Pepe Rosso To-Go on Sullivan Street is a tiny place, so tiny that they post (friendly, cheeky) signs suggesting you eat fast and make room for the next guest. Which is why this restaurant is one of my favorite takeout and delivery spots in the area.
For the summer months, there's a rotating menu of cold soups, the best of which is a creamy, chilled yellow tomato puree finished with avocado salsa. The salsa is really just a big spoonful of diced avocados, but it's a perfect pairing for the tomato, and very summer- and vegetarian-appropriate.
The market opened last fall and since then has garnered a loyal following from the Battery Park City community as well as neighboring businesses and finance workers who know that the extra five minutes' walk results in a lunch much better than anything you'll find at downtown delis.
When the New York Times recently put out an article on veggie burgers, I had to do a little cheer because they mentioned my favorite veggie burger in the city. It was a burger that I was too embarrassed to tell friends about—lest they judge me for two facts: I not only 1) love veggie burgers, but 2) my favorite comes from a nationwide chain.
Escarole is one of my favorite types of greens to use at home when preparing a salad. And for this reason, I tend to keep a sharp eye out for escarole salads in restaurants to pick up ideas and inspirations. Two places in particular have versions so good that I return for them time after time.
The veal is the focus of this dish, but I could eat bowls of the sweet and rounded housemade cipollini mayonnaise that comes with Prune's Veal Paillard ($15).
Aburiya Kinnosuke's Omakase Sashimi Deluxe ($23), complete with dessert, is a lunch-only bargain; and though it's a pricey lunch, the quality of the sushi makes it worth going out of your way for.
At Cocoron, the cozy bar seats are perfect for the single diner. Pick the ones along Delancey Street; the corner seat allows the best view of front row kitchen action.
Warmer weather means outdoor eating, and one of my favorite places to grab a quick lunch to-go in Soho with guaranteed seating at benches right outside is Balthazar Bakery. Sink in your teeth into their into one of their two savory croissant sandwiches ($7.25 each). My heart lies with the fresh Asparagus and Mushroom, oozing Gruyere; but for something meatier, the Ham and Béchamel combination is just as good.
Though many people tend to dismiss Nobu—saying it's all about the scene and no longer about the food—I have a long-standing relationship with this Squid Pasta Bowl ($20).
The waitress described Galanga's Green Noodle ($10) dish with the words, "Asian pesto." And that comes fairly close to summing up this warm dish of sauteed wide, flat rice noodles.
At Casa Mono, the Foie Gras ($19) is of a perfect portion for lunch. Dinner here is chaotic and so is brunch, but a late afternoon lunch is the best time for a relaxed meal.
At Oms/b in Midtown, my go-to lunch is "Set A." $8.50 buys your choice of three rice balls from a rainbow of options tucked behind glass cases—plus the soup of the day or miso soup.
Otto recently introduced fresh pastas ($15) to their menu, an exciting change for a restaurant that previously only offered dried pasta dishes ($10). There's a Ravioli di Brasato and the Goat Cheese Agnolotti, pictured here. It's the latter I've found myself craving.
At Robataya NY, there's a $16 lunch special best filed under the "bargain" category. It's the Ikura and Uni Set, a deep bowl of steamed rice, one half piled with buttery tongues of uni, and the others with briny, fresh ikura.
Only at Gramercy Tavern could an order of Meatballs ($18) be so refined.
The sandwich bar at Murray's Cheese is always packed at lunch hours, which is why I often turn to the refrigerated section of this West Village gem.
Sometimes you just want dessert for lunch. And that's when you turn to Clinton Street Baking Co., where their signature pancakes and other sweet affairs are served all day.
The focus of the menu at the recently opened Yuba in the East Village is, as you would expect, yuba—best known as tofu skin or beancurd sheet. Prices are high at dinner, but a $16 lunch prix fixe makes it a more affordable lunch option.
Noodle dishes are the highlight of my lunch visits to Chinatown Brasserie. I often go out of my way just for an order of their E-Fu Noodles—when that specific craving hits, there's no other place that can satisfy. Recently I've been venturing around the other noodle dishes on the menu and was particularly pleased with the Mushroom Noodles ($15).