Lunch on the loose

Max Cooper
Max Cooper

Lunch — say it aloud. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue; more like, it does a belly flop. It’s a mundane word for an equally mundane meal—that is, if you’re eating PB&J with celery sticks at your desk.

But lunch can be so full of possibility. It’s a break in the day that shouldn’t be squandered. Downtown recently added more options for the refuel.

Santé Wine Bar now opens at 11 a.m. with an expanded menu of paninis, wraps, salads and sandwiches. The selection focuses on fresh, light fare. Choose a Waldorf salad wrap with Moroccan carrots for $6, or opt for the somewhat heavier “I Love Italy” panini, featuring salami, prosciutto, mozzarella and bruschetta, with French potato salad for $9.

If you miss lunch, you can order from the menu as long as it’s open, usually until midnight on the weekends.

For the past six months, Crêperie Bouchon has been closed for renovations, which were hampered when a Carolina Lane building collapsed in January. Last week, the offspring of Bouchon French Bistro reopened with an expanded menu of crêpes, sandwiches and mussels (all you can eat for $17 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). Plus, it has doubled its indoor seating to accommodate 34 and also added air conditioning. The courtyard café serves lunch and dinner.

Bobo Pho recently opened with a small menu of appetizers and noodle dishes. The house special pho comes with sliced beef, eye-round steak, beef balls, tendon and tripe with a choice of vermicelli or egg noodles for $9. For something more familiar, try the basic chicken noodle soup for $7.95. The servings are generous — large enough to submerge your face in if you like.

Also getting into the lunch game — the downtown location of the Thirsty Monk. The craft and Belgian beer bar now offers its tacos, pan pizzas, salads and sandwiches beginning at noon on Friday through Sunday.

Sadly, lunch has seen one casualty. Plant has limited its service to dinner. The restaurant has dropped its lunch menu, but you can still eat there daily beginning at 5 p.m.

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