PROFILE: Downtown Lunch’er “John”

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 John who is asking for your help in locating a long lost friend. And he has probably the most interesting answer to “favorite kinds of food” I’ve ever seen.

 width=Name: John Frost

Occupation: City government

Where you work: 55 Water St.

Age: 37

Favorite Kinds of Food: I’ll eat pretty much anything in moderation. There was a guy on NPR a few weeks back lamenting the fact that there are no restaurants in New York that serve sparrows. I concur. There needs to be a place in town where I can order up a big plate of delicious roasted sparrows. Preferably near my office so I can eat sparrows for lunch. I like the idea of eating birds so small you can chew up the bones as if they were soft-shell crabs.

Least Favorite Foods: Things that are overly viscous or have a gummy texture. Most anything that would be served at a fancy Chinese banquet falls into this category: shark fin soup, geoduck, sea cucumber, bird’s nest soup, and on and on. Course after course of obscenely expensive, inedible bowls of snot with rubbery bits. Thankfully, they usually throw a couple of whole ducks or chickens on the table at some point… load up on those and the steamed bok choy.

Favorite Lunches Downtown: Cafe Gusto on John St. (btw. Pearl and Cliff) makes a really delicious rotisserie chicken that’s much better than Backyard Chicken (which is just around the corner). It’s a little cheaper, too. For sitting down, the New Zealand-style burger at Nelson Blue on Front St. (at Peck Slip) is pretty tasty. Pearle Restaurant had a fantastic coq-au-vin that wasn’t too expensive, but that place closed down.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: I am diabetic and therefore generally need to lunch upon things that include only minimal amounts of bread, rice, or pasta. I try to think outside of the box in meeting this requirement, but in practice I end up with a salad on most days. I probably go to the Just Salad on Maiden Lane more than anywhere else. I am mourning the sudden disappearance, about three or four weeks ago, of the 99% Vegetarian food truck that used to be on Front off Wall St. I was hitting that two to three times a week; it was great for breaking up the monotony of salads.

Places downtown you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: I checked out the undercover Korean counter at Cafe Hanover on Hanover (at Pearl) based on this site’s recommendation. The bibimbop was good, but, alas, full of rice.

Dream job location, purely for lunch purposes, and why: My first job after college was in the Criminal Court building on Centre and Leonard. For lunch purposes, this may be the best job location on the entire planet, but tragically, I was too young to fully appreciate what I had: scores of sit-down Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese options within two blocks, all $6 or less including tip. A short walk to Little Italy and the (then) delicious Italian Food Center, which had an unbelievable turkey, smoked mozzarella, and pesto hero. Tons of other good places for sandwiches and hot plates too. Nobody told me every job wouldn’t be like that.

Anything you’d like to ask the downtown Midtown Lunch readers?: Why has the 99% Vegetarian food truck forsaken me? Where did it go? Are there any brick-and-mortar places downtown that serve similar foods? That truck was the only food purveyor I’ve ever encountered that had mashed sweet potatoes with no added sweetener. (Sweetening sweet potatoes has always struck me as gilding the lily: they’re sweet already!

Well, there’s always the 99% Vegetarian Food Cart. Maybe the truck broke down since it was an old VW bus? Anybody have good alternative suggestions for John? 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



  • I feel your pain, John, as someone who tries to avoid a lot of bread and rice in my diet. I love the Cuban roast pork with beans and salad from Sophie’s, personally, but I’m not exactly sure what the glucose reading on a meal like that is. I’d be interested in your take.

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      I had the pernil with beans and salad at Sophie’s just last week… delicious! It’s relatively low-carb as well, and the carbs that it does have–the beans, for the most part–are complex and won’t spike your sugar.

      Roast pork, unfortunately, is full of cholesterol, so it’s more of a once-in-a-while treat than an everyday option. (If it’s not one thing, it’s another.)

      Though I didn’t order it, Sophie’s had some really delicious-looking roast turkey behind the counter. (This was at the location on Chambers Street.) I’m not sure if this is a seasonal thing, or something they have all year. Roast turkey with beans and salad would be low/complex carbohydrate and heart healthy!

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    Crisis averted! The 99% Vegetarian Food Truck has returned! He just had some licensing issues the past couple weeks, apparently.

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