Dave Arnold is a card-carrying member of the culinary avant-garde, with the gadgets and address book to prove it. Together with David Chang, the culinary science whiz opened Booker and Dax, a high-tech bar serving meticulously crafted cocktails made with hot pokers, centrifuges, and the like. But when he heads home to his wife and sons on the Lower East Side, he turns towards the classics: a club sandwich, spicy wings, or, you know, whatever his brother-in-law Wylie Dufresne is serving.
Sandwich: I'm a sucker for a club sandwich, and I love the one from Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop. It's just one of those creations from God: bacon, tomato, turkey, and a toothpick. Hold the sprouts.
Coffee: I only get double espressos from Cafe Grumpy.
Breakfast: I like Brown Cafe. I'm an eggs and toast sort of breakfast man.
Bagel: On Saturdays, I always want an everything or salt bagel from Kossar's Bialys, which is straight-up LES. It's the real deal, so it's closed on the Sabbath. Instead, I go to Russ & Daughters, which has the most ridiculous lox and cream cheese. I get belly lox on a salt bagel.
Wine bar: Bacaro is my friend Frankie's place. It's downstairs, chill, and not overloaded with hipsters. It's great for wine and small plates.
Cocktail bar: I like whatever they're making at Painkiller. It's a dangerous joint, and the fact that it's across from my house doesn't help. They do tiki, which is really fun because they also take the quality of their drinks very seriously. I go after dinner, since I prefer my dessert in liquid form.
Bar food: It's Alphabet City, but the pairing boards at The Beagle are killer, and the Frito Pie is also delicious.
Late-night eats: Nothing beats a big kebab from a street cart. I like it spicy, with all the veggies. I'm consistently surprised by how delicious it is at 2 AM.
Date night: My wife and I love the tasting menu at wd~50. The cocktails at the bar are great as well. Full disclosure: Wylie is my brother-in-law.
Can't-miss neighborhood spot: I gotta call out my boy Andy at Pok Pok Wing. I love the spicy wings. I also like to get one of the papaya salads, and wash it all down with one of their Drinking Vinegars.