Downtown Lunch: Darlene Restaurant
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (insuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food). This week we continue to chip away at Daniel’s fear of eating at dirty places as he hits up Darlene Restaurant- a spanich food place in Tribeca…
Let’s get one thing straight off the bat, the food at Darlene Restaurant along Church street in Tribeca is not phenomenal but they do have a few hits here and there. I was riding my bicycle by the other day, planning to just pass by it when I was struck by a sloppily written sign that indicated free iced coffee with your lunch. “Iced coffee for free?” I said out loud, which elicited a passerby to say, “Nuttins free in this city anymore kid” “He’s wrong” I thought! If only I had a Midtown Lunch business card with me so I could have directed to him to Zach, the king of free food. I suppose he was right in this instance though, because you have to buy lunch to get that “free” coffee.
I went inside and thumbed a tattered menu as Dominican music blared over the speakers. I asked how much the 1/4 chicken was and my waitress said $2.75 which just seemed ridiculous so I asked if I could get that and an order of 2 dollar tostones. Not sure if that was enough food to warrant the free iced coffe, she had to check- but sure enough it did, so for $4.75 I had a crispy skinned 1/4 of chicken, and an order of tostones (fried unripened plantains). Both dishes suffered from being a bit too oily (what do you expect), but the chicken was actually pretty tasty.
Did I mention it was $4.75 for all this? I think as far as sit down lunches go this might be the cheapest most filling meal I’ve had in awhile. If you want to try something else, I liked the enchiladas on a return visit (to make sure the iced coffee was still free, and it was!) which rang in at $8.75 but comes with a heaping portion of rice and beans.
Best Mexican/Spanish food Downtown? Of course not. If you are willing to spend a little more money, try the nearby Little Bigger Place (Warren St. & W. B’way), which has some quality Mexican food, or a bit further uptown there’s La Esquina for the chi chi crowd. As for me, I’ll take the loud blaring music, a meal under 5 bucks, and my busty scantily-clad-waitress at Darlene restaurant. Wait that didn’t sound right…
Darlene Restaurant, 251 Church St (btw. Leonard & Franklin), 212-219-8431
Photos and post by Daniel Krieger