that includes salmon – from this place.

Pret a Manger

Locations all over midtown, too many to list.


Slowly losing favor in my eyes… No grain-free options.  No quinoa free food.  Their egg yolks are as yellow as a politician… I only buy iced coffee from this place, as their milk is from Organic Valley, which is a quasi-organic milk producer than only Pasteurizes their milk at normal pasteurization temperatures.  By the way, it is said that Louis Pasteur said on his death bed that it is not the germ, but the soil, meaning it doesn't matter what temperature the milk was pasteurized to, what matters is the quality of the soil where it came from – meaning what did those cows eat? So I am removing cow's milk and coffee from Pret a Manger from my list of places to eat at and visit from the "Would John Eat It" Diet.  Don't go to Pret a Manger anymore, just get their coffee while you transition to the better low-acid coffee from Organic Avenue.

Organic Avenue

1701 Broadway (Between 53rd and 54th Streets)

649 Lexington Avenue (Between 54th and 55th Streets)


A vegan's dream. Worthy of a 5th avenue storefront. They sure as hell can afford it… This place is the best for finding healthy, raw, unpasteurized foods. Very paleo friendly, has a variety of raw, unpasteurized juices. Every time I come here I end up spending at least 20$. You know what? At 21 work days per month, that is $420 dollars per month. you know how much your average health insurance plan costs? Much more than that. Why don't we stop requiring people to buy an Obamacare plan and send them to Organic Avenue instead, the food in here will keep you much healthier than any pharmaceutical drug or surgery or anything else that your doctor will do to you.

The current location that I frequent is a "Pop-Up" location which is going to be there temproraily until June 1st, after which another "Pop-Up" location will open up somewhere nearby. The location of this "Pop-Up" is on Broadway between 53rd and 54th Streets, actually it is right next door to the Late Show with David Letterman, I wonder what he has to say about this place?

For Oragnic Avenue, try their Mushroom Wrap, it is my favorite item, must be due to all the shitake mushrooms in it. All of their chocolate desserts are also great, but don't be fooled, they still contain sweeteners, although good ones like Agave and Coconut Sugar. So buy a green juice on Monday, a red juice on Tuesday, a green on Wednesday and so on. Nature made it so that foods of different colors have different nutrients, and you need them all.

Try their Cafe Latte, it is a good way to transition out of drinking coffee in the first place.

Beware however, that many of their pre-packaged health products can also be purcashed at nearby Westerly Natural Market on 8th avenue for much less. But what are you going to do? Take a day off to go to Westerly Natural Market to save 1.50$ on a "Rawnola" bar?

Westerly Natural Market

913 8th Avenue (between 53rd and 54th Streets)


A few blocks away from Organic Avenue is the organic market for the commoner. A place where one does not have to be a member of the 1% or the "rich people who make 100 thousand dollars per year but can't afford a home in New York City people" to be able to eat healthy, clean, organic, non-GMO and real food. Interesting to note that they deliver via UPS. I have never ordered for delivery from them, as I am a walker and prefer to get someplace that nature intended for me to.

You will find everything in this supermarket, from Avalon Organics Shampoo, to Alba Botanica Hair Gel and Cream (my favorites) as well as rawnola bars and a hidden juice bar in the back.

I tend to buy Cod-Liver oil capsules from here and Vitamin D supplements which are really important in the winter. During the warmer months, there is a farmers market nearby on 57th and 9th that has some pretty good produce from Orange County (that's Orange County, New York State, not LA!). I once had a headhunter call me up for a programming gig in Orange County and I got all excited and emailing them back only to find out that they were referring to Los Angeles…


Stop in the back right to the juice bar, get a nice juice then walk around the refrigeradors in the back pick up some Kombucha and a vegan ethiopian dish. Then stop in an aisle with tea and pick some weird flavor up, grab some sea vegetables and store them at your desk at work. Then have fun with the rawnola bars and other similar products.

Very easy to spend $50 in this place… you have been warned!


So stop eating at those delis and food carts that are all the rage, look for food with quality ingredients.  Explore the ingredients that you eat and don't put water in your gas tank!


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