I think I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. I love food courts. What’s there not to like? It’s like 20 cheap restaurants, all under the same roof. Sure I always get the Chinese food, or the Chinese food knock off (bourbon chicken I’m looking at you)… but having the options (whether you use them or not) is great- because if you go with other people, everyone can get what they want. So when I want Chinese food (which I always do), my wife and I can go to a food court even if she doesn’t want Chinese food, because there’s other things for her to get! It’s a fool proof scheme…
There aren’t many food courts in Manhattan (you’ve gotta go to a mall in the suburbs for that), but there are a few. And one, that seems like it should be amazing, is the Grand Central Terminal Food Court. One walk through this place, and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to food court heaven. No wasted space on generic fast food joints like McDonalds or BK, and they have all the requisite food options (Chinese, Sushi, Indian, Cajun, Caribbean, BBQ, Pizza, and more.)
And yet, for a food court- with a ton of options- right in the middle of Midtown, it’s not nearly as crowded as you would think. None of the places have lines, and we didn’t have too much trouble finding a place to sit. To top it off, I get emails all the time recommending places to eat in Midtown. Very few “good” (a relative term of course) or popular places have gone unrecommended. And yet, nobody has ever recommended the food court, or singled out any of the choices in an email.
A superficial look at the options, more pictures, and a call to arms… after the jump.
Here’s a look at some of the more interesting options at the food court, with some initial thoughts (none of them from actually eating the food…)
- Feng Shui – The requisite Chinese option. Doesn’t look great, but I’ve seen worse. Ironically, it seems as if all the flies in the entire building have flocked to this corner of the food court (in much the same way the Manhattan flies seem to hover around Chinatown). Maybe it is part of the “positive energy flow” of the restaurant set up…
- Golden Krust Carribbean Bakery – I love Golden Krust. They actually have a bunch of locations around Manhattan where they sell different kind of patties, and various curried meats. The one in the terminal is a kiosk with a limited menu, but they have jerk chicken patties (which is enough for me). Despite being in a kiosk, the patties are baked fresh on premises.
- Dishes – A smaller version of the enormously popular soup, salad & sandwich place on 45th btw. Madison & 5th
- Jaques-Imo’s To Geaux – A to-go version of the Cajun restaurant on the Upper West Side, that is a New York version of the famous Jacques-Imo’s in New Orleans. Their specialty is fried chicken. (Full review, coming this week)
- Chirping Chicken – Rotisserie Chicken with sides. Looked pretty good (aside from there being nobody there)
- Two Boots – Another outpost of this “not your average” pizza place.
- And the rest of the bunch… Cafe Spice for Indian, Hale & Hearty Soup, Mendy’s, Junior’s, Masa Sushi, Eata Pita, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, and Zocalo.
Having eaten at Jacques Imo’s to Geaux, and Golden Krust (in the food court), I can see why people aren’t flocking to recommend these places. If you’ve ever eaten at the real Jacques-Imo’s in New Orleans, it is easy to be disappointed by the po-boys and fried chicken at the New York version (full review coming later on this week)… and Golden Krust, like many of the restaurants in the food court, was more expensive then it’s other locations in NYC ($3.50 for a jerk chicken patty. I could be wrong, but I remember them being at least a buck cheaper at the location over by Madison Sq. Garden).
I understand the whole rent thing, but everything is a little more expensive then it should be in Grand Central Terminal. But can that be the only reason it is not insanely popular? Are all the places just terrible, or in the end does it just come down to price? “Let the tourists coming in on trains pay the high prices… I know cheaper places above ground”.
In the end, I feel like it can’t be just about price. Midtown Lunches can get pretty expensive, and these still come in under $10. So what is it? Are all these places just terrible, or are there some jems in the Grand Central Terminal Food Court? Help us out people. If you’ve eaten at one of these places, comment below on what you thought. Is one of your favorite places to eat lunch in the food court at Grand Central? Or all they all just wasted money. Let us know by commenting below…
In the weeks ahead I’ll try to dedicate some full reviews to the places worth mentioning. I’m not ready to let this food court go. It has got to at least be better than the one below Rockefeller Center!