PROFILE: Downtown Lunch’er “Dan”
As is customary here on Midtown Lunch: Downtown, every Tuesday we’ll profile a different lunch’er and get their recommendations for places to eat in Downtown NYC. This week, we have Dan who has a soft spot for pho and a big, carefully composed plate of nachos.
Name: Dan Fusaro
Occupation: Software developer for a photography services company
Where you work: 32 Avenue of the Americas -the wide building with many antennas on top where every street near the Holland Tunnel meets. Most major radio stations in NYC broadcast from here.
Age: Just turned 32
Favorite kinds of food: I like a balance between nice stuff like veal chops and lobster to tripe and stewed meat. I’m not sure I can commit to any one favorite cuisine, but if was forced to in a “Sophie’s Choice” situation I’d probably say Italian, since it is so diverse. Also, I can eat a nice “questionable meat”-laden pho for any meal of the day, and have.
Least favorite foods: As a kid I was a picky eater but had a series of small revelations as a teenager and now I can say there isn’t any particular food I would refuse. That being said, I am generally distrustful of new-school food trucks and feel that the hype all too often overshadows quality and value.
Favorite lunches downtown: West Side Coffee Shop on Church St. (btw. Canal & Lispenard) for roast pork enchiladas with yellow rice and red beans. They have the nicest staff in the world, are right across the street and they have the best rice and red beans, period. Add a steaming pile of roast pork, or roll it in some corn tortillas and you have the ultimate lunch, dinner and midnight snack. It’s not for the faint of heart. South’s on Church (btw. White & Franklin) for nachos. Their nachos are the greatest thing you’ve ever seen come out of a kitchen, time and time again. They take the care to layer everything nicely, cook it through, top with guac, sour cream, pico and plenty of jalapenos. I dare you to find a better plate of nachos anywhere. I finished these by myself on a dare for lunch once, I was never the same. Big Wing Wong (or 102 Noodle Town, or whatever it is called that week), on Mott St. (btw. Canal & Hester) for BBQ pork and chicken over rice with a fried egg. It’s a solid Chinese BBQ place with hanging ducks in the window, butcher blocks full of shimmering piles of glowing red flesh on the bone, and, um.. crullers! Listed under “cold dishes” (it’s actually quite warm), this dish highlights the best of what I think they have to offer and at $6 and change, you can order some other stuff like a nice plate of shrimp crepes, if they’re not sold out of them. I also like that if you’re not Asian and using chop sticks in here, the folks in the place are really impressed. Thaison on Baxter St. (btw. Bayard & Walker) for the No. 1 pho, extra big bowl. We go to this place very often and I’ve found it’s gotten more and more busy at lunch every year – good for them, bad for me. This is the pho that I judge all others against since it was my first and still my favorite. It has five types of beef including thin cut tripe and pieces of tendon and you either love it or hate it. At $6.50 for a bowl bigger than your torso, it’s a good bet.
The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Jin Market, now known as, I think, Hudson Market on Hudson St. (btw. Franklin & Moore). Their sandwich guys are on-point. When it’s nice out, we will get a sandwich or some bibimbap and head out to Pier 26 to eat on the water. They changed the layout and menu a bit over the last few years but it’s finally settled down and is back to ramming speed. My go-to sandwich is probably the Americano on pumpernickel, with jalapenos added. Anything with their house-made roast beef is good and they don’t skimp.
Places downtown you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch: Downtown? Found out there’s a Dirty Bird on Chambers St. (btw. Hudson & Greenwich). I haven’t been to the one down here but my girlfriend and I used to order from the Chelsea one all the time. As a matter of fact, a few months ago we were coming back from a trip down south and I was denied some potentially life-changing fried chicken in Charleston because the place was closed on Mondays. As a consolation, the first thing we did when we got back to the city was order an 8-piece with kale, roasted veggies, potatoes and mac and cheese. It soothed the savage beast…love that place, and hope this one is just as good.
Dream job location, purely for lunch purposes, and why: If we’re talking about Manhattan, I’m pretty sure this (upper Tribeca) is it. It’s perfect because you can go upscale, low-brow, ethnic, or outdoor with minimum hassle and lunch crowds. I would hate to work on like 33rd and 6th or in the Financial District. They seem like very limiting, endless panini, steam bar hells for the working crowd. But I like how Midtown Lunch recognizes this and opens a lot of eyes. I think it’s great for the businesses too. There’s nothing that pleases me more than seeing a quality place make it.
Anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch: Downtown readers? I’m thinking of starting a small hot sauce operation. Do you eat more spicy foods now than you did five years ago?
I love a good hot sauce, but I’ve remained pretty steady in my consumption in the past five years since I was introduced to sriracha. What about you all? 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.