For decades, the area around the World Trade Center catered to the lunchtime needs of Wall Street traders and corporate lawyers. Now, 3 1/2 years after the 9/11 attacks, visitors to the region find that there are still few places to eat. But with more buildings being converted into apartments and publishing houses and nonprofits replacing the Wall Street banks, good food is expected to follow. Until then, here are a few options.
Coast. Sitting on the south side of the World Trade Center site, Coast is one of the closest dining options to ground zero -- aside from a Burger King, that is. Office workers consider it the takeout restaurant of choice, but there's also sit-down service at stools overlooking the kitchen and in a long narrow dining room. The decor resembles an island cafe, with lime-green floors, walls painted in shades of green and blue, dark wooden benches with pillows and daisies at every table. Most customers come for the fish, supplied by Coast owner Eric Tevrow's Early Morning Seafood company, and it's easy to see why, as we were tempted by the lobster roll, New England clam chowder and the oysters. But we settled on pot roast -- a delicious chicken-and-fish roast served in a stainless steel pot and accompanied by steaming banana bread and fresh-baked peanut butter cookies. The menu also features a half-dozen salads and brunch, including pear bellinis and a Wall Street Breakfast with scrambled eggs and lobster.
Coast, which specializes in fish, is one of the closest eateries to ground zero.
(Katerina Vorotova For The Washington Post)
110 Liberty St. at Church Street, 212-962-0136, www.freshshorecoast.com. Dinner entrees $13-$28.
Financier Patisserie. This charming spot, with pale yellow walls and long windows that give it the air of a French tearoom, has a following for its light lunches and rich desserts. But on a late Saturday afternoon, we found it filled with a construction contractor working with his assistants, a woman scribbling in a journal and a well-dressed thirtysomething guy who stopped by for a latte. Fans praise the tomato and goat cheese quiche, but diners can also choose salads, hot sandwiches and a signature cheese plate -- and save room for desserts like the Sacher torte, Linzer torte or elegant cakes. For about $6, we had a hot chocolate and a chocolate Florentine, which were just as good as those at popular uptown patisseries. One drawback: It's closed on Sunday.
62 Stone St., where Hanover Square and William Street meet, 212-344-5600, www.financierpastries.com. Entrees $5.50-$11.50.
Ulysses'. With its dark-wood booths, Sinead O'Connor tunes blaring and bartenders bantering in thick brogues, this Irish restaurant/bar could pass for any Old World joint off of the River Liffey. We found the bar filled on a recent weekend afternoon with young moms and their tots having lunch and men crowding around the bar for some steady beer drinking and game watching. The dinner and lunch menu features traditional fare such as shepherd's pie, and bangers and mash, as well as salads and a 10-ounce bar burger ($9.50). If you drop by on a weekend, the brunch menu offers such specialties as vanilla bourbon French toast with caramelized apples and maple syrup, and crab cakes Benedict with lobster hollandaise, each for under $10.
58 Stone St. at Hanover Square, 212-482-0400, www.ulyssesbarnyc.com. Entrees $10-$20.
Southwest NY. This spot, in the World Financial Center, makes up for its bland location by featuring in its dining room a water wall and floor-to-ceiling views of the Hudson. It's also one of the few area restaurants open every day. Three reasons to go: the basic, well-priced lunch food, the great margaritas and the cute bankers during happy hours. The menu features flat-bread pizzas, salads, sandwiches and quesadillas. We tried the tasty Hoisin chicken salad with mizuna, cashews, cucumber, sprouts, wontons and Asian dressing.
2 World Financial Center at Liberty Street, 212-945-0528, www.southwestny.com. Entrees $13-$30.
Les Halles. On Friday nights, you'll find bankers wrapping up their happy hours as tourists trickle in and local families settle down for dinner. Indeed, Anthony Bourdain's French brasserie-style eatery, which is related to the D.C. eatery, is one of the few restaurants in these parts to attract such a diverse crowd. Because the front area was noisy, we headed toward the quieter back room, ordered some wine and beer, and perused the menu of traditional French grub: pâté de campagne, escargot, nicoise salad and confit de canard. The steak frites and chocolate mousse were filling and delicious.
15 John St. between Broadway and Nassau Street, 212-285-8585, www.leshalles.net. Entrees $15-$30.
-- Christine Haughney