All good Manhattan-residing New Yorkers know what jury duty means. Fulfilling your civic duty while simultaneously exaggerating your personal beliefs on assorted criminal topics so that you don’t get picked for a trial? That, maybe. But more importantly: dumplings.
Due to wonderful government efficiency, jury duty often means lunch breaks that span an hour or two, which means you’ll have plenty of time to explore the dumpling offerings of Chinatown. When you tire of that, there’s more to explore – banh mis in Little Italy, bowls of pho on Baxter Street, and bakeries a few blocks over in Tribeca. Here’s the best of it, according to us.
Yes, dumplings. You’re going to want them. Your best bet here is Tasty Dumpling: they’re as good as any you’ll find in Chinatown, there’s plenty of room to sit, and it’s very close to the courthouses.
Once you’ve completed your regular fried dumpling mission, you may find yourself seeking out the soup variety. Joe’s is famous for a reason, and that reason is soup dumplings.
Xi’An Famous Foods has quickly become a mini empire, and there’s a location right here on Bayard Street. The spicy cumin lamb noodles and “burger” sandwiches are about as good a spicy lunch as you can find – and a lot more flavorful than a lot of the MSG-loaded, gloppy Chinese food you’ll find around.
Yes, this place serves hand pulled noodles. Tasty ones, in a little spot on Doyers Street, a weird and great little alley in the middle of Chinatown. The thin hand pulled noodles are good, but the thicker, knife cut ones are actually even better. Get a plate of them pan fried.
Once again, the name of this place should help you understand what’s happening here. This is a classic spot, and there’s a big menu, but stick to the noodles – we like the Singapore Chow Fun.
This burger place looks like it belongs in a college town, rather than on a block of Vietnamese restaurants and bail bond shops. The burgers are surprisingly good, and fish tacos and the spicy sesame chicken sandwich are sleeper hits.
For a reliable bowl of pho in close proximity to the courthouses, pop into Nha Trang. You won’t go wrong.
For a more extensive Vietnamese meal (despite the name, this place is Vietnamese, not Thai), head to Thai Son. For the maximum experience, coerce some of your fellow jurors into joining and order for the group. Get the bánh hỏi bò lụi (grilled beef lettuce wraps), gỏi tôm (shrimp salad), bò lúc lắc (marinated steak cubs), cá kho tộ (fish braised in a clay pot), canh chua tôm (sweet and sour tamarind soup with shrimp), and rau muống xào tỏi (stir fried water spinach with garlic).
Outside, it looks like any other bodega-type establishment. Inside, it looks like any other bodega type establishment. But they serve some of the better banh mis around. If you dislike walking, this is also going to be your best Vietnamese sandwich option option in close proximity.
A bit more of a walk, but it’s worth it for a truly excellent banh mi. This shop’s located in the back of a jewelry store. Noticing a trend?
Continuing on the “excellent bread things in unexpected places,” Arcade Bakery is a world-class bakery in the lobby of an office building on Church Street. The croissants are France-level good, and at lunch time, they also do pizzas and sandwiches.
Forlini’s is a weird, kind of hilarious old school Italian American restaurant that’s popular with judges during lunchtime. If you want the real deal, Law And Order jury duty experience, this is where you want to be. Probably not every day, but definitely once.
A fresh, easy takeout outpost of The Smile. Come for fresh sandwiches and vegetables, stay for the highly entertaining people-watching outside. Opening Ceremony and Resurrection (the trendiest of trendy clothing stores) are across the street and make this block generally hilarious all day long.
This bright, brand new bakery on Worth Street has an exclamation point in its name! Aren’t you excited? Anyway, it’s a lovely place to sit and grab coffee – something that’s actually pretty hard to come by around these parts. In addition to a big selection of baked goods, they also do simple sandwiches.
Fong Inn Too doesn’t look like much – it’s mostly a wholesaler to other restaurants in the area. But a woman in the front will scoop you a cup of warm, fresh tofu drizzled with sweet syrup that makes for one of the more interesting snacks or desserts you can find. If you don’t like it, it only costs $1.25.
You could also just eat some ice cream. You can get your usual Rocky Road or Pistachio, but what you want is something like Black Sesame, Taro, or “Zen Butter” – peanut butter with sesame seeds.