Around the intersection of Broadway and Houston, fashion retailers, gallery sitters, and workers from the Scholastic building can walk north and east for good, cheap NYU eats, or south and west for something with a little more Soho finesse.
• Honmura An Climb the steps of this shrinelike Japanese restaurant for pristine sushi and handmade noodles. Cold soba with fresh wasabi and dipping sauce, toothsome udon in hot soup, and selections from the excellent sake list are sure to impress, and the serene atmosphere is ideal for conversation. Open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday. Portions are small, so order generously. 170 Mercer St., nr. Houston St.; 212-334-5253.
• Savoy Ordering from the seasonal lunch menu in the downstairs bar area feels especially luxurious once the fireplace gets going around mid-November. Share some delectable small plates like the Turkish pepper dip, or go for a filling, affordable soup like Swiss chard and shell bean. 70 Prince St., nr. Crosby St.; 212-219-8570.
•Leela Lounge Leela puts a light, contemporary spin on Indian. Affordable selections from the lunchtime rice bar arrive quickly — try the vegetarian grilled panir cheese over highly seasoned greens, or tandoori-chicken salad served with the soup of the day. 1 W. 3rd St., nr. Broadway; 212-529-2059.
• Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Sit beside novelists and students in this high-ceilinged bookstore and enjoy coffee drinks, vegan soups, Yonah Schimmel's knishes, and, on Thursdays, a satisfying spinach-Feta pie. Bring a book, pick one off the shelves, or tap into the free wi-fi. 126 Crosby St., nr. Houston St.; 212-334-3324.
• Casablanca Tea House Retreat to this exotic teahouse hidden up a flight of stairs. The romantic Moorish décor justifies the Soho-priced menu. Relax with tea and Moroccan-inspired sandwiches made on Sullivan St. bread, or pair the warming winter-only lamb soup with tasty vegetarian meze like eggplant purée and carrot salad. 164 Mercer St., nr. Houston St.; 212-219-8441.
• Dom's Fine Foods In the recesses of this Italian grocery lies a superb sandwich counter. Order bresaola on focaccia with parmesan, arugula, and tomatoes from the lengthy menu (ingredient substitutions are discouraged). If the line's too long, grab prepared foods like orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage to nuke at the office. 202B Lafayette St., nr. Broome St.; 212-226-1963.
• Sammy's Halal Samiul, of recent Vendy Award fame, is the talent behind this cart, so there's no need to travel to Queens to sample his inspired use of sweet and savory spices. A $4 container of fragrant rice pilaf with succulent, savory lamb or moist, spicy chicken is big enough for a lunch and a half. E. 4th St., between Broadway and Lafayette St.
• La Conquita Get to this Latin lunch counter before one o'clock to beat the line. Start with rice and beans, then add reliably excellent baked chicken or fried pork chops, topped with pickled onions, plantains, and gravy. Adventurous eaters will relish the meaty goat stew and tender pig's feet. 236 Lafayette St., nr. Spring St.; 212-226-9835.