If you entertain or network during the noon hour, you probably have a favorite dish at Lindeys, a special order at Mitchells, and a seat-winning strategy at North Star. As tasty as these business lunch favorites are, sometimes you just want something DIFFERENT.
Three new places to try:
Very casual: El Arepazo. It's a little Venezuelan hole in the wall back in Pearl Alley. In the summer, lunching there is a great opportunity to stroll the yummy Pearl Alley farmers market before noshing on plantains, sopes and empanadas. In the winter, its an unexpected getaway and an easy walk through the brick backstreets of downtown.
I recommend: Patacon, a feast of pulled meat (chicken, beef or pork) and veggies over a whole, ripe plantain.
Flexible: Shane's Gourmet Market. Although they're known for grand catering, the good people at Shane's are willing to make lunch just for you, too. The space is very relaxing. A gourmet food counter, upscale deli and wine shop on the south side and a number of comfortable cafe tables on the north. The menu of meals, sandwiches, salads and wraps is enormous and they're happy to custom create just about anything you can think up. Order at the counter, but, no worries, you can get to work - they'll bring your grub over.
I recommend: Chicken salad wrap. Sure, it's simple, but they make it fresh with almonds and fruit every day. And, they're the one place that seems to have juicy tastes-like-tomato tomatoes on hand even when it's snowing outside.
Almost no one in jeans: Blackcreek Bistro. Once a dive bar, then a neighborhood destination, the eclectic space on the corner of Parsons and Oak is now home to the consummate local eatery. The owner of Blackcreek is a farmer. One who brings heirloom vegetables and herbs, locally-raised meat and all manner of seasonal favorites right from his farm to the table. The food is both upscale and homemade. Once you start going, you'll be addicted.
I recommend: The special. Extra love and care goes into their always-good featured soups and dishes. In doubt? The bistro salad with rich creamy dressing and tasty beets in always a winner.