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Where to Eat 2015

The Platt List

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Eat and Run

This perpetually harried, 24-hour town has always been one of the world’s great meccas of fast food, in the old-fashioned, unreconstructed sense of the term, so it’s not surprising that this has been another banner year for those of us who enjoy inhaling our lunch (or breakfast or dinner) on the run. Like lots of blog-reading food slaves around town, my new favorite destination for a quick bagel fix is Black Seed Bagels on Elizabeth Street, where it’s a pleasure, on a brisk winter afternoon, to stand in line with the mobs of other bespoke-bagel freaks and watch the dedicated, somewhat self-serious band of bakers knead the dough into thin circles with infinite care, fire them in the bellowing ovens with long wooden paddles, then dust the finished product on a shiny marble tabletop in clouds of baked garlic, poppy seed, sesame, or sea salt. My favorite of the myriad inventive sandwich options is the “No. 2” (it’s constructed with cream cheese, slivers of radish, and unorthodox slices of weirdly purple smoked salmon dyed with beet juice), and if you get just one freshly baked bagel, make it the one stippled with little rocks of sea salt only, which always tastes to me, when I grab it from the warm bag out on the sidewalk and take that first bite, like some idealized, Proustian version of the original freshly baked New York pretzel. A transplanted Parisian I know has a similar reaction when he bites into the hot-crusted, soft-centered baguettes that Thomas Keller’s former master baker, Roger Gural, sells over the counter at Arcade Bakery, which for reasons known only to Gural himself is located in the lobby of an obscure prewar office building on an anonymous downtown stretch of Church Street. Gural also sells first-rate pizza pies at lunchtime; buttery flaps of focaccia cut in generous, brick-size squares; and a boozy, addictive confection called the “whiskey pecan babka,” which you can nibble on the way to your next appointment or while standing at the small wood counters, which have been installed, here and there, along the lobby walls.

After conducting several tastings on the freezing northeastern corner of First Avenue and 12th Street, I can confidently declare that the steamy, chicken-meatball-rich “Chickarina” that Marco Canora sells for $7 at his excellent new walk-up East Village soup window, Brodo, is the perfect antidote to a case of the polar-vortex blues, and the bountiful super-burrito stuffed with lamb chorizo is my favorite of the many Nouveau Mexican carryout treats available at Danny Bowien’s festive, ever-evolving Lower East Side restaurant Mission Cantina.

Whenever the Platt girls are in the mood for an ice-cream adventure, I pack them off to Morgenstern’s, near the Bowery, to sample the radical creations by the city’s current ice-cream wizard, Nicholas Morgenstern, which the friendly counter ladies dispense in the tiled white room with little plastic spoons. For a slightly stout midday snack in my Greenwich Village neighborhood, I lumber several blocks north to dine on the refreshingly simple, classically sized dry-aged Cheddar cheeseburger, served lunchtimes only, at Jesse Schenker’s new Flatiron District restaurant, The Gander, with a tangle of fries on the side.

If you’re desperate for a quick burger fix after a long evening staggering among the legions of mobbed gastrosaloons along the Bowery, I recommend you fight your way through the throngs of pub crawlers gathered around the bar at Josh Capons’s new steakhouse, Bowery Meat Company, and call for the house cheeseburger, which the accomplished burger chef dresses with tomato-flavored aïoli, griddled onions, and a chewy layer of raclette cheese.

Similar specialties are available at Untamed Sandwiches on 39th Street, where I like to go between business appointments to graze on messy, protein-filled sandwiches with names like “General Zapata” (grilled chicken, queso fresco, jalapeños, radishes) and “Hot Goldie” (beer-braised short ribs, cabbage and onions, black-pepper aïoli), while admiring the neo-Brooklyn barnyard décor, which includes distressed-wood slats on the ceiling, dangling bare-filament bulbs, and photos of prize hogs on the walls.

There are no filament bulbs in sight at the Meat Hook Sandwich Shop on Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, and instead of pig photos the walls when I was there were lined with pickle jars and large bags of Kay & Ray’s Regular Potato Chips from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, which, so the bearded gentleman behind the counter happily informed me, are the only potato chips in the entire USA still made with good old-fashioned lard. Any one of the bountiful house sandwich creations go just fine with these addictive, pork-flavored chips, but the one I’m coming back for is the simple pork sandwich, which is constructed with ribbons of cooled roast pork loin sourced from the famous Meat Hook butcher shop several blocks away, tuna mayonnaise, and slivers of fennel, all piled together like some portable, porky version of vitello tonnato on a bullet-shaped hero roll.


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