Manhattan has changed a lot, but not the Garment District, a chaotic zone of manufacturing unrivaled elsewhere on the Island. Corporate worker bees mingle with tailors, weavers, wholesalers, and others; the diversity of labor on the street is breathtaking. It's the classic--but disappearing--definition of city life.
The Garment District is also the sainted valley of cheap eats in Midtown. And on that note, I write with news of PICK-A-PITA, located on 38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. The home cooking is no joke; the first time I went to this tiny but cheery joint an older woman (Mom?) was peeling a freshly roasted eggplant destined for the next day's babaganoush. Holy Smokes!
Three visits later, and I am convinced this place makes some remarkably fresh and cheaply priced Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food. On offer are a variety of dishes like falafel, shawarma, kebab, schnitzel, kofte, sabic, and others. Each is available stuffed in a fresh pita ($4-6.50) or on a platter ($7-10), and both are accompanied by hummus, babaganoush, shepherds salad, and pickled hot peppers and cucumbers. (Yup, the pickling is done on location.)
PS: I think PICK-A-PITA is only open for lunch, M-F.
PPS: Good luck finding the place. Remember, sometimes you just have to walk through a loading dock to find Israeli home cooking.