Since opening The Red Cat in 1999, restaurateur and chef Jimmy Bradley has become an icon in the Chelsea community where he lives and works. An appearance on Top Chef Masters and the success of the Tribeca restaurant The Harrison (which launched the careers of chefs like Joey Campanaro and Amanda Freitag) haven't hurt his recognizability, but Jimmy will take a street cart empanada or a cold beer en route to Port Authority just as soon as a fine pasta or perfect cut of yellowtail.
Pizza (slice): Artichoke Pizza. Sorry to say that nothing beats the original, but as I don't make it to the East Village that much, this newer location will do. I usually end up there if I overindulge, and only order a plain slice. I put chili flakes and salt on it.
Pizza pie: Jim Lahey's the man behind Sullivan Street Bakery, and his thin Neapolitan-style pizza and Pizza Bianco at Co. are tip top.
Sandwich: I'm willing to walk the extra blocks to the Flatiron for the turkey club at Eisenberg's because it is such an unadulterated classic, or the meatloaf sandwich at Lenny's, because who doesn't like hot meatloaf on a roll with chili peppers?
Coffee: The deli in London Terrace serves my favorite old-school New York cup of joe. Otherwise The Commons is a really nice little coffee joint that does breakfast and lunch. They use La Colombe coffee and their baked goods come from one of the proprietors' mother's kitchen. They have a nice selection of prepared and baked breakfast items. Soon they are adding a small, thoughtful, organic locavore dinner menu with beer and wine as well. It's a little neighborhood gem.
Bagel: I'd have to say Murray's for the Chelsea area.
Breakfast: Cookshop does it right. They have an organic approach to food that makes for thoughtful dishes like their specialty pancakes and homemade cereals. All the classics like French toast and huevos rancheros are just as good.
Takeout: Grand Sichuan (which now goes by the name Chelsea Chinese Restaurant) is an old New York go-to. It has both American classics and more traditional Cantonese and Szechuan dishes. I sit in their scuzzy little dining room eating dan dan noodles and sea cucumbers while drinking Tsingtao beer in bliss.
Dive bar: Between a cop, a firefighter, a pimp, and a pusher, you can draw a fine beer at Billymark's West on your way to or from Port Authority if you must.
Nicer wine, beer, or cocktail bar: Bar Veloce has a really thoughtful, well-selected wine list with little sandwiches and snacks made in front of you by the bartenders. It's the closest thing you get to a Roman-style café in New York City.
Ice cream / gelato: The pistachio gelato at L'Arte Del Gelato is amazing and the affogato is killer. They also have great sorbets.
Japanese: Izakaya Ten is a true Japanese-style neighborhood kitchen and sushi bar. Get the Hamachi Collar.
Chinese: Without making the trek downtown, you get pretty serious food at Legend. Be warned though—the inside is a mix between a Long Island bar mitzvah and Chinatown.
Mexican food: The guy on 10th avenue that walks up and down with a cart selling empanadas and Mexican water ice.
Date night: El Quinto Pino is a charming Spanish wine bar. Order the toasted baguette with sea urchin, butter and salt.
Can't-miss neighborhood spot: Del Posto. You have to call ahead and you have to order the 100 Layer Lasagna.