After a long day at the Javits Center, unwinding with a nice meal is just what many convention-goers need. We talked to New Yorkers with cookbooks and books about food out this year to get their picks. There's plenty to chose from, but if all else fails, follow the advice of former food critic William Grimes: “Do not despise food from street carts. Many are terrific. Not the hot dog ones, but the spicy-smelling ones selling chicken and rice and French fries for about $5 can be great.” Bon appétit!
BrooklynBoerum HillGiulia Melucci, author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti: A Memoir (Grand Central), says, “You cannot go to Brooklyn without visiting Smith Street, the borough's bustling restaurant row.” Her pick: La Lunetta (116 Smith St.; 718-488-6269), “an eight-minute walk from the Marriott Hotel.” Melucci suggests starting with bruscetta and wine, then trying chicken wings agro/dolce, homemade salumi, spaghetti carbonara and orecchiette rapini. She also insists: “Order the meatballs.” Alison Lowenstein, author of City Weekends: Great Escapes and Weekend Getaways in and Around New York City (Universe), suggests Wild Ginger (112 Smith St.; 718-858-3880) for Pan Asian vegan dishes. “Veggies can finally get a chance to order General Tso's Chicken (one of my favorites).” Madeline Scherb, author of A Taste of Heaven: A Guide to Food and Drink Made by Nuns and Monks (Tarcher) says Jolie (320 Atlantic Ave.; 718-488-0777) is within walking distance of Brooklyn Heights and is “very French,” with a “great local neighborhood vibe, outdoor patio and lovely food. Best of all, it's not expensive!” Corinne Trang, author of Noodles Every Day (Chronicle), likes Bacchus Bistro and Wine Bar (409 Atlantic Ave.; 718-852-1572) for “classic and contemporary French bistro fare, specializing in French regional wines,” and Hanco (85 Bergen St.; 718-858-6818) for Vietnamese sandwiches: “Order the classic, no mayo/no butter; mildly spicy, medium spicy or spicy.”Brooklyn HeightsMark Bittman, author of Food Matters (S&S), likes Noodle Pudding (38 Henry St.; 718-625-3737); he says “the fried fish is amazing.” Tom Valenti, author of You Don't Have to Be Diabetic to LoveThis Cookbook (Workman), is also a fan: “Although the name doesn't suggest it, this is an Italian restaurant.” Valenti and Dalia Jurgensen, author of Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes On in the Kitchen (Putnam), both suggest Sahadi's (187 Atlantic Ave.; 718-624-4550); Jurgensen says it's a “great specialty food store from mostly the Far and Middle East with inexpensive coffee beans, nuts, candies and freshly prepared foods.” Moustache (405 Atlantic Ave.; 718-852-5555) serves Middle Eastern food, and, says Valenti, “It's awesome.” Lowenstein notes Theresa's Restaurant (80 Montague St.; 718-797-3993) “has been serving up fresh pierogi and blintzes for years. I recommend ordering a mixed order of boiled pierogi with applesauce.” Arthur Schwartz, author of The Southern Italian Table (Clarkson Potter) picks Downtown Atlantic (364 Atlantic Ave.; 718-852-9945) as the place “for anything from coffee and cake to burgers to stylish entrees, with jazz brunch on Sundays, in a restored strip of Victorian Brooklyn Heights storefronts.” Schwartz also recommends Queen (84 Court St.; 718-596-5955). “Order from the daily specials at this popular Brooklyn Heights Neapolitan-American.”Carroll GardensFor a glass of wine, Lowenstein suggests Black Mountain Wine House (415 Union St.; 718-522-4340), “one of Brooklyn's hidden gems, tucked away on a residential street, that serves wine (and beer) in a homey atmosphere. The small but worthwhile menu offers tasty comfort foods like mac 'n' cheese. On Tuesdays they serve fondue.”Cobble HillSchwartz's pick: Caserta Vecchia (221 Smith St.; 718-624-7549): “Great Neapolitan-style pies in a rakishly stylish Cobble Hill pizzeria.”DUMBOLourdes Castro, author of Simply Mexican (Ten Speed Press), recommends Vinegar Hill House (72 Hudson Ave.; 718-522-1018) and Hecho (111 Front St.; 718-855-5288).Park SlopeBittman acknowledges Italian favorite Al Di La (248 Fifth Ave.; 718-636-8888) is “overrated,” but still thinks it's good.Red HookBob Sloan, author of Dad's Awesome Grilling Book (Chronicle), says “Get a foursome together and grab a cab” to the Good Fork (391 Van Brunt St.; 718-643 6636). “It's an eclectic menu, but by the end of the meal you have the sublime sense of coherence, primarily because everything's packed with so much flavor.”WilliamsburgAnthony Bourdain, author of Gone Bamboo (Canongate), says these days, he likes Diner (85 Broadway; 718-486-3077) and Marlow & SonsRestaurant (81 Broadway; 718-384-1441) as well as its associated butcher shop, Marlow & Daughters (95 Broadway; 718-388-5700). Castro suggests Cafe Moto (394 Broadway; 718-599-6895), which boasts crusty panini and $5 tap beers. Jurgensen says it's worth visiting Shachis (197 Havemeyer St.; 718-388-8884) “for the fresh arepas, especially the pabellon (shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains and cheese) for $6.” She also recommends Motorino (319 Graham Ave.; 718-599-8899), “the newest of the brick oven pizza joints and also often rated as the best. The $10 lunch special cannot be beat—soup or salad, and a pizza.” Scherb's pick: Lenora's Way (303 Bedford Ave.; 718-963-3435), “the perfect Williamsburg spot to sip Trappist ales including Orval, Westmalle and Chimay. Not overrun with hipsters, dogs or children.”Manhattan
Nina Planck, author of Real Food for Mother and Baby (Bloomsbury), loves the John Dory (85 10th Ave.; 212-929-4948) for fish.
Jurgensen says Vegetarian Dim Sum House (24 Pell St.; 212-577-7176) “doesn't look like much, but the veggie dim sum is very delicious and cheap! They also have great fresh juices with or without tapioca.”
Former New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes, author of Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York (FSG) is a fan of Hearth (403 E. 12th St.; 212-673-3650), created by an alumnus of Craft.
Grimes recommends Bar Breton (254 Fifth Ave.; 212-213-4999). “The fixed price menu is a steal,” and the menu's “emphasis is on dishes of the chef's native region, Brittany. People need to remember that to avoid a big bill they can always avoid à la carte and look for the set-price menus.” He also advises visitors to try the “boisterous, Texas roadhouse style” Hill Country (30 W. 26th St.; 212-255-4544), “where you get a tray and order your meat by the pound (they weigh it for you right there on a scale and put it on butcher paper).”
John DeLucie, executive chef/partner of the Waverly Inn and author of The Hunger: A Story of Food, Desire, and Ambition (Ecco) likes Taim (222 Waverly Pl.; 212-691-1287), a “cute, blink-while-you-are-walking-and-miss-it falafel spot. It's delicious and everything is made to order. The fries are hand cut and perfectly seasoned.” For Indian snacks and lassis, Jurgensen suggests Lassi (28 Greenwich Ave.; 212-675-2688). Planck recommends Blue Ribbon Bakery (33 Bedford St.; 212-242-1086), a “resto, cafe, etc.”
Hell's Kitchen (Clinton)
“The Javits Center is a wasteland for dining, but a few avenues east, things look up,” says Grimes. He suggests the Red Cat (227 10th Ave.; 212-242-1122), Marseille (630 Ninth Ave.; 212-333-2323) for Moroccan/Provençal cuisine and Hell's Kitchen (679 Ninth Ave.; 212-977-1588), “which is a sort of modernized Mexican.” Also on Grimes's list: Hallo Berlin, (626 10th Ave.; 212-977-1944), famous for its German sausages, and a new French patisserie opened by two sisters from Paris, Dousoeur de Paris Patisserie Salon (652 10th Ave.; 212-315-4543). Adam Perry Lang, author of Serious Barbecue (Hyperion), suggests Lali (630 10th Ave.; 212-664-1507), a small Dominican breakfast and lunch place. “Lali is the owner; she's the nicest woman so please say hi. They have the best oxtail, and if you get there after it has sold out, order the chicken with rice and beans. It's about $7, really as good as you might get at a high-end restaurant. Also, if you love coffee, ask for a Spanish coffee ,which is heavenly—it's part of my routine every day before work at my BBQ restaurant down the block,” Daisy May's BBQ (623 11th Ave.; 212-977-1500).
Lower East Side
David Chang, author of Momofuku (Clarkson Potter), suggests WD-50 (50 Clinton St.; 212-477-2900) and Oriental Garden (14 Elizabeth St.; 212-619-0085).
DeLucie says for coffee, hit Zibetto (1385 Sixth Ave., no phone). It boasts “real baristas brewing artful espresso drinks. They also have authentic Italian cornetti—a sort of croissant—and various panini, all very good.” Margaret M. Johnson, author of Tea & Crumpets (Chronicle), loves Grand Central Market (87 E. 42nd St.; 212-532-4900), with vendors such as Murray's Cheese, Li-Lac Chocolates and Penzey's Spices. Johnson also recommends Pershing Square Restaurant (90 E. 42nd St.; 212-286-9600) and Artisanal (2 Park Ave.; 212-725-8585).
Jurgensen suggests Kalustyan's (123 Lexington Ave.; 212-685-3451), a “specialty food shop that has every kind of lentil, rice, spice, etc., and a great vegetarian deli counter upstairs with fantastic Middle Eastern and Indian dishes—and the best pickled baby eggplant ever.”
Jurgensen is “addicted” to the breakfast dosa at Hampton Chutney Co. (68 Prince St.; 212-226-9996) at any time of day. Planck likes Hundred Acres (38 MacDougal St.; 212-475-7500), which serves seasonal cuisine in a fun atmosphere. Trang goes to Pepe Rosso (149 Sullivan St.; 212-677-4555) for “great pasta (always cooked al dente)”; Snack (105 Thompson St.; 212-925-1040) for “excellent Greek food, classic and contemporary”; and Sunrise Mart (494 Broome St.; 212-219-0033), a Japanese eat-in or take-out market, for “great lunch specials and snacks—or to shop for ingredients and cute Japanese tabletop stuff.”
Grimes says Irving Mill (116 E. 16th St.; 212-254-1600) serves “very good New American (as it used to be called) cooking, sort of in the vein of the great Craft, but not as expensive.”
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