86 E. 7th St., nr. First Ave.; no phone
Contrary to what you might have heard, the best three-course lunch can be found not for $24.07 during Restaurant Week but for $15 year-round. That’s how much chef-partner Elizabeth Quijada charges for three small plates of unrelentingly seasonal Mediterranean-inspired fare (or $6 each). The catch: There’s barely room to eat it in this buzzing kiosk of a coffee bar. To our mind, the creative, daily-changing combinations are worth the tight squeeze. Sandwiches are constructed on Sullivan St Bakery’s stecca loaf, the oiled insides grilled until crispy, then filled with offbeat combos like sautéed shredded butternut squash and Di Palo provolone. Organic-egg frittatas are perfectly textured, and soups range from bean purées to sweet French onion. Even in the depths of winter, vegetables shine, from crispy roasted potatoes to a sturdy toss of torn chard and chopped red cabbage—an improbable salad, but a delicious one.
Best Prix Fixe Lunch
From the 2010 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine