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Mar 31, 2006 04:40 PM

Downtown food court battle is on! Office cog survey!

  • s

OK, some of the stalls in the food court for Santee Alley are pretty good, as are some at Grand Central.

The big downtown office building food courts, however, are a mixed blessing at best, and many are dreadful.

Some 'hounds have said nice things about Mangia Mangia at 5th Flower, and the Greek place at 7th and Fig, though I found both kinda mediocre. They've just added a new place, within the last couple of weeks, to the Macys' Plaza; it looks seriously dreadful (salad bar with several varieties of jello salad??!!!).

AND it appears there's no longer a decent chicken burrito to be had south of Grand Central; the place at Hill/8th is shuttered (actually, "roll-down-doored") with no sign that they'll ever re-open.

So, of the various places in various downtown food-courts, which are any good?

Let the chewing and slurping in the cubicles begin!


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  1. While some of my co-workers seem to like the new places that have opened in the food court under the City Nat'l Bank/Paul Hastings towers, I really don't see any improvement -- I think the food is dreadful, the prices are high, and the atmosphere is depressing. The fire alarm that went off last time I was down there, causing confusion that was not handled well by building employees, didn't help. I'm really dismayed at the terrible quality of the new additions downtown -- Qdoba and Camille's?! Blech!

    My primary goal with food-court lunches while I'm at work is getting something reasonably tasty that has at least a passing resemblance to freshly-prepared food from whole ingredients. That's why I tend to favor Caffe Prezzo at 5th and Fig (I like the Prezzo club sandwich with a side of tomato-cucumber salad), Charlie Kabob and the Greek place at 7th & Fig, Mangia Mangia on occasion, sandwiches from Sandbags in the weird little food court at Wilshire & Fig (actually there are a couple of decent options there -- despite the setting). And of course, that's also why I prefer to get in my car and go further afield for lunch (Sushi Gen, Sushi Go 55, Grand Central, La Parilla, Chichen Itza, Angelique, Pho 87, Daikokuya, Orochon...) when I can.

    9 Replies
    1. re: jnovgirl
      Silverlake Bodhisattva

      Gotta say, Qdoba (owned by JackinTheBox) is kind of a sorry substitute even for our now-gone branch of La Salsa.

      We gotta get better street food in this town!
      Where are the soup wagons and kabob wagons, and the bagel carts that downtown NY supports?


      1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

        Are both of the La Salsa's closed? There was one on 5th and Grand, too. I think there is a Mexican place in the Macy's plaza food court, although I never tried it.

        I have to say, one of the main things I don't miss about working downtown is the food.

        There is a Japanese place next to Nazo's Deli on 8th just east of Fig. that is not half bad.

        They do an edible french dip sandwich (and fresh roast turkey sandwiches) at the deli located on Olive right across from Pershing Square, and the teriyaki bowl place on the north side of 5th between Grand and Olive is okay as well.

        1. re: DanaB
          Silverlake Bodhisattva

          The Mex place in Macys' Plaza is what inspired my cry of despair; it's not very good, and they raised their prices, I think, in response to La Salsa closing down their 7th street location across the street from them.

          The quasi-Japanese place next to Nazo is Sansai, which is a mini-chain, but is actually pretty good. BUT when my wife/partner's on a diet, I eat there about three times a week, so I've had enough of it for a while.
          It's better than the place at Olive/5th; less salt and grease. (there's a couple of teriyaki places south of 7th, one, I think, on Hill or Olive, free-standing, which isn't bad, though it LOOKS kind of grungy..)

          Anyone tried ALL of the places in the St Vincents/Jewelry Center alley?


          1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

            I (recently) worked on Grand near 6th for 18 months, and at Fig and 8th for another 6 months, and they were the saddest lunch months I ever had. I literally would get sad when it was lunchtime, if I hadn't brought food from home. It was always a least-of-evils kind of choice. I didn't have the luxury of being able to go out in my car for a long lunch. The places I noted in the above post, along with the kabob place at 7th and Fig (which I think was noted in the OP's post), were what sustained me. Never ventured down the alley of which you speak, but there's a decent middle-eastern place on 5th east of Pershing Square. The name is slipping my mind right now, but it's on the north side of the street in the block (it could be two blocks), east of Pershing Square, and they specialize in roast chicken. There's a Mexican place there, too, which looks authentic, but I found disappointing, myself.

            1. re: DanaB

              You mean Sultan. Really good roast chicken (with garlic paste, like Zankou) and assorted Middle Eastern food.

            2. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

              Haven't tried ALL the places in the alley, but Farid's is pretty good for shish-kebabs. Actually, all their stuff is surprisingly good. The pizza place at the corner of the alley has barely acceptable pizza, so I wouldn't recommend it when you can get other places to deliver much better. There was also another place I tried ages ago, but don't remember the name. It was pretty gross though...

        2. re: jnovgirl

          everyone in this post has mentioned the greek place at 7th and fig, but no one has said it's name! anyone know it?

            1. re: morefiction

              George's is the greek place, and Charlie Kabob is the middle eastern place. Both excellent!

          1. Gas Company Tower cafeteria ... does that count as a food court?

            If not, then it has to be Pentolino in the Wells Fargo Center (nice atmosphere with the atrium as well).

            1. I don't get the luxury of a car or a long lunch, so if I am not eating in the cafe in my building (6th floor AON tower), it is pretty bleak I will agree.
              That place in Macy's plaza is a reopening, it sounds like it is just more of the same steam table/buffet/bad salad bar?
              Wakana Sushi in the Macy's plaza is good, $5.99 spicy tuna bowl, salmon is always good, tuna is good most of the time
              The place on the left side of the elevator bank has freshly carved turkey sandwich, skip the mashed/gravy tho...
              Charlie Kabob 7th/Fig is good too, Greek place (can't remember the name of it) is ok.. Han's (?) has pretty good Korean bowls.
              I know the weird "food court" on Wilshire, Sandbags veggie sand is really good, pretty good chicken bowl place, and a vegetarian place which I have not tried eyt. Go early for better "ambiance".
              ARCO Plaza food court is just too creepy, the taco place (Taco Time?) has tater tots...

              1. s

                As a downtown worker, I feel your pain. That Greek place in 7th is barely passable. Macy's Plaza is downright dreadful and Arco Tower is truely frightful. The Bonaventure holds no charms either. Across from the Bonaventure where Ciudad (5th/Fig) is sort of a food court, Koo Koo Roo and La Salsa are decent. What's nice about this place is that if you take your plastic tray up the esclator, there is this delightful shaded dining area.

                There is a one-of place on 5th and Olive/Grand called Organic to Go that has nice soups and sandwiches, but it's not a food court, just a stand alone store.

                1. Two places not yet mentioned. There's a not bad sandwich/salad place on Fifth next to the library tower playing on a newspaper/media theme. Hot off the press maybe?

                  And I'm not judging on authenticity, but the korean bbq place inside the bonaventure hotel (fast food) is pretty tasty. Well, I like the beef bbq plate and that's about it there.