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Best Dining Counter

Bright Food Shop
216 Eighth Avenue, at 21st Street
212-243-4433

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The kind of counter we have in mind is topped with Formica and faces the kitchen, so you can see your meal come off the line. There should be a row of cakes on pedestals, under faded, plastic covers. The menu should be artful but not precious, simple without being slummy, and you should be able to procure a decent breakfast most hours of the day. Choices abound, but the Bright Shop, which has been serving its own supreme brand of Mex fusion on a busy Chelsea corner for more than a decade, gets the nod. Sit with your morning cup of Joe and behold the construction of true huevos rancheros, with two layers of soft tortilla, two eggs, and a mass of beans, sour cream, cilantro, and melted jack cheese. For lunch, choose between the turkey sandpot (mole spices, braised turkey, roasted calabaza, and fresh mustard greens) and a bowl of green-chile posole with smoky cornbread on the side. There’s a sturdy chili also, and a whole roster of puddings and cakes (try the five-spice espresso cake), laid out under faded, plastic covers, of course.

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