Best Dining Counter
Bright Food Shop
216 Eighth Avenue
At 21st Street

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.