PROFILE: Downtown Lunch’er “Jen”
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 Jen who has all of the bases covered for downtown lunching, but is looking for some elusive good ramen.
Name: Jen Balisi
Occupation: Digital marketer and food blogger on the side
Where you work: World Financial Center
Favorite kinds of food: Anything indulgent (i.e. lobster rolls, rich & fatty ramen, anything with truffle oil/butter), proteins that are juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside (Filipino lechon, Peking duck), Asian fusion (Korilla tacos/burritos, Bibimbap burger, Japadog), pizza with LOTS of fresh basil, tacos, pork buns, and eggs benedict. I like most everything.
Least favorite foods: $15+ salads. It just doesn’t make sense. Also not a fan of cole slaw, non-pickled cucumbers, bananas, or raw tomatoes (exceptions: pico de gallo and bruschetta).
Favorite lunches downtown: When I was still at NYU, I practically lived off Cafetasia lunch specials, shakshuka from Hummus Place, and NY Dosas. For corporate life, the food trucks at the WFC lot have been my lunchtime savior with the falafel platter from Taim Mobile, arugula pie from Eddie’s Pizza truck, lobster BLT from Red Hook Lobster Pound truck, and al pastor tacos/torta from Mexico Blvd. at the top of my list. Having a Shake Shack on Murray St. (btw. West St. & N. End Ave.) by the office is obviously a great option too. Other FiDi faves are the shrimp or lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster on S. William (nr. Broad), the $6 potsticker/”Chinese spaghetti” combo from A- Pou’s Taste cart on Liberty (at Broadway) w/ extra hot sauce, chocolate pork tacos from Toloache Taqueria on Maiden Lane (btw. William & Gold), and half soy garlic/half spicy wings from BonChon on John St. (at Cliff).
Since I practically live in Nolita on weekends, I also have to give some love to the Cuban sandwich and grilled corn (it’s like crack) at Cafe Habana on Prince St. (at Elizabeth); beef rendang and Hainanese chicken w/ rice from Nyonya on Grand St. (btw. Mulberry & Mott); bocadillos at Despaña on Broome St. (btw. Lafayette & Centre) – the namesake with Serrano ham and goat cheese is my fave; the most amazing shrimp tacos from Cafe El Portal on Elizabeth (btw. Kenmare & Spring); and the Bronte/Bondi burgers from Ruby’s on Mulberry (nr. Spring). Sweet chili sauce on a burger/chicken sandwich? Yes, please.
The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: I personally rarely go to Devon & Blakely, but the line out the door everyday says it all. I probably get the subsidized Au Bon Pain soups in the cafeteria more often than I’d like though.
Places downtown you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: Downtown? I found out about the Baoguette on Nassau (btw. John & Fulton) and Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches on Nassau (nr. Ann) down here from you guys, which was a huge relief since I was used to getting my banh mi fix from the Baoguette on St. Mark’s practically every week. Discovered Hot Clay Oven on Maiden Lane (btw. Gold & Pearl) as well and those naan wraps are messy, but pretty great. And any time there’s a new food truck, this is usually where I find out about it first.
Dream job location, purely for lunch purposes, and why: Near my old apartment across from the yakitori spots and Udon West on St. Mark’s. So much cheap and good Asian food nearby (including Gyu-Kaku with their lunchtime happy hour and Grand Sichuan with the best Chinese lunch special ever), plus access to the 14th St. Artichoke Pizza and East Village eats (i.e. all the good stuff on 7th St. like Caracas and Porchetta).
Anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch: Downtown readers? Is there ANY good ramen in FiDi or do I really have to go to Chinatown every time I’m craving it?
I can pretty definitively say there’s not much good ramen down here. I haven’t investigated the version at Koko on Greenwich (at Albany), but I have heard that Zutto serves a good one if you’re willing to spend $15 and eat in Tribeca. Anyone else know of good ramen options in the Financial District that we’re missing? 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.