Many thanks to all those of you who suggested UWS lunches near my office at 75th and Amsterdam. More suggestions would, of course, be appreciated, but in the meantime here's a report thus far:
Gray's Papaya: OK dog, but a bit skinny and salty. Not my favorite.
River lunch specials (76th and Amsterdam): good value ($6.95 each), but generally poor- Bun Xao was greasy with flavorless chicken, Pad Thai was bland with tons of baby shrimp, which I don't much care for. I would have prefered fewer larger shrimp. Vegetarian special was OK, though, with nicely fried bean curd. This place is frustrating, when I know that Saigon Grill (which I love, love, love)is in the 'hood, but just far enough away that it takes too long to get to. I may have to start ordering for delivery.
Freddie Peppers (74th and Amsterdam): One of only two real finds, this place has the best chicken Empanada I have had in New York. It includes dark meat chicken, olives, raisins and hard boiled egg in a light dough. Accompanied by an OK spinach or ceasar salad, it's a good meal. They don't always have the chicken, but ask for them, just in case.
Zen Palate (B'way and 76th): I had never eaten at this chain 'till now, and while some of the entrees are ghastly (Sweet and Sour Delight?), the littler things, like the vegetable turnover, taro spring roll, hot and sour vegetable soup, and curry rice noodle soup with vegatables are pretty decent. Stir Fried rice noodle tastes like lo-mein, though.
D&S Salad Bar (66th and Amsterdam):The only other real find, this place has an excellent salad bar with plenty of unconventional treats, all well prepared, fresh (near emptly containers are promptly removed), and none of it drowned in nasty sauces or dressings.
Next up to try is the new Korean place on B'way and 76, Ivy's Cafe (which apparently served President Jiang when he was in town), and a trip to Big Nick's. Any other thoughts or suggestions are most welcome.