- Mother's Ruin
18 Spring St., nr. Elizabeth St.; no phone
Frying chickpeas may be a brilliant idea, but it’s hardly a new one: The legume has a long and storied history of being anointed in oil in various culinary traditions, from West Indian channa to Sicilian panelle, never mind the ubiquitous falafel. We first encountered the hot, crispy-soft, pimentón-dusted chickpea as bar snack eight years ago at Chelsea’s Tía Pol, where it ignited a trend. The latest destination for a $5 fix? Mother’s Ruin in Nolita, where both the food and drinks are much better than you’d expect from such an unpretentious watering hole. Here, the chickpeas are fried until they achieve the perfect puffy-crisp texture, a harmony of external flake and internal bite, and tossed liberally with garam masala, cayenne, and enough salt to ensure their consumption will be accompanied by a hefty bar tab. Speaking of that: The bartenders here are true pros, and will improvise a meticulous bespoke cocktail on the spot, or serve you the spiked slushy of the day. No judgments.