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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. http://midtownlunch.com/downtown-nyc/

                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

                  1. Re coffee - one of my favorites is Manon Cafe, at the back of the Leonidas in Hanover Square. They're definitely a viable alternative to Fika and better than Financier.
                    Jack's at 222 Front St is also great although I didn't get there too much because of my location.

                    Re the food truck court at WFC - I've been there a couple of times since it opened. The popular trucks have huge lines just before 12, but I've been there at 11.30am or 2.30pm and had no lines at all. It's great, something the area really needed. You can find the truck schedule here:

                    Other FiDi suggestions include:
                    Baoguette on Nassau St plus the banh mi cart at Hanover Square.
                    Falafel from Sam's or Alan's on Broadway (between Liberty and Cedar
                    )Pret a Manger on Broad St (reliable for sandwiches and breakfast plus great cookies)
                    Soup from the Italian place which was next door to Hale and Hearty at the corner of Broad St but I can't remember the name of the Italian cafe. Their soup was great though.

                    Hope that helps!

                    Jack's Stir Brew Coffee
                    222 Front St, New York, NY 10038

                    Manon Cafe
                    3 Hanover Sq, New York, NY 10005

                    Alan's Falafel
                    140 Broadway, New York, NY 10005

                    Pret a Manger
                    60 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

                    Sam's Falafel
                    Broadway Cedar St, New York, NY 10007

                    75 Nassau St, New York, NY 10038

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: cncncncn

                      In terms of lunch, the bian dang (Taiwanese), domo taco (pan Asian tacos), cinnamon snail (Vegan, but the best vegetarian burger of my life and some amazing pastries), and aforementioned banh mi cart are the best I've found (all are food trucks though and are only down here on certain days). I also like L&L for Hawaiian (get the lau lau or kalbi) and a couple Korean spots- somo by nature, kortako, and that crazy good korean fried chicken joint Bon Chon on John are all great. All the rest is just okay, although I have been wanting to go to Alfanoose and have not yet made it.

                      Coffee- Jack's on Front St. destroys all others but is a bit far from me.

                      1. re: OaxacaNY

                        Wow. It's great to see that this post is still alive. I have seen the Cinnamon Snail truck around and I will take your advice and hit it up the next time I see it. I have also been going to the Luke's Lobster on S. William Street but it is a tad pricey for me for lunch. I have tried the Bon Chon in Midtown and was not to crazy about it but I will give it another shot. Thanks for the recommendations!

                        1. re: pushbinlou

                          Hope you enjoy cinnamon snail. I recommend the creme brulee donuts and the vegetarian burger- which is called an ancho chile seitan burger. As for Bon Chon, I think it's really good but it's just fried chicken. Oh yeah, Keep this post alive!!!

                        2. re: OaxacaNY

                          Speaking of Food Trucks - I ran into the Fun Bun Truck down in FiDi and it was pretty great. I got three pork belly buns and an iced tea for $10.00 which I thought was a pretty delicious and affordable quickie lunch. I'm under the impression though that the area did not work out for them and they have been setting up shop in Brooklyn. Hopefully they will come back.

                      2. I really like FiDi for affordable take out. My go-tos are:

                        Diwan E Khaas (perhaps not the best Indian, but their lunchbox deal is a ton of food)
                        Benny's Thai (I generally just get there prepared food section)
                        Ho Yip's (chinatown side, but I regularly call and get the bitter melon)
                        Luke's Lobster (near Stone St)
                        I also like Smorgas Chef/Crepes du Nord (they are connected) for sit down
                        Ulysses is always good for a burger and a beer (altho their carving station isn't bad)
                        Delmonico's for their steak sandwich (in the bar)
                        BonChon isn't bad if you aren't too picky about your BonChon

                        I like the sushi special at Oka Sushi. Quite cheap and not half bad. I prefer ISE for sit down.

                        I also like Terrace Fish for a cheap fish special (also near Stone St).
                        There's a Five Guys on Fulton (if that's your thing) and a million Financiers.

                        I never understood why FiDi gets so flamed in regards to food. I like the take-out options. Granted, these recommendations skew a bit north of you.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: pernodoj

                          I will admit that the choices are not as bad as I first thought although except for the food trucks everything does seem to be a tad more expensive than in Mid-Town. I have not tried Terrace yet any recommendations?

                          1. re: pushbinlou

                            I'm surprised you think it's so pricey. I generally spend less than $10 for lunch for take-out (Ho Yip, Baoguette, Benny's, Diwan E Khaas, Nicky's for sardine sandwich are my go-tos). I don't go to Terrace very often anymore since they closed down their Fulton branch, but I used to get the C15 (fried fish, seafood rice, salad). You can pay an extra $1 and you'll get flounder instead of "fish". I never bothered. Diwan E Khass's lunch box is at $10, I think, but it's a ton of food.

                            1. re: pernodoj

                              Bumping this one up a little. Any recent updates on this?

                              I spend a lot of time in the area for work (Water and Old slip) and have found the following go-to spots reasonable for a quick lunch:

                              - Adrienne's pizzas a good when I split it with a few co-workers
                              - Pizza Italia make an excellent grandma slice
                              - The Rueben at Bingo's sandwich bar
                              - The Vietnamese cart (not run by Vietnamese people mind you) is a solid quality Banh Mi (although I wish they'd make it spicier for me)
                              - Vanessa's kitchen do some great things with Ox-tail and Curry goat
                              - Then of course there's the numerous trucks that frequent the area (Bian Dang, Tacos Morelos, Korilla et al).

                              Anyone else have some great eats in the battery park/fidi area? Obviously not looking for anything super expensive (I like to keep lunch to under $10 if I can), but further tips would be greatly appreciated.

                              1. re: r32nissan

                                The taco truck that parks on Wall just west of Water is fantastic. I've had tasty lengua, goat and chorizo tacos. The new Indian truck that parks in front of 33 Whitehall is also great. I think their food is better than any of the FiDi Indian restaurants (not saying much, I know). I'm also partial to the bacon jalapeno slice at The Grotto on New Street. And as someone who has lived in Hawaii, I also enjoy the spam musubi and plate lunches at L&L on Fulton.