Skirt Steak from El Gauchito
Expect a full post about the food at this Argentinian butcher, market, and steakhouse in Queens, but here's a sneak peek, and the main reason to go: a gorgeously juicy skirt steak that overhangs the plate, dressed solely in its own juices, for a princely $13. This is one of our favorite budget steak spots in New York, and come summer, it's a must-eat tradition.
Baba Ganoush from Bab al Yemen
On our first six or so visits to Bay Ridge Middle Eastern destination Bab al Yemen, we were too wowed by chopped lamb over hummus to try the baba ganoush ($7). But now we know better, and this will be joining the regular order. It's resoundingly smoky but feather-light, full of enough whipped tahini and olive oil to turn the spread a delicate off-white. A ring of sumac adds a touch of tartness to this cant-stop-eating spread.
Curry Chicken Noodles from Cong Ly
Cong Ly is one of our favorite casual Vietnamese spots, with super-cheap barebones menu that keeps us happy. But this bowl of curry chicken and potatoes with egg noodles ($5.75) was a recent first for us on a rare cool rainy night, and we're glad to know about the dish for the fall. There's tender bone-in chunks of dark meat chicken, soft potato, al dente noodles, and a generous bowl of schmaltzy, mildly spicy broth that's creamy but not heavy.
Cong Ly: 124 Hester Street, New York, NY 10002 (map); 212-343-1111
Crab Tostadas at Casa Enrique
One great bar snack deserves another, and the crab tostadas ($12 for 3) at Casa Enrique qualify. The delicate corn tortillas are topped generously with tender, sweet crab, lime, avocado, tomato, cilantro, and serrano chili. There's nothing particularly new about these tostadas, but the hit all the sweet-sour-spicy-fatty flavors that Latin American seafood cookery can do so well.
Casa Enrique: 5-48 49th Avenue, New York, NY 11101 (map); 347-448-6040
Whole Hog Barbecue at the Hog Days of Summer
Tyson Ho's whole hog barbecues have been one of the highlights of outer boroughs barbecue this year, and if you haven't gone to one yet, there's still time. Ho's North Carolina-style whole hog is mildly spiced and subtly smoky, and when pulled makes a perfect mix of wobbly fat, tender lean, and crunchy pork skin. It's joined here with mustardy cole slaw and fresh hush puppies. Eat this pig now before it's gone.
Dry Fried String Beans from Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
These may be the best dry fried string beans (called sautéed and dry string bean on the menu, $9.45) we've had in New York, with a pronounced smokiness but not too much stray oil. Refreshing and light but deeply savory, they're one of the more memorable vegetable dishes we've had of late.
Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan: 4247 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355 (map); 718-888-0553
Fried Pickles at Shopsins
Shopsins makes great onion rings. This we know. But we did not know that their fried pickles ($7) are almost as good. The thinly sliced cukes come encased in a thick, craggly batter that you bite into with vim and vigor, all the better to let the sweet, briny juices inside pop right out. The accompanying tomato salsa is pretty forgettable, but the pickles don't need it.
Marc Vetri's Mortadella Hot Dog
When Philly chef Marc Vetri stopped by Brooklyn for a Finger on the Pulse barbecue at Good Company, he eschewed upscale Italian fare in exchange for this killer mortadella hotdog. It's literally a miniature mortadella sausage—fat cubes and all—grilled, and then smothered with beer cheese and pickled red onions, served on a squishy potato bun.