PROFILE: Downtown Lunch’er Ilana

As is customary here on Midtown Lunch, every Tuesday we’ll profile a different lunch’er and get their recommendations for places to eat in Downtown NYC. This week, Ilana makes me more jealous than any luncher ever before. I thought food blogging was a pretty sweet gig, but travel show host… damn…
IlanaName: Ilana

Age: 30

Occupation: I’m a travel television host and I temp in NYC’s financial district in between gigs.

Where do you work?: When I’m not globe-trotting, I work on Wall Street.

Favorite Kind of Food: I typically love anything I can eat with my hands. I’m a sucker for pizza. Especially if it’s VERY Italian in style…thin crust, topped with olives, pancetta, fresh basil, and a perfectly cracked egg right in the middle!

Also, I’ll never turn down a classic South African meal of different game with pap and chakalaka or spicy Indian off a banana leaf.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Lunch Salads. I’m so much more into savory taste explosions, rather than seeing how many different ways to blend vinegar, strawberries, and goat cheese into a new concept. It’s all very “ladies who lunch” and I’m much more of a try-anything-once kind of gal!

Favorite Lunch(es) Downtown: This one’s a little tough, because I typically eat in midtown, but I’ll do my best!

Absolutely ANYTHING from Angelo of Mulberry Street – the most authentic Italian restaurant left in Little Italy.

I love the desserts at Financier – the sacher torte will make you go out of your mind. If you’re not into dessert for lunch (you don’t know what you’re missing!), then try the spinach and goat cheese terrine or the le financier sandwich.

The Austrian coffeehouse, Kinski. Try any of the sweet or savory dumplings.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often: The Hanover Deli. They have a deli turkey sandwich that makes me go weak in the knees. It’s on artisanal bread and piled high with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and alfalfa sprouts. I know it sounds simple, but slap some cheddar and extra mayo on that bad boy and thank me later!

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: Daisy May’s BBQ Cart. I mean, are you kidding me? I wish a BBQ cart could follow me through the streets of NYC nearly every day!

Dream job location (anywhere in the world), purely for lunch purposes, and why: Hah! This is only funny because I already HAVE my dream job and it is, in fact, anywhere in the world! Though, I’m thinking Greece. Thick, fresh yogurt, incredible seafood (taramosalata, octopus, squid, etc…), and plenty of ouzo. Yes, please!

Anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers?: I have yet to try some great Ethiopian in the city. I don’t mind fusion. Any suggestions?

The closest Ethiopian restaurants I know are down in DC, and boy howdy do they have some good ones. Anybody know of one a little closer? Put it in the comments. And as always, if you would like to be next week’s Profiled Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email us at



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