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Where to solo lunch, given...

For my solo lunch before everyone arrives in the evening, were should I go given...

1) Meals already planned with friends / family:

=== Breakfasts
- Russ & Daughter's cafe
- Shopsins
- Clinton St Bakery
- either Cafe Mogador or Bouhinia

=== Lunchs
- Minetta Tavern
- David Burke Kitchen
- The Mark if we're up for sit down more formal, Plaza Food Hall if not

=== Dinners
- Gato
- The Eddy
- The NoMad
- River Cafe

2) Location

Hotel = The Hotel on Rivington
Breakfast that day = Russ & Daughter's cafe

Beyond that, I'm intentionally keeping this first day less planned. I'll likely be drawn to exploring Lower East Side around the hotel - the Tenement museum and shopping options unique to that area (It's been years since I've been inside a mall; not interested in chain stores at all.)

But hopping in a taxi / bus and going somewhere for lunch is fine too.

3) Preferences

Not: BBQ, tex-mex, or interior Mexican. I'm from Austin and have those flavors all the time

Not: Too divey or food truck. I'd like to be able to sit down during lunch, and not sweat while eating.

Not: Someplace I've already enjoyed in recent years
- Mercer Kitchen (delicious shaved fennel salad and lamb sandwich)
- Spice Market (Loved the crispy cod w/ coconut rice)
- Bareburger (tasty bacon marmalade ostrich burger)
- ABC Kitchen
- ABC Cocina (beautifully plated salmon salad)
- Gotham Bar and Grill (squab with gnocchi at the bar)
- Le Bernardin (tasting)
- La Grenouille (Dover Sole with mustard sauce. Delicious. Amazing service. I was solo yet felt very 'taken care of'.
- Perry St (i crave that pea soup with tumblewood cheese foam.)
- Jean Georges (remember the evening more than that the specifics from the tasting menu. Melissa the server and garlic soup were wonderful.)
- Per Se ("")
- Boulud Sud (chicken tagine and my favorite chocolate cake)
- Plaza Food Hall (delicious fresh-made pasta)
- BXL Xoute (great endive salad, but scallops had no sear)

Beyond that, no budget limitations or strong preferences beyond delicious and interesting.

I've been craving peking duck with all the classic sides.

However, Hakkasan's peking duck seems too much food to eat solo. Also, the restaurant confirmed via email that it has seafood in it (fish sauce in the marinade), so I also can't plan that for later in the trip since 1 person has seafood allergies.

If you were me and had the above itinerary and preferences, where would you go?

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  1. i enjoyed Estela and Charlie Bird for lunch, solo. Also Carbone, The Dutch, or Lafayette.
    Please order the Halva Ice Cream Dessert at Russ and Daughters. So good!
    I also stopped by El Ray(LES) cute spot that serves great food (limited menu) and pastries.

    1. Tertulia lunch at the bar. I like their lunch menu more than brunch or dinner.

      or

      Ssam Bar for their rotisserie duck over rice.

      1. In addition to what was already mentioned (those are good choices too!), noticed you haven't mentioned any of the April Bloomfield - Spotted Pig, Breslin.

        Also, Minetta Tavern? Pearl Oyster Bar? Del Posto? Ivan Ramen?

        2 Replies
        1. re: villainx

          Yes! PEARL OYSTER BAR (Cornelia Street, between Bleeker and West 4th Streets). Their LOBSTER ROLL IS THE BEST. Everything else is fabulous. Highly recommended!

          1. re: ZaZa

            PEARL's fried oysters...don't worry about Connecticut or limiting calories...trust me on this....
            WELCOME TO NEW YORK!

        2. I'm assuming this is for a weekday? If it's the weekend, there are more options open. Some good brunches around there.

          It seems you've left Katz's out of the list of typical LES must-stops. So they're always an option. Would fit the day's theme after breakfast at R&D.

          Rosette is a really good new-ish place near your hotel, but sadly they don't do lunch, only brunch. Good place to keep in mind as a backup in the area for a dinner or brunch, though.

          Otherwise...

          Fancy lunches:
          Bouley 5-course menu: $55
          Del Posto: $39 / $49 (3 / 4 courses) - right by Chelsea Market, a good place to walk off lunch for a gastronome.
          Lincoln: $36 (2 savory courses, +$10 to add dessert)
          Morimoto has some solid options (though the lunch menu's an oddly mixed bag, price-wise, from perfectly reasonable to egregiously overpriced) - but it's also right by Chelsea Market.

          Actually, Chelsea Market in general isn't a bad place to just graze and nosh. Walk through in one direction checking out the options, then eat your way back the other way.

          Not so fancy:
          Ssam Bar (rotisserie duck - doesn't have the cracker-crunch skin of a Peking Duck, but it's one of the best ducks in town so it might fix your duck jones. And that duck fat ginger scallion sauce... I could drink a glass of it.)

          You've got a fair amount of heavy food on the itinerary. Maybe something Japanese, go for a lighter lunch that day? Cocoron is an cute little place right near you, house-made soba is great.

          For something different in Chinatown, which is a short walk from where you are, Aux Epices is adorable. It's run by an old Malaysian (her) / French (him) couple, she's the chef and he does FOH.

          Also in Chinatown, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is (I'll use the word again) adorable, too. And they shouldn't be too busy on a weekday lunch.

          I probably wouldn't do The Mark or Plaza, personally. But otherwise a solid lineup. River Cafe, taken as just the food on the plate, is a wee bit overpriced perhaps - but holy crap that view, especially if you get a window table. And it's good to support them after what they went through post-Sandy.

          1. Is your first day a weekday or weekend? If weekend, I recommend you go to Fung Tu for brunch, interesting modern Chinese. If weekday, China Blue has a great three cup chicken lunch special.

            1. Wow, so many great options!

              Pookipichu, Yes, this is a weekday Wednesday lunch.

              six dower >> Please order the Halva Ice Cream Dessert at Russ and Daughters. So good!

              What does that taste like?

              coasts >> Ssam Bar for their rotisserie duck over rice.

              For some reason I thought all of David Chang's places require reservations. Any strategies to minimize the wait?

              Since Russ & Daughters doesn't open till 10am, I'll probably not be hungry right at noon...

              Is SSam Bar OK with entrants 10-15 min before closing?

              villainx >> noticed you haven't mentioned any of the April Bloomfield - Spotted Pig, Breslin.

              Will put those on the list; thanks.

              villainx >> Also, Minetta Tavern?

              That's already lunch on one of the weekdays (Thurs I think)

              >> Pearl Oyster Bar?

              The week before I'll be on the Connecticut coast, hopefully enjoying great seafood places.

              So by the time NYC happens, I might not want to see a lobster roll or oyster for a while :-).

              sgordon >> It seems you've left Katz's out of the list of typical LES must-stops. So they're always an option. Would fit the day's theme after breakfast at R&D.

              Great point! conundrum - I know family would love that also but not sure how it could fit on the list. I do need to find a way to work that in.

              sgordon >> Cocoron is an cute little place right near you, house-made soba is great.

              Love cold soba (or hot, but first thing I thought of was cold).
              I probably had house made soba in Tokyo but so long ago.

              Thanks again for all the great ideas!

              My normal calorie budget = 1400 / day. Hopefully Hotel on Rivington has a workout room. Last time in NYC I gained 2 pounds; expected it to be more - guess tromping around the city burns it.

              9 Replies
              1. re: sweet100s

                David Chang's casual places shouldn't be problematic to get a lunch seat during the weekday. Ssam bar shouldn't be slammed on the weekdays. Only problem is things running out. But I don't hear that as much now a days, as oppose to back when.

                Oh, I would also mention Mission Cantina. I always get the burrito takeout. But the sit-down menu is good. Chef-y and unexpected spins abound.

                1. re: villainx

                  Yeah, there shouldn't be much of a wait at Ssam Bar during weekday lunch. In addition to the duck over rice, I love the burritos they're doing now (again) and the spicy rice cake dish.

                2. re: sweet100s

                  R&D cafe is not known for its large portions, so I think you'll probably be OK.

                  Momofuku Ssam Bar is no reservations unless you're doing a large format meal. Same for Momofuku Noodle Bar, no reservations unless you're doing a large format meal. Only Momofuku Ko absolutely requires reservations. Ma Peche in Midtown takes them, but I've also walked in.

                  1. re: sweet100s

                    I've never had a wait for lunch at Ssam Bar, ever.

                    villainx mentioned Essex Market - some good stuff in there. Especially worth checking out is Nordic Preserves. Fantastic house-cured fishes, etc. Good sandwiches, or could be fun to grab an assortment of fish to take back to the hotel to have as midnight snack fodder, if you've got a fridge.

                    Side note, technically off-topic (forgive this trespass, Chowhound overlords) but might as well mention: if you're along the CT coast (which is where I hail from originally) three spots to put on your lobster itinerary if you can are Captain Scott's Lobster Dock in New London, Lobster Landing in Clinton, and Clam Castle in Madison - the last of which counts among its regulars a certain Jacques P├ępin. Everyone has their allegiance to one or another, but for CT-style rolls I think most locals agree those three are tops.

                    1. re: sgordon

                      Remember from that post on Essex Market, it was Saxelby cheese (an old favorite there) and the Brazilian meat stand that caught my eye. Nordic Preserves too, which could either be too much or good counterpoint after R&D.

                      1. re: sgordon

                        villainx, we'll definitely check out each place in Essex Market. Though fish in the room fridge won't be possible sadly enough since 1 family member has an allergy to it and wouldn't appreciate the smell / it would cause worry.

                        sgordon, thanks so much! I had the first 2 push-pinned on my CT google map, but not the third. So close too - I'll be staying at Madison Beach Hotel. Looks like it's right near Lenny & Joe's fish tale. I'll try to post next week the options that I have pinned. Looking forward to seeing the Charles Morgan in Mystic.

                        1. re: sweet100s

                          Cool - I'm a Lobster Landing guy, though that's mostly because I love the setting, a little shack out in the middle of nowhere right on the coast. My parents are decidedly for Captain Scott's. (My mother's the restaurant critic for the Norwich Bulletin, and covers most of Connecticut and Rhode Island)

                          Mystic is nice! There's a few good places there as well, but I won't risk the Chowhound mods shutting this down by going into detail here... I'll find your other post, if there is one...

                          1. re: sgordon

                            Holy smokes, sgordon you are well connected!

                            I've researched but not posted yet (I think) in Southern New England forum. Will make one soon!

                    2. Someone posted something about visiting Essex Market recently, and said there's several stalls worth checking out. So if you're at Shopsins anyway, take a look around. It's a small market anyway.

                      1. TARTINE for Croque Monsieur; the Mignonette au poivre verts (beef) is really good too! Tarte tartin a la mode for desert, if you please...and a nice quiet walk around the West Village.

                        253 West 11th Street
                        (between Waverly & West 4th Streets); cash only.