Unique Lunch Ideas

Looking for a food adventure? Gather a few friends with good appetites and try a Lunchtime Triptych. As the name implies, the triptych is a challenge. It’s a well-timed visit to 3 restaurants for 3 different foods. One day years ago I wanted a hot dog at one joint and a burger at another, so I visited both. In need of dessert, I visited a third and the Lunchtime Triptych was born. Here are 3 of my favorite triptychs. Each one involves a burger joint just because, well, I love burgers.

Northern New Jersey

This is the triptych that started it all. Hit the iconic Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ, first for a “ripper,” their deep-fried hot dog, and top with their signature mustard-based relish. After that, head over to one of the most historically significant burger joints in America, White Manna in Hackensack, NJ. Squeeze into the tiny diner and get a pair of double cheeseburgers with onions (they are sliders -- you can handle it). Finish the triptych around the corner from White Manna at Bischoff’s Confectionery in Teaneck, NJ. Slip back in time and ask the soda jerk for a chocolate malt. All of the ice cream is made in-house, and I always get a pint of coffee fudge to go.

Los Angeles

LA is a big town. So big that there are many Lunchtime Triptychs that you can pull off here. This triptych, based in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood is a good place to start. The only driving you’ll have to do is down Santa Monica, CA, for a few minutes.

Start at the little burger joint Irv’s in West Hollywood that was saved by the wrecking ball by owner Sonia Hong. Get a single cheeseburger with everything and tell her I said hi! Drive to Beverly Hills to Papa Jake’s where you’ll get to experience one of the best tuna melts anywhere. You’ll be pretty full at this point (because I’m sure you ordered the double cheeseburger at Irv’s) so walk over to nearby Edelweiss Chocolates for a few dark chocolate hearts. Edelweiss was Katharine Hepburn’s go-to sweet stop.

Chicago

Chicago is an eating town. Hot dogs, pizza, beer ... the selection of places to eat is limitless and accessible. I can spend days there and never get to all of the restaurants I need to visit. In the interest of time, here’s a Lunchtime Triptych in Chicago's North Side that will keep things within reach.

First, head to Wieners Circle for what is arguably Chicago’s best char-dog. Avoid the temptation to order their world-famous cheese fries and get over to DMK Burger. At DMK, order any burger on the menu and come out on top. I usually get the No. 4 because it includes green chilies, a topping that is nearly impossible to find outside of New Mexico and Colorado. You may have to get some of Chef Kornick’s killer deviled eggs, but get out of there and finish off your lunch at Scooter's for top-notch frozen custard, the best south of Milwaukee. Scooter’s is only open in the warmer months -- plan accordingly.

The Lunchtime Triptych is a blast with friends. Come up with your own, but remember to keep the locations close and to pace yourself -- no one wants to have to skip dessert!

George Motz is a well-traveled Emmy award-winning freelance filmmaker and photographer based in NYC. Over the past 18 years he has worked on numerous television commercials, feature films, music videos, promos and documentaries. Motz lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and 2 children. See photos from George's New Burger Finds and Great Burger Joints in the Middle of Nowhere, get his recommendations for Great American Beer, and check out his recipe for the Smashed Motz Burger.
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