Downtown


Stand
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.

(more…)

Dok Suni
119 1st Avenue
(betw’n 7th Street and St. Marks Place)
East Village
(212) 477-9506


by Kelly Sipos

My preamble:

I am neither Jesse Post nor Rachael Parenta. By that I mean I’m not some renowned Internet food critic or your run-of-the-mill finicky eater/stand-up comedian from Brooklyn. (See in-joke here.) Now, I don’t usually write about food. I’m more of a bar critic or hockey enthusiast. But I couldn’t resist the lure of All You Can Eat NYC any longer, and today I would like to tell you about my favorite restaurant in all of New York.

I am a native New Yorker who grew up in an Irish/Hungarian household in Washington Heights. My Irish mother did her best with the cooking but really, it was just meat and potatoes — boring except for the few “exotic” dishes (the two Hungarian dishes she attempted to make for my father). My father, regardless of what he was eating, always had a jar of hot peppers by his side. I think it was this jar of hot peppers that scared me from trying the spicier side of the dinner menu for most of my life. So that’s how I grew up to be a boring meat-and-potatoes girl.

That all changed in the fall of 1997 when I first walked into Dok Suni and my friends Holly and Jon introduced me to Korean food. Well, that’s actually a lie; my friend in high school, Chu, introduced me to Korean food back in 1988. But to be honest, we only ever went to this one place because they served underage kids piña coladas. In ’88 I was only interested in girly drinks with umbrellas, not delicious spicy food. I can’t even remember the name of that place anymore, but I’m not here to promote underage drinking anyway.

(more…)

Puebla
47 First Ave.
(btw’n 2nd and 3rd Streets)

East Village
(212) 473-6643

 


by Rachael Parenta

My preamble:

I am not Jesse Post. By that I mean I’m not some renowned Internet food critic from Brooklyn. Rather, I’m just your run-of-the-mill finicky eater/stand-up comedian from Brooklyn. Well, I was born in New Jersey but I live in Brooklyn now, just a few blocks from where my Great Aunt Ester and Great Uncle Jack resided a half a century ago. So am I gentrifier or am I merely reclaiming my roots? Exactly.

My point is that I don’t usually write about food. Usually, I date people for four to five weeks then spend two to three years telling jokes about them. The only time I write about food is when I use food in my poignant yet hysterical extended metaphors. (I have a great example where I talk about my relationship with the Chipwich.) However, there is a tiny eatery in the East Village that I enjoy so much it has inspired me to write and share with you.

(more…)

The Bourgeois Pig
124 MacDougal St.
(btw’n Minetta Ln. and West 3rd St.)
West Village
(212) 254-0575

 

 

In high school, my friends and I wasted many a weekend afternoon wandering around Greenwich Village trying to be cool. I don’t think any of us knew what we were looking for, but we were sure that this neighborhood was, for one reason or another, cool. It never occurred to us that, being underage, much of what might have been cool at that point was beyond our reach. After enough Saturdays walking up and down Bleecker Street, stopping into the same bookstores and drinking the same lattes and sitting on the same benches in Washington Square, we moved on. The punchline came when we turned 21 and found only abject lameness behind the now unlocked doors of downtown.

It’s a shame that this storied corner of our city has become a sort of French Quarter of backwards baseball caps and halfhearted debauchery. Real debauchery, after all, would come with a nice sense of style.

Considering the fact that I largely stay away from these parts, I’m especially grateful for accidentally finding what I was always looking for — a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it wine bar in the middle of MacDougal Street’s chaos. It was an astonishing Happy Hour that brought me in, but it’s the snacks that keep The Bourgeois Pig alive in my workday-hardened heart.

(more…)

Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop
174 Fifth Avenue
(betw’n 22nd and 23rd Streets)
Flatiron
(212) 675-5096

 

 

The first time I ever tried Eisenberg’s it was years ago and it was the kind of perfect accident that only happens when you’re on the road and openhearted. I wasn’t living here then, but passing through, killing time on my way to somewhere else, and I had this strange yearning for a tuna and egg salad sandwich.

It’s the kind of sandwich that, if you’re me, grandma would put out with the deli platter when we had company. It’s also the kind of sandwich that, if you’re anyone else but me, makes you wrinkle your face up in disgust at the mere mention of the thing. Because of that problem, no one ever made it for me (or at least, no one ever made it right). And right at that moment when I rounded Madison Park and stepped into the shadow of the Flatiron Building, the craving hit and it wouldn’t let go. Maybe it was the turn-of-the-century flair of the skyscraper, or maybe I was just feeling sentimental, but I wanted that kind of regular food you used to be able to get on every street corner in New York in the heyday of my grandparents. A few seconds later I was peering through the window of Eisenberg’s, and there it was, printed up as matter-of-fact as can be on the miraculous wooden board hanging over the lunch counter. That day — and the hundreds of times I’ve returned ever since — I regained something lost.

(more…)

FOAF-Omelettes2Friend of a Farmer
77 Irving Place
(betw’n 18th and 19th Streets)
Gramercy Park
(212) 477-2188

 

 

The city is as brutal as it is beautiful.

They say that New Yorkers are resilient but they rarely describe what it is that we withstand; New York’s friendliness, camaraderie, and excitement are countered by its hard edges, the paradoxical isolation, the struggle to keep our heads above water. It’s easy, and common, to imagine an easier pace of life elsewhere, either in our memories or our imagination.

The battle weariness that comes from life in this odd and thrilling and ridiculous place is offset by the fun and the daily chores, but on that particular day the cold just made it all impossible to ignore. Eating breakfast is a great way to answer that, so there we were, in the back of Friend of a Farmer near the fireplace, where life slows to a manageable crawl.

Friend of a Farmer is designed to recall what a country inn is supposed to look like, which accounts for the long lines outside. It also accounts for a common refrain among the restaurant’s many detractors: that the décor is kitschy faux-cozy. But those people are wrong, and probably not from New England. [Full Disclosure: I am.] The dining room with its bell jars and dark wood is actually right on, contrary to popular belief, and could easily be in Portsmouth or Bangor or Brattleboro. This makes for a unique experience in its simplicity; and the fact that they also bring you dependable, perfectly made food while you slough off your day sure helps.

(more…)

Tribeca-Light Tribeca Grill
375 Greenwich St.
(at the corner of Franklin St)
Tribeca
(212) 941-3900

 

 

 

When New York was young it was an engine and each neighborhood did its part to keep it running. Its fuel was the constant stream of goods from all over the world, arriving on ships in the excellent harbor to supply the growing millions. The middle step between the ships and the dinner tables was the little triangle-shaped parcel of land below Canal Street that we call Tribeca today.

The Washington Market sprawled along the river and the streets around it bustled with the secondary needs of industry — the warehouses, icehouses, mills, and food companies. Restaurateurs and regular New Yorkers wound through those narrow, cobbled streets to haggle and forage and prepare for each busy day of keeping everyone alive, and the whole neighborhood became known simply as “the market.” That was its purpose.

Everything always in flux, years tumble away and the city relentlessly reincarnates — some cities can’t weather the change that basic evolution brings but New York is always, sometimes defiantly, New York. Tribeca is very different now, but any evening’s walk to the Tribeca Grill, passing the loading docks where horse-drawn carriages once lined up to unload their wares and the steel awnings that once kept the rain off the piles of grain, reveals that this neighborhood, brand new and steeped in history, still speaks to the nature of the city — an eternal, clockwork system of business and life.

(more…)

Next Page »