After putting in his time at serious restaurants in luxury hotels for a number of years since moving to the U.S. over a decade ago, Shaun Hergatt opened SHO Shaun Hergatt in the Financial District in 2009—not a very good year to open a restaurant considering the economic recession. But the Australian-born chef still garnered accolades for his food and he did everything to make it work, including moving not far away. While SHO is no longer, Hergatt is now cooking for guests at his restaurant Juni, an intimate 50-seat restaurant in the Flatiron District. He still lives downtown for the convenience and all the train stops in his neighborhood. Here, Hergatt shares with Serious Eats some of his favorites in lower Manhattan.
Pizza: Sometimes I go to Adrienne's Pizza Bar. It feels like grandmother's stuff. They have this big square pizza. A lot of the times when I go there, I'll do half meat and vegetarian—I feel guilty if I eat too much meat. I also like Inatesso, which has a thin crust pizza. It's right across the street from Juni so it remains hot and crunchy. I get the margherita from there.
Burger: Shake Shack. I get two Shake Shack burgers and a side lettuce. It's quick, easy, reliable, and you trust it. I don't think the actual meat is the best combo, but I like little burgers. When I eat those burgers, every bite tastes the same. It's not this big sloppy, greasy burger. I like to feed my dogs lettuce and give them a cup of water. I normally have one of the chocolate custards.
Bagel: I go to Zucker's Bagel in Tribeca. It's my favorite place for bagels in the entire city. The bagels are hot. They have a bunch of different types of lox. All the bagels are super light and they're always hot. They're always baked fresh. They're light and fluffy. You have a large variety of bagels, too. It's more intimate there.
Coffee: There's a place in Battery Park City associated with Hugh Jackman. It's called Laughing Man Coffee. I don't like the Tribeca one so much. It's a little bit of an Australian thing, but I always get a flat white. It's kind of like a café latte.
Bakery: Financier is a good place. There's one right in the heart of the Financial District. They have croque monsieur and all that good stuff.
Brunch: A place that's not bad for brunch is Locanda Verde. I go there sometimes. I like the little pastries on the counter. It's one of those places on a cozy corner.
Wine bar: Terroir is good to have a glass of wine. It's interesting. You can go in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts and no one cares. When I'm there I drink a lot of different wines. Because of the business I'm in, I'm always drinking with the sommelier. The more I try, the more I learn.
Take-out: I seem to order in from the same places because I seem to trust them. I always order a dried age rib eye from Harry's for take out. The thing is I think they cook it perfectly. It's really dry aged. I like how it's funky. I order it medium rare. I think the meat program is very good and it's in a steakhouse area. The fries are house-made.
Date night: Jungsik is a Korean place that has two Michelin stars. It was actually a very good place for a date. It's a refined place in the old Chanterelle space. I had a tasting menu, so I don't remember everything I had, but I'd go back.