The most draining, confusing, and often times mind-boggling problem New Yorkers face daily is what to eat for lunch. Seriously, think about how many times a week you struggle with this issue. Thankfully, there are places in Midtown that offer a variety of meals in a one-stop-shop format, like ‘Essen. This cafeteria-like lunch spot has everything. The only issue is that the place is a jungle. There are so many different stations and meal choices that when you step inside you are once again left feeling completely lost and perplexed. The solution: storm in with a plan on what you want to eat and where to find it. Below we’ve put together a list of our favorite go-to meals and a few tips that will guide you through the jungle that is Essen.

Keep in mind

A few things to keep in mind when going to Essen are:

  • Don’t follow the leader. There’s always one huge line on the right side register that people tend to flock to. If you walk towards the front you’ll see that there are multiple registers readily available.
  • Never plan to sit upstairs because it won’t happen.
  • If you order ahead on Seamless or GrubHub, you have to pick up your order at the front register near the smoothies, not at the station you ordered it from.
  • This is not McDonald’s. There will be a short wait time for your meal. Yes, the chefs are quick, but since most of the stations are prepared to order it might take a few minutes.
  • The hot and cold pre-preppped food stations are priced by weight. Place any additional sauces or dressings in a separate small container and you won’t be charged extra.
  • If you want to do catering with them (which we highly recommend), ask to speak with William. He will take care of you.


What to eat

“At Essen, you’ve got to get the stir fry! Once you walk in head straight to the back of the store to the station. Pick your veggies, mix teriyaki sauce with garlic sauce, and choose noodles over rice. I promise, you wont be disappointed.” Nicole Prechtl, Sales Manager

“My favorite station at Essen is the soup station. When you walk in it’s directly in the front on the left side. There are at least 8 different kinds of soups that they change daily. Not only do they let you sample any soup you want as many times as you want for free, but they have the best olive bread in the world that comes complimentary with your cup of soup! Also, if you’re living on a tight budget, a small soup and a free sample is enough to fill you up.” Susannah Piersol, Junior Account Executive

“One of my favorites is a bacon cheeseburger with curly fries. You can get this at the burger station on the right side of the store, near the hot food and panini stations. Also, this might be the most popular station so try going around 1:15 pm for no line. My other go-to is the sesame chicken from the hot station bar.” Laura Morris, Account Executive

“When I’m lost I get an italian tuna sandwich on a toasted whole grain bun, with jalapeños and pickles. You can get it at the cold sandwich station on the right side, in the back of the store.” Maria Zepeda, Sales Manager