What I Learned Downtown

image_jeremyI’ve recently gone through a rough stretch Downtown. First, a friend of mine and I decided to go visit our favorite sandwich place, Casual Grill…only to be standing in front of it to find it was no longer there. Then I heard my favorite place for dessert in the whole world, Roy’s, had closed as well. And, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, my favorite pizza place, Mardi Gras, closed shop. I nearly cried. Honestly.

You can get really attached to places down here. I spent hundreds of lunches at Mardi Gras, escaping the work world for a few minutes while eating my usual mushroom slice and four garlic knots. After it closed, I stopped by to look in the windows, in part, I guess, because I needed to see it to believe it.

But after my mourning period, I learned something quite fascinating about Lower Manhattan. I’ve been Downtown for almost 10 years and while the buildings and architecture remain constant, the retail continues to shift and evolve. Somehow, by losing my favorite places, I got a chance to find some new places that I could get attached to.

Without even trying, I had found a chocolate replacement for Roy’s, La Maison du Chocolat, which actually turned out to be better for me, because it has incredible chocolate as well as ice cream and I can buy treats for myself and bring some home for my family. When I asked for recommendations from my colleagues on a pizza place, I got so many, but the first one I tried, Big Al’s, was about as perfect as I could hope for. I’ve even found a number of places to eat sandwiches and (don’t tell anyone, please) even some salads.

It was pretty easy for me to find my “safe” places to eat lunch, but losing them ended up being an opportunity to find out what else is Downtown to enjoy.

What are some of your “safe” places to eat lunch? What are the places you just “always” go to?