Downtown Lunch: Classic Coffee Shop

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 Daniel is in the Lower East Side at the Classic Coffee Shop… 

Downtown Lunch: Classic Coffee Shop

When you want the kind of sandwich you can make at home, but you’re not home and you don’t want to go home to cook, try the Classic Coffee Shop located at 56 Hester street. Only open weekdays, this thin slice of a store has been owned and operated for the past 32 years by Carmine Morales. The food here is as basic as you can get- think turkey sandwich, ham and cheese, tuna melt, or pb&j. The food is good, but the quaintness, sentimental value, and prices are enough reason to go in here and grab a quick lunch.  

 Downtown Lunch: Classic Coffee Shop
Downtown Lunch: Classic Coffee ShopWhen you walk in, chances are you’ll find Carmine making everything to order at the counter, all the while listening to a wide range of music (Ella Fitzgerald to Mariah Carey) and all on cassette (old school, right?).  It says right on the menu that he’s been serving “real lower East Siders” since 1976.  I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu- a $4.75 pan fried tuna melt, plus a small bag of ruffles, and a diet coke- all for the grand total of $6.10. The one downside is that the place is BYOP (Bring your own Pickle), but luckily you’ll find the Pickle Guys right around the corner.  I had stopped by before hitting up Carmine’s and was treated to one of the best full sour pickles I’ve ever had. The pickles there are currently 50c but that will jump up to 75c soon according to owner Alan Kaufman.

Back at Carmine’s the one thing I didn’t have was the $1.50 egg cream.  For $1.50 it seems like a pretty good deal, and if you don’t exactly know what an egg cream is he’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you (hint — there’s no egg in it.) So if you want an old fashion school lunchbox sandwich this is a place to check out. “No soy, no foam, no pretense,” is also written on the back of his menu. Damn straight.

Classic Coffee Shop, 56 Hester Street (btw Orchard and Ludlow), 917-685-3306

The Pickle Guys, 49 Essex Street (nr. Grand), 212-656-9739

Photos and post by Daniel Krieger



  • Carmine’s….. or should I say Rabbi…… the man!! I’ve been eating at the Coffee Shop for 20 years, and it always satisfies. from the deliciously greasy toasted bialies (baked fresh every morning around the corner at Kossar’s) with a red quarter drank for breakfast…. to individual can of tuna on a roll for lunch…. to the delicious homemade marble cakes that Rabbi makes himself daily… this place always delivers. A true neighborhood joint, at good old L.E.S. prices. Where else can you get a full lunch WITH dessert for under $7 in thsi neighborhood anymore?? Definitely a must go.

  • Wow finally I reached one of you *dances a jig*

  • Wow, a whole lot of hating for a simple Midtown Lunch blog!

    Personally I think it looks very appealing–like Lee’s Beehive in Cambridge, where I used to eat $3.00 cheese steak sandwiches in between stretches in the library.

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