Does New York really have everything? Well, not literally everything, but it probably has just about everything, or anything, anyone could actually want or imagine they might want. Here are a few more unusual, if not obscure, eating adventures awaiting the bravest among us.
• The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory: This place is fun! The story goes that ice cream was invented in China several hundreds of years ago, during the Tang Dynasty. Over the intervening years ice cream has continued to get better and better. And where is it at its best? Of course at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory! The store has been around for 30 years, constantly
coming up with unique tastes to attract attention, at the very least. If wasabi, black sesame or peanut butter and jelly flavored ice cream appeals to your tastes, then run on over and start eating.
• Burger Joint: Like surprises? Head over to the Parker Meridien Hotel, pull open a curtain, and experience something strange and wonderful. This is the most basic of fast food sellers, with a tiny menu, but all tasty. So, go and get yourself a burger and shake behind the curtain, and enjoy.
• Kenka: Whatever you know about or think about St. Marks Place, Kenka knows and thinks more. This Japanese cuisine restaurant offers so much more than traditional Japanese fare. If you are in the mood for adventure, Kenka leaves the sushi and tempura far, far behind. Strap on your seat belts and get ready for a meal you will not forget.
Roberta’s Pizza is amazing. Photo by Jason Lam
Are you willing to head out to Brooklyn for an eating experience simply not found anywhere else in the Big Apple? Then check out the remarkable, and remarkably different Roberta’s in East Williamsburg/Bushwick.
Known for their exquisite pizza primarily, they have different menus for lunch, brunch, dinner, take out and a list of drinks and wine. Roberta’s prides itself on its fresh, delectable vegetables, often coming from their very own rooftop garden. Steak and pork are on the dinner menu, but the selection of vegetarian specialties is abundant.
The décor is a bit primitive, the crowds can be daunting, and the wait for your fare a bit long. Nevertheless, there is an outdoor beer tent where you can enjoy the wait. There is also something appealing about the nitty-gritty look of the place. It is eccentric, a bit wild, and definitely delicious.
If you decide to give it a try, you can be assured you are in good company. The Clintons have been, Michel Bras, too. The tale is told that Alice Waters helped finance the garden. Now that I’ve mentioned the garden again, how about taking a tour? Roberta’s sometimes has garden workshops for interested green thumbers.
Take the plunge and give it a try. Located at 261 Moore St., Brooklyn, NY 11206, near Bogart Street. For more information call: 718-417-1118.
What?! You haven’t been to the Levain Bakery yet?! Well lets fix that problem right now. First of all, this bakery has grown its reputation since its founding in 1994 purely on the amazing taste of its products. However, that great taste does not arise from nowhere.
All the baked goods for sale are baked fresh right on site in their Upper West Side headquarters. All ingredients are the freshest and most nutritious possible, and to top it all off, whatever delicious bakery products are left at the end of the day go to help feed those less fortunate. This act of giving has been part of the Levain business plan from its inception.
The shop was founded by two friends, Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes. Although one was in banking and the other in the fashion industry, the two were competitive swimmers. While training together for the Ironman competition, they dreamed of starting a business that could soothe even the hungriest athletes. They took their passion, and swam with it-creating a wonderful bakery that is known worldwide for its artisanal breads and six-ounce incredible chocolate chip cookies.
This is one New York landmark not to be missed. Now that you know: GO!
Here are a few bars with something unique to offer along with a pint or a lovely glass of wine.
Frying Pan: This unusual bar & grill was built in 1929 as a floating lightship to guard a place called Frying Pan Shoals 30 miles off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. At some point in the boats history she was abandoned for ten years, and then sank. After three years submerged, she was salvaged and then bought by today’s owners. In 1989 the boat, with a new engine and completely refurbished, sailed to New York City. Today Frying Pan is docked at Pier 66a in the Hudson River Park at West 26th Avenue. The owners chose to restore the outside of the boat to her original look, but the inside maintains a barnacle covered, sunken ship motif.
Floyd, NY: Owners Pam and Jim Carden took a liquor store and recreated a rural tavern the likes of which can be found in Pam’s hometown of Floyd, Iowa. To create such an atmosphere the Cardens added a jukebox with great Hank Williams tunes and songs from the Bad Liver. The premises sport tin ceilings, a rescued 1870s era bar, and even polite bartenders. Even more impressive is the indoor bocce game, sand and all.
Gallow Green: Talk about street theater- this luscious green rooftop bar features actors who never leave character, chatting up the patrons in a decidedly historical manner. Located on top of the McKittrick Hotel which houses the immersive theater extravaganza “Sleep No More,” a night out at this bar is sure to create lasting memories, and make you smile.
During the past ten years, and especially the last two, restaurants have been popping up like mushrooms along Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 110th and 120th Streets in Harlem. This strip of real estate has been proclaimed recently as the spot to watch as the entire neighborhood begins its inevitable transformation into a gentrified high-rent district.
Yvette Leeper-Bueno, owner of newly opened Vinateria restaurant, commented on the changing feel of the neighborhood.
“My husband Adrian [Bueno] and I have been in the neighborhood for 11 years,” she explains. “And we re-did a brownstone that’s been in the family since the 1980s. My father used to rent the rooms out on a weekly basis, and he would talk about these characters who’d stay there. At that time, the neighborhood was quite downtrodden. There were syringes in the streets, all kinds of crime, drugs, squatters, tons of problems with this specific building. Everything you can imagine.”
The restaurant renaissance began with baby steps with the opening of Melba’s in 2005, and Zoma, a wonderful Eithiopian eatery which opened in 2006. Leeper-Bueno says the real explosion began in 2010.
“One of the first restaurants to be of the new wave of restaurants was 5 and Diamond on 112th and Frederick Douglass,” she explains. “Then Bier International opened, and then it kind of caught like wild fire.”
Since then more restaurants have opened on the trendy street, including Cedric, Lido, a new branch of Levain Bakery, and a bar and cocktails joint, 67 Orange Street. Come visit and become a part of this trendy, up and coming, destination.
SmorgasBar/Burg on the South Street Seaport
Have you been out to the South Street Seaport lately? Check out the new Smorgasburg and enjoy the 300-seat beer garden and eight different hamburger sellers under one roof. From now until October a dozen market favorites including Pizza Moto, Landhaus, Asia Dog and Oyster Bar will be selling their wares at the market on Front Street.
There are two temporary bars created for the Smorgasburg experience, one inside, and the other on top of old shipping containers which bring brews to the patrons of the beer garden. On tap are favorites such as Captain Lawrence Kolsch and Sixpoint Sweet Action. Wines and cocktails are also available. For the teatotalers among us there are slushies from Kevin Natural Slush Company. Prefer your slushie spiked? Bartenders on hand are glad to help.
Location: Front Street in New York’s Financial District between Beekman and Fulton Streets
Hours: Monday-Thursday and Sunday- 11am-10pm; Friday and Saturday 11am-11pm
Its summer, and that means biking, beaching, and, at least for many tried and New Yorkers, ice creaming! Here is a list of some of the best cold licks New York has to offer:
• Je & Jo—Every one of this lusciously decadent ice cream parlor’s flavors includes some type of cookie dough. Check out one of these: fresh mint with lemon lavender shortbread cookie dough or coffee ice cream with spicy chocolate cookie dough. Either way, you can’t go wrong. 515 West 47th St between 10th & 11th; Spring Hours: 7:30am-8:30pm, 7 days a week.
• Coolhaus—Do you love ice cream sandwiches? You know, a cookie on top and bottom and some incredible ice cream in between? At Coolhaus they offer potato chip and butterscotch cookie with molten chocolate cake ice cream. Sounds good to me!
• Chinatown Ice Cream Factory—Have you been to this Chinatown landmark yet? If not then run, don’t walk. You will see what traditional Chinese flavors, like red bean, black sesame and almond cookie can do to traditional ice cream fare. The answer is awesome. 65 Bayard St, New York, NY. Open every day from 11am to 11 pm.
• Van Leeuwen Ice Cream—For the connoisseurs among us Van Leeuwen does not scrimp on anything. From the basics like fresh milk and cream, cane sugar and egg yolks this specialty ice cream soars to the heights for its flavors. For example, the pistachios come from Mount Etna in Sicily; the hazelnuts are from Piedmont; and Sri Lanka is the source of the hand crushed quills of Ceylon cinnamon. Yumm! 48 E 7th St New York, NY. Open Monday – Thursday 8am to 11pm; Friday 8am to 12am; Saturday 9am to 12am and Sunday 9am to 11pm.
A Flavor for Everyone!
After years of being one of the trendiest destinations for older singles in New York, the upscale bar-restaurant franchise Zarsha Leo is reaching out to a more global customer base, beginning in Brooklyn.
“Going to Brooklyn is like a dream-come-true for me, ” says CEO Evan Burschkopf. “I am originally from Brooklyn, and opening one of my restaurants there is a real thrill for me.”
Burschkopf started Zarsha Leo soon after his graduation from the University of Greater Vancouver. His belief was that customers wanted an upscale place to relax, get great food, have a drink or two, and watch the best sports going on anywhere in the world. Giant plasma TVs are set up around the restaurant so no matter where you may be dining or drinking, the action is within sight and sound.
Imagine going to a restaurant and ordering a lobster salad, getting your order, eating it and not even noticing that the main ingredient – the lobster – was amiss. Well, apparently that has been the case at Zabar’s for the last decade and a half, the grocery located on the Upper West Side. The crazy part of this is, is that according to a recent article in The New York Times, “apparently no one noticed.”
It was only when a reporter from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Doug McCash, made a stop at Zabar’s that the omission was noted and some days later a blog in the West Side Rag was written entitled with the question, “Zabar’s Committing Lobster Salad Fraud?” But this wasn’t enough to phase the 83-year old president and co-owner, Saul Zabar. He insisted that “selling lobsterless lobster salad, was not dishonest, getting pedantic in his comment, “if you go to Wikipedia, you will find crawfish [that was in the salad] in many parts of the country is referred to as lobster.” He then went on to read out loud the beginning of the Wikipedia entry for crawfish: “crayfish, crawfish, or crawdads — members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea — are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related.” Thus, he argued that one could term a product whereby the main ingredient was crawfish, a lobster salad.
Still, the reality is that when one is ordering a lobster salad, they have in mind the Maine lobster. Indeed, Mr. Zabar did admit that a lot of his customers – while noting the tastiness of the salad – said that it was not a lobster salad.
So, let this be a warning for all those in New York who frequent Zabar’s. Next time you go and order a lobster salad, ask for a list of ingredients before footing the bill for a lobsterless lobster salad.
Are you a first time visitor to 31489, 1843404, 00.html”>New York and for some reason only have one day to take in the main attractions of this world class city? Well here are some great ideas of what to do and see which will give you a real feel for the real New York. These are sites which go beyond the usual recommendations such as Times Square and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
1. Time Warner Center is so much more than just a mall. Despite what cynical New Yorkers might say, this mall in many ways says it all about New York. Just check out the fourth floor alone. There you will find among two of New York’s best restaurants, and most expensive, too. Located on Columbus Circle which is at the southwestern corner of Central Park, you can dine in either “Per Se” of Chef Thomas Keller, or have an amazing sushi experience in Masa, named for chef and owner Masa Takayama.
2. West Village—Take a stroll here and see for yourself what a New York neighborhood is really like. You will find quaint brownstones along surprising tree-lined streets which are basically in the same state they were in when they were new, during the 19th century. Be sure to take a map, the street layouts are not exactly logical; West 10th street somehow magically intersects with West 4th.
3. Film Forum—Believe it or not, more movies are filmed in the streets of New York than anywhere else, even Hollywood. So it should come as no surprise that there is a place New York film lovers flock to to see the films others can only hope to read about. Among some of the pickings are provocative independent films, documentaries, and foreign art films hand-picked from the world’s most prestigious film festivals. A must see for film fans.