Monday, January 15, 2007

ABCs of NYC

So I've been in New York City for over a year now, and I thought it time to detail some of my findings here in a manner which might prove helpful to visitors to and even citizens of this fine, bedraggled city. I present then my ABCs of NYC. Should the alphabet presently prove skimpy in parts, fear not gentle reader. I shall embellish it further upon future visitations.

A



Almondine - When I'm in DUMBO, I have to hit 85 Water Street for this bakery's delicious pastries, including my favorite - a chocolate-almond croissant - and a cappuccino. Also: huuuge chocolate macarons.

Cafe Angelique - head west on Bleecker to this lovely French cafe and enjoy a splendid chocolate almond croissant with a cappuccino, as well as other fine pastries and desserts.


B


BarBossa - try brunch at this funky yet refreshingly unpretentious NoLIta spot. The theme is Brazilian but the food varies: I love the pressed avocado sandwich and the mango chicken curry's great, too. Various cacha├ža and caipirinha drinks, as well. Much easier to get a seat here than Cafe Habana around the corner and there are far fewer naval-gazing hipsters.


The Breslin - Chef April Bloomfield is credited with bringing "nose to tail" cuisine back to NYC. Famous for their full-pig meal, but they have other creations like the most decadent grilled cheese you've ever tasted (cheese on the inside and outside, add an egg to it for brunch) and probably the city's best fries. Oh, and an amazing lamb burger. Lovely, rustic decor, too.


Brooklyn Museum - Target First Saturdays - free art, free movies, free music, booze!


C


Ceci-Cela - Fabulous patisserie in a tiny space on Spring Street in NoLIta. I'm addicted to their chocolate-almond croissants and usually stop by for a croissant and a cappuccino after getting my hair cut around the corner.


Cubana Cafe - not to be confused with the cool, but crowded Cafe Habana in NoLIta, try this colorful downstairs joint on Thompson in Soho. The atmosphere's more relaxed and you'll probably get a seat right away. The hangar steak quesadilla is delicious.


E


Eight Mile Creek - Aussie fare, adult beverages, NoLIta


Elephant & Castle - I always get the tasty Elephantburger, which is actually beef with a curried sour cream on the burger. Not to be confused with chain of the same name.

F

Fette Sau - This Williamsburg, Brooklyn restaurant (and former garage) features some of the best BBQ anywhere, not just NYC. Grab a metal tray, tell them by the pound how much brisket, pork belly, sausage, pulled pork, etc, you want, plus veggies (of the comfort food variety), then take it to a table and eat family style. They also specialize in quality NY beers and whiskey. Extremely casual, often long lines even to get in, but I LOVE this place.

Freemans - though it's not a secret restaurant, per se, Freeman's is hidden down the dark end of Freeman Alley. I'll have to try their food sometime. So far I haven't made it past their hot toddies, grandpa's coffee (grandpa likes a lil sumthin in his coffee), and steaming hot artichoke dip. Freeman's takes rustic to a new level: there are enough animal heads on the wall to qualify for a taxidermist's convention. I don't know why there's no apostrophe in their name, but that is not a typo. Oh, and don't forget the lumberjack bartender. I'm sure I'll try the entrees one of these days.

G


Le Gamin - crepes and king-size cappuccinos; multiple locations, 2 of which are walking distance from my hovel; both are terribly charming, though it's harder to get a seat at the East Village location


K


Keen's - where we had my bachelor party, historical (since 1885), and perhaps the best steakhouse in NYC. People rave about Peter Luger's in Brooklyn, but I think Keen's is miles ahead. The atmosphere is amazing, too: Keen's used to be a club, where gentlemen could smoke their wooden pipes. Now, there's a display in the entryway of pipes from famous people including Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth and loads of others. Go into the dining room, tho, and thousands of pipes are bundled together to line the entire ceiling. Incredibly old school. Very New York. Delicious steaks.


M


Ma Peche - David Chang of Momofuku's midtown restaurant with community seating


MUDspot - an East Village staple - great coffee and food - family run and it feels like it - famous for it orange vans delivering coffee to the masses around Astor Place (right between two Starbucks) and Union Square


P


Palacinka - Crepes! Coffee! Michael Stipe sightings! - Update: Criminally, Palacinka is now out of business.


R


Rapture Cafe - a clean well-lit place for coffee, free internet, books, gay/gay-friendly folks, in the renovated Korova bar locale, though you'd never recognize it - Sadly, closed!


S


Seventeen Bleecker - spare, laidback, surprisingly roomy coffee shop with free internet access and friendly staff - I'm there right now! Very inexpensive and a few steps away from where CBGBs used to be


Sunburnt Cow - delicious Aussie fare on Avenue C - Can you tell I've been dutifully frequenting the Aussie establishments?


T


Tuck Shop - dinkum Aussie pies in dah 'hood, sausage rolls, lamingtons and vanilla slices - friendly folks, open late. Update: They've now branched out with additional locations.


U


Union Square - some may think of Times Square or even Central Park as the heart of Manhattan, but, for me, it's clearly Union Square. Practically every subway line intersect there. So do New Yorkers of every ethnicity and socio-economic level. You'll see junkies, artists and models. (I saw TED prize winner photojournalist James Nachtwey strolling through Union Square late one night last year.) You can shop for fine clothes, crafts or produce. Eat at any one of a myriad of restaurants. Or just hang out in Union Square itself, watching the skaters, musicians or outdoor theater, or listening to the constant parade of passionate and/or crazy people preaching their sermons and conspiracy theories. And it's free. Just steer clear of the Scientologists.


V


Veselka - major EVil fave and for good reason - "Ukrainian soul food" and great people watching - 50 years plus on the corner of 2nd Ave and 9th - 'nuff said


Feel free to add your own suggestions in comments.

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