Liz Barclay: Where to eat in downtown nyc
The downtown restaurant scene can present itself as a treacherous and overwhelming territory for an individual as myself, wanting to grab a quick bite or satisfying my appetite for epic tasting dishes with good vibes. the perfect combination of all those variables is valuable to discover. Only demanding the best without the frills and hurdles to jump through. Luckily I kow a thing or two about amazing food, and the good people who bring it to our community. In this article I'll be naming seven dishes that I eat most frequently, ranging from breakfast in the East Village to the perfect Thai dish in Nolita. Consider me your spirit guide for a guaranteed food mission accomplished.
Breakfast burrito at Downtown Bakery:
The breakfast burrito game is something people along the West Coast worry not about, however New York City leaves many of us in the dark and slacks on the breakfast burrito category. My heart had a dark void until I discovered Downtown Bakery. the menu spans across many burritos, wet and dry, and has great breakfast burritos stuffed with fluffy eggs, avocado, hot sauce, and crema drizzled on top. Hangover obliterator or just a powerful breakfast option, their burritos will transcend you into another state of consciousness and could be shared by two people -- but why would you honestly do that?
Larb Salad at Uncle Boons:
The perfect husband and wife duo, Matt Danzer and Anne Redding, opened Uncle Boons in 2013 after both working at Per Se. The restaurant is heavily inspired by Anne's Thai upbringing. If you're in search of the REAL thing, go down to Nolita to Uncle Boons and you'll find and assortment of Anne's family homestyle recipes. Including my favorite dish, the Lamb Larb Salad, consisting of fresh ground lamb shoulder tossed with a variety of spices, chili, and fresh leafy herbs. The menu also offers a green-mango salad, grilled house made pork sausages, and plates piled high with pillowy heaps of crab fried rice. All of this spice pairs perfectly with a frosty frozen Chang beer.
Ice and Vice:
Where do I even start... ice cream whether it be a late night treat or summer afternoon-- is very important to experience for the soul. Ice and Vice is an experimental ice cream haven, with a menu that is almost comparable to if Albert Einstein became a pastry chef, smoked a ton of sour diesel, and then inevented some of the most daring and perfectly calculated ice cream flavors known to mankind. One of my favorites is the Opium Den, an experimental flavor with white sesame, toasted poppy seed, and lemon bread cruton. there are no boundaries or limits here, it's all small batch customized and handcrafted. Worth. Every. bite.
Kale Salad at El Rey:
I have absolutely no hesitations about being ride or die for a kale salad, as perfect as this dish at El Rey. Gerardo Gonzales, the chef, who is soon leaving, is a beautiful human soul and talented beyond words. Creating magic like a quiet storm-- he has a natural understanding of how dishes come together and humbly creates masterpieces. Flavors are so fresh, composed in a natural way that is authentic and truly indicative of his personality and artistic vision. The kale salad is fluffy, massaged til perfectly broken down and intertwined with house made almond vinaigrette. You wouldn't believe it's actually vegan, and its so satisfying. The best thing about El Rey, is that it's offered me whatever I need in any occasion, pinch, hour, or mood. Whether I'm solo post-workout, pre-shoot, on a date, or in a quick meeting-- it's my everything and in-between. Gerardo, I want to thank you for this.
GG's Grandma Pizza:
There is always that quest for the perfect place to grab a meal with friends, have a cozy atmoshpere coupled with good music, real New York feel, and good soulful food. And lets clarify: REAL food, with diverse options for everyone. Crowd pleasing, good drinks by Gabe Richter, an open kitchen, and curated hip-hop music. For me along with many others in the neighborhood, GG's fits the perfect script. Their square, deep dish NYC-style grandma pizza is a favorite of mine... not only will it make your instagram pop off because it's the sexiest dish in the East Village, but it's also incredibly good. Fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce, thick fluffy crust, tiny pepperonis cooked until the edges crisp up like little cups of flavor, and fresh basil. I dont even know how to articulate myself. This is all due to the talented Chef Bobby Helen, who is a true New Yorker and passionate Mets fan. GG's garden in the backyard has fresh vegetables and herbs, that dress their pizzas and other oven-baked dishes making it a full- scale restaurant. The entire GG's staff and vibe is pure family and all love, and you leave the meal winning at life every fucking time.
This past year, Orchard street was blessed with a new revamp of an old chinatown storefront and turned into an old-school style pizza joint. Brought to us by the team of dudley's and Chef and proprietor Scarr Pimentel. Scarr grew up in Washington Heights and had worked on various pizza lines in NYC, and was determined to create a space that captured some of that old-school New York City spirit. The space is well designed, wood paneling on the walls, sleek booths, the formica bar with shiny metal stools, the letter-board menu above the ovens, and tap beer and wine. Also icy cold Budweiser cans. My favorite is the Scarr's Sicilian slice, the thick crust surprisingly airy, the cheese with parmesan sprinkled to add that extra bite, charred crust, the fresh pungent red tomato sauce. The Personal Pan pizza is similar in style to the Sicilian, its a must have! Can't go wrong with the hip-hop and R&B playing youthful vibe. Stumble in pre-bar hopping or on your way home as a satisfying nightcap.
Brooks Headly has proven to be far from normal or predictable in his innovative and whimsical takes on recipes... his start and upbringing in punk room influenced while traveling on the road. Being around vegans and vegetarians while also refecting on his childhood. These backgrounds finally culminating into his his cooking today. Superiority Burger is tasteful, eccentric, and provides people with mouthwatering takes on vegetarian and vegan items that are complex and defy stereotypes of the bland, soy-infiltrated, tempeh and black bean burger situation. The quinoa and spice blend that makes Brook's veggie burger is perfect, buoyant, and has hints of pickle in its profile. The burger is topped with a roasted tomato and crispy lettuce. My favorite is the boat, which is comprised of rice, tofu that is smoked until it mimics a meaty texture, cabbage, sunflower dressing, and a bunch of magical ingredients stuffed into a Chinese takeout box topped with scallions and fresh sunflower seeds. And DONT forget the broccoli salad, and all the specials. Last but not least, Brooke's sweet tooth and pastry chef background offer us a perfectly selected gelato and sorbet dessert menu.