all photographs by Emily Cohen unless otherwise noted
Just like Mama Used to Cook!
Mama’s Food Shop
200 East 3rd St. (bet Ave.A & B)
On Washington Square South is soul-food inspired cozy eatery where $8 buys a veritable feast large enough to share. Comfort food classics like crispy fried chicken, hearty meatloaf, and mashed potatoes are dished up with love. Sweet, warm and slightly overcooked, the honey glazed sweet potatoes will cure any homesickness. If you still have room, order an oversized chocolate-chip cookie or the wide-lane only cobbler for an ethereal sugar overload. Try Stepmama’s (sandwich shop) and Mama’s Milk (coffee-bar).
links: mamasfoodshop.com | menupages | NY Citysearch | NY Metro | Village Voice
Flaky, Creamy, Fruity, All in One Sweet Bite!
55 Spring St.
Music and tight quarters invoke the soft undertones of an afternoon in Paris, in this NoLita caf� with unfathomably delicious pastries. Try the cr�me de la cr�me napoleons; moist, raspberry and cream filled layers of puff pastry. The superb paradise cake is an exotic combination of guava, mango, and passion fruit mousse. Other highlights are flaky, mini croissants and danishes filled with pear, plum, and apricot. Meaning “this and that” in French, Ceci-Cela offers those with a sweet tooth a taste of France.
links: NY Metro | NY Citysearch
That’s One Good Looking Dish, Mate
219 Mulberry btw. Spring and Prince - (212) 925-5755
A small, trendy, yet chic Soho restaurant, Ruby’s Australian-inspired menu offers panini, salads, burgers, and pasta with a fresh ingredient focus. Try the roasted vegetable and grilled chicken panino with creamy aioli on crispy ciabatta bread. The proscuitto pasta with sweet roasted zucchini, asparagus bits, salty proscuitto is topped with finely grated parmesan and tossed in a subtly sweet olive oil is a must order. Since the attractive Australian servers aren’t on the menu, order the equally mouth-watering sticky date pudding.
links: Verbose Coma review
110 6 Ave.
Direct from South Central LA, this colorful eatery with pink and blue furniture and walls adorned with old Latin music albums, attracts all sorts. Mexican favorites include burritos, enchiladas, and tortillas with chicken, pork, beef, or vegetables. All come with rice, salad, and beans (refried or black) and a salsa, green or red. Their sauces are divine, especially the mole which includes over 20 ingredients including banana, chocolate, and bread, no joke senor! Fresh guacamole is hard to pass up. At these prices there is always room for postre.
links: menupages | NY Citysearch
Say Cheese, and Eat it too!
649 9th Ave. - (212) 265-8840
Nestled between two, golden crisp slices of sour dough, olive bread, pizza bianca or flatbread (from New York’s famed Amy’s Bakery), is your choice of eleven cheeses including American, Port Salut, Gouda, or Gruyere. Add tomato, artichoke hearts, tuna, chicken, turkey, bacon, or garlic mayo for a flavor twist on this American favorite. Lemonade or smoothies complete the meal.
links: menupages | NY Citysearch | NY Press
Stuffed Pita and Dessert to Go!
The Country Kebab
76 Fulton Street - (212) 349-4290
Middle-eastern sandwiches offer light lunch fare. Choose from many pita creations such as doner (marinated and grilled chicken morsels), falafel (deep-fried pureed chickpea balls), and babaganush (grilled eggplant with sesame seed paste, or tahini). All include shredded lettuce, sliced cucumber, red cabbage, tomatoes, and a creamy yogurt dressing. For dessert indulge in the crispy, pistachio-filled filo pastry called baklava.
links: menupages | Village Voice
The ABC’s of Cuban Food
185 Ave. C - (212) 253-9966
Latin music plays loudly in the intimate dining room of this lively Cuban Eatery. The extensive menu offers Cuban classics. Bistec Empanizado, a sandwich with fried steak, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and mayonnaise, is handheld bliss. Bistec de Palomilla, sirloin marinated in olive oil and garlic, is intensely flavorful with fresh cilantro and saut�ed onions. Entrees offer white or fluffy saffron rice, black or red beans, and sweet plantains or tostones, sliced fried plantains. The tostones, are wonderfully crisp on the outside, pillowy soft inside and served with a creamy, garlic dipping sauce.
links: menupages | NY Citysearch
photo from noodlepie
Forks and Fingers Feed at Saigon Grill
1700 2nd Avenue (Corner of 88 St.) - (212) 996-4600
The Saigon Grill emanates the exotic tastes and aromas of Vietnam. Tease your palate with succulent lemongrass-infused skewered beef, chicken or shrimp, or steaming bowls of pho rice noodle soup streaked with ribbons of beef. Fried rice paper spring rolls stuffed with sprouts, basil and minced pork and splashed with nuoc cham, a fish-based dip, are satisfying. Gargantuan portions of broiled steak cubes exhibit hints of sweetness and spice. Superb coffee swirled with condensed milk is a splendid ending.
links: saigongrill.com | menupages | NY Metro | NY Citysearch
Real Chinese Take-Out
Various Chinatown street corners and storefronts
pictured: corner of Catherine St and Bowery)
You can’t beat Chinatown when it comes to value. For a dollar or two a complete meal can be bought from a street vendor. A permanent institution at the corner of Bowery and Catherine Street sells traditional Chinese foods such as tsai bao (steamed vegetable buns w/bean sprouts), char siew bao (steamed pork buns), steamed egg cakes, steamed breads, dumplings, fried desserts, and rice cakes for less than the dollar menu at a fast food joint. Half the fun is looking for new carts!
photograph from The Food Section
Midtown Burger Oasis
burger joint at Le Parker Meridien
118 W. 57th St. (bet. 6th & 7th Aves.) - (212) 708-7414
Hidden in luxurious midtown hotel is arguably the #1 burger joint in the world. “Beef heaven,” as some customers might call this otherwise nameless restaurant, offers juicy 8-ounce aged Black Angus (chuck-sirloin mix) burgers grilled to bovine perfection. Sandwiched in classic jus-soaking spongy buns, these can be accompanied by a more-than-you-can-eat serving of super crispy fries and Sam Adams on tap or decadent milkshake. Happily carry your basket of food to a wooden booth to ponder why you never had it so good.