New York, NY – Inflation and gasoline prices may be on the rise — but whether we can afford to or not, we still have to get to work on time and, more importantly, we still have to eat. Lunch is the essential midday break when coworkers and colleagues can enjoy a meal together and create a moment of separation from the stressors at work.

Ben Kimmel.

But the average price of lunch in New York City is now hovering somewhere around $15 per person. That means if you’re not bringing lunch from home, it can be very difficult, indeed, to find a satisfying meal that also fits your budget.

In this town, pizza is perhaps the most popular choice for workers seeking a quick bite, which is great since there are countless 99-cent pizza shops throughout the city. Other favorites include “street-meat” specials from food carts and food trucks. These dishes vary from gyros to chicken dishes with rice and salad (and they’re not bad, either).

Of course, let’s not forget what New York City is famous for — the ever-popular “dirty water dogs” available at the nearest hotdog stand. But meat is not always an option for everyone. In keeping with diversity and opening this up to diet-friendly choices, let’s remember salads are an excellent option, too, as are soups and other healthy options such as Poke bowls, sushi or any of the countless juice stations around town.

Either way, food is love. Fortunately, there is more to New York City’s culture than fast food chains or the typical McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Burger King.

With a little hunting around, one can find affordable places like Cinco De Mayo’s authentic Mexican cuisine at 153 E43rd Street (one of my quick favorites, by the way, there’s no dine-in service here; everything is to go, but the price is right and the food is good).

As a longtime New Yorker, I miss the old days when Gyro II was at 425 7th Avenue was still around. Then again, Gray’s Papaya is another old time favorite whose 2090 Broadway location managed to survive the pandemic.

Since time is always short, I am also a fan of unexpected hole-in-the-wall places such as Gaga, the little dim sum place at 2 Cortlandt Street, right next to Cortlandt News.

There’s a reason why unions are so diligent about safeguarding our lunch breaks. First, as alluded to above, lunch is a perfect way to administer self-care. Secondly, lunch keeps us from being “HANGRY” — the medically-acknowledged condition that results in bad tempers and irritability due to prolonged hunger. So, make your day better and be sure to eat a good meal. But remember, don’t eat too much. Being too full can also bring on food comas — and then nothing gets done. 

Am I right?

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellbeing and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join Our Newsletter Today