While Pat LaFrieda's name has become synonymous with steaks and burgers in many top restaurants across the country, the family's business started in the West Village long before the neighborhood became gentrified. LaFrieda and his family still consider the Village home in many ways even while the business, which is now based in New Jersey, outgrew an area that was once an industrial and manufacturing hub. "Our roots will always be there," he says of the neighborhood.
Physical location aside, LaFrieda's presence across New York is still strong. At this year's New York City Wine and Food Festival, Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors is sponsoring the popular Burger Bash, in which each participating restaurant will serve up at least 2,000 of portions of the namesake dish; and an Oktoberfest event hosted by Andrew Zimmern, who's partnered with LaFrieda to create a line of sausages. Here are LaFrieda's favorite bites around the West Village.
Burger: Obviously, people ask me this question all the time. Market Table is one of my favorites. I like it seared on the outside and rare in the inside. It's very important. They get it to you at the right temperature. They have white cheddar, caramelized onions, an awesome pickle, and their fries. It's a game changer.
Pizza: Everyone's opinionated on pizza. I'm in the meat business, but I'm a carb freak. It's not in the Village, but Rubirosa. The get a classic. It's a thin crust. What I like about it is that you pick up a slice and it doesn't collapse and fall down on you. You have flavor and you have quality. You have that thin crust, it's amazing.
Brunch/breakfast: In the West Village, you can't beat Commerce. I like the sweet breads and chorizo omelet every time. Where can you get that? It's the best brunch you can find in New York City. Forget about the West Village. I think it's on one of the prettiest streets in New York. The chef is always there, and he runs a tight ship. He cares about what he's doing.
Mexican: I call it a Josh Capon show at El Toro Blanco. I absolutely love craziness. I think he hit it right on the head there.
Italian: Perla. I order the lamb head or the calf's head. When I was younger, a lot of restaurants ordered it. Now they prepare it differently. They put it on the table and different parts out. When I go out to eat, I want something different. You're not going to get something more different than that.
It's not really Italian, but I go to Barbuto for the chicken. It's phenomenal. I like Jonathan Waxman's cooking method. He splits the chicken from the back and takes out the rib bones out. The combination of seasoning on it is killer. It's no new news, and it's a dinosaur of a dish, but you still can't beat it.
Coffee: Milk and Cookies. I like them for their coffee and their cookies. They make the bacon chocolate chip cookie. The owner's name is Tina. It's right across from her brother's bar, and it's a little hidden gem.
Bakery: I love Patisserie Claude. My favorite thing there is always the quiches. I love the one with the mushroom. It's just buttery and light. They're small, so you eat a half dozen of them. [The baker] is there in the morning, slaving over them. It's hard to find anything like that these days. You're not going to go into a Starbucks and find something like that, so I gotta give Patisserie Claude credit.
Sandwich: You can't get better than the meatball sandwich at Little Owl. Again, real tasty, real fresh. They make it every day.
Asian: RedFarm. It has the best ribeye steak. His preparation of the cold water over the ribeye is great. I think it's the best Asian restaurant out there. Joe Ng's dumplings are amazing, too.
Date: Lupa is romantic. It has a very soft feel. It's been there for a very long time, which is tough when you're in New York City. It's small, but it's impressive. They have garganelli with tripe, which is one of my favorites to eat.
Drinks: The second floor of The Spotted Pig. April does awesome food and drinks. The English style beers come out at room temperature, and I love that.