Esther D. Asks: I just got called for jury duty. I work in Midtown, so don’t know the area too well. Where should I have lunch?
Dear Esther: Jury duty sucks (unless you have an even crappier day job, in which case it might actually be an awesome vacation), but there are actually many spots near the courthouse that are both tasty and inexpensive.
My usual go-to jury-duty spot is Nha Trang on Baxter Street because I love Vietnamese food and would literally eat it every day. The branch on Centre Street is slightly closer, but make the trek over to Baxter. I especially like the chicken pho here, primarily because it’s made with chicken stock, unlike at some places that use the same broth for the beef pho and just add in shredded chicken. That really annoys me. In addition to the pho, I am a fan of the restaurant’s salt-and-pepper shrimp. Either one is a filling lunch that won’t break the bank.
Though if you’re looking to really save on dough, you might want to swing by the Fried Dumpling branch at 106 Mosco Street (212-693-1060). They aren’t quite as good as my favorite fried dumplings at Prosperity Dumpling, but at $1 and right by the courts, you can’t really complain.
Other cheap eats can be found at Pakistan Tea House, a tiny but efficiently run spot on Church Street. Grab a paratha and some spinach curry, and you’ve got a meal that will be far more spicy and exciting than jury duty could ever be.
Finally, if you’re looking for something more upscale (but also a little bit farther of a walk), Blaue Gans is one of my favorite Tribeca spots. You might not have time to linger in the arty surroundings, but hey, maybe you’ll be excused early and spend the afternoon there with a good book and a piece of Sacher torte!