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Feb 4, 2012 12:03 PM

Financial District Blues

Hi All,

The offices that I work at recently moved from Mid Town to the Financial District. This is a huge bummer for me because I had a ton of great options for coffee, lunch and after work drinks. I have done some research in the archives and have come up with a few posts on the Financial District but they are fairly old. Unfortunately the sense I got was that there is not nearly as much in terms of affordable lunch options as there is near my old haunting grounds (right near the Empire State Building). So I was hoping some of you could be so kind and help a hungry guy out. I'm looking for the following - BTW I'm working near Whitehall and Stone.

1. Affordable lunch spots. I love just about any type of food. My go-to spots near the ESB were No. 7 Sub, Mandoo Bar, Kyochan, Nanoosh and Tina's Cuban.

2. Decent cup of coffee and/or a decent egg and cheese on a roll.

3. A bar with a good beer list. I was spoiled previously with Ginger Man and Rattle and Hum.

Thank you in advance for your advice....

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  1. Alfanoose is a great lunch pit-stop with good Middle Eastern food. It is very popular and affordable. I like Sophie's Cuban for the same reason. Neither of these places has a Michelin star, but just pretty good stuff.

    Sophie's Cuban Cuisine
    73 New St, New York, NY 10004

    8 Maiden Ln, New York, NY 10038

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodmonk

      I have heard from a number of people about Alfanoose and will definitely check it out. I will put Sophie's on my radar as well. Thanks!

    2. Sadly, you're in what's a legendarily bad food neighborhood. But there are a few bright spots.

      On the cobblestone strip of Stone St (the section that's foot-traffic-only) there are a couple of okay options. Probably the best of them is Smorgas Chef, for a casual sit-down lunch (they probably do take-out too, and I think during nicer months the whole strip is set up with outdoor tables.) - a little further down is Vintry Wine & Whiskey, where they have a very good (if small) rotating beer selection but a good number of wines (and, of course, whiskeys) by the glass. The food at VW&W is... meh. It's probably better than most of the option in the immediate area, but it's also a bit dated, kind of an all-over-the-map menu (tuna tartare tacos, overpriced "mini" crabcakes) with lots of "sound impressive to people who don't know anything about food" items - i.e. Kobe burgers, "truffle" pasta without a single molecule of truffle in it, but truffle oil - etc, etc. I'm not really selling it, I know - but you could do worse on that strip. MUCH worse.

      Also nearby is Fika, a Scandinavian (chain?) coffee shop with swedish meatball & gravlax sandwiches, that kind of thing. Kind of a Scandi Starbucks, but good quality eats and coffee, and reasonable prices.

      If you can take a fifteen minute walk (or maybe ten minutes for us fast-paced NYCers), there are some good options up on Front Street - go past the trashy seaport options to the (other) cobblestone strip between Beekman and Peck Slip, and there are a few quaint locally-owned places. Made Fresh Daily is an impossibly cute little sandwich shop, where they also make really good breakfast fare - there's your best egg & cheese sandwich in the 'hood by far, though it's not a $1.50 bodega one, more in the $8 range, gussied up with arugula mayo on a homemade oversize biscuit, that kind of thing - but really excellent. They're a great place for soups, sandwiches, salads and such for lunch. You can get anything to go and eat on the docks when the weather's better.

      Right across the street from MFD is Barbarini Alimentari, a sit-down casual Italian place that's pretty decent for the area. Pastas are a mix - mostly dry, but a few fresh ones in rotation as well, and all pretty solid. The panini weren't thrilling (better off with a sandwich from MFD for the same price) but it's a good place for a light pasta lunch with a fresh salad, and they've a little market inside where you can pick up interesting Italian grocery fare - dried pastas and cheeses and sauces and things for take-home. They also have two areas of outdoor seating - a little garden out back, and some tables up front on the cobblestones. There's an okay sushi joint, Suteishi, at the end of the block, and a New Zealand themed place, Nelson Blue, which I have a hard time dining in because with a name like that all I can think of are dandruff shampoo commercials. (I'm probably dating myself with that reference...)

      That block also has a couple of good drinking establishments. Bin No. 220 and Keg No. 229 are wine and beer bars repectively from the same owners, and both pretty good for the area. Skip the more frat-boy Jeremy's Ale House, K229 has the far better selection. It's probably the closest place with any kind of decent beer options to your starting point - the bars along Stone are also pretty fratty, mostly "Coors Light crowd" places. Ulysses' actually has a few decent beers among the more swilly options, though they're the fairly typical premium imports (Chimay, Orval, Duvel, etc) you see quite frequently. Good enough drinking, but not a place a beer afficionado is going to find anything surprising. (Also, the food at Ulysses' is kind of awful, typical sop-up-the-booze greasy fare)

      K229 is well worth the extra ten minute walk - lots (40+, IIRC) of local & American microbrews (Sixpoint, Allagash, Founders, Stone, etc.), decent food (mostly spins on pub grub), growlers to go, and self-service(!) taps.

      24 Peck Slip, New York, NY 10038

      Nelson Blue
      233 Front St, New York, NY 10038

      Barbarini Alimentari
      225 Front Street, New York, NY 10038

      Smorgas Chef
      53 Stone Street, New York, NY 10004

      93 Pearl St, New York, NY 10004

      Jeremy's Ale House
      228 Front St, New York, NY 10038

      Bin No. 220
      220 Front St, New York, NY 10038

      Made Fresh Daily
      226 Front St, New York, NY 10038

      Vintry Wine & Whiskey
      57 Stone St, New York, NY 10004

      Keg No. 229
      229 Front St, New York, NY 10038

      66 Pearl St, New York, NY 10004

      4 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        @sgordon - Wow! Thanks you for the help. I will definitely be checking your recommendations out in the upcoming weeks.

        1. re: sgordon

          Based on my limited time in the FiDi, I'd say Fika has the best coffee in the area., at least as far as drip coffee goes. Zibetto's on Fulton was the best option unitil it closed last year.

          1. re: sgordon

            Have to argue about Vintry. I go there regularly and compared to other restaurants in the area and at the price point, I think the food is quite good. You're not going to get truffles in "truffled cavatelli" at that price--but just because truffle oil doesn't have truffles in it doesn't mean that anything containing truffle oil can't be delicious. I realize that you're not necessarily saying that that's the case, but the truffled cavatelli in particular is, IMO, delicious. As are the short rib sliders and the lobster stuffed mushrooms. The tarte tatin is very good, and the charcuterie is also pretty good. I'd say Vintry (particularly after work) kicks the ass of anything else on Stone Street other than Adrienne's sausage and onion pizza (if you're able to get in to Adrienne's), including SmorgasChef, which I find laughable. Vintry, in addition to good wine and whisky, also has a kick-ass cocktail program--however, their weakness is beer. They've improved from a couple of years ago, but there aren't really any decent beer places on Stone Street. I'd advise avoiding Ulysses like the plague, unless you're dying to cruise for an ibanker one night stand. It has othing other than a pedestrian beer selection and rail liquors you can get anywhere, together with TGIF appetizers. I have nothing against Ulysses, given what it is, but it's not chowish by any means in my view.

            Mexicue truck at Broad and Water on Thursdays. SHO Shaun Hergatt for the second best lunchtime prix fixe steal in Manhattan, and agreed on Fika for coffee--also for the swedish meatball platter or for really delicious/hearty soup and sandwich combos in the wintertime. Capital Grille is doing the closest approximation of a decent steakhouse in the area, and has a lovelier wine list than most. Also, strangely, the restaurant that opened up last summer in Fraunces Tavern (which used to be godawful) is straight up decent for lunch (think salads, sandwiches, shepherds pie, burgers, etc.).

            1. re: planetjess

              I recently had lunch at the Fraunces Tavern and I will agree with you the food was decent. I had the pot pie and washed it down with a couple of the porters for a very satisfying meal. what would you recommend to get at SHO?

          2. I've been working on Whitehall and Pearl for about six sad years now, and my co-workers and I love:

            Sophie's - try the Pernil with a Twist sandwich or the oxtail stew
            Water Street Gourmet - Tabasco chicken over French fries
            Obao - their roast pork appetizer is cuh-razy; so is the kua gai
            All-American Diner Truck (at Whitehall and Water) - big sandwiches and guilty pleasure foods like chicken fingers
            Stir Cafe - burgers (we like them better than Burger Burger)
            Pizza Italia - grandma slices!
            Crepes du Nord - not super-affordable but a little more upscale food and environment

            Sophie's Cuban Cuisine
            73 New St, New York, NY 10004

            Pizza Italia
            11 Stone St, New York, NY 10004

            Stir Cafe
            32 Broadway, New York, NY 10004

            Water Street Gourmet
            12 Water St, New York, NY 10004

            Crepes du Nord
            17 S William St, New York, NY 10004

            38 Water St, New York, NY 10041

            3 Replies
            1. re: plumpdumpling

              I'm intrigued by the Tabasco chicken over french fries. What is that like?

              1. re: pushbinlou

                I'd be interested in your reaction to Water Street Gourmet. It's a standby for the neighborhood because it's always open, but man...I sum up the place by what I witnessed first-hand six years ago--the food guy working the deli line took a verbal order, reached down and adjusted the rubber floormat (gloveless), then stood up and moved without interruption to preparing a sandwich. And yet, if you gotta eat, you gotta eat.

              2. re: plumpdumpling

                Thanks for the Obao recs... Been wanting to try that place and now I know what to get!

              3. DH works downtown also. He sometimes checks out Midtown Lunch which has a Downtown section. They often post about interesting food trucks as well as brick&mortar establishments.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LNG212

                  Well I'm not as depressed in terms of lunch prospects and I saw that Midtown Lunch posted something about a food truck lot near the World Financial Center. Has anybody been there yet?

                2. So I had had a chance to try out a few of the suggestions as well as a few places that I just chanced upon during a few lunch time walks.

                  Sophie's - So far this is hands down my favorite place. I was addicted to the breaded chicken sandwich at Tina's and Sophie's is just as good (I know that Tina's and Sophie's have some sort of relationship). The cubano sandwich is also top notch.

                  Ruben's Empanadas - I know a lot of people are down on Ruben's but I really liked the place. I got the two empanadas (ham and cheese and Portuguese sausage) with soup and soda and was very pleased. It seems that some think that $11.50 is kind of pricey but compared to other places in the area it seems to me to be par for the course.

                  Fika - other than Starbucks and Financier this seems to be the only game in the neighborhood in terms of decent coffee. I really like the place and I am intrigued about their chocolate.

                  I'll put up more mini-reviews as I do more exploring.

                  And please - more suggestions if you have them!

                  Sophie's Cuban Cuisine
                  73 New St, New York, NY 10004

                  Financier Patisserie
                  62 Stone St, New York, NY 10004

                  Ruben's Empanadas
                  77 Pearl St, New York, NY 10004

                  66 Pearl St, New York, NY 10004