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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.