As a longtime resident on the east side of Manhattan, Nick Anderer has seen more restaurants pop up closer to the East River each year. The 35-year-old chef currently lives in Stuyvesant Town, not far from Maialino, where he's the head chef, and the East Village, where he lived before. He's discovered more favorites through years that he can keep track of, but Anderer shared his favorites with us this week.
Pizza: I like the vibe at Luzzo. Technically speaking, it may not be the prize-winning pizza. But it's got lots of history to it. They do a solid job with the pizza, and they do it the same every time. I'm there. I'm boring and usually get the margherita with anchovies. The eggplant parm is also really good. It's about proportions of sauce to eggplant. I hate when you get one that's all cheese. This one has more eggplant and it's all thinly sliced.
Burgers: People would not pick Swift as a food place. Their late night sliders are addictive. They're tiny cheeseburgers. There's an English mustard that I slather on them. Through all the years I've been going there, it seems that I've only been in there post 2-a.m. I can always rely on them to be open till 4 a.m. The bartenders are awesome.
Sandwich: Sunny and Annie's is a very unassuming deli. You could walk past it a hundred times and miss it. Once you step inside, you'll notice the biggest sandwich menu ever. Tell them what you want to have and they'll build it. It's one of the best Reubens I've had in New York. They nail the sandwiches all the time.
Bar food: Linen Hall is right next to Ngam. I think they do a solid job with their bar menu. They do a patty melt that's out of this world. It's the right balance of cheese, meat and toast. It's Texas-style toast with sharp cheddar cheese. The wings are sick, too—the dry spice is good. The bar itself is still a bit of a hidden gem. It feels grown up when you're there because it's not overrun with NYU students. It's a nice reprieve.
Bagel: I'm sure this is going to be a controversial pick. There are three or four bagel shops near me but David's Bagel is the newest of them all. They run the most efficient business. Essa Bagel is great, but they don't do hot toppings. And they won't toast your bagels. David's has fun with their bagels. I get mine so many different ways. I like whitefish, lettuce/ham/onion, lox and cream cheese, scallion cream cheese, or even a toasted bagel with butter.
Thai: I get something different every time at Ngam. I think the chef [Hong Thaimee] is super talented. Even the weird things like the burger are good there. There are a slew of mediocre Thai restaurants in New York, and Ngam is one that adheres to tradition when it's necessary but breaks it, too. It feels personal there.
Chinese: Han Dynasty is great, especially when you want to have your mouth blown open. It's like a flavor punch in the face. It's fun for the neighborhood to have a place that has bold food. I think overall they do it really well. I had a great whole steamed fish last time I was there. It's a fresh of breath air for the area.
Mexican Grocery: Zaragoza is an interesting place. It's right on Avenue A between 13th and 14th street. It's where I go if I'm cooking Mexican at home. They have good corn tortillas, spices, chocolate. They also have a steam table with home-made fixings tacos or burrittos. They've had interesting stuff there like tongue, lamb, goat and other traditional Mexican fare.
Mexican: I originally started going to Mayahuel because I had some bartender friends who worked there. I thought the mezcal menu and the cocktails were sick. Then on my third or fourth visit, I met the chef and he said, "Dude, why don't you eat here?" I took him up on the offer and discovered that they have the best chilaquiles and mole poblano I've ever had.
Take-out: Balade is my standard take-out stuff. I've actually never sat down and eaten there. When I order Seamless, that's the spot I order from. They do this chicken sandwich which is more like a chicken wrap. I always get a side of hummus and baba ghanoush. Their food is perfectly seasoned to me—they get the balance right.
Fried chicken: Bob White. That's some serious stuff. This one is a step up from most fried chicken I've had in New York. They brine their chicken and it pays off. They nail all the sides, like the collard greens, cole slaw, potato salad. The banana pudding is amazing.
Egg Cream: I feel like it would be poor form if I didn't mention an egg cream spot. I just like Ray's Candy Store, and Ray is still there doing his thing. They do little beignets, too, but I only go there for the egg creams.
Fine dining: I have so few nods to fine dining in the East Village, but Hearth stands out. Marco Canora crushes it. He makes awesome meatballs. They do a killer brunch there too that's under the radar. It's a cool, mellow brunch. I think they're just very creative. You can keep going back and keep having different things.
Favorite David Chang restaurant: Ssam Bar just has something for everybody. They have a good cocktail program, fun snacks, Asian influence, American influence. It all comes together. There's a reason it's so popular.
Neighborhood Bar: I believe that Louis 649 is named after Louis Armstrong. It's one of those unassuming neighborhood bars. It's not a crazy mixology spot, but they do cocktails really, really well. And if your'e not in the mood for cocktails you can get a beer and shot without feeling weird about it. I get a Tommy margarita. It's basically a tequila sour that originated in San Francisco.
Dive Bar: Three of Cups is a total rock and roll bar, border line heavy metal bar. It's just a cool, old New York spot. It's a can-of-PBR-type-of-place. It's just a fun, New York vibe. You feel a little more bad ass every time you walk into Three of Cups.