Throughout the world, bakeries are often the place to go for a good, cheap lunch. You’ll find croissants in Paris, grab-and-go sandwiches in London, and savory pies in Melbourne. New York is no different. And if you’re near Union Square around noon, you should head to Breads Bakery (18 East 16th Street; 212-633-2253), which serves a large selection of lunch items for under $10.
Set behind the babka and the pastries, in the back of the bakery, the café has a wide array of savory meal options. There’s a soup of the day ($6.25) served with fresh bread. There’s shakshuka ($9.95), a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce, centered in the middle of a round of dough. There’s quiche ($8.50) in combinations like onion and leek, mushroom, Mediterranean, and goat cheese; each is accompanied by a side of salad.
Sandwiches and salads make up the bulk of the menu. Find choices like egg salad ($6), breakfast sandwiches ($6.50), and tuna with hard-boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, and greens ($6.50). Israeli and European options are also plentiful; check out the brie and walnut ($7.50), gruyère with beets and greens on baguette ($9.95), and the $9.95 sabich, a combination of fried eggplant and hard-boiled eggs in fresh pita. There’s even a new smoked trout ($9.95) with horseradish sauce, wasabi sprouts, cucumbers, red onions, pickles, and chile.
Not all options come on bread. Try a side salad, like beet and lentil ($5.95), quinoa ($6.95), and chickpea ($4.95), or Israeli salad ($5.95), tuna salad ($9.95), and feta ($9.95).
Everything here is made from scratch on the premises, and food is ready to go quickly. If you have a little extra cash, wander over to the pastry case and pick up a little dessert.