I’m skeptical of restaurants that specialize in one particular item, since they tend not be very good. The Meatball Shop is a notable exception. Following the well-deserved acclaim and success of their Lower East Side restaurant, Daniel Holzman (executive chef) and Michael Chernow (general manager) have expanded into two new locations: Williamsburg and the West Village. If you’ve ever been to the original Meatball Shop, you’ll know that noise and tight seating ensured having a casual conversation was nearly impossible. Fortunately, the location in the village, only two weeks old, has the same menu in a slightly more upscale setting.
Category Archives: ★★★★☆
I’ve been to Birch Coffee a few times and considered keeping it a secret. In a neighborhood that could be mistaken for Midtown because of an overwhelming number of chain restaurants, Birch stands out as a rare find. The cafe is connected to the lobby of the swanky Gershwin Hotel, and is hard to miss despite the construction out front. The facade is painted in a vibrant red and outfitted with horns protruding into the street (you read that correctly). While the attached hotel may be new-wave and trendy, Birch Coffee is a well-executed return to what makes a cafe ideal.
Ever since Eddie Huang closed the original BaoHaus, I’ve been meaning to make a trip to the second location. Eddie, whom I mentioned before, opened up a shack in the Lower East Side after his recipe was a finalist in Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown. Despite the lack of formal training, the food of this renegade chef quickly garnered a cult-like following. His recipes are original, with influences from Taiwanese parents and growing up in the South.
Dinosaur BBQ started with John Stages serving food at biker events, where he was told that he had the right idea, but needed to work on his technique. John went off on a tour of the South to learn the art of barbequing, and eventually opened up shop in Syracuse. Since, then he’s received national recognition and opened up new locations. I visited the one in Harlem to get a taste of their highly recommended wings.
Food in Midtown East is often either too expensive or too boring (soups, salads, and sandwiches). Güllüoglu was featured in RealCheapEats‘ list for a while, and I immediately added it to my list when I noticed the location. Güllüoglu is a Turkish cafe known for serving up 12 varieties of baklava, a Turkish pastry made with phyllo dough, crushed nuts, and sweetened with syrup and honey. After asking for a Turkish coffee ($2.75), I skipped past the menu’s entrees and went straight for their specialties. The waitress returned a few minutes later (without my drink) to ask how I can drink coffee without sugar, a question I didn’t know how to answer.
I had trouble pronouncing Wechsler’s Currywurst Bratwurst, but I had no trouble handing over $5 for what was supposed to be high quality meat. Currywurst, which is a German fast-food, happens to be Wechsler’s specialty. They take sliced pork/veal sausage and grill it until it’s juicy. The main attraction is actually the sweet ketchup they use, which is mixed with a heavy dose of curry powder. It’s so popular that the German’s have a museum devoted to it.