Midtown Lunch blogger Zach Brooks hunts for frugal, fabulous meals. F&W re-creates his favorites.

By Food & Wine
Updated March 31, 2015

Zach Brooks has a mission: to help office workers in big cities find something truly tasty to eat at lunchtime. But he has a few strict rules for his Midtown Lunch blogs. No salad: "It's not a meal, it's an appetizer," he says. Also, no grilled-chicken sandwiches: "There's no passion there!" And lastly: "It has to be under $10." Brooks's one-time hobby (he started the blog in New York in 2006 while working at SiriusXM satellite radio) is now a career: He recently established a Los Angeles site, and he's launched new ones for Philadelphia and downtown Manhattan. Here, F&W's Grace Parisi created fast versions of Brooks's favorite dishes, including the Peruvian meat-and-fries combo lomo saltado. "Anytime you put french fries into the dish, I'm in," Brooks says. "What's better than that? Nothing, that's what."

Zach's Picks

El Dorado in Los Angeles.

El Dorado This Peruvian spot in L.A. serves Brooks's favorite lomo saltado. Photo courtesy of Zach Brooks

Szechuan Gourmet in midtown New York City.

Szechuan Gourmet The best place in midtown NYC for this lip-numbing style of Chinese. Photo © Anthony LaSala.

Kwik Meal in midtown New York City.

Kwik Meal (W. 45th St. & 6th Ave.) In midtown NYC; its $7 lamb-over-rice is amazing. Photo © Anthony LaSala.

Grace's Fast Takes

Peruvian Steak and Potato Stir-Fry

© Kate Mathis

Peruvian Steak and Potato Stir-Fry

Steak and french fries are a classic combination. For their classic dish lomo saltado, Peruvians toss the two together.

General Tso’s Chicken
Credit: © Kate Mathis

© Kate Mathis

General Tso's Chicken

Midtown Lunch's Zach Brooks adores this sweet-spicy Chinese-American restaurant staple. The version here is lighter than take-out because the chicken is only lightly coated in cornstarch and is pan-fried rather than deep-fried.

Lamb Shawarma
Credit: © Kate Mathis

© Kate Mathis

Lamb Shawarma

Grace's fantastic version of the flavorful dish pairs beautifully with a spicy Santa Barbara Syrah.

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