Get to Know Us: Howard Walfish, 'Vegetarian Option'
Editor's note: All over the Serious Eats sites, we've been chatting with all our lovely columnists, helping you get to know the folks behind the articles you read every day. Here's one of our "Vegetarian Option" columnists, Howard Walfish, who's been all over the five boroughs to bring you affordable vegetarian eats.
What do you write about on Serious Eats: New York, and why is that of particular interest? Every other week I write the Vegetarian Option. I've been a vegetarian since 1996(-ish), and I love writing about food. The Vegetarian Option gives me an excuse to go try out new restaurants all over the city and discover some of the best vegetarian food around.
What are your guilty pleasures, foodwise? Ice cream, and lots of it. Even in the winter.
Describe your perfect meal. Usually the perfect meal is a combination of great food and great company. If the food is good that's a nice thing, but without friends and/or family to share it with, the experience can't be "perfect".
Where in New York are you a "regular"? Why there? 12th St. Bar & Grill in Park Slope is my go-to neighborhood bar. Thanks to my cousin I've been going there ever since I moved to Brooklyn, and it really feels like a place where the community gathers. And gets drunk.
What food won't you eat? Well meat, obviously, and seafood. When it comes to non-meat stuff I'm willing to try anything, I'm a very curious eater. I don't like raw tomatoes, unless they're in salsa or bruschetta. And I love mushrooms, but I don't like dried, reconstituted mushrooms. But I'll eat them if they're put in front of me.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? They look to me for recommendations, and my parents have even started asking me for cooking tips. I sometimes have to check myself when I think I'm going on too much about food, but most people seem interested in it.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? My friends Jeff & Eva eat out a lot, and they've given me lots of good recommendations. Ditto my friends Jess & Garrett, who write the Date Night column for SE:NY.
And what's the best recommendation they've given you?
Well, as I stated above it's usually more about the company than the meal. With Jeff & Eva it's usually late dinners; we had a great, late-night meal at Osteria Morini last year. Jess & Garrett are also adventurous eaters; they recommended Comerç 24 in Barcelona to me, where I had one of the best single bites I've ever eaten.
Say you're moving out of New York. What would you eat and drink on your last day here? I don't even want to think about it. I'd have to get some pizza, surrounded by friends, of course. Probably at Paulie Gee's, since he's also a friend and the vibe there is always so fun—and the pizza is great too. Then come back to Park Slope and relax with some specialty beers at Beer Table.