New York Lunch Spots
Must-Have Mid-Day Meals

New York City is responsible for lunch as we know it. That's the claim made in the New York Public Library's exhibit Lunch Hour NYC, which traces the meal from small snack that could be enjoyed at any time to midday ritual. The impetus for the evolution? Industrialization, which necessitated fixed meal times and lengths for employees, nowhere more so than in fast-paced New York. But not every lunch in the city is concerned with speed; some are meant to be savored.
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West Village: Wine and Cupcake Pairings

It might be tough to save room for dessert when lunching on baked organic coconut chicken or a spicy-mushroom burger on a toasted English muffin, but try. You'll need space for wine and artisan cupcake pairings such as the Spanish Malbec wine and peanut-butter cake with a ganache center.

Financial District: Artisanal Cheese Plates

Paying homage to the financial offices nearby, a giant white bull statue guards the dining room, where traders and other diners slip into red booths. Here, they share boards of imported and domestic artisanal cheese, which precede steak frites or Bailey Burgers with applewood-smoked bacon.

Midwood: Pizza Ingredients Direct from Italy

Atop thin and thick dough, owner Dom DeMarco ladles sauce made from hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes and fresh cheeses, all imported directly from Italy. Plan to wait in line; Di Fara's pizza has earned throngs of fans, including Time Out New York, which named it one of New York's best.

Boerum Hill: Montreal-Style Jewish Deli

Montreal's Jewish delis served the comfort food of owner Noah Bernamoff's youth, and now he serves the same at Mile End Delicatessen: smoked whitefish salad, poutine with roasted chicken gravy, and sandwiches with meats pickled and rye bread baked in-house. The deli even has French wines and craft beers.

Williamsburg: Slow-Smoked Meats

Locally sourced maple, oak, and cherry wood smoke the day's selection of six meats, which could include Piedmontese beef short ribs or American lamb shank. Master barbecuer Matt Lang oversees their preparation, eschewing sauces for a proprietary panela-and-espresso-based spice rub. Pair the meats with a Kelso St. Gowanus ale or other craft brew.

Kips Bay: Adjacent Urban Farm

Directly adjacent to Riverpark is its own urban farm, which supplies fresh food to the restaurant's kitchen. Chefs use these ingredients to construct seasonal, multi-course lunches of salmon tartare and pulled lamb sandwiches. Sample their flavors on an outdoor patio that overlooks the East River.

East Village: Michelin-Rated Fine Dining

Don't let the jean-clad clientele fool you—this is still a fine dining establishment. Since the 1980s, Chef Portale has created ever-changing menus that have earned the restaurant a Michelin Star, among other accolades. A $34 prix frixe lunch includes options such as braised short ribs and pan-roasted salmon.

Greenpoint: Custom Meatball Meals

After grinding the meat in-house, chefs forge balls out of beef, spicy pork, and chicken. Then it's up to you to select a sauce—such as cream pesto—and decide whether to eat meatballs by themselves, make them into hero sandwiches, or press them between a toasted brioche bun.

Astoria: Paninis and Tapas

Aromas of fresh-baked ciabatta bread greet you at this eatery, which uses the bread to make paninis of Italian meatloaf, smoked bacon, and fried eggplant. Spanish-style tapas are the other main attraction; diners share small plates of marinated sardines or baby string beans in truffle vinaigrette on the outdoor patio.

East Village: Rotisserie Duck Stuffed with Sausage

Momofuku Ssäm Bar's Korean-American menu reads like a love letter to pork. The meat not only shows up in the form of pork buns and country hams, but also lends flavor to the eatery's fried duck dumplings and other duck lunches, which together earned the restaurant "Best Lunch" honors from New York Magazine in 2012.