PROFILE: Downtown Lunch’er “Charlene”

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 Charlene who is a lunch’er by day and dancer/blogger of deals at by night. She, like so many others, works by the Holland Tunnel but still manages to find decent lunches. In fact, she just made me want a pork chop sandwich!

 width=Name: Charlene W.

Occupation: Account exec at an experiential marketing agency during the day, competitive ballroom dancer at night, and NY adventure blogger whenever I see something fun to do!

Where you work: Tribeca

Age: 25 and a half (I recently celebrated my half b-day with a few friends at Ice Fire Land in Flushing = the best hot pot/shaved ice place!).

Favorite Kinds of Food: Hearty, fresh, and colorful – food should look and taste good too!  Since moving to NY from GA, I’ve become more of a soup and salad girl, but I enjoy a variety and always shoot to try as many things as I can (I’m a sharer).

Least Favorite Foods: Anything with peppers!

Favorite Lunches Downtown: I’m right next to the Holland Tunnel which is near the upper boundaries of the downtown area, and I’ve worked in this area on and off for a total of a year and a half or so.  Overall, this area has proven to be more of a lunch challenge, but I’ve recently found some new co-lunchers who for now will remain nameless as the Actor, Musician, and Pizza Lover. We’re slowly but surely discovering the gems in this area such as: Tresanti on Watts (at Thompson), the newly opened Italian restaurant that gave out free personal pizzas last week, and Tauro on Hudson (nr. Dominick), a Spanish-American spot that has good oxtail stew. Of course there are the food trucks that ML knows all the latest on: Taim Mobile (just tried it last week = good falafels), The Sweetery Truck (yes, whoopie pies count as lunch too), Calexico carts (Multiple Locations), Schnitzel & Things.  I often make the 10 minute walk to Chinatown to meet up with my close friend Jen at Nyonya on Grand St. (btw. Mott & Mulberry) as well.  Other places I’ve been to are Café Habana on Prince (at Elizabeth), Grey Dog’s Coffee (Multiple Locations), and Peep on Prince (btw. Sullivan & Thompson), and I hope to try the Hawaiian place Lani Kai on Broome (btw. Thompson & Sullivan) soon – quite a few diverse options. 
The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: I used to get the broccoli pizza at Ben’s Pizza, but I’ve since decided to eat more healthy and now frequent Rheon Cafe on Spring St. (btw. Thompson & Sullivan) for the quinoa with edamame and tofu or if I’m in a salad mood, the turkey, apple, and cranberry salad (both under $7!).  I try to stay away from carbs, but their fresh bread is hard to resist!  There is a cute outdoor space in the back where you can sit and enjoy when it’s warmer outside.  I also go to Sunrise Mart when I’m in the mood for Japanese. The winner for me though is Mooncake Foods on Watts (btw. Thompson & 6th Ave.), and this is always my top recommendation when a friend wants to meet up for lunch in the area.  I love their miso glazed salmon and the Shanghai-style short ribs, and I recently tried the pork chop sandwich that ML recently covered and enjoyed it as well.

Places downtown you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: I’ve had so many great lunch adventures thanks to Midtown Lunch, and it has been the perfect resource for good eats all around Manhattan!  I have to do a quick shout out to Midtown East – When I worked in this area around 53rd and 3rd, I didn’t think I had many options at all – until Zach Brooks and team came to save my lunches.  From then on, my co-luncher Ryan and I enjoyed the $5 salad at Cowgirl Catering on 3rd (btw. 52nd & 53rd) maybe every other day (with the warm pita chips, and the free coconut shrimp samples!), the fried chicken from NYC Cravings Truck, everything from the Dessert Truck, and not to mention the free burritos and lunch deals from Baja Fresh, Qdoba, Go-Go Curry, and Energy Kitchen.  On occasion, we made it down to the Dainobu Japanese Deli on 47th St. (btw. Lex & 3rd) too.  As you can tell, we especially enjoyed the freebie alerts (and still do!). Thanks to ML, I also learned to appreciate wine more!  I won a seat to Gary V’s taping through a ML contest and had a great time with Zach.  We talked about Taiwanese food while enjoying the wine, of course. On to downtown – I mainly get my food cart fix from ML, and I’ve tried most of them in the area.  I haven’t made my way down to FiDi yet, but I hope to try a lot of the places down there too.

Dream job location, purely for lunch purposes, and why: I realize how much I appreciated working and eating in Midtown East after this questionnaire, but to live anywhere just for lunch – I’d have to go with Espana. Not only do I love the culture, but I love having lots of little things to eat, like tapas or bocadillos, and of course the siestas to let it all settle down before going back to work is perfect.  I may or may not already do that now.

Anything you’d like to ask the downtown Midtown Lunch readers?:
1.       I used to have a fave chicken and rice place around here (they even recognized me because I went so much), but those guys have since left – any other places to get it?
2.       Same with soup – I often sneak away to Chelsea Market to get Hale and Hearty, but it would be great if there was some other place in the area with good soups, especially in this weather.  Where do you go?
3.       I’d love to hear your Brooklyn recommendations too (Fort Greene), since I just moved there!

Well Charlene, I can definitely recommend that you hit up Despana on Broome (btw. Lafayette & Centre) sometime, which is just a little bit further hike than Chinatown. You pretty much can’t go wrong with anything from the back counter, and they have free samples! I can also recommend Madiba in Fort Greene, if you are ever in the mood for South African. Does anyone have any good street meat, soup, and/or Brooklyn food recommendations for Charlene? 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


1 Comment

  • I’ve got your street meat recommendation! HM Halal (not the XPL) on Beach and Greenwich. Really excellent street meat and the guys in there are very friendly. Plus they usually throw pickles, a hot pepper, and falafel ball in there. I get hot sauce and lots of white sauce.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.