If you want the quintessential Midtown Manhattan lunchtime experience, take your khakis on over to Omar’s. You won’t be alone, as you stand in long lines with other dudes in blue dress shirts and even the occasional lady in a smart suit jacket. Thing is, Omar’s is an opportunity lunch spot, as you’ll also find the facilities guy with his name stitched on his shirt and the nice woman from nail salon next door. The point is, everyone just f’ing loves this place. It’s almost cultish the lengths to which people will give up large chunks of their lunch hour in order to casually mingle on the sidewalk and wait and wait in order to get that succulent chicken shawarma.
Now, I don’t want to dissuade potential customers from the Omar’s experience just because you don’t feel like hanging out with your fellow New Yorkers, so if you hit the restaurant up after, say, two o’clock, you may miss the crowds and cruise through the counter ordering process. That’s usually when I make my way over there and the whole experience usually doesn’t take more than five minutes. Granted, the whole narrow passage way, and general chaos of the interior is not for the faint of heart. Imagine, if you will, a much more benign Soup Nazi.
Ordering aside, you can always expect consistency with Omar’s. Of course, I’m not sure how you screw up chicken that comes in a giant kebab form, but somehow theirs is tastier and more evenly cooked than many others I’ve had. They load in some sort of mysterious red sauce and lettuce, tomato, onion and tahini and the pita, unlike a lot of joints I’ve hit up, actually [usually] stays together through the process. It’s hearty ad satisfying without being greasy or stomach-ache-inducing. I’ve also had the grilled chicken kabob, which is also flavored well and super-juicy. They add to the meal more red sauce and a tahini-like dressing (which is awesome) on the side and even throw in some baklava to finish you off. All of this will run you like eight or nine bucks, unless you upgrade to the platter, which comes with what seems like enough food to send you straight into a food coma — though that seems like the popular choice based on my 50 or so times coming through the door. Thank you, Omar, it’s been real.
154 E 55th St (btwn 3rd and Lex)