The Art of Eating Chapter 2: Middle Eastern Food (Naya)

July is finally making itself known in New York City this week as the heat rolls in through the streets and the air takes on more and more oppressive humidity. Standing out in the sun feeling the sweat roll down my back, it’s easy to imagine getting away and finding somewhere to finally cool off. My imagination transports me to a faraway place where the food compliments the weather and can help me relax in this overbearing heat. Seeking this out, I decide to duck into a restaurant and reset. Naya has several locations across Manhattan, but the one I manage to stumble across on this sweltering afternoon is located on University Place– just a step or two away from some of NYU’s main buildings. Right away entering the restaurant is a sigh of relief; it feels so good to finally be enjoying the air conditioning and protection from the sun inside a nice building.

Interior of Naya with seating (left) and bar for ordering (right)

My first impression is that the whole store is really spacious with a lot of seating options. There’s a large area next to the bar to order food that’s full of tables and chairs, but customers can also sit at the window and face out at the street if they’d prefer. Sitting here gives customers a full view of Naya’s outdoor seating, though there’s a notable lack of people enjoying the tables out there today. Whether or not the weather makes it unbearable to take the food outside, the air conditioning inside keeps food and people alike nice and cool! At Naya, ordering said food is also quite simple. There are three main bases to choose from for your meal: roll, bowl, and salad. From there you slide down the counter, pick out a protein for your meal, and then finally choose from a wide range of toppings.

As a die hard pita fan I, of course, have to go with the roll for my main base; it’s truly the perfect way to enclose any combination of food. Easy to eat and easy to enjoy. Still, the pita is just the base and there are countless possibilities for what to put in it. The employee helping me gives me a hint by suggesting that the chicken shawarma is a customer favorite, and who am I to break the norm? That, along with the tahini sauce and an assortment of vegetables like cucumbers, and cabbage, makes up the refreshing roll of my aforementioned, overheated dreams. If the roll isn’t refreshing enough though, then the salad bowl is sure to resolve any remaining issues. My friend, Alex, is feeling the heat as much as me apparently, as she orders that with a large assortment of cool vegetables. 

Wrap with chicken shawarma and tahini sauce

Once our main meals are all put together all that’s left is to grab a drink and take our seats. Most of the options are pretty familiar brands, but there is an organic peach ginger black tea that catches my eye. The flavors are perfectly refreshing and the natural fruity quality also goes well with the sweet flavor of fresh tomatoes in my roll. It also has a lovely little haiku written on the side of the bottle to remind you that life is beautiful sometimes and not always gross, and sweaty, and hot. I guess. Still, in the middle of a long day looking out the window at New York and enjoying a fresh meal, the heat doesn’t seem so bad. Thanks to the good food and the relaxing vibe, once I’m done with eating I feel rejuvenated and ready to brave the suffocating heat again.

Overall, Naya is not only a great casual spot to take shelter from the weather, it’s also nice to just simply sit and enjoy the food there. They offer a lot of customizable options for everyone with fresh produce and great flavors!

To those looking to cool off, or just anyone excited to give Middle Eastern food a try, be sure to use this coupon along with your student ID:

If you want to see more snippets of the food and interior of Naya you can also check out my TikTok on the Campus Clipper page!

By: Peter Schoenfeld

Peter Schoenfeld is an illustrator and self proclaimed food fanatic from New York. If he’s not trying new food, he’s drawing it (and if he’s not doing either of those things, then you can probably find him curled up on the couch watching dramas). As an incoming sophomore at the School of Visual Art he focuses on creating art that connects people to his personal passions– like eating!

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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