When you work in the Financial District but your lunch budget is more Mickey D. than Michael Mina, there will come a point where you swear you’d rather become anorexic than consume another Subway sandwich. This is of course an empty threat because food is your main joy in life (at least on weekdays) but seriously, how those damn subs manage to taste exactly the same no matter what the hell you put on them has haunted me for years.
For my fellow flavor-concious but fiscally strapped worker bees, I am thrilled to present five personally approved, well under $10 lunch options, carefully culled over my many years roaming these mean lunchtime streets.
- HAPPY DONUT (Battery @ Bush). Obviously the first thrill is picking up your brown bag lunch at a place called “Happy Donut.” The second thrill is the House Special Chicken Noodle Soup. For $6, you get 6x the soup you would at Soup Co. Carry yourself to deskside heaven on the wings of a tiny takeaway Sriracha container (you have to ask for it, plus then you get to feel cool because you were loving this spicy red elixir long before it became the next big food thing, right?). These Vietnamese soups also make perfect comfort food if you’ve caught whatever horrible bug/flu/cold of death thing is cruelly circulating. Thanks for the tip on this one, @Danibird!
- YO YO’S (Pacific between Sansome and Battery). This is a yummy husband-and-wife microwave-and-hot-pot kind of operation. It’s practically a challenge to spend more than $5. They prepare the soup to order, so you can pick which kind of noodles (Udon), if you want spicy sauce (you do), tempura (natch), seaweed etc. Tack on a set of decent sushi rolls, $2.50 for 6 pieces.
- LEE’S DELI (lotsa locales, but the biggest/best is “Far East Lee’s” on Battery between Pine and Bush, dubbed by the genius Mr. Cumpston). I am kind of obsessed with this place. An Asian deli? I was dubious. For my East Coast sensibilities, a true deli sandwich means a meatball parm grinder from Fortuna’s, with acceptable alternatives limited to Jewish and Greek. Lee’s turkey sammy is a steal at $4.50 and the turkey is roasted. You know, like Thanksgiving, but with mayonnaise. Also, they have a great hangover buffet. Anywhere I can fix my own special sodium-craving combo of cafeteria-style tater tots doused in Sriracha topped with a couple stray strips of bacon for under $3 has my bleary-eyed approval.
- CHEZ CARLA (Pine between Battery and Sansome). The sandwiches made fresh at the counter in the back are well above par, but we’re not here to talk about $10 lunches. No, no, my friends, here’s the goods: come past 2 p.m. and everything in the salad and hot bar is half off. They even have daily themes, like elementary school, but fancy. How endearing is that? Best in show is Monday’s Chicken Linguini with Hazelnut Pesto. Spoon it over some greens and call it healthy. Shhh.
I was going to make this list five and include my favorite baked potato stop (Napa Ranch), but I found out it just closed (DAMN!) and I don’t feel right making a subpar swap. Luckily for my English major and the obnoxiously alliterative title of this post, four also starts with F.
The silver lining in this 9-5 tragedy is that it leaves a cheap eats opening – any reccs? Please share. It’s all the currency we have in this un-Financial world, after all.