By day, Box Kite is a tiny cafe like many others in the East Village. But by night it turns into a remarkable restaurant serving surprisingly delicious and upscale food for such a small space.
East Village, Manhattan
Weekend brunches should be stress-free, but crowded old standbys can be anything but. North River, the new kid on the East Village block, offers a calmer respite. Chef Adam Starowicz, a Momofuku Ko alum, has a brunch menu that's seasonal and crowd-pleasing.
All good things come at a price, and for Il Buco Alimenti e Vineria, that means potential for a long wait at dinner. Where should you go if you can't wait out your meal? The neighborhood is full of Italian alternatives.
The Blue Ribbon from Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken is the restaurant's first foray into the world of fried chicken sandwiches. With a good crust and spicy peppers, it certainly has something to offer.
A cafe by day and a sake bar by night, Hi-Collar brings two highlights of Japanese cuisine under one roof. But the lunch menu is worth a visit all its own.
If you're looking for more than just standard egg dishes for brunch, go to East 12th Osteria where you'll get a home cooked Italian meal and pastries.
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.
Well-crisped tater tots, gloriously yellow cheese sauce, and a sweet tomato-y chili make for a great snack with your hot dogs.
The East Village's borscht belt takes all comers, old foreigners next to fresh new faces, forming one of the city's most democratic public spaces. And come icy winters, their bowls of chicken soup and plates of potato dumplings satisfy like nothing else. Here's a roster of the old timers that are still standing, with field notes on what to order.
This week on Ask the Critic: Getting to know Alphabet City.
A decade after opening, the crowds still line up for David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar. Stuck with a long wait and need an easy-to-get-into, low-key alternatives nearby? Here are some recommendations.
This is La Palapa's 14th winter since Barbara Selby, a native to Mexico City, opened the restaurant. The good intentions (and much of the good food) are still there, but without Sibley in the kitchen, some of her passion for Mexico's cuisine can get lost in translation.
With layers of brownie, caramel, and peanut butter white chocolate, this dense dessert gives the candy bar an upgrade.
Though their claim to fame is the fried Korzo Burger, they also have some choice central European fare. On a cold winter's day, nothing is better than the Spicy Hungarian Goulash ($5 small / $15 large).
Lucien is the sort of place you can go when you know what you want to eat, so long as what you want to eat is classic bistro fare. There's risk in running a restaurant so traditional—the food needs to be articulate and speak to guests in special, intimate ways, less the whole concept prove hollow and soulless. Lucien opened in 1998. After 16 years, the restaurant's got a way with words.
I don't remember exactly when I ate at Odessa (the restaurant) for the first time—it was in 2005 or 6, in a boozy haze, probably around the same time that a college friend was bartending at Odessa (the bar) next door, specializing in a variation of a Long Island Iced Tea with an unprintable name (okay, we'll print it—scroll down). I do remember that Odessa (the restaurant) made an excellent French toast, using fluffy challah bread so thoroughly soaked in eggy goo that it became almost like a caramelized bread pudding when it hit the flattop.
Last summer, Sigmund's went through a total transformation from quick snack shack to friendly neighborhood restaurant. With beer taps and a full menu, they also serve a weekend brunch of the classics—but pretzel-ized.
Some days, nothing will do but a greasy sandwich. And should you find yourself wandering the East Village on such a day, JoeDough would be a good start. The tiny shop sticks outlandish versions of classic sandwiches, and their Breakfast Sandwich elevates the basic bacon, egg, and cheese just enough to make its $6 price tag count.
Since Mee Noodle Shop closed in 2006, New York's Chinese food has evolved. Diners now know that "Chinese food" isn't a single category; they look for Sichuan or Cantonese food in restaurants specializing in those cuisines. And a rush of new options for quality Chinese—Han Dynasty, Hot Kitchen, Xi'an Famous Foods, and even Grand Sichuan—make Mee's reopening far less relevant, except for the gentle price.
With an abundance of cheese—American, cheddar, queso blanco—stuffed between two thick slices of challah, this sandwich requires a degree of gluttony that most sober people simply do not possess. That's not necessarily a bad thing.