PROFILE: Downtown Lunch’er “Chirag”

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, we have a change of pace with Chirag, who is a vegetarian trying to find a decent lunch and a fan of all things chickpea.

 width=Name: Chirag Shah

Occupation: Web developer

Where you work: 120 Broadway, next to the big red cube.

Age: 33

Favorite Kinds of Food: Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican

Least Favorite Foods: “American,” namely burger & steak places as there are generally very few vegetarian options.

Favorite Lunches Downtown: 1) Veguette sandwich at Baoguette on Maiden Lane (btw. Nassau & Broadway)- That kung pao soy protein is delicious. 2) Falafel sandwich with extra tahini at Alan’s Falafel Cart on Broadway (at Liberty), although nothing beats Mamoun’s Falafel in the Village. 3) Veggie rice from the Xpress Power Lunch cart on Nassau (at Maiden Lane) - Chickpeas and veggies in a wonderful blend of spices over rice and soaked with that tasty white sauce.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Pret (Multiple Locations) has some really good sandwiches and they always seem to have at least a couple of options in the sandwich and wrap department.  Hale & Hearty (Multiple Locations) when it starts to get cold, like now.  Their “V” designation makes my usually difficult task of finding vegetarian options very easy.

Places downtown you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: The Biryani House Cart, 99% Vegetarian Cart, Baoguette, Swich (now closed), Chickpea (which I have yet to try, but been meaning to; maybe today!)

Dream job location, purely for lunch purposes, and why: Istanbul, plain and simple.  I just love the flavors and smells of Middle Eastern food.  To me, the Middle East was the crossroad of the world at one time and it really shows in their food.  I could eat chickpea-based food all day and night.

Anything you’d like to ask the downtown Midtown Lunch readers?: Any other vegetarian options that I’m missing?  It can be a chore finding new places.

The basement at Zeytuna has a lot of meatless options both on their buffet and in the various counters. Their lentil soup is pretty great. 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



  • Chirag, I’m gonna have to disagree with you on Mamoun’s being the best falafel. Yes, it’s good and cheap but my rating goes:

    1) Taim (West Village) [Mobile Truck coming soon!]
    2) Azuri Cafe (Hell’s Kitchen)
    3) Cafe Rakka (2 E. Village locations)

    If you’re ever venturing in other areas of the city, check them out. I ate Taim 2 days ago and ate their Sabich. Probably the most incredible vegetarian dish I’ve ever eaten (

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    That Sabich looks delicious. I’ll definitely have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    It’s true. I went to NYU and have been eating Mamouns for 15 years. Taim absolutely blows it out of the water. No comparison. Don’t skip their great fries with saffron mayo either.

    Mamoun’s nice crispy schwarma is still tops, although it’s obviously not veggie.

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    Chirag, overall I like your choices but I disagree about Mamouns. I’m also a former NYU student, and while I have a lot of affection for Mamoun’s, I don’t think they make the best falafel in the city…the low price is what makes it so appealing. Mamoun’s is good (espeically late at night), but I find Sam’s and Alan’s falafel to be far superior.

    I’ve been wanting to try Taim for months. I gotta get one of those Sabich sandwiches!

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    Also, if you’re looking for vegetarian, you should try Lad’s Little Basket. It’s a bit trippy (and maybe cultish), but the good is solid and cheap.

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