Working downtown may feel like far from from the epicenter of New York, but there is quality dining to be had. Here’s where to buy lunch when working in downtown Manhattan. By Yvo Sin.
See Also: The 15 Best Lunches In Midtown Manhattan
165 Church St
New York, NY 10007
Capri Cafe falls solidly into the category of “Places You Walk By Constantly and Never Realize What a Gem They Are” – the storefront is fairly unassuming, easy to keep on walking by – until someone reveals the secret to you. Capri Cafe doesn’t just deserve a second look, but a regular spot in your lunchtime destinations rotation. Walk inside to the aroma of so many wonderful dishes; order a pasta dish and be rewarded with deliciousness. Some are made with fresh pasta, so choose wisely (or ask), but all are a great and inexpensive option for lunch. The rigatoni napulitani (pictured) – along the lines of a bolognese – comes in at $8.95 and is enough to sate even the biggest eater.
House of Sandwich
17 Ann Street
New York, NY 10038
A small, unassuming storefront, it’s all too easy to keep walking past House of Sandwich (aka Pomodoro Sandwich House; the signs out front are a little unclear) without ever feeling compelled to step inside. You might think it’s just like any other sandwich shop in the area, but that would be doing House of Sandwich a great disservice. Aside from excellent, made-to-order sandwiches, they offer housemade soups that change daily, and pasta dishes to sate the hungriest of folks- all for about $10. Any of their sandwiches can be had as a ‘half’ – with a bag of chips, or a bowl of soup (choose from small or large) – making your lunch infinitely customizable. Try all the combinations!
70 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
Hanging in East Corner’s window is various roasted animal carcasses; ducks, chickens, and whole (well, half) pigs beckon alluringly to those in the know. Order yourself any sort of egg noodle topped with roast pork, and the glistening red meat will yield to your bite easily, bursting with flavor. Try the Hong Kong Style Dry Noodles with Wontons and Roast Pork; the noodles come with the soup on the side and drizzled lightly with hoisin sauce for intense umami taste. If you’re feeling under the weather, pick up a quart of congee (combination congee, $3.25, pictured); the Chinese version of chicken noodle soup, it’s what Chinese mothers feed their sick children. East Corner’s version is ultra silky on your tongue, and will leave you wanting more.
60 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10004
See Also: NYC’s Best Indian Food
Though Baluchi’s Masala falls squarely into the category of Indian fast food – witness the steam trays and meals easily purchased by pointing to what looks good and having scoops ladled into a container quickly for you to take to go – there lies within an item not available at just every Indian fast food place. That item? Kati rolls (pictured: chicken kati roll), or what some have likened to an Indian burrito. Hand over $7 and receive flavorful chicken wrapped up in a soft flour Indian bread, along with spicy sauce and lettuce. Wash it all down with a mango lassi and you have a great meal.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
64 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038
A trip to Hawaii whenever you want Hawaiian food probably isn’t a good idea for your bank account; however, eating at L&L Hawaiian certainly is. L&L is the McDonald’s of Hawaii; boasting 52 locations across the Aloha state, it serves up Hawaiian cuisine cheaply, abundantly, and quickly. Its sole location in New York’s Financial District stays true to this ideal, and offers such Hawaiian classics as the loco moco (white rice topped with two hamburger patties, two fried eggs, and brown gravy), kalua pork (shredded pork that’s been roasted to absolute succulence, mixed with shredded cabbage, and served with rice), Hawaiian BBQ chicken, and even Spam musubi (sushi rice topped with a slab of Spam that’s been fried and glazed with a soy sauce/sugar mixture, then wrapped with seaweed), which may not sound that awesome but truly is a taste to behold. Despite L&L being one of the few restaurants to serve Hawaiian food in the NYC area, the prices are more than reasonable as a plate lunch will run you in the range of $6.99 – 8.99 and be enough for more than one meal. Bonus: though L&L has a seating area, it is steps from the South Street Seaport. On a nice day, take your food to go and stroll over to the waterfront to enjoy the sun and pretend you’re in Hawaii. Please don’t feed the seagulls, though; they can become very aggressive.
The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002
Personal customization is the name of the game at The Meatball Shop. Kick your week off right by having things exactly the way you want them: ‘balls made from your choice of beef, pork, chicken, vegetable, or whatever the special of the day is (a recent special: the buffalo ball, made of chicken, slicked with hot sauce and drizzled with blue cheese) topped with your choice of tomato, spicy meat sauce, mushroom gravy, parmesan cream, or pesto. Have these in a sandwich, on a hero, on brioche, or over pasta, mashed potatoes, risotto, even polenta; go crazy with the combinations, as the possibilities are almost endless. Start off with the classic beef meatballs served with the classic tomato sauce, and top classic spaghetti with that. Or get a little feisty and try the spicy pork with the spicy meat sauce on top of mashed potatoes, and add ‘the family jewels’ – a fried egg – to just about anything you please. When you’re done going nuts with the choices, don’t forget dessert, which is just as customizable: pick two cookies, mix and match encouraged, and choose your ice cream flavor to smush into the center. It’s almost like being a kid again… but better, because no one’s making you eat vegetables if you don’t want to – but if you do, you can have those ‘balls over a salad, too.
10 Morton St
Manhattan, NY 10014
See Also: NYC’s Best Afternoon Tea Spots
Bosie Tea sits on a quiet street in the West Village, just around the corner from the hustle and bustle of 6th Avenue. Walk inside for a bit of sanctuary and order afternoon tea for one; choose from the extensive selection of L’Âge de Thé teas, then choose two scones, three sandwiches, two tea cakes and two macarons. Each sandwich is made to order; sip your tea while you wait, and soak in your surroundings. A moment of bliss for lunch before you kick off the weekend; why not?
1022 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10021
10710 70th Road
Forest Hills, NY 11375
89 South Street
New York, NY 10038
See Also: NYC’s Best Mexican Restaurants
Cabana’s multiple locations make their Nuevo Latino cuisine super accessible to anyone in the mood for their unique mixture of Latin cuisines. With a rather reasonably priced lunch menu – items run no more than $12, and include empanadas, crisp shells filled with your choice of beef, shrimp or chicken, or ropa vieja, that classic dish of shredded beef, onion, bell peppers and tomatoes; all lunch dishes come with your choice of soup or salad. There’s even “churrasco” on the lunch menu; for $12, you receive a tender skirt steak that has been marinated in garlic and fresh herbs, its own pot of chimichurri to slather on it, and cebollitas (grilled green onions). Be sure to pick up some breath mints though – the garlic in that will be enough to knock anyone out.
Adrienne’s Pizza Bar
54 Stone Street
New York, NY 10004
Also See: New York City’s Best Slices Of Pizza
The wait for a table during peak lunch hours at Adrienne’s can be ridiculous, and with good reason: the pizza is ridiculous. Ridiculously good, that is, and though you’ll need to snag a coworker or two to help you eat a pie (this is not a by-the-slice place), it’s well worth the effort to wrangle reticent coworkers content with eating from the mediocre but company-subsidized cafeteria into joining you. Each pie comes on its own baking sheet, with a super thin crust (though not so thin you think “crackers” as you chew), topped with high quality ingredients, and baked to perfection.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
13 Doyers Street
Chinatown, NY 10013
With such a rich history as Nom Wah, it’s easy to assume that it skates by on reputation alone. But this is not so; reopened with a new owner, Nom Wah brings more than just the fact that it is the oldest dim sum parlor in Chinatown to the table: Nom Wah serves freshly prepared dim sum from 10:30am to 9pm every day, giving you no excuse to ever go more than a week without dim sum since you don’t even have to wake up early anymore! With some unique dishes on the menu such as scallop dumplings and scallion and parsley rice rolls (pictured), along with all your standard dim sum favorites like shrimp rice roll, crystal shrimp dumplings and more. Do yourself a favor and plunge right into the history that has been preserved inside Nom Wah’s walls. It’s just a coincidence that the name bears the word ‘nom’ but you’ll certainly be saying that enough as you indulge in the small plates. Bonus: this is one of the few places in Chinatown that accepts credit cards happily.
Wah Mei Fast Food
190 Hester Street
New York, NY 10013
At Wah Mei, when you order the pork chop over rice (pictured), the marinated pork chop is placed in a deep fryer to cook. A big scoop of rice is pressed into the bottom of a plastic container, a ladle from the giant vat of pork sauce constantly cooking away is poured over the top, along with some pickled mustard greens, cooked Napa cabbage, and before you know it, the pork chop has been removed from the hot oil, crammed on top of the rice and sauce, then a lid unceremoniously jammed on top of all of that. You hand over your $4.50, or, if you were smart, $4.95 because you asked for a tea egg to be added to the platter, and you walk out, inhaling the wonderful aroma of a marinated, deep fried pork chop. When you finally open the container, hands shaking a little from excitement and hunger, the smell hits you and you dig into this pork chop, with crisp edges, salty everywhere, mixing bits of the tea egg with the rice. You marvel at how addicting the brown pork sauce is, and realize you could eat a bowl of fluffy white rice with just that topping it – but why would you want to? That crisp, juicy pork chop has just changed your life, the way you see pork chops, and nothing will ever be the same again.
53 Stone Street
New York, NY 10004
283 W. 12th Street
New York, NY 10014
58 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
With three locations from which to choose, Smorgas Chef makes it easy for you to get your fill of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce at any time without the trip to Ikea. Of course, if you limit your exposure to Scandinavian food simply to Ikea’s offerings, you do yourself, and the cuisine, a great disservice – try the house-cured gravlaks club (pictured), a towering sandwich on eight grain bread with avocado, romaine, tomato, bacon, spicy tartar sauce, and of course, the house-cured gravlaks. Gravlaks is salmon that has been cured in salt, sugar and dill. Or you can stick to the Swedish meatballs, which you can have three ways: as an appetizer, served with lingonberry sauce over mashed potatoes; in a sandwich with lingonberries and mashed potatoes; or entree-sized, with lingonberry sauce over mashed potatoes. Whatever your choice, you can’t go wrong: the meatballs are tender, and complemented wonderfully by the lingonberry sauce… and float atop a cloud of great mashed potatoes in either the appetizer or the entree order.
For the latest on where to eat in the Tri-State, follow us on Twitter!
Yvo Sin is the founder and head writer of The Feisty Foodie.