In SoHo, real estate is split between high fashion boutiques and chain drug stores. But for those who work in the neighborhood (or need to recharge with food after a long morning of shopping), it can seem like every street resembles Broadway: lined with shops, crowds of tourists toting boxy shopping bags, and Instagram boyfriends snapping photos of their significant others amid the cobblestone streets. Nonetheless, there are plenty of great lunch spots in SoHo featuring something for every price point.
Feel slightly healthy at Smile To Go
Bakery, Cafe, Healthy, $$$
The casual counterpart of NoHo’s popular The Smile, this downtown destination serves the same healthy, Mediterranean-inspired fare at more wallet-friendly prices. An open fridge houses a host of sandwiches (think manouri cheese, pear, and truffle oil hugged by crusty sourdough) and salads (kale salad flecked with roasted cauliflower; roasted tri-colored carrots), but you’d be remiss not to grab a salted chocolate chip cookie on your way out.
Turn on Wooster Street on a weekday between 11am and 3:30pm and you’ll notice the small, yellow Calexico cart. Two men work side by side on the cobblestone street, rolling carne asada burritos and stuffing flour tortillas with black beans and cheese. No matter what you get, ask for a side of the spicy “crack” sauce.
Mooncake Foods specializes in fusion Asian fare, cooking up Vietnamese meatball heroes, tuna burgers swiped with wasabi mayo, and plump peashoot dumplings flaked with garlic. For lunch, prices don’t surpass more than $14, with the pricier options large enough to last a second meal.
Tucked in a sliver of a storefront on Crosby Street, no-frills Lahore Deli is the kind of hole-in-the-wall joint that only insiders know about. It’s frequented by off-duty taxi drivers for Indian and Pakistani home cooking, like biryani, samosas, an assortment of curries, and Lahore’s fan-favorite chai, all for no more than $10. Pro tip: head there early, as the counter often sells out of its more popular dishes.
Alidoro has been slinging mammoth Italian sandwiches for over 30 years
Alidoro has been slinging gargantuan Italian sandwiches in SoHo since 1986. Here, sandwiches sport prosciutto, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, and slick roasted peppers on crusty bread. They’re plenty large enough to halve and split with a friend, or save for dinner. Prices start out at $9, with the most-packed sandwiches ringing in at no more than $13.
Discover the sandwich counter at M&O Market & Deli
Deli, American, $$$
For a place taking up coveted SoHo real estate, M&O doesn’t look like much—it most resembles your neighborhood bodega, lined with aisles of snacks and soda. But if you post up at the sandwich counter, you’ll be treated to cheap sandwiches: BLTs, lightly breaded chicken parm, and blackened pastrami.
From the team behind the acclaimed City Bakery, Birdbath Bakery is housed in a tiny storefront, offering a roster of veggie-centric salads, pressed sandwiches, and palmable, “snack” puff-pastry pizzas. Grab a couple of pastries, too, like the pretzel croissant or chewy chocolate chip cookie.
Chinatown food, SoHo style is what’s on the menu at Canal Street Market. The self-described “new kind of street market” offers the boba, Asian barbecue takeaway, and hand rolls you know and love in a fashion-forward setting you haven’t experienced before.
Save money with the lunch special at Pepe Rosso To Go
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Everything is under $15 at Pepe Rosso to Go, a squat storefront dolling out paninis, salads, and pastas for a mostly take-out crowd. The move, though, is the lunch special: for $9.95, you’ll get a soup or salad, then a choice of panini or pasta (think grilled eggplant, tomato, and goat cheese squeezed between crisp bread, or penne tossed with basil, tomato, and mozzarella).
Squeezed on the corner of Prince Street and Sullivan Street, Olive’s caters to those unwilling to wait on Chopt’s long lines. Half sandwich soup/salad combos are available, as well as a host of pre-made salads which can be grabbed from the fridge. There are daily specials too, which in the past has included chilled cucumber soup and an avocado and cheddar sandwich brimming with sprouts.
You can’t miss the tiny shack attached to Fanelli Cafe—during lunch hours, a fast-moving line crawls south on Prince Street, dotted with construction workers and dapper suits. The menu may be small, punctuated only by soups, chilis, and hunks of baguette, but that’s a good thing. Choose from classics like tomato soup and beef chili spooned over rice, or opt for the local favorite: Moroccan lamb stew.
Pop in for pasta or sandwiches at Coco Pazzo Kitchen
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
After shuttering over ten years ago, the Tuscan-inspired Coco Pazzo reopened with a dual concept: a fast-casual spot during the day and a fancier one at night. Attached to the restaurant with a separate entrance is a lunch counter focusing on quick-service dishes: sandwiches, salads, soups, and pastas. The ceci e quinoa salad is a house speciality: quinoa tossed with chickpeas, roasted tomatoes, almonds, preserved lemons, and thyme.
At West~bourne, every purchase results in a donation to the Door, an organization that provides youth-development programs—so you can feel good while spooning brown basmati rice, falafel, sweet potatoes, kale, and broccoli in the Over the Rainbowl. There are only a couple of tables, so your best bet is taking something to go.
Mediterranean fare is king at Shuka, where brightly colored dips and mezze are practically on every table. Order a couple of small plates to share, or if you’re not the splitting type, feast on the lamb burger towering with goat cheese, or the shakshuka, where poached eggs swim in spiced tomato sauce.
Jiggly soup dumplings are the move at Pinch Chinese; the kitchen makes a variety (chicken, pork, seafood) and they arrive to the table hot and bursting with soup. Pinch is often difficult to get into for dinner, but the lunch crowd is pretty sparse, so you’ll have a much better chance of getting in.
The beloved East Village udon restaurant now boasts a second, bigger location in SoHo. The long ribbons of udon are house-made, swirled into hot and cold soups steeped with ingredients like mountain vegetables and spicy miso pork.
Watch chefs roll delicate sushi at Blue Ribbon Sushi
Restaurant, Sushi, $$$
Sushi knows no bounds at Blue Ribbon Sushi, where delicate, absurdly fresh fish is delicately wrapped in rice. It’s easy to rack up a steep bill here, especially when rolls can arrive topped with lobster and caviar, but that’s OK; this is a special occasion kind of lunch, anyway.
If you’ve come into a large sum of money recently (first of all, congrats), there’s no better place to splurge than lunch at Le Coucou. The menu is a two-course prix fixe, featuring chicken flush with foie gras and roasted fruit, as well as fried veal head drizzled with warm sauce ravigote.