YORKVILLE — It's gotten easier for neighborhood noshers to ditch the boring brown bag lunch.
Effy's Israeli Cafe just opened in the 92Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., and is now serving Israeli approaches to Mediterranean staples — such as paprika-topped hummus and tomato-packed eggplant salad — as well as smoked fish-centered deli favorites.
It's open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. from Sunday to Friday, said owner Effy Alkoby.
The fare at the 92Y is similar to the food served at Alkoby's flagship restaurant, Effy's Cafe, 1638 Third Ave.
Asked why he would set up shop so close to the original Effy's, Alkoby said he wanted to expand in familiar territory and interact more closely with diners.
"We had worked with the Y for a long time. We thought 'Why not get closer to the Y?'"
Also different: The 92Y's cafe offers all-dairy, meat-free and vegan-friendly dishes, Alkoby said.
And the offerings at the 92Y are more traditionally Israeli than the cuisine at Effy's or other more Americanized Mediterranean eateries, he said.
"Israelis love lots of flavor — garlic, salt, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil," said Alkoby, 35. "We don't like plain stuff."
Because the 92Y space is a new venture, Alkoby can frequently revisit and revise the menu, he said.
"Here I can change the menu everyday. Here I can just put it and put it on display as 'grab and go. We're trying to see what people like," he said. "I want to use the Y as a place to dance, to cook, to experiment."
Alkoby said that from 250 to 300 people had been patronizing the cafe daily since it opened its doors Feb. 15. Diners have been overwhelmingly drawn to these pret-a-manger picks, he said.
But for one customer, the freshly fried falafel would always be her favorite from the Israeli cafe.
"That's how a falafel should be — crispy on the outside and moist on the inside," said Hanna Arie-Gaifman, 92nd Street Y Tisch Center for the Arts director recently snacking in the cafe. "This is how I ate falafel in Israel."