Whole Foods Market at Columbus Circle
One of the great quick-bite spots in the city may be more supermarket than restaurant, but with its large hot and cold salad bars, dessert bar, baked goods (I always enjoy the muffins, and the cranberry almond cookies are excellent), brick-oven pizza-by-the-pound, plenty of immediately comestible fresh fruit, pre-made sandwiches and wraps, and—what I usually end up getting—eminently serviceable sushi, the prepared foods section at Whole Foods is reliably good, fairly inexpensive, and features enough of a selection to please a crowd.
Any of the locations will do—Union Square, Bowery and Houston, Chelsea—but I've dined most often at the Columbus Circle store, if only because of the lack of quick-bite competition in that part of town. Plus they have a Jamba Juice in the seating area, which Bo and Co like a lot, and so usually split a smoothie.
Now, I know none of this is a news flash to New Yorkers... but did you know that the completely renovated Columbus Circle Fountain is actually a surprisingly pleasant place to hang out and eat your food? That it's nicely-designed, relatively clean and comfortable? That the dozens of water jets that ring the interior not only keep the whole space relatively cool, but they also cancel out virtually all of the traffic noise from the surrounding rotunda? Well, it's true. Really: I can't believe they pulled this off so successfully.
The Whole Foods Market at Columbus Circle is located at 59th Street and Broadway, in the lower level of the Time Warner Center.