Grand Central Terminal Food Court

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!

22 Responses to Grand Central Terminal Food Court

  1. Ezra says:

    Cafe Spice is very good Indian food at fairly reasonable prices. Also, the sandwich/salad place next to the bathrooms (can’t remember the name) has really good buffalo chicken sandwiches – again a bit pricy, but under $10 with a drink. Juniors is good, but also somewhat expensive and you can’t get in and out quickly enough for a work-day lunch.

  2. Pie fanatic says:

    For the love of sour cream apple walnut pie, you’ve neglected to mention the Little Pie Company’s GCT location! My informal survey proves their cheesecake is FAR superior to Junior’s. Their seasonal selection is phenomenal (e.g., last year they had a marvelous pumkin marble cheesecake and cranberry bread for turkey day – order in advance or you might find yourself bribing and begging someone who did). They carry a nice quiche for the lunch crowd (around $7), but really it’s a pretext for the abundant sweet stuff. Bring a girdle.

  3. Anne says:

    Second the rec for Little Pie Company – but I go only for the sour cream apple walnut pie. Regular apple isn’t half as good, and in my opinion Junior’s is still the best for cheesecake…

  4. mary says:

    I eat here fairly often. I really like brother jimmy’s pulled pork (North carolina style) but the sides aren’t that great. Everything seems expensive in there to me, which is why I have a hard time recommending it. The chinese was pretty horrible the one time I had it. Chirping Chicken is one of the better deals down there, but not amazing by any means. Mendy’s was bland, Ciao Bella’s crepes were not very good, the mediterrean (Shawarma, gyros) place is ok but again, a little more expensive.

  5. kate says:

    I’m working in the Met Life building for a couple weeks and agree, the Food Court is waayyy too expensive, but then again, it sure is convenient. Got the vegetarian two dish combo yesterday at Cafe Spice. Saag Paneer a little on the salty side, but delicious nonetheless, cheese cubes were fresh and just the right touch of chewiness in that sea of creamed spinach. The other thing was the special — not quite sure what the name is, but you know, the veggie mix with potatoes, cauliflower, in a sauce the consistency of week-old beef stew? Not as salty (sorry, I tend to qualify a lot of foods as salty or not salty enough), but still, the veggies were fresh and tender and the sauce was otherwise pretty good. The chutneys came free of charge. Recommend the green stuff. And actually not that bad for $9.00 considering that there was enough left for lunch today (supplemented with garlic naan for $2.00). The garlic naan I got was seasoned well enough, too bad it was a little on the doughy side and not at all warm.

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  7. Robin says:

    Just visited NYC for a few days and ate several meals in the food court – agree with the rec on Little Pie’s sour cream apple walnut pie! (much better than the cherry pie)Also loved Junior’s cheesecake , denser than Roxy’s)..Junior’s sandwiches were pricey but good, and we also ate pizza at Two Boots – some of which are very interesting/unusual combinations (Cajun shrimp & crawfish). Food Court was never exceptionally crowded – we found the “Sidecar” seats and pulled tables together).

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    Eat a Pita has AMAZING huge chicken and rice platters – easily can have half for lunch and the rest for dinner … sometimes they last for more than 2 meals. Really great fresh chicken, rice, pita, hummus. MMM I am craving one right now!

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