New Spots to Lunch

People say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but a solid power lunch is just as vital. Thankfully we don't have to settle for lame lunchboxes or lackluster on-the-fly sandwiches in the Loop when it comes to lunch in the city, thanks to the burgeoning lunch scene and the addition of lunch service and specials at the likes of Bottlefork, Japonais by Morimoto, and Links TapRoom. Here's what you need to know for lunch plans.

Le Pain Quotidien
(On its way to your face via Le Pain Quotidien)

Bottlefork: Now open seven days a week, Bottlefork launches lunch service next month (plus brunch service!). Expect a sandwich focus, but with Kevin Hickey at the helm you know these won't be cookie-cutter sandwiches. Also hefty salads and lighter versions of staple dinner items.

Japonais by Morimoto: Now open for lunch, the menu at Japonais by Morimoto is quite massive. Soups (tofu miso, clam miso), salads (sashimi Caesar salad), and sandwiches (pork kakuni buns, J by Morimoto burger, chicken banh mi) are all accounted for, plus maki rolls, bento-style lunch sets, and hot and cold plates. To drink, aside from cocktails and beers, the restaurant offers an array of interesting booze-free libations, which are probably handy for midday drinking so that you don't get fired. Strawbery-yuzu lemonade, cucumber-mint lemonade, and iced coffee made with vanilla, coconut, and an almond ice cube are all on deck. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Links TapRoom: Free french fries make the work week easier to tolerate. Links TapRoom comes to the rescue with a new weekday lunch special, wherein patrons who order any Links sausage and a beer or soda will receive a complimentary order of hand-cut fries along with one of the bar's housemade dips. The offer is good Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Le Pain Quotidien: If you've ever been to NYC, you are familiar with the cult obsession with Le Pain Quotidien. The acclaimed Belgian-style bakery and restaurant chainlet is on its way to Chicago, starting with a West Loop location due next month, followed by locations in the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park. Founded in 1990, the premise is simple: offer straightforward, solid cafe fare in a comfortable, accessible setting for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner. When the inaugural Chicago location opens by Presidential Towers, it will feature lunch seven days a week, with standby options such as tartines, soups, salads, and quiches. The stores will also sport retail shelves.

Delightful Pastries: Another venerable cafe upping the ante on lunch is Delightful Pastries. The revered bakery and cafe is expanding its lunch menu, outfitting it with numerous sandwiches, soups, salads, and specialties. Get hungry for Polish salads made with roasted butternut squash, roasted beets, oranges, spiced walnuts, and maple-mustard vinaigrette; spring harvest beef barley soup; the Big Fish sandwich with Mediterranean tuna salad, baby arugula, and field greens; vegetable frittata; and more.

Bombay Wraps: Fast-casual Indian cuisine is about to become a lot more accessible, thanks to the imminent arrival of Bombay Wraps' second location in Streeterville. Due next month, partners Falguni Dewjee and Nik Jain pay homage to their native Bombay with an array of authentic Indian dishes for lunch and dinner on the daily. The first location premiered in the Loop in 2010, popularized for its presentation of slow-cooked recipes wrapped in quick-service Indian flatbread or served in salad bowls.

- Matt Kirouac