Best Bet for a Free Lunch

Mustard Seed Market & Café

The free noshes at this gourmet natural-foods store are nothing short of amazing. On a recent Saturday, we started out with cubes of melon, crackers smeared with organic raspberry jam and homemade organic peanut butter, bits of Jarlsberg Swiss, and creamy whipped goat cheese on lighter-than-air bruschetta. At the Market Kitchen, the friendly clerk offered a delicious taste of faux "batter-dipped Chinese chicken," made with wheat gluten. At the deli, we feasted on forkfuls of hummus, tabbouleh, and lentil salad. We nibbled our way back to the coffee aisle on jalapeño-cheddar kettle chips, organic corn chips, and Hot Ajvar, a thick spread of pepper and eggplant. Then, mini-cup of organic Ethiopian coffee in hand, we headed to the bakery for big crumbs of Russian tea biscuits and apricot-pistachio bread that were sweet as cake. Of course, there really is no such thing as a free lunch: All that sampling yielded a cartful of items we just had to take home with us.