24 East 12th Street
(btw’n 5th Ave. and University Pl.)
Union Square
(212) 488-5900




When I think about the hamburger renaissance taking place in New York at the moment I get emotionally crumpled. On the one hand I want to send up a little smile of thanks to the Fates for bringing me back home at the exact moment my favorite kind of food is finally getting the treatment it deserves. On the other hand I wonder if this spotlight is just taking all the fun out of it.

I’m simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by all these trendy burger joints. (You know it’s bad when “trendy burger joint” becomes a real, commonly used phrase around town. And it has.) As much as I want to try a burger made by Laurent Tourendel or someone like him I also know that these guys are missing the whole point of the burger joint culture. It’s not that it’s no frills. It’s not that it’s your high-falutin’ corruption of no-frills. It’s that it’s down-to-earth, cheap, and good. The ideal burger joint is the first place you think of when you want to just hang out for a little while, and let the day pass you by. This is a kind of atmosphere that can’t be manufactured — it’s an act of spontaneous evolution that happens when the right burgers meet the right neighborhood. Though I wasn’t expecting it, that’s exactly what I’ve found at Stand, trendiness and all.



CityBakery-CoffeeCookieCity Bakery

3 W. 18th St.

(between 5th and 6th Avenues)

Union Square

(212) 366-1414

When I tromp my soggy, squishing feet through puddles along Fifth Avenue, looking for some respite, anything will suffice, as long as it’s dry. But rainy afternoons are reflective, making us susceptible to that feeling of being welcomed in from the cold that certain times and smells and sounds instill when they come together in sensual alchemy. It’s universal; always longed-for and seldom found in this busy and anonymous town. So, in those times, I often follow my nose, tracking the smell of freshly baked oatmeal cookies to a doorstep and a moment’s respite.

City Bakery deserves its renown. A hidden yet cavernous space makes it no less comfortable than your corner café with the comfy loveseats. That’s because this place churns out that special alchemy from a chocolate-powered engine.