Ciudad’s $9 Quick Lunch is Not Quick, But It’s A Steal
As you’ve probably figured out by now I’m a fat and cheap bastard. The perfect “Midtown Lunch” has to be under $10, and it should be fast, tasty (of course), and oftentimes it’s dirty (I’m looking at you Chu’s Chinese Kitchen.) Buffets are always good; being waited on, not so much (who wants to tip?!) But I do appreciate a good deal, especially when its a normally expensive restaurant offering something for under $10.
So when I heard (via Blackboard Eats) that Ciudad does an under $10 “quick lunch” special, I was all over it.
This lunch deal is nothing new, and I’m sure a ton of you already know about it. But you’d be surprised how many downtown office workers *don’t* know about it. And considering how packed Ciudad gets during lunch (especially towards the end of the week), I don’t see why more people don’t take advantage of it. In our defense though, the restaurant doesn’t exactly hang a huge sign in the window- and for obvious reasons. The special is there to attract cheat fatties like me, who wouldn’t otherwise step into Ciudad. If we find out about it and come, great. But they probably don’t want their regular customers- who don’t mind paying full price- to find out about this one.
So here’s the deal… each day, they offer one special available at the bar or for take out from 11:30am to 3pm, and you get a drink (soda, tea, or coffee) and a cookie for $8.99.
This was probably my favorite of the ones I tried. I got chips instead of fries (WTF?!) but I won’t be too mad. The chips are good. Being from Miami, this isn’t going to replace any of my Calle Ocho favorites (for one thing the bread is a little too “fancy”) but the pork they use is good quality, and they don’t skimp on the cheese. In fact, it’s almost more like a grilled cheese sandwich with a little pork & ham thrown in for good measure. If you like melty cheese, you’ll love this bad boy.
The Tuesday special is a Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad w/ grilled chicken, romaine hearts, fire roasted peppers and corn, crispy tortilla strips, argentine parmesan. I like the sound of crispy tortillas strips, but I don’t do salads. Especially not for $10.
Good, but not as good as the Cuban. Don’t get me wrong, it was a tasty sandwich and a lot of people will love it, but for me the pulled pork was a bit too sweet- and I don’t know if cheese belongs on a pulled pork sandwich. Ham + Cheese = Yes. Por+ Cheese = Why not? BBQ sauce + cheese = uh… no thanks. Am I crazy?
On Thursday they have Crispy Potato Rajas Tacos w/ roasted potatoes, chiles, mexican cheeses, grilled corn salsa, avocado, chipotle crema, cuban rice, black beans. Sounds good, but if I want to try these I’ll just go to their Border Grill Truck.
Two more fridays left in lent, and there probably aren’t many better options than this. I have to admit my brain turned the word “poached” into “fried” (it has a habit of seeing what it wants to see) so I was completely surprised when I got this cold canned tuna fish looking thing. But I have to say, with the olives and capers and onions it was really tasty. For $9, a cold sandwich feels like less of a deal for me than a hot sandwich but this ain’t no tuna fish sandwich.
$8.99 is not the cheapest lunch in the universe, and these sandwiches aren’t all gutbusters. Plus Mendocino Farms is just two blocks away, and I admit it’s hard to justify the deal on the sandwiches alone. But once you throw the drink and cookie in, it totally puts it over the top. The cookie is small, but soft- and has a really intense chocolate flavor (some might say “double chocolate”.) Not the greatest cookie you’ll ever eat in your life, but as an add on to a lunch special it was a pleasant surprise. As for the drink, don’t forget about it… because they won’t offer, or remind you about it. You’ve got to ask.
The only thing I would watch out for is the service. “Quick Lunch” is a complete misnomer. You can only order the deal at the bar (whether it’s for eat in or take out) and Ciudad only has one guy working the bar during lunch. And not only is he taking orders in the bar area, but he’s also filling drink orders for the whole restaurant. The first time we ordered it to go, it took 20 minutes (nobody brought the food up from the back, and he was too busy to check on it until we asked.) The second time, I ate at the bar- and not only did he not remind me that I got a free drink but he didn’t bring me my cookie! (It’s unlike me, but I completely forgot about it until later…) The third time I smartened up and ordered in advance over the phone. (But I still had to make a point to ask for my drink when I got there.) I would imagine that on some days, depending on the situation, the food comes out quick- but if you’re in a rush, calling ahead is the way to go.
I don’t want to make it seem like I’m complaining though. Lunch from a slightly upscale, Downtown institution, for $9? I’ll take it. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Ciudad, it’s fun to sit at the bar and watch all the suckers paying full price.
- Lunch from a Mary Sue Milliken/Susan Feniger restaurant for under $10? Where do I sign up!?!
- I don’t mind my pulled pork to be sweet… and the more cheese the better!
- Double chocolate scooter cookie for the win!
- So much better than Johnny Rockets and Rubio’s
- I don’t mind sitting at a bar, and it’s nice to be able to grab lunch in a slightly upscale restaurant for under $10
- It’s anything but quick…
- What happened to my french fries!?!
- They never change the daily specials, so I’m already sick of them
- Mendocino Farms is two blocks away
- It’s too far from my office, and even with validation parking is still $3!
Ciudad, 445 S. Figueroa St. (btw. 4+5th St.), 213.486.5171