Where To Get Lunch In Soho guide image


Where To Get Lunch In Soho

Great spots to grab food among fancy boutiques in the middle of the day.

So, you need to eat lunch in Soho. Maybe it’s a Saturday and you realized you skipped breakfast while standing in line at Uniqlo. Or maybe you’re employed in one of those buildings that looks like an art gallery (but is really home to a well-funded startup), and your stomach is starting to growl. Whether you want a sandwich to go, or a long sit-down meal while you “talk about work,” here are our favorite places to get lunch right below Houston.


La Mercerie

La Mercerie is your best option in Soho for a fancy lunch. This all-day cafe is embedded in the front of a high-end furniture store, and you feel like a royal visiting their vacation home as soon as you sit down. In other words, La Mercerie is a very Soho place. The mostly-French menu has dishes like a vegetarian quiche and a ham and cheese crêpe for lunch—and the food is flawless. Yes, you can have $42 cod, but you can also get a salad for less than $20. So stop by and have a lunch meeting here next to a $20,000 couch.

Altro Paradiso is from the same people behind Estela, although this place is much bigger, and it’s open for both lunch and dinner. The food here is Italian, but it’s not the red-sauce kind—they serve a lot of small plates and lighter pastas, as well as larger things like tilefish and a chicken milanese. During the day, Altro Paradiso is perfect for a lunch meeting, especially if it’s one that seamlessly transitions into Happy Hour. You could also just stop by for an Italian spritz made with orange blossom and a very good Wagyu burger at the bar.

Yubu does one thing, and they do it really well. They offer 12 different kinds of rice-stuffed, sweet tofu pockets topped with Korean ingredients. The creamy crab salad one is our favorite, but the bulgogi is a close second. Get a couple pockets for a quick snack, or around four for a full meal. (They’re deceptively filling.) Be sure to add a refreshing “sparkling ade” like the one with slivers of fermented Asian green plum. This fast-casual place has a good amount of seating in their bright dining room—unlike their original East Village location, which is takeout-only.

It’s legit hard to decide what to get at the Canal Street Market. Our advice is to make a beeline for this Thai-style chicken spot. Your only real decision here is: steamed or grilled chicken. You can’t go wrong with either, but we always lean toward the sliced steamed version with fatty skin over garlic rice and a tangy sauce loaded with grated ginger. If you’re eating in, head to the communal seating area with a bunch of high-tops, a big skylight, and a colorful mural that looks like a Miró painting. 

Balthazar isn’t the type of place you go to for any old Tuesday afternoon lunch unless you’re someone like a late night talk show host. It’s where you want to spend a few hours in a sceney atmosphere and have multiple courses preceded by a glass of Bordeaux. You’ll sit among shoppers, Gen Z kids wearing camo bucket hats, and tourists from everywhere. It’s an undeniably weird (and entertaining) mix for a French brasserie that opened in 1997. Start with some in-the-shell escargots, move on to the steak frites (or anything with frites), then get another glass of wine for dessert. 

Shuka is one of the best spots in the neighborhood for a big group lunch. Everyone can share better-than-average Middle Eastern dishes like bright pink beet hummus, thick labne, and kebabs that come with fluffy pita. Plus there are plenty of vegetarian options, and almost everything costs less than $25. The dining room is surprisingly spacious, despite being located on a charming street where we assume every apartment is 400 square feet. The catch? Tables fill up fast, so make a reservation or show up right when they open at noon.

Soho has fewer sushi options than you might think considering it's a neighborhood where Bentleys outnumber public restrooms. If you’re looking for a place to order à la carte nigiri, maki, and sashimi, this spot is one of your best options. Start with something from the zensai section like a plate of kanpachi usuzukuri dotted with green yuzu kosho and citrus ponzu, then build your meal around sushi bar specials and rolls. The nigiri here leans pretty straightforward and traditional, and you can enjoy it in a space filled with stone and wood that reminds us of a nice sauna.

If two of your interests happen to be pancakes and the internet, you’ve probably heard of Flipper’s (known for their soufflé pancakes). Guess what? Their pancakes live up to the hype. The texture is in between a sponge cake and an egg custard, and they come with maple-flavored cream, so they don’t really need syrup. Surprisingly, the savory dishes like the chicken nuggets and BLT with a thick stack of thinly-sliced bacon are good too. Most of the seating is in the upstairs space, which is filled with windows, a skylight, and a neon “When I flip you flip we flip” sign.

We know you’re on the edge of your seat, so we’ll just tell you now: 12 Chairs does, in fact, have more than 12 chairs. It’s actually a good-sized space that’s never too cramped or busy, and it looks like a wine cellar in a farmhouse. Between their traditional Middle Eastern dishes (lamb kebabs and grilled halloumi, for example), sandwiches, salads, and some pierogies and schnitzels for good measure, the menu here has something for everyone. They even serve breakfast all day.

When it opened, Alidoro was everyone’s new favorite underground Italian sandwich spot. Now they’re in underground malls, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they start setting up kiosks in Whole Foods soon. For the most part, Alidoro sticks to the basics: prosciutto, sopressata, fresh mozzarella, etc. They do them in all sorts of combinations, and the menu is long. Somewhere on it you’ll find your sandwich-equivalent of Cinderella’s glass slipper. Most people do takeout at this location, but they do have a few small tables.

The people who used to run Artopolis (now closed) in Astoria also operate this highly-useful Greek spot. (There’s also another location in FiDi.) Order some spanakopita and grape leaves, or get the moussaka lunch special that comes with a side salad. If you want to eat in, there are a few copper-top tables and mismatched chairs next to floor-to-ceiling windows facing Broome Street. You can usually get in and out of here very quickly—unlike the situation at Dominique Ansel nearby, which always draws long lines of tourists.

Ownership has changed hands a few times since this Italian bakery and cafe opened in 1920. The current iteration of Vesuvio is known for its whole loaves, which you probably don’t want as your lunch, so get one of their focaccia sandwiches. Their breakfast version is served all day, and they also have a great veggie one with razor-thin slices of mushroom, zucchini, and roasted red peppers. You can technically eat at the white marble counters while standing, but there’s limited space, so plan on taking your food to go.

Among the spontaneous photoshoots for Cadillac or Harper’s Bazaar, there’s a spot where you can hide and pretend that you live in a simpler town in simpler times. It’s called Landmark Diner, and it’s a very normal place with terse service. That’s exactly what makes this diner so exceptional (in the context of Soho). It feels like it hasn’t been renovated in about half a century, and the food is exactly what you want it to be. Order some eggs with a side of corned beef hash or the buttery chocolate chip pancakes.

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photo credit: Emily Schindler

Where To Get Lunch In Soho guide image