Downtown Lunch: Little Lad's Basket Turns Daniel Vegan

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.)


Little Lad’s Basket was definitely a change of pace from my usual greasy meat laden lunches, but I have to say I really enjoyed it. There’s no storefront or sign outside this Vegan restaurant, but if you enter through 120 Broadway and make a left at the first staircase you’ll see it at the bottom of the stairs. The restaurant was quite huge and a bit daunting at first. I couldn’t figure out how to order so I asked someone. You just take a tray and then you can fill up one bowl and one plate for $4.98!


Seeing how cheap that was I was a bit hesitant about what the food was going to taste like. I kept walking around the hot and cold buffets thinking that maybe some chicken curry would appear magically for some reason because, well… I’m an idiot. It’s VEGAN yes I know I know.


So I decided to try some millet which reminded me of the word mullet, so it couldn’t be bad right? (In fact it’s a grain and it was pretty awesome). I cleaned my plate of the mac-n-cheese, corn, broccoli, millet and finished the bowl of split pea soup I got.


Everything was really great except the carrots with parsley, which were kinda gross, but maybe that’s cause when I saw them I thought they looked like candied yams, and got all excited.


I was actually quite stuffed after the two plates but still contemplated dessert. I first tasted the home made maple walnut “NICE Cream” made with soy, which was frigging outstanding. As good as any regular ice cream I’ve had in awhile. I ended up though having a peppermint Need Em ($1) which was sorta like a cookie made with carob, coconut and mint. That was also totally delicious.


I was there during the tail end of the lunch hour but the main dining room still had a good crowd going. I decided however to go into the back dining room because I saw there was something on tv and wanted to check it out. On the tube there was some vegan video about the ills of eating meat and how great being vegan is for you. I was turned off by this because they already got me there, I don’t need that piping in the background while I’m eating. It felt almost cultish, as did signs such as “Bring a friend to lunch with you.” Isn’t that the first lesson in Culting 101, to bring your friend to the next meeting?

I let these things pass, in addition to the the fact that they have Jesus literature on the way out even though its also a completely Kosher restaurant, because well, the food was super cheap and good. I realize they’re just excited about making people healthy as evidenced by the website tagline, “Little Lad’s Cafe is Solving America’s Health Problems — One Customer at a Time”


The proprietor of the place is a really sweet man who greets every customer on their way out, which is when you pay — on the honor system. You just tell him what you ate and he charges you for it. He asks everyone “how did you enjoy your lunch”. I said it was really impressive, as did all the others (except some guy who actually just muttered a quick, “good”. I felt like nudging him in the back with my elbow but I let it go).

If you stay long enough and listen the video you too might end up drinking from the Kool Aid- as I did, thinking “maybe I can eat like this everyday, or at least a few times a week” because hell yeah, you do feel better after lunch.

Someone online said she had the burger so I struck up conversation with her.

Me – When was the last time you had a real burger.

Her – 19 Years.

Me – Me too. Well not 19 years. 19 hours actually.

Her – Well that’s a good start!

I don’t think she got my joke, but maybe that’s cause it wasn’t very funny. I would absolutely go back there… I heard the pizza is great- but HOWWWW can it be great with no real cheese?! I’m willing to try though.

Little Lad’s Basket, 120 Broadway (btw. Cedar & Pine), 212-227-5744

Photos and post by Daniel Krieger



  • i just had my first vegan cookie. the way I feel is that if they work as hard as they do to save the planet and the animals- they will work hard to make what they have available taste REALLY GOOD!

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    Wish I had known about this place when I worked down there, then maybe I wouldn’t have gained all that weight…

  • I love the part where you want to “nudge” the guy for only saying good. Totally drinking the Kool-Aid there. lol. Like the pics, but not sure I’d be OK with that type of blatant propaganda everywhere.

    Wayne – brilliant find.

  • phew, all the vegans in town can hide out in the basement of an office building in the FiDi.

  • spelling nazi says: “fix the spelling mistake in the title!”

  • doh! thanks wslee00. i just fixed it…

  • This place gives me the eebie jeebies. The cult feel is bad enough (some of the propaganda I know to be false), but sometimes the owner brings his kids to the restaurant and suddenly the Children of the Corn are running all over the place and coming to ask you strange questions.

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    I don’t mind eating vegan sometimes (I am a very low tier vegetarian myself), but I get annoyed when vegans try to stuff their message down others throats. “Humans aren’t meant to eat meat! It’s not natural! Eating meat is evil!”

    It’s a choice. Purely a choice in life. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just a choice, a personal one at that. If you feel that you don’t want to eat animals in life, that’s one thing. If you start sprouting off about how eating animals is inhumane and cruel to life…then _you_ have a problem.

  • Fact: Mike Vick has never had a vegan meal

  • Vegetarian I can understand, but Vegan is just wrong. Yes wrong.

  • Rare vegan Midtownluncher here. This place looks delicious and creepy propaganda (vegan or otherwise) makes it all the more enticing. Scientology theme restaurant anyone?

  • @wwwhitney- try Mars2112 for scientology themed dishes

  • “little lad’s basket”!? WTF is up with that! Just the idea of eating a lad’s basket, little or not, creeps me out…

    Great job on this Daniel, how did you ever find it?

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    People, there is absolutely no mystery about the culty aspects of this place. It is run by Seventh-Day Adventists, who have some strange ideas about food (all it takes is a simple google search). I haven’t been there for a couple years but I used to like it (for the most part).

    Pros: lots of fresh fruit, some of the dishes are pretty good, very cheap for what you get

    Cons: a lot of the dishes have a similar flavor profile so it gets old quick, they don’t use vinegar so the salad dressings are bland

  • Little Lad’s Basket. Word has it, it was Michael Jackson’s favorite spot in the city.

  • @Mamacita: Nope it was third, behind Toys R Us and GAP Kids.

  • Mama – I was a little perturbed by the name as well… and the photo the kid with the basket is like either being sucked in by an alien beam or worshiping the sun.. ha

    Cosilicious – I think I read about this place on Yelp at some point and wrote down the address.. but no one specifically recommended it. When you’re in there though you can tell there are a lot of repeat customers which is cool.

    cds345 – The children were around when I was there..they were sweet though, even though they were dressed in Children of the Corn outfits :)

  • @registered: I would not consider SDAs a cult by any stretch of the imagination. Their religious beliefs include shunning meat and they have the longest life expectancy of any group of Americans (yes, you can Google that fact). They run very fine hospitals and health care facilities and donate care to the poor.
    It may not be your cup of bancha tea, but they are legit, healthy and generous people.

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