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A piece of ciabatta sliced in half featuring sandwiched porchetta, greens, and cheese
The grilled porchetta sandwich at Rolo’s in Ridgewood.
Adam Friedlander

The 15 Hottest Lunch Spots in NYC Right Now

Hot chicken sandwiches, wood-fired fare, and a newly opened Vietnamese restaurant join the list this month

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The grilled porchetta sandwich at Rolo’s in Ridgewood.
| Adam Friedlander

Following the return of late-night dining in recent months, the city’s second favorite off-hours meal — lunch — is making a triumphant comeback of its own, whether enjoyed from an open office in Midtown or at an outdoor setup in Ridgewood. Included in this guide of newly opened restaurants are venues serving banh mi and hot chicken sandwiches, along with well-priced sushi and jianbing worthy of a midday meal.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Claudy's Kitchen

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5981 Broadway
Bronx, NY 10471
(718) 884-7378
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After selling their flan at Zabar’s, Union Market, and elsewhere in the city for years, chef Claudia Berroa and husband Richard Berroa have opened this brick-and-mortar business in the Bronx. The menu showcases Peruvian specialties like lomo saltado and pollo a la brasa, but best of all are the empanadas. Made to order, and packed with chorizo, chicharon, and other fillings ($3 to $3.50 each), critic Ryan Sutton found their golden crust to be “as light as a wonton wrapper.”

2. Native Noodles

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2129 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10032
(646) 370-6290
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First launched as a food stall at the Queens Night Market in 2019, chef Amy Pryke is now serving her popular Singaporean noodle dishes from a small restaurant in Washington Heights. New to the brick-and-mortar storefront is the roti john sandwich, a toasted baguette sandwich made from from cumin-spiced beef, caramelized onion, and egg. In Singapore, the dish is often eaten as breakfast, but here it makes for a comforting midday meal.

A beef and egg sandwiched placed on a wooden tray
The roti john sandwich, made with beef, caramelized onion, and egg.
Native Noodles

3. Hudson Smokehouse

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37 Bruckner Blvd
Bronx, NY 10454
(718) 872-7742
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From the southern tip of the Bronx, Hudson Smokehouse is serving Texas-style barbecue that ranks among the city’s best. Brisket is the top seller, and critic Robert Sietsema recommends enjoying it on a sandwich, stacked with the smokey, thickly sliced meat. A lengthy list of sides — baked beans, mac and cheese, pork cracklings, and nearly a dozen more — round out the menu.

Very thick slices of black edged brisket on a hamburger bun held up by a hand.
The brisket sandwich at Hudson Smokehouse.
Robert Sietsema/Eater

4. Chick Chick

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618 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024
(212) 799-1026
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At Chick Chick, chef Jun Park is putting an East Asian spin on Nashville hot chicken, resulting in tenders and wings that are not to be missed. Park batters and fries his chicken to-order, before tossing it in a blend of cayenne, paprika, gochugaru, onion powder, and garlic powder. Some might wish the chicken here had more heat — as is the case in Tennessee — but its “shatteringly crisp” skin makes for one of the best lunches in the neighborhood right now.

Gochujang Korean fried chicken sits on a white plate surrounded by a spread of fare including a kale Caesar salad, chicken sandwiches, and wings
Korean fried chicken and hot chicken sandwiches at Chick Chick.
Alex Staniloff/Eater

5. Bilao

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1437 1st Ave Store 1
New York, NY 10021
(212) 650-0010
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First-rate Filipino fare arrived on the Upper East Side last summer in the form of Bilao, a restaurant from three nurses working at nearby Mount Sinai Hospital. They were reportedly looking for a place to enjoy the food of their native Philippines after their shifts and, unable to find one, ended up opening their own. The restaurant’s breakfast platters — composed of rice, egg, and sausage or fried fish — are especially good, and thankfully can be ordered for lunch, as well.

A big bowl of peanut butter stew with green beans visible and a dark red relish poised overhead.
A bowl of kare kare at Bilao.
Robert Sietsema/Eater

6. Three Roosters

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792 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(917) 261-4055
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In a stretch of Hell’s Kitchen known for its Thai food, Three Roosters has managed to find its own lane. The newly opened restaurant specializes in chicken over rice, served three ways: grilled and fatty with lemongrass, fried and coated in zab seasoning, and prepared in the style of Hainanese chicken. Skip the Hainanese version for now, and opt instead for the fried chicken, whose interior critic Ryan Sutton found to be delightfully “fatty and chewy, almost like pork belly.”

Sliced golden fried chicken sits next to cucumbers and over a pile of rice; springs of verdant cilantro are scattered about
The fried chicken over ginger rice at Three Roosters.
Ryan Sutton/Eater

7. Ruta Oaxaca Mexican Cuisine

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35-03 Broadway
Queens, NY 11106
(929) 349-1228
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Ruta Oaxaca opened in January, serving red and green moles from an equally colorful outdoor setup. As is often the case in Oaxaca, the moles here aren’t treated as sauces, but as the very focus of the meal. One of the best entry points to the Mexican staple is the restaurant’s mole Oaxaca, similar in style to mole poblano and served atop bunuelos and chicken enchiladas. The menu also includes mole amarillo and verde, along with other varieties that appear as specials.

four square browned pastries with salad and brown sauce on top.
Chicken bunuelos topped with mole Oaxaca.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

8. Nneji

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32-20 34th Ave
Queens, NY 11106
(917) 832-7338
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From this tiny, takeout-only storefront in Astoria, owner Beatrice Ajaero tends to steaming trays of West African soups and stews. The shop excels in its egusi, a vibrant soup made from crushed melon seeds, spinach, and red pepper, though New York Times critic Pete Wells warmed up to Ajaero’s “smoldering” spicy goat stew, enriched by ginger, cayenne, and Scotch bonnet peppers.

9. Followsoshi

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135-24 40th Rd
Queens, NY 11354
(347) 654-6466
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Jianbing, a street food staple in China, is the focus at this takeout counter in Downtown Flushing. Order the crepe-like dish with a variety of fillings — spicy ramen, Peking duck, and chopped crawfish, among a half-dozen others — and wait a few minutes for it to come off the grill. The restaurant also specializes in roasted cold noodles, which are neither cold nor resemblant of most noodle dishes in the city, but are preferred over the jianbing by New York Times critic Pete Wells.

A round pancake on a grill with all sorts of toppings.
Jian bing, a crepe-like dish that’s a street food staple in China.
Robert Sietsema/Eater

10. Min Sushi

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32 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(646) 649-3364
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Chef Kelly Cho, the mastermind behind acclaimed Japanese curry shop Suki, expanded with this bite-sized sushi restaurant in the East Village last November. Everything at Min Sushi is priced at $15 or less, including its rice bowls, thick udon noodle soups, and dozen-or-so sushi rolls. For the indecisive: Lunch sets with udon and sushi, or udon and donburi, are available.

11. Chinah

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100 Maiden Ln
New York, NY 10038

After a successful debut in Jersey City, Chinese takeout spot Chinah has expanded with this second location in the Financial District. Rice bowls are the star of the show here and, when topped with fist-sized meatballs or crisp pork belly, they offer a compelling alternative to the fast-casual chains that populate the neighborhood. Pro tip: All of the bowls can, and should, be ordered with forbidden rice.

An overhead shot of a spread of colorful dishes laid out on a sunny yellow table
A spread of dishes, including Sichuan pork and forbidden rice, from Chinah.
Chinah

12. Em Vietnamese Bistro

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57 Front St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 875-7888
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Em Vietnamese Bistro opened earlier this year with a dinner menu that nods to the late-night, shellfish-laden restaurants of southern Vietnam. During lunch hours, the team serves a smaller and more casual menu of pho — either chicken or beef — and banh mi, a category that includes classic versions of the sandwich, as well as baguettes stuffed with hamburger patties.

A bowl of pho with sliced scallions, noodles, and partially cooked beef
Pho bo at Em Vietnamese Bistro, served with filet mignon and rib eye.
Adam Friedlander/Eater

13. Porcelain

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880 Woodward Ave
Queens, NY 11385
(347) 464-5267
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Porcelain, an Austrian cafe that debuted in 2019, has emerged from the pandemic as a destination for inventive, lunchtime fare. Chef Kate Telfeyan, an alum of the Bushwick location of Mission Chinese, began hosting her Vaguely Asian pop-up from the cafe last year, and in March, she signed on as chef. Under her stead, the restaurant serves an arsenal of Korean, Sichuanese, and Taiwanese staples, including rolled omelettes, fishcake katsu sandwiches, and butter bean crepes.

14. Rolo’s

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853 Onderdonk Ave
Queens, NY 11385
(718) 417-6567
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Four former Gramercy Tavern alums opened Rolo’s earlier this year, serving wood-fired fare from a storefront in Ridgewood. Those in pursuit of the restaurant’s charred half-chicken and saucy meatballs will have to wait until dinner, but during the day, Rolo’s serves an impressive lineup of sandwiches, salads, and sides. If it’s available, order the grilled porchetta, made with sliced tomato and rosemary mayonnaise on ciabatta.

The exterior of the new Ridgewood, Queens restaurant Rolo’s
The exterior of Rolo’s, photographed in January 2021.
Adam Friedlander

15. Ayat

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8504 3rd Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11209
(718) 831-2585
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Restaurateur Abdul Elenani and chef Ayat Masoud opened this Bay Ridge restaurant last year, where chicken and beef shawarma are shaved from towers of spinning meat all day long. The restaurant caught the attention of New York Times critic Pete Wells shortly after opening, who found that its best dishes weren’t its shawarma or kebabs, but its Palestinian staples, including “improbably delicate” lamb kefta.

1. Claudy's Kitchen

5981 Broadway, Bronx, NY 10471

After selling their flan at Zabar’s, Union Market, and elsewhere in the city for years, chef Claudia Berroa and husband Richard Berroa have opened this brick-and-mortar business in the Bronx. The menu showcases Peruvian specialties like lomo saltado and pollo a la brasa, but best of all are the empanadas. Made to order, and packed with chorizo, chicharon, and other fillings ($3 to $3.50 each), critic Ryan Sutton found their golden crust to be “as light as a wonton wrapper.”

5981 Broadway
Bronx, NY 10471

2. Native Noodles

2129 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10032
A beef and egg sandwiched placed on a wooden tray
The roti john sandwich, made with beef, caramelized onion, and egg.
Native Noodles

First launched as a food stall at the Queens Night Market in 2019, chef Amy Pryke is now serving her popular Singaporean noodle dishes from a small restaurant in Washington Heights. New to the brick-and-mortar storefront is the roti john sandwich, a toasted baguette sandwich made from from cumin-spiced beef, caramelized onion, and egg. In Singapore, the dish is often eaten as breakfast, but here it makes for a comforting midday meal.

2129 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10032

3. Hudson Smokehouse

37 Bruckner Blvd, Bronx, NY 10454
Very thick slices of black edged brisket on a hamburger bun held up by a hand.
The brisket sandwich at Hudson Smokehouse.
Robert Sietsema/Eater

From the southern tip of the Bronx, Hudson Smokehouse is serving Texas-style barbecue that ranks among the city’s best. Brisket is the top seller, and critic Robert Sietsema recommends enjoying it on a sandwich, stacked with the smokey, thickly sliced meat. A lengthy list of sides — baked beans, mac and cheese, pork cracklings, and nearly a dozen more — round out the menu.

37 Bruckner Blvd
Bronx, NY 10454

4. Chick Chick

618 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
Gochujang Korean fried chicken sits on a white plate surrounded by a spread of fare including a kale Caesar salad, chicken sandwiches, and wings
Korean fried chicken and hot chicken sandwiches at Chick Chick.
Alex Staniloff/Eater

At Chick Chick, chef Jun Park is putting an East Asian spin on Nashville hot chicken, resulting in tenders and wings that are not to be missed. Park batters and fries his chicken to-order, before tossing it in a blend of cayenne, paprika, gochugaru, onion powder, and garlic powder. Some might wish the chicken here had more heat — as is the case in Tennessee — but its “shatteringly crisp” skin makes for one of the best lunches in the neighborhood right now.

618 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

5. Bilao

1437 1st Ave Store 1, New York, NY 10021
A big bowl of peanut butter stew with green beans visible and a dark red relish poised overhead.
A bowl of kare kare at Bilao.
Robert Sietsema/Eater

First-rate Filipino fare arrived on the Upper East Side last summer in the form of Bilao, a restaurant from three nurses working at nearby Mount Sinai Hospital. They were reportedly looking for a place to enjoy the food of their native Philippines after their shifts and, unable to find one, ended up opening their own. The restaurant’s breakfast platters — composed of rice, egg, and sausage or fried fish — are especially good, and thankfully can be ordered for lunch, as well.

1437 1st Ave Store 1
New York, NY 10021

6. Three Roosters

792 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019
Sliced golden fried chicken sits next to cucumbers and over a pile of rice; springs of verdant cilantro are scattered about
The fried chicken over ginger rice at Three Roosters.
Ryan Sutton/Eater

In a stretch of Hell’s Kitchen known for its Thai food, Three Roosters has managed to find its own lane. The newly opened restaurant specializes in chicken over rice, served three ways: grilled and fatty with lemongrass, fried and coated in zab seasoning, and prepared in the style of Hainanese chicken. Skip the Hainanese version for now, and opt instead for the fried chicken, whose interior critic Ryan Sutton found to be delightfully “fatty and chewy, almost like pork belly.”

792 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

7. Ruta Oaxaca Mexican Cuisine

35-03 Broadway, Queens, NY 11106
four square browned pastries with salad and brown sauce on top.
Chicken bunuelos topped with mole Oaxaca.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ruta Oaxaca opened in January, serving red and green moles from an equally colorful outdoor setup. As is often the case in Oaxaca, the moles here aren’t treated as sauces, but as the very focus of the meal. One of the best entry points to the Mexican staple is the restaurant’s mole Oaxaca, similar in style to mole poblano and served atop bunuelos and chicken enchiladas. The menu also includes mole amarillo and verde, along with other varieties that appear as specials.

35-03 Broadway
Queens, NY 11106

8. Nneji

32-20 34th Ave, Queens, NY 11106

From this tiny, takeout-only storefront in Astoria, owner Beatrice Ajaero tends to steaming trays of West African soups and stews. The shop excels in its egusi, a vibrant soup made from crushed melon seeds, spinach, and red pepper, though New York Times critic Pete Wells warmed up to Ajaero’s “smoldering” spicy goat stew, enriched by ginger, cayenne, and Scotch bonnet peppers.

32-20 34th Ave
Queens, NY 11106

9. Followsoshi

135-24 40th Rd, Queens, NY 11354
A round pancake on a grill with all sorts of toppings.
Jian bing, a crepe-like dish that’s a street food staple in China.
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Jianbing, a street food staple in China, is the focus at this takeout counter in Downtown Flushing. Order the crepe-like dish with a variety of fillings — spicy ramen, Peking duck, and chopped crawfish, among a half-dozen others — and wait a few minutes for it to come off the grill. The restaurant also specializes in roasted cold noodles, which are neither cold nor resemblant of most noodle dishes in the city, but are preferred over the jianbing by New York Times critic Pete Wells.

135-24 40th Rd
Queens, NY 11354

10. Min Sushi

32 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

Chef Kelly Cho, the mastermind behind acclaimed Japanese curry shop Suki, expanded with this bite-sized sushi restaurant in the East Village last November. Everything at Min Sushi is priced at $15 or less, including its rice bowls, thick udon noodle soups, and dozen-or-so sushi rolls. For the indecisive: Lunch sets with udon and sushi, or udon and donburi, are available.

32 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003

11. Chinah

100 Maiden Ln, New York, NY 10038
An overhead shot of a spread of colorful dishes laid out on a sunny yellow table
A spread of dishes, including Sichuan pork and forbidden rice, from Chinah.
Chinah

After a successful debut in Jersey City, Chinese takeout spot Chinah has expanded with this second location in the Financial District. Rice bowls are the star of the show here and, when topped with fist-sized meatballs or crisp pork belly, they offer a compelling alternative to the fast-casual chains that populate the neighborhood. Pro tip: All of the bowls can, and should, be ordered with forbidden rice.

100 Maiden Ln
New York, NY 10038

12. Em Vietnamese Bistro

57 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
A bowl of pho with sliced scallions, noodles, and partially cooked beef
Pho bo at Em Vietnamese Bistro, served with filet mignon and rib eye.
Adam Friedlander/Eater

Em Vietnamese Bistro opened earlier this year with a dinner menu that nods to the late-night, shellfish-laden restaurants of southern Vietnam. During lunch hours, the team serves a smaller and more casual menu of pho — either chicken or beef — and banh mi, a category that includes classic versions of the sandwich, as well as baguettes stuffed with hamburger patties.

57 Front St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

13. Porcelain

880 Woodward Ave, Queens, NY 11385

Porcelain, an Austrian cafe that debuted in 2019, has emerged from the pandemic as a destination for inventive, lunchtime fare. Chef Kate Telfeyan, an alum of the Bushwick location of Mission Chinese, began hosting her Vaguely Asian pop-up from the cafe last year, and in March, she signed on as chef. Under her stead, the restaurant serves an arsenal of Korean, Sichuanese, and Taiwanese staples, including rolled omelettes, fishcake katsu sandwiches, and butter bean crepes.

880 Woodward Ave
Queens, NY 11385

14. Rolo’s

853 Onderdonk Ave, Queens, NY 11385
The exterior of the new Ridgewood, Queens restaurant Rolo’s
The exterior of Rolo’s, photographed in January 2021.
Adam Friedlander

Four former Gramercy Tavern alums opened Rolo’s earlier this year, serving wood-fired fare from a storefront in Ridgewood. Those in pursuit of the restaurant’s charred half-chicken and saucy meatballs will have to wait until dinner, but during the day, Rolo’s serves an impressive lineup of sandwiches, salads, and sides. If it’s available, order the grilled porchetta, made with sliced tomato and rosemary mayonnaise on ciabatta.

853 Onderdonk Ave
Queens, NY 11385

15. Ayat

8504 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

Restaurateur Abdul Elenani and chef Ayat Masoud opened this Bay Ridge restaurant last year, where chicken and beef shawarma are shaved from towers of spinning meat all day long. The restaurant caught the attention of New York Times critic Pete Wells shortly after opening, who found that its best dishes weren’t its shawarma or kebabs, but its Palestinian staples, including “improbably delicate” lamb kefta.

8504 3rd Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11209

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