The Lobster Place - Chelsea Market
Hours: Mon to Fri – 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat – 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Lobster Place makes killer lobster rolls, stuffed with perfectly steamed claw and tail bits, celery, lemon pepper and mayo. They also run about $20. For an economical choice, opt for the Bread Bowl ($7.95) with your choice of chowder resting in Amy’s Peasant Loaf. New England and Manhattan Clam Chowder are delicious, or try the vibrant Spicy Shrimp and Black Bean Chowder. If you’re ordering to go, ask your server to package soup and bread separately to avoid arriving home with a soggy mess.
Hours: Daily – 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.
This East Village paean to all things beer, bar food and social offers up not one, but three gut-bustingly good options: a spinach-and-artichoke dip starter ($9.99) featuring sun-dried tomatoes and a four-cheese topping; creamy New England clam chowder; and the holy grail of bread bowl dishes, slow-cooked beef-and-bean chili featuring “secret” spices and a hint of beer ($5.99). Pair any or all with one of over 100 rotating beer selections (beer, of course, being “bread in a glass.”)
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (bar till Midnight), Fri and Sat – 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. (bar till 1 a.m.)
Back in 1999 when few outside of Brooklyn had even heard of Fort Greene, Mark and Jenny Henegan opened this South African tribute restaurant in the neighborhood. The eclectic, homey space continues to be a welcoming destination and touring musicians have been known to give impromptu mini-concerts. Durban Bunny Chow ($16 – $22) is a traditional dish featuring your choice of curry stew (veggie, chicken, lamb or seafood) served in hollowed out bread with a crumbly bread topping. It’s also a restaurant favorite. Note: this place can get very busy on weekends.
The Stanton Social
Hours: Mon to Sat – 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sun – 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Brunch: Sat and Sun – 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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Joe’s Shanghai introduced New York’s non-Chinese population to the concept of soup dumplings, but it took the LES hotspot Stanton Social to incorporate them into brunch. This is not a breadbowl per se, but it is soup inside pastry. Stanton’s French Onion Soup Dumplings ($12) are small packages of salty, liquid goodness delivered piping hot to your mouth via steamed dumpling. The restaurant is built on the concept of sharing plates. Yeah, like that’s going happen with something this good.
Hours: Mon-Thu Noon to 10:30 p.m.; Fri-Sat Noon to 11:30 p.m.; Sun Noon to 10 p.m.
This friendly lodge-inspired joint hearkens back to not-that-long-ago time when Greenpoint was largely a Polish neighborhood. Wait staff in traditional costume serve up huge portions of Herring in Cream, grilled meats, and Roasted Ham Hocks in Beer. But it’s the White Borscht you want if you’re seeking bread bowl soup. A customer favorite, in part because the savory soup (made using soured flour and garnished with a boiled egg slice) blends enticingly with the bread, creating a second dish. At $3.50, it’s is also an incredible value.
Au Bon Pain
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Hours: Mon to Fri – 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat – 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Related: NYC’s 9 Best Soup Restaurants
Au Bon Pain is the go-to chain for busy New Yorkers who seek decent coffee, bread and soup all at the same time. These days, the company pushes its healthy angle with Harvest Rice Bowls, yogurt and oatmeal dishes and a variety of salads. You can still order any soup of the day (like Broccoli Cheddar or Mediterranean Pepper) encased in an artisanal boule. Do remember that it adds an extra 620 calories and 40% of your daily recommended carbs to whatever you’re ordering, if you eat the whole thing.
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Robert Haynes-Peterson is an editor and freelance writer living in New York. He is certified by the American Sommelier Association through its 24-week Vinification and Viticulture program, and the government of Mexico through its Master Mezcalier program (continuing). His work can be found at Examiner.com.