On our Text Rex service, we get the occasional unusual question. Someone once asked where to find a dark bar to break up with someone. Someone once asked where to take an elderly French billionaire.
But a whole lot of conversations start something like this:
“Can you recommend something like Westville? But not Westville?"
“Looking for a somewhat healthy place downtown. Not too expensive. Maybe Westville? But not Westville?"
“Hi! Sorry to bother you, but, I'm meeting a friend for dinner and we want something casual and kind of affordable. Please don't recommend Westville."
We understand: it's a Tuesday night, you want something ostensibly “healthy" but where you can also have a glass of wine, and it'd be cool if most of the dishes were under $15, and also you didn't make a reservation. So, in turn, we've recommended Westville. Not because we think it's a particularly outstanding restaurant, but because it fits all those criteria, and there are five (soon to be six) locations. In response, you've said, BE MORE ORIGINAL, INFATUATION.
Here's our attempt:
The Spots (none of which are westville)
Yep. This is our first recommendation. It's fine if you want to roll your eyes, but also know that you asked for this. In a lot of ways, Jack's Wife Freda is like Fancy Westville. It's a place where you can also get a Salad That Would Be Appropriate For Dinner or even a Nice Piece Of Salmon. At any given time, at least two people in here will have over 20,000 Instagram followers. It's a requirement.
Siggy's is kind of like a Westville, but run by your aunt who goes to several holistic healers and cares about crystals. It's kind of like a Westville, but with the influence of a bakery near Woodstock. They have a sign out front that says aliens eat for free, if that helps you get a better picture. But this isn't a place that only serves tofu fries - the majority of the menu is full of really good salads and platters, and their salmon burger with avocado is excellent.
This restaurant is… fine! It's a nice space in the West Village, and the menu has symbols to indicate which dishes are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free. The menu has everything from A Normal Piece Of Salmon to mac and cheese made with quinoa pasta. There's also baby bok choy and a beet salad and a tofu curry. They serve wine, and also kombucha on tap. You get the idea.
The Infatuation office is split on a few matters, including: whether or not falafel is healthy, whether or not soccer is a fun sport, and whether or not we like Grey Dog. There are those among us who will unflinchingly sing the praises of the turkey and brie sandwich, and there are those of us who used to live across the street from one of the four locations and have always felt like Grey Dog reminded us too much of the place we used to eat average food while hungover during college. But let's not take sides. So we'll say that Grey Dog does check off several of the Westville boxes: a big menu, reasonable enough prices, absolutely no dress code, and multiple convenient locations.
If your draw to Westville stemmed from a desire to simply eat a plate of vegetables you could probably, maybe cook yourself, but also by the time you buy all the vegetables, it might not even make financial sense, well, you can try Mulberry & Vine, which has locations in Tribeca and Nomad. This is an order at the counter place, but there's seating and they let you do what are essentially solid "market platters" of vegetables and an optional protein.
Not the worst idea, right?