I have been trying to bring my lunch from home at least three days a week but on the days I do go out, there are dozens of amazing options to choose from. Within a few block radius of my office, located on the border of the Flatiron and Chelsea neighborhoods in Manhattan, I have 11 favorite local spots. There are a handful of national chains in the area, like Chipotle and Just Salad, but when there are so many other offerings, why not choose a stand alone shop or local New York City chain? In alphabetical order, because it would not be fair otherwise, my go-to places are:
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (900 Broadway): Beecher’s is more of a winter place because their two specialties at the cafe are particularly hearty, the 8 oz. “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese and the tomato soup. They will certainly warm you up on a chilly day but if this combination is not for you, their grilled cheese made with their Flagship cheese is also incredible. (as seen in my The Best Food in New York City post)
Dig Inn Seasonal Market (17 E 17th Street): Dig Inn has the most reasonable, and in my opinion freshest, farm-to-table meal you can pick up in central Manhattan for around $10. The selections change daily but for lunch, where you choose one protein and two sides, my favorites include the wild salmon salad on a bed of brown rice with roasted beets with navel oranges and roasted brussels sprouts.
Eataly (200 5th Ave): The famous Italian grocery store still has the best caprese sandwich around called the il casaro, which begins with fresh bread topped with housemade mozzarella with basil oil, sea salt, and fresh heirloom tomatoes served at the I Panini station. (here is my original post on Eataly)
Hale & Hearty (655 6th Avenue): With over 30 locations in the city this is perhaps the one of the most convenient grab-and-go places on this list. Their mix and match options are really the way to go, my favorite is the soup and salad combo with the everyday chicken vegetable with couscous and the balsamic chicken and avocado sandwich. Even on a busy day you can be in and out in under five minutes!
Mizu Japanese & Thai Cuisine (29 E 20th St): This hole in the wall sushi joint serves amazing fresh fish (although I can not attest to their Thai) and you can not go wrong with anything on their lunch special. I usually start with miso soup and opt for the three roll combo or the sashimi plate while many friends favor the bento box, offering a little bit of everything.
Schnippers (23 E 23rd St): While known for their fries, burgers, and shakes my favorite lunch at Schnippers is actually their Fresh Market salad with beets, fresh corn, avocado, toasted almonds, plum tomatoes, chick peas, fresh grated parmigiano, radish sprouts, house-made croutons served with vinaigrette. The salad is premade and even though some of those toppings may not seem like they go together it is delicious!
Shake Shack (SE corner of Madison Square Park near Madison Ave and E 23rd St): This almost did not make the list because it is a multi-city chain but the location near my office is the original Shake Shack and after a renovation this winter it is back open. They must have timed it seasonly because it reopened just in time to pick up a ShackBurger, some crinkle cut fries, and a frozen custard, if I am feeling particularly glutenous, to enjoy in the park.
Stinky Bklyn (107 W 20th St): Often a Friday treat with my coworkers we head to this sandwich shop where everything is homemade and the offerings change daily. Of the half dozen combinations I have tried my favorites have been the prosciutto with fresh mozzarella, pesto, and greens on ciabatta and the smoked ham with dijon, gruyere, and pickled onions on pretzel roll. I must say, the pretzel rolls might be the best thing Stinky’s serves.
Press (34 E 23rd St): Known for their made to order wraps your entire meal is hands-on from start to finish where you pick your dough, they quickly make it into a flat wrap, you fill it, dress it, and then add your protein. I often forget about Press as it is a few blocks further away from my office but now that the weather is nice I will definitely make a point to go more often!
‘wichcraft (11 E 20th Street): This NYC chain known for crafting sandwiches with high-quality, fresh ingredients and while they serve a variety of dishes I stick to their sandwiches. My two favorites are their goat chees and beet sandwich with grilled radicchio and pistachio vinaigrette on multigrain bread and their heritage smoked ham sandwich with poached pears, dijon mustard and aged cheddar on cranberry pecan bread. Pick up either of these paired with a peanut butter cream’wich for desert and you will be happy you did!
Union Square Farmers Market (east 17th street at Union Square Park): While definitely not a restaurant the farmers market is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and I head down on days with beautiful weather when I can take a long lunch and meander through the stalls picking out the freshest produce and baked goods to make a DIY picnic style lunch.
If you are from New York, what is your favorite spot for lunch in Flatiron?
If not, which of these sound the best?