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Fast-casual restaurants catering to busy, health-minded New Yorkers are on the rise. Actually, they’re impossible to miss on a given Manhattan block, serving just about every cuisine you could ask for — Mexican to Indian, plant-based to keto-focused. However, few have mastered infusing modern wellness with classic American-Chinese food. That is, until the dreamy, wall-papered cafe called Lucky Lee’s opened in Greenwich Village.
Lucky Lee’s is the latest trendy, health-conscious spot to hit Manhattan after opening in April 2019 at 67 University Place. Virtually the antithesis of Panda Express, not only is this restaurant gluten-free and organic, but it’s also super allergy-friendly, with the majority of dishes being nut-free (hooray!).
We caught up with Arielle Haspel, owner of Lucky Lee’s and founder of nutrition and lifestyle blog Be Well With Arielle, who shared that she was inspired to create a concept appealing to the masses by taking into account common dietary restrictions. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, she had to make changes to her lifestyle, resulting in a strict gluten-free diet. Ultimately, this fueled her fire to open a family-friendly restaurant that nourishes the mind, body, and soul by focusing on simple and healthy ingredients — that, and her husband’s affinity for Chinese food. She tells Fitt, “My focus is to serve great food that makes people feel great in a welcoming environment. It’s important for my daughter to witness the importance of hospitality.”
As reflected by the savory menu, non-GMO oils, unrefined sweeteners (think local maple syrup and organic coconut nectar), and organic veggies from the farmers market are all incorporated into the dishes. The highly popular Baked Sesame Chicken and Paleo Mongolian Beef dishes use locally sourced meats as well. Though, anything on the menu has a unique health twist for American-Chinese classics, including veggie lo mein made from brown rice noodles, General Tso’s chicken with a side of stringed beans and kale salad, paired with either a side of jasmine or cauliflower veggie “fried rice".
While the recipes are next level, so is the décor. Lucky Lee’s is the definition of chic with its navy and white wicker chairs and turquoise coconut tree wallpaper, an homage to textile designs from Arielle’s grandmother. You immediately feel a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of NYC setting foot into this tropical and cheery oasis with hanging plants and open-air seating. The low-key vibe will definitely make you want to stay awhile and Instagram your meal from start to finish.
Swing by for a quick bite before a night out with friends or for a nourishing pre/post-workout meal. Opting for a relaxing night in? Fear not — you can order takeout via Caviar (just don’t forget to add the almond flour-based, vegan/GF Sesame Chocolate Chip cookie to your bag!).
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