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Inexpensive W 80's Lunch Spots

I'm looking for places where I can linger while/ after eating. I like the idea of Hampton Chutney but they are terribly expensive and wasn't all that impressed with the quality of the veggies they used.

Hampton Chutney
Lenny's: for sandwiches: average
Good enough to eat: Really enjoy
Edgar Cafe:
Shake Shack- very, very busy!
Le Pain Quotidien- limiting menu

Any other recs? Thanks!

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  1. EJ's Luncheonette
    447 Amsterdam Ave | Btwn 81st & 82nd St
    H&H Bagels
    2239 Broadway | At 80th St
    Pinch & S'Mac
    474 Columbus Ave | At 83rd St

    1 Reply
    1. re: notsochubbychubette

      Since the OP said a place to linger while eating, I would not suggest H&H. It's basically a takeout space only. You can't sit there and eat something. If the weather is nice, you can, however, get bagels and go sit in the park.

      I've also never found EJ's to be a "lingering" kind of space unless you go on an off hour. During the lunchtime "rush" there are just too many people with small children and strollers and the like to "linger".

    2. Here are two:

      - Georgia's Cafe (B'way and 89th; on the pricier side, but there are less spendy options, too; pastries are legitimately excellent; slow service ensures that you linger :)

      - Flor de Mayo (stick to the Peruvian options; lots of inexpensive lunch specials)

      12 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        hi, Cimui - Do you like Flor de Mayo better than Caridad (78th & Bway)? DH and I tend to stick to just a few dishes and usually prefer the latter.

        for the OP - if you don't mind "americanized" chinese food and if you order somewhat carefully, Silk Road is pretty good (Amsterdam, maybe 81/82 or so).

        1. re: LNG212

          i think caridad is chinese cuban, right?

          we always go to flor de mayo for the daily peruvian specials (particularly the cilantro beef stew), because it is slightly closer (we're phenomenally lazy), and the staff at FDM is nice about letting the two of us have a big booth to ourselves. so in truth, our FDM preference is only partly about the food.

          i don't really detect too many differences in the rotisserie chicken at the two places. and i've never tried any of the chinese menu items -- with the exception of the special fried rice at FDM which comes with one of the pollo specials -- since i strongly suspect they won't be to my taste.

          i really ought to branch out, though! what do you recommend at caridad?

          1. re: cimui

            I guess we're in a rut too since we don't branch out either. :)

            Yes, Chinese-Cuban. We're up by Pio Pio, so I guess we go there for the Peruvian (though I think DH prefers the chicken from Malencon [dominican]).

            I think the only dish from the Chinese menu that we've gotten is the soupy rice thing -- a big bowl of, well, I guess the name is pretty descriptive. I don't know what the "real" name of it is. DH usually gets the ropa vieja. And I like to order bunches of little things - yellow rice, black beans (red are good too, I just like the black better), platanos maduros, avocado salad. And I do have to say I just adore that pear nectar they carry in cans. But I suppose that's available a lot of other places too.

            There was one chicken dish that came mixed in with rice. I can't recall the name of it though. But DH stopped getting that when he decided he didn't want to eat bone-in things with his hands a lot. (Does that sound like we are totally nuts?)

            1. re: LNG212

              lng, the soupy rice thing is the only chinese menu item i've ever really been tempted to try, too. (great minds must think alike. ;) i think it might be a a dish that's a chinese equivalent of "depression era food" or cucina povera. i'm thinking it's called "pao tsai", but google search isn't corroborating my thought... you make it by soaking and then boiling water in a pan that you'd previously used to cook with, along with rice and leftovers. it's a trick to get the last bits of food off the pan and simultaneously clean the pan.

              ok, now i do have to try it unless you warn me off.

              that chicken dish and the rice and beans sound good. (amazing how wonderful simple rice and beans can be when well made!) i find that i have never really found a ropa vieja i like, though. i want it to be all meltingly soft, but the versions i've tried all get stuck in my teeth.

              to answer your question: you only ever sound nuts in the most positive of ways. people who aren't a little bit nuts are just boring! ;)

              1. re: cimui

                At FDM try the calamari rice, chinese style. They stir fry it with ham, baby shrimp and some ginger (like fry rice but yummier). Also LOVE the Chicharon de pollo, so crispy and tasty.

        2. re: cimui

          I'll check out both- Thanks. Any places on the Upper 70's? This list is quite small!

          1. re: ral217

            i'll get back to this post later, ral. is $10 pretty much your limit?

            1. re: cimui

              cimui- around 10 or give a few.

              1. re: ral217

                i'll list a few that aren't my favorites for food, but are passable, since the pickings appear to be slim:

                * in the 80s

                - hanafin's (better than average diner fare; unhurried)

                - cafe con leche (sometimes good mofongo, good sandwiches and good basics like tostones, and rice & beans, tho i am not a fan of most of the entrees; they have inexpensive lunch specials; i've never been hurried, here, no matter how busy they are)

                - french roast (so-so bistro fare, some inexpensive items, you can sit with a paper)

                * in the 70s

                - fairway cafe (solid, traditional american, perhaps on the pricier side of your budget; usually not too crowded, just let them know you want a leisurely meal)

                - cosi (it's a chain, you know what to expect; you can sit there for a while)

                - cafe ronda (nominally argentinian, again might be on the pricer end of your scale; ok burgers, wide selection of sandwiches and salads)

                another chowhound named ora recommended chirping chicken and sido on a different thread. i haven't tried either, but perhaps others can provide feedback re: how camper friendly they are.

                1. re: cimui

                  Sido has a good falafel - it's very fresh and herbaceous tasting in comparison to a lot of the other falafels I've tried around the city. They also make a really good fatoosh salad (the Middle Eastern equivalent of panzanella/bread salad).

                  French Roast is ok, but I wouldn't say it's anything special.

                  Soup Stop up in the 80's on Columbus has some nice soups and paninis. It doesn't have a huge seating area but when the weather is nice out there are some tables they put outside and there are a few tables in the restaurant. Hummus Place in the 70's on Broadway or Amsterdam has really good hummus and some reasonably priced items.

                  1. re: nyu_uws

                    How do you think the Sido falafel compares to the Maoz falafel? I actually prefer the Maoz (70th & Amsterdam) I think (though it's been a while since I've had one at Sido). And the condiment "bar" is pretty terrific. Though it was crazy busy when I was there recently.

                    1. re: nyu_uws

                      Just went to Soup Stop last week and it was delicious. A bit dark so didnt spend much time hanging around but had Curry Lentil with a half of caesar wrap. HIt the spot!

          2. in the 70s
            im not sure which days they do lunch but... vai on 76th has a good one
            aroma on 72 is good for sandwich/salad-i'd sit upstairs to linger.
            arte cafe on 73rd

            1. Swagat Indian (Amsterdam between 79 and 80) has a $6.95 lunch special and would be comfortable, I think, for lingering.