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It’s generally agreed that the area below Chambers Street is a food no man’s land. However, take a closer look, and you’ll find a number of options that don’t just fill a void, but are top-notch. We’ve rounded up our 10 favorites and lumped Battery Park City and the financial district together for our 10 Best Far Downtown Restaurants.
10. Toloache Taqueria: At the quick-concept outpost of Julian Medina’s Toloache empire, if you get there early enough, you can watch your tortillas being pressed. Come lunchtime, the only thing you’ll be watching is your watch as you creep down the line toward your order–especially on Taco Tuesday when they’re $2 a pop. Regardless, the food is fresh and filling, the flavors are strong, and the tortilla soup is creamy and satisfying.
9. Suteishi: Every neighborhood has its sushi spot. This is the one that Seaport residents belly up to. Fresh fish standbys, interesting roll combinations, and flavor-packed sashimi “tastes” make it worth regular visits. Modern, airy digs and lack of pretension give it a big leg-up on nearby Haru–where we were once served hardened pre-sliced fish. Never again.
8. Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches: The third location of mini chain Nicky’s Vietnamese is a no-frills spot with four high tops and maybe 10 stools total, but that doesn’t hurt the location’s brisk business. Neither does the Baoguette that recently moved in down the street. There are warmed baguettes stuffed with one of five options (classic pork, chicken, sardine), plus cold-killing pho soups. Vietnamese coffee is at the ready for the mid-afternoon desk slump or morning pick-me-up.
7. Leo’s Bagels: Shh, don’t tell too many people, but we’re pretty sure there is a Murray’s Bagels offshoot staring right down Stone Street. That’s right, Leo’s serves that same goods as the popular Sixth Avenue shop, though in a much smaller space. Same bagels, same lox, even the same specials posted on butcher paper. Best to keep this a neighborhood secret.
6. Pearl Street Diner: Walk into this streetcar-like diner, and you’re quickly transported back in time. There are few of these style canteens left. The benches are squishy, the menus are large, and everything from grilled cheese to burgers to Greek specialties are available. Sidle up on a stool for a midday meal or have a sunglasses-and-Advil-stoked hangover breakfast –this is that kind of place.
5. Alfanoose: Sure, most FiDi places have a line out the door at lunchtime. However, few deserve the hysteria as much as Alfanoose. Pitch-perfect pita sandwiches stuffed with falafel, flavorful shawarma, or the football-shaped ground meatballs known as kibbeh are both fairly inexpensive and super fresh. The spinach pie gets an unorthodox addition of mint, swiss chard, and pomegranate juice–a flavorful spin on a standby.
4. Barbarini Alimentari: Part specialty store, part restaurant; Barbarini Alimentari is the place for pasta below Little Italy. A breezy atmosphere and attentive waitstaff seal the deal, but the burrata to-go, cheaper than the nearest vendor (Whole Foods), sweetens the whole thing. Like a mini Eataly without the crowds, it’s best to pop in post-lunchtime, when the place is mobbed with co-workers shooting the shit.
3. North End Grill: Danny Meyer and Floyd Cardoz’s restaurant in the Conrad Hotel was led by a beehive’s worth of buzz. Fortunately, the restaurant has, mostly, lived up to the hype. We’re fans of plunking down in the bar area where bites like bacon-peanut-butter-topped pizza or perfectly grilled mixed mushrooms can be picked over while watching the Top Chef Master in the kitchen. Spirit-based brown cocktails are a big draw here as well.
2. Shake Shack: No, we’ve confirmed that there is no special line for Goldman Sachs employees but I.Banker-loving single women take note: Shake Shack Battery Park is swarming with them. Regardless, the famous shackburger is probably the best meat patty downtown, and the Wall-nut Street (chocolate truffle cookie dough, walnuts, and cherries mixed into vanilla custard) and Lower West Side (malted marshmallow sauce and Mast Brothers cocoa nibs swirled into chocolate custard) might be the best location-specific concoctions to date.
1. Sho Shaun Hergatt: Now this is a restaurant that doesn’t get enough press. Just steps from the stock exchange and Occupy Wall Street, the 1 percent can get down on upscale inventive dishes that aren’t quirky just to be different. They’re quirky with a reason . . . and utterly breathtaking. In the true Wall Street way, you might find gold leaf adorning your egg and intricate plating. Then get bowled over by the finishing touches, including mignardises for days on a roving cart plus plenty of spoiler desserts. To note: A $33 lunchtime three-course prix fixe is possibly one of the best bets in town.