Recession Eats: New York's Best Lunch Specials

June 20, 2012 4:43 PM EDT | By Staff Writer
All you can eat between the hours of noon and four. (Photo: WIkimedia Commons)

Maybe the best part of being unemployed is turning off that alarm clock and waking up whenever you damn well please. If you're like me, your cat jumps on your chest and begs for attention circa 11 AM, which gives you just enough time to throw on shorts and a tanktop and venture out for lunch. Because you're no longer constrained by the confines of your office's neighborhood, the possibilities are endless: limited only by your imagination, since the super cheap lunch special options offered by New York City restaurants are as kind to your tastebuds as they are to your wallet.

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1. Caracas Arepa Bar and Roneria - Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Caracas is where you bring your fratty friends who come into Brooklyn ready to hate the place, the people, and the idea of trying anything new. Fortunately for them, Caracas takes tastes that they're used to and combines them in bold, new ways. I already did an article on how much I love the La Del Gato -- a Venezuelan, gluten-free sandwich-pocket filled with salty guayanes cheese, golden-brown fried sweet plantains, and so much avocado. For $8.50, you get any arepa you want and a side of salad or soup. Sure, that's on the pricier side for a lunch special, but it goes a long way, and you can relax and enjoy your noon at the best rum bar in town.

2. Royal Thai Cuisine II - Midtown, Manhattan

Midtown's a culinary wasteland, but the occasional gem has been known to shine through. This Thai food rocks just enough, and for $9.50, you get a huge order of basil noodles with your choice between so many irrelevant meats and, drumroll please, duck. What makes their duck particularly special? They don't do much to it-- they cook it and let it sing in its own fat. But where they excel is in how much they give you: a metric ton of crispy fried duck tops your delicious noodles for your lunch order.

Pad thai fans (???) with peanut allergy take note: they serve their peanuts on the side here, which is pretty considerate.

And to top everything off, you get a wonderful helping of orange slices with your lunch. It will totally distract your from the fact that you work in Midtown!

3. Ashiya 5 - Midtown, Manhattan

Okay, maybe actually the best lunch special in town. For just over $12, you get any three rolls you want, an appetizer, miso soup or salad, and an ice-cream dessert. And their delivery zone is huge.

You really can't go wrong here, but I like their aged tofu appetizer more than I like their gyoza. It's soft and flavorful, and goes wonderfully with a hot cup of miso soup.

Their fried ice cream dessert pretty much sums up how you want to feel in the middle of the day. It'll put a smile on your face on a budget.

4. Egg - Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Okay, so they don't have a lunch special proper. But this is maybe the best part about being free during the middle of the day: getting into Egg without having to wait hours on end.

I already waxed poetic on how much I love their Fried Oyster Sandwich and their Eggs Rothko, so get either of those with a cup of their coffee or Mexican Coke. Their scrapple is a must as well, and that either comes with your Eggs Rothko or costs a little extra with your oysters.

Be sure to treat yourself to some Candied Grapefruit as well, dear eater. You deserve it.



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