This last Friday I was in lower Manhattan due to a co-workers appointment in one of the government offices around the corner from Little Italy/Chinatown. I've only been to Manhattan once before, and was in a totally different section (mid-town) some years ago.
We arrived around 10:30 am, and since our driver for the day was tired and didn't want to walk or drive much. The 3 of us had left Western Mass at 6 am that morning, and our driver and myself wanted to stretch our legs, eat a cheap lunch, and snack. We had 3 hours to do this, and had a nice time in all.
We found a great parking spot (metered) on Mott St. and I walked about 8 blocks around our parking area, through parts of both Little Italy and Chinatown. I found LI to be rather small and not very exciting, though watching all the spruced up waiters getting ready for the lunch rush was sorta fun. Chinatown was more interesting, but Chinatown in San Francisco has always been my favorite Chinatown. By 11:30 our driver was ready for lunch, and we walked around Chinatown looking for cheap eats. Our driver is actually just a really great guy who drives well, and my co-worker is disabled and can't drive. Since our driver was stuck on asian (but like me knows little about REAL asian food) we picked a place at random that was stuck in a dark corner but looked nice inside. We had a very nice simple meal that proved that cantonese food can be great after all. I will never order delivery food of this type again.
The name of the place was Canton Kitchen, and even at 12:10 were doing a howling amount of takeout. The place was pretty small, and folks mostly waited outside till their food was ready. Not many folks were sitting at tables, but bythe time we left, the place was packed, and we were the only non-asian people sitting down.
I then walked around to a tiny little place in Little Italy that had a long counter of tiny cookies, and bought about 6 kinds. My gosh were those good. Our driver and I devoured the whole bag in 5 minutes flat.
I know this is sorta a long post, but as it turns out, I'll probably be making this same exact trip (same hours, same location) in about another month, and from then on, every other month or so. Alas, it costs us roughly $115 round trip to drive from Western Mass to Manhattan, and after being stuck in a car for 3-4 hours, we want to get out and walk about. Also, due to the fact we will never have more then 3 hours or so, our chances of getting to mid-town or even farther are pretty slim.
Anyways, I did some searches before this post, and it seems with the exception of
Il Cortile Restaurant, LI food is not worth the trouble. We are interested in trying Peking Duck, along with a few other things I've read about during my search. I'm a foodie, but our driver is not. He was astounded at the quality of food at the asian place we went, and now understands why I rarely want asian food from those awful delivery places that litter our nation.
Any hints on good eats in the LI/CT areas during the hours of 11 am and 1 pm? Weekdays only. Under 15 bucks for entrees, and nothing too extreme. I can manage to read Italian menus most of the time, but menus in chinese or other languages? Forget it.