The west village has a bunch of great restaurants on the smaller side (the first restaurant that comes to mind is Taim Falafel, where you can sit on a stool and enjoy their amazing falafels and fries with saffron aoili). Another great restaurant where you’re seated elbow to elbow that comes to mind is ‘Ino, located on Bedford Street in the west village. The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife team (the husband, Jason Denton, used to be a manager at Po and know owns other restaurants with Batali, including Otto and Lupa).
I’m lucky enough to work close to the cafe so I can drop in for a relaxing lunch (or a quick dinner after work) – the portions aren’t gigantic and it’s reasonably priced so you don’t feel like you’re breaking the bank when you eat there.
The last time I went to ‘Ino, I ordered the truffled egg toast:
Crusty bread + cheese + truffle oil + egg yolk = absolutely delicious. The dish was a little on the salty side, but delicious nonetheless. The portions are large enough that you can share them, but if you go by yourself, you can definitely sit at the bar and enjoy this piece of toast on your own.
I also ordered 4 small paninis (there’s a deal where you can order 4 different types to sample more since they have a huge variety to choose from):
I can’t recall which paninis I sampled in the picture above, but some of my favorites include the chicken, oven-roasted tomato, asiago and rucola, artichoke, fennel, and fontina, and three cheese – crotonese, cacio, grana and truffle oil.
The restaurant is almost always packed and you might have to wait a while to get a seat, but you can always walk around the area or stop in Blue Ribbon Bakery for some bread and hummus while you wait (which I have been known to do).