Our 10 Best Spots to Eat Near the 'Ground Zero Mosque' — A Restaurant Guide
Picture this: You've been demonstrating all day, either for or against the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. (Really, it's just a community center -- get over it right-wing fanatics!) You develop a ferocious hunger and a burning thirst, yet you look around and all you see are implacable government buildings, metal barricades, lines of sneering cops, and the deep, deep hole of the former World Trade Center, which none of the real estate scoundrels or government bigwigs can manage to fill -- they love the nine-year-old disaster way too much, and made their reputations on it.
Yet, in this incredibly annoying neighborhood, there are a few places tucked away where the food is good, the atmosphere relaxing, and nobody cares whether you're carrying a picket sign or not. Please join us for a late lunch.
10. Taj Tribeca -- If you're an Indian buffet kind of person, this is your place. Offering more in the way of comfort than the other restos on this list, Taj Tribeca is a restaurant you might consider taking your parents to. The buffet is well-stocked, including lamb as well as chicken, but once you depart from it, prices zoom. That said, it's probably the most ambitious Punjabi restaurant in town. Go for the minty cornish hen hariyali, pungent lamb vindaloo, or near-incendiary chicken chettinad. 18 Murray Street, 212-608-5555
9. The Bigger Place (formerly The Little Place) -- Foodies are evenly divided about whether this place is awful, or the best Mexican restaurant in town. We find ourselves somewhere in between. The menu is mainly Tex-Mex and Cal-Mex, featuring fajitas, lavishly topped nachos, burritos with jokey names, and some really great guacamole. The prices are a little steep for a greasy spoon, but you can drink beer while you eat. 61 Warren Street, 212-528-3175
8. Sophie's Cuban -- Sophie surprised us a few years back by proving that mainstream Cuban cooking -- which had all but disappeared from the streets of NYC -- still had a fanatical following. The roast pork known as pernil is beyond reproach, the paprika-rubbed rotisserie chicken good anytime for a quick bite, and the Cuban sandwich the sturdier forerunner of today's delicate panini. 96 Chambers Street, 212-608-9900
7. Alan's Falafel & More -- The cart -- located a block north of Ground Zero -- has an unfortunate patriotic theme, but the range of foodstuffs is awesome: Running from donuts to Philly cheesesteaks to composed salads and fruit beverages to Middle Eastern standards. Served with pickled vegetables and pitas for dipping, the baba ghanoush is particularly dope, and cheap. Corner of West Broadway and Barclay Street
6. Pret A Manger -- Ignore the French name: This English sandwich chain has been trying to gain a foothold in New York for years and largely failing. Too bad, because the sandwiches are great (and inexpensive), the soups fulfilling, and the dining room rather glitzy for a fast-food establishment. Our current fave: Niman Ranch smoked ham with sliced boiled egg on whole wheat, slathered with both mustard and mayo. 179 Broadway, 646-558-8745