It’s old news that New York is one of the best eating cities in the world. With so much variety, choosing a place to grab a quick lunch can be overwhelming, especially if you’re short on time. As a former resident of downtown Manhattan who enjoys some variety during lunch time, a few establishments have proven their consistency and value time and again. Whether I’m on my own, or with friends and family, I always know I’m guaranteed a fabulous meal. Here are my favorite places to get lunch in downtown Manhattan. Let’s eat!
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, and a stone’s throw from Washington Square Park, Caffè Reggio has been a popular neighborhood eatery since it opened in 1927. Long before there was a Starbucks on every block, Caffè Reggio was serving caffeine-loving New Yorkers cappuccinos, the first restaurant in the U.S. to do so. The original 1902 machine is on display in the dining room. Despite the lavish artwork that decorates the restaurant’s walls (Caravaggio anyone?), the prices are incredibly affordable. Whether you go for a panini, a plate of pasta, or a salad, what arrives at your table will be delicious. It’s the perfect place to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon with some excellent companions: the Norwegian Benedict and a glass of sauvignon blanc.
LOS TACOS No. 1
Nestled amongst the other food stalls in Chelsea Market, LOS TACOS No. 1 offers visitors a simple menu of tacos, quesadillas, and tostadas. Look behind the blue and white tile counter, and it’s obvious that everything is homemade. Fresh flour tortillas brown on a flat top grill, while rotating spits of carne asada glisten under the bright kitchen lights. Despite the chaotic energy and the struggle to inch your way up to the counter to fill your order, it’s a beautiful sight to behold. While the incredibly friendly staff whips up your meal, round up your extra toppings (including radish wedges, lime, fresh pico de gallo, and salsa) and be prepared to move. My go-to is a duo of chicken tacos; amped up with avocado sauce, pico de gallo, spicy salsa, and a squeeze of lime. (I’m a toppings girl!) Prime real estate to enjoy tortilla-wrapped heaven is down the hall (NOT at the counter, don’t be that person.) where recent renovations have added additional undesignated dining space.
Navigating St. Marks Place can be confusing, to say the least. Despite being only three blocks long, this lively corner of the East Village packs in over 60 restaurants! While the street is famous for its nightlife, lunch here can be equally as enjoyable. Near the street’s junction with 3rd Avenue is Klong, a modern Thai restaurant with an industrial-themed dining room. I recommend making the most of their lunch special that lasts every day until 3:30pm. For under 10 dollars, you can get a main with a complimentary appetizer and a side salad or soup. The pad noh mai (a shrimp and chicken dish sautéed in red chili paste) is a personal favorite, as is the green curry. (I’ve had it with tofu and chicken. Both versions are delicious.) Did I mention they have $3 margaritas and mojitos during happy hour? Heck yes!
Located in the New York City neighborhood of Nolita, Café Habana’s lively atmosphere of excited conversation and Spanish music will never fail to draw you in. While part of a larger franchise that comprises several other locations (including one in Brooklyn) and a non-profit that preserves urban communities and encourages environmentalism, the restaurant on Prince Street is the original. After starting your meal off with the Mexican street corn slathered with mayonnaise, cheese, chili, and lime, skip over the Cuban sandwich and head straight for the eggs. The huevos rancheros are particularly delicious. Whether you decide to wash it down with a coffee or a margarita is up to you.