As they say, time is money. And when in Gotham, where locals seem to rush from one location to the next, some of the best bites can be found on the go. To take in all the sights without wasting precious seconds, grab a delicious to-go meal at these five hot spots: They’ll give new meaning to the idea of fast food.
Luke’s Lobster Roll
Every summer in the city, there’s a run on lobster rolls. Though there are plenty of places to snag a decent roll, the best is Luke’s, with the freshest lobster meat around. The secret to its success? Owner Luke Holden grew up lobstering in Maine before decamping to NYC. He’s since partnered with his Maine-based father to have the lobster shipped directly from local Main lobstermen, with no middlemen to slow up the fresh flow.
Must-Try: The classic lobster roll’s ($17) generous chunks of meat with a dash of mayo and lemon butter, served on an airy bun, make this roll near perfection.
Find It: Luke’s has rapidly expanded from one humble shop in the East Village to cafés both uptown and downtown. The Upper West Side location is just a couple blocks away from the American Museum of Natural History. Visit www.lukeslobster.com.
Get to this East Village foodie haven as early in the day as you can. Started by Sara Jenkins and Matt Lindemulder in 2008, Porchetta’s juicy roasted pork sandwiches and platters (the antibiotic- and hormone-free pork is sourced from the Niman Ranch) have been known to run out by late afternoon.
Must-Try: The house Porchetta sandwich ($10) is sinfully tender. The pork is slow-roasted and given a good dousing of spices such as garlic, sage, fennel pollen, and rosemary.
This vegetarian Israeli joint is cozily packed and downright delightful. The falafel has the right amount of crisp and the hummus is savory and silky. For drinks, there are exotic smoothies such as date-lime-banana and the refreshing mint lemonade.
Must-Try: While falafel is the house signature, give the Sabich sandwich ($7.25), with fried eggplant, Israeli salad, and sliced boiled egg, a go. (Note it’s cash only.)
Find It: Set on a leafy West Village street, on sunny days, you can grab the outside bench and watch the world go by. A second location is slated to open in NoLIta on May 1, between Spring and Mulberry Streets near the nabe’s trendy boutiques. Or, track down the roaming Taim Mobile, a food truck that updates its locations online and via Twitter. See www.taimfalafel.com.
Caracas Arepas Bar
Not quite ready for a trip to Caracas? Stop by this lively spot instead, where they serve piping hot "arepas"—Venezuelan corn-cake sandwiches stuffed with delicious bits. For those looking to linger, there’s a full-fledged restaurant, but there are usually shorter waits at the popular take-out extension, outfitted with seats for a quick stop-in.
Must-Try: The chicken with avocado salad Reina Pepiada ($7), and shredded beef, sweet plantains, and salty cheese De Pabellon ($7.50), are two favorites.
Find It: There are branches in the East Village and Williamsburg, Brooklyn; summer visitors to the city can also take a day trip to Rockaway Beach, where there’s an additional outpost on the boardwalk. See www.caracasarepabar.com.
Tehuitzingo Mexican Deli
Mexican food in NYC gets a bad rap and for the most part, we’d say deservedly so. But walk into this nondescript deli in Hell’s Kitchen and down the aisles to the back of the store, you’ll discover something like a grandmother’s kitchen, with fabulous Mexican food for a song.
Must-Try: The rich Carnitas (pork) tacos ($2.50 each), or, for beef lovers, the Al Pastor is an excellent choice; it can be stuffed into a tortilla for a taco or served on top of a traditional "sope."
Find It: Set up at 695 10th Avenue, between 47th and 48th Streets, it makes for a convenient, casual bite before a Broadway show.
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Photo Credit: courtesy Taim Falafel