Local Suggestions That Beat the $65 “Bubble” Lunch

By Lenn Robbins

As more sports prepare to begin play, there appears to be some discrepancy as to whether or not the alleged $65 sandwiches purchased by some MLS players and posted on Twitter were made inside the league’s Walt Disney World ‘bubble.”

TMZ reported that the culinary catastrophes might have been purchased in Toronto, not Orlando, or in the quarantine zone, where players must remain for 12 hours before being admitted to the bubble. The actual price of the sandwiches also is in dispute.

Regardless, the Great COVID-19 Sandwich Caper has caught our attention like the shark seen swimming off Far Rockaway or anything vice president Mike Pence says because it’s often so bizarre, like smoking doesn’t kill. Right.

MLS players, once inside the bubble have access to several high-end eateries or an eclectic menu which offers $45 for breakfast, $65 for lunch and $75 for dinner, making dinner the bargain of meals. TMZ also reports players do not pay for their meals. No need for milk money.

It got us thinking: What are some of the best dining options in the metropolitan area during the time of coronavirus?

We apologize up front to any and all establishments we don’t mention and welcome their input. A man can only eat so many meals per day, unless the goal is an appearance on my 600-pound life. Because of quarantining, we’re getting dangerously close to, uh, making the weight.

These are some establishments that have prevented me from doing more damage in the kitchen:

The Smith: We use the East Village location. Their dinner special is fantastic. It’s a 2-for-$48 deal: Two entrees (five choices), a choice of salad (three choices), pasta or rice (six choices), two sides (seven choices) and two of the better chocolate chip cookies we’ve had. Yep, all that for $17 less than the “bubble” lunch. Delivered. Hot. Goooooaaaaal!

KazuNori: Those lucky enough to know about this original hand roll bar are more than willing to endure the 30-45-minute wait for a seat at the bar. I consider this the Lays potato chip of hand rolls – you can’t eat just one. What some might not know is that KazuNori has continued to deliver during the pandemic. If I have let the cat out of the bag, well, I’ve done an important service.

A 16-piece combo box includes four pieces of Toro, bay scallop, cucumber and crab for $18. No substitutes. But! You can order, say, three boxes and trade favorites with friends. There are four options topping out at the 16-piece plus salmon sashimi for $27. Comes delivered in efficient cardboard boxes with soy sauce, ginger and wasabi and a mixing tin. Three boxes run you $54, $11 less than bubble food.

Mekleburg’s. Not only do they have the best iced lattes in the city – period, end of debate -, but the sandwiches at the two Brooklyn locations (Williamsburg and Clinton Hill) are unbeatable. We use the Williamsburg location on Kent St. where you can eat your takeout right on the water at Domino Park.

The whitefish tartine ($10), B.L.A.S.T ($17, bacon, lettuce, avocado, soft shell crab, tomato and spicy mayo), and our personal favorite, Nana’s meatloaf ($17) have made weekends bearable. Share the Mek and Cheese ($14), the Salt Baked Potatoes ($12, raclette, sour cream, scallions), a tartine (four choices) and the meatloaf. It will cost you $53, 50-percent off a cardiologist appointment, and still brings you in less than house roasted prime steak loin or the bourbon glazed smoked Virginia ham in the bubble.

In fairness, none of our recommendations offer the Miss Vickie’s potato chips (we prefer Cape Cod) or the seasonal whole fresh fruit that comes with the $65 bubble lunch. We hope the food in Orlando is to die for.

This was merely a public service until restaurants can serve indoors. If there’s a neighborhood spot that you’d recommend, we love to know. Stay safe.

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