Pret a Manger and Quick Bites at Grand Central

Free WiFi is the greatest. I’m sitting outside at Bryant Park on this gorgeous fall day and am loving the fact that I can connect to the internet. The park is packed with businessmen and women having lunch, parents pushing children in strollers, friends chatting over coffee and tourists carrying bags from the department stores.

I myself just finished lunch. I grabbed a sandwich at one of my favorite British imports, Pret a Manger. As the name indicates, everything is ready to eat – from sandwiches, to salads, to soups, there’s a wide assortment of options for breakfast and lunch. While studying abroad in London, Pret a Manger was the place I went for yogurt and a mocha in the morning, a sandwich for lunch and a mid-afternoon brownie if I was craving chocolate. Today I got a sandwich with sliced chicken, avocado, lettuce and basil with balsamic dressing. To drink I had a bottle of Pret’s chilled organic Assam tea. It’s pure tea, no sugar, just the way I like it.

Bryant Park is around the corner from one of my other favorite places in midtown for a quick bite to eat – Grand Central Station. Growing up in Westchester, Grand Central was like home base for me: the beginning and end to many adventures in the city. I’ve spent lots of time sitting on the marble steps waiting for trains; I’ve had panicked sprints through the main concourse hoping to catch the last train of the night.

Grand Central Station is a great destination for food. Grand Central Market is a long hall of bread, seafood, cheese, olives, prepared foods and more. If I lived in the area I’d stop there to pick up something for dinner. Downstairs at Grand Central’s dining concourse you can choose among Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Indian or Mexican restaurants, or have ice cream or a slice of pie. I always head right to Two Boots, a pizza restaurant with several locations throughout the city. It’s a blend of Italian and Cajun cooking; the two boots refer to the shapes of Italy and Louisiana. Two Boots’ pizza is so tasty because it’s made with a cornmeal crust. It’s thin and crunchy and has a slightly sweeter taste than standard pizza dough. You won’t want to order cheese here; instead go for one of their creatively named slices, from the Mr. Pink made with chicken, plum tomatoes and mozzarella, to the Newman made with sopressata and sweet Italian sausage. I like ordering my slice with a Brooklyn Lager. It’s one of my favorite combinations to get every time I visit New York.

If you prefer your food raw, the Oyster Bar is the perfect place to go. Along with a wide variety of raw oysters you can get clams, shrimp, chowder and all sorts of fish. It’s simple, quick and good, a great spot to unwind before catching a train. Hopefully I’ll have time for a quick stop there today before I have to head to the airport.

Coming up tomorrow, I’ll be posting my tasting notes from the New York City Wine & Food Festival.