Tartine (West Village): French Brunch/Lunch

Tartine

  • Why it’s worth it: This corner-store sized, charmingly petite cafe serves simple, delicious and inexpensive French fare, not to mention the best croque madame we’ve ever had (and yes we’ve been to France). You’ll know Tartine by the green awning, sidewalk tables and notoriously long lines on the weekends.
  • Vibe/Layout: Tartine has all of about 15 seats and has been in the neighborhood for two decades, making it a cozy and homey go-to spot. Don’t expect much leg room though, especially if you score a table on the sidewalk.
  • Ideal meal: Croque madame ($14) or croque monsieur ($14)
  • When to go: If you have a random day off from work, or work in the area, head to Tartine for lunch or for a darling croissant.
  • ‘Straunt tip: BYOB alert! … But it gets better….there’s no corkage fee either!
  • Address: West Village, 253 West 11th St (corner of West 4th St)
  • Prices: $8-$25

Tartine on Urbanspoon

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Jack’s Wife Freda (Soho)

Jack's Wife Freda

  • Why it’s worth it: Trust us. Jack’s Wife Freda is worth the wait. We’d agree with NY Magazine who dubbed the food “South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine.” Helpful right? But after reading about the owners, you’ll understand why.
  • Vibe/layout: This quaint 40-seat restaurant rocks dark-green leather banquettes, marble counters and wooden tables. This is not a quiet, little date spot; this a fun-loving brunch and dinner spot for the young, the old, the trendy and the free-spirited…aka all people. The food is homey, delicious and satisfying.
  • Ideal meal: Fried zucchini chips ($8) to share & Madame Freda ($13) (pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar bechamel, gruyere & a fried egg)
  • The people behind the ‘straunt: Before Dean Jankelowitz and his wife, Maya met working at Keith McNally’s Balthazar, they both emigrated from South Africa and Israel, respectively. Together, they’ve created an amazing restaurant that is named after Dean’s grandparents, Jack and Freda. (FYI- Man Repeller, a popular fashion blog,  did an amazing piece on their fantastic love story. If you haven’t had time to check out this ‘straunt yet, then read this and fall in love with the owners first.)
  • Address: Soho, 224 Lafayette St (between Broome & Spring)
  • Prices: $5-$25

Jack's Wife Freda on Urbanspoon

North River Lobster Company (Hell’s Kitchen)

Yes, we have to ditch our white pants… and yes, we have to store our summer shoes… but, no, we do not have to stop enjoying the beautiful weather, just because it’s past Labor Day! Therefore, we’ve got your fall denying days covered with this waterfront spot… that actually leaves the dock: North River Lobster Company.

North River Lobster Company

  • Why it’s worth it: Not only does this place serve amazing seafood/drinks, but this floating lobster shack also sets sail on the Hudson for a half hour every two hours (fo’ free!), so be sure to check the sail schedule before you plan your visit so you don’t get left ashore.
  • Vibe/layout: Board the boat and you’ll find numerous seating situations, both indoor and outdoor. There are three decks, but head immediately to the top one for the outdoor action. There’s no wait service, so be sure to stake your claim for some open-air seating, and then find a counter to order from. You will receive a buoy with your order number on it and your food will be delivered in a matter of minutes!
  • Ideal meal: Pitcher of sangria ($34), lobster roll ($18), fries ($5)
  • The inspiration: New York Cruise Lines, Inc. CEO, Sam Cooperman, says he was inspired by two things: history and a lasting memory of Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco. The self-proclaimed “history buff” says he became fascinated by the lobster palace craze of the early 1900s, in which grand and ornate restaurants dotted 42nd St and served lobster as the main fare, as it was the most important food of the social time.
  • Straunt tip: Grab lunch or a drink at North River and then grab dessert (a funfettti cookie) at Schmackary’s.
  • Address: Hell’s Kitchen, Pier 81, 41st St and 12th Ave
  • Prices: $5-$29

North River Lobster Company on Urbanspoon

Manducatis (LIC): Mangia Monday

Manducatis LIC

  • Why it’s worth it: From the outside, Manducatis doesn’t even look like a restaurant, but as you will learn, you don’t go here for a trendy or romantic vibe; you go here for the pasta and the history.
  • Vibe/layout: The front room contains a bar and looks more like a rec room with a bunch of boxes than a restaurant; however, the rest of this ‘straunt feels like one big living room, complete with lace curtains, houseplants and a wood-burning fireplace. This ‘straunt has been hosting curators, sculptors and painters from P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center for over 30 years. Usually a place would frame photos of famous/favorite customers on the wall; however, in Manducatis’ case, the reverse happened: P.S. 1 exhibited 11 candid black-and-white photographs of the Cerbone couple taken by Howard Gross.
  • Ideal meal: Ricotta gnocchi with pesto or red sauce and mozzarella ($18)
  • The story:  Operated since 1977 and owned by Italian immigrants, Vincenzo and Ida Cerbone and now their son, Anthony, Manducatis is as unique as it gets. Ida, the cook, learned her skills in Italy and makes her gnocchi with ricotta, not potato. The food comes out on large plates that bear the black-and-white childhood photograph of chef and co-owner, Ida. When the Cerbones got married, Vincenzo had the plates made, so customers are essentially eating off of the Cerbones’ wedding dishes. Talk about a personal touch.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out a Moma PS1 Warm Up party, then head to Manducatis for a bite to eat and then to Dutch Kills, the speakeasy down the street, for a drink.
  • Address: Long Island City, 13-27 Jackson Ave (47th & Jackson)
  • Prices: $18

Manducatis on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar: Love at first bite

Because Steve Aoki loves cake, and in honor of his announcement of a free concert on September 30th in NYC, we wanted to share the spot that served us the best piece of cake in all of NYC… Momofuku Milk Bar.

momofuku milk bar

  • Why it’s worth it: Take one bite of the crack or candy bar pie and it’s love at first bite.
  • Vibe/Layout: Grab your cake and go!
  • Ideal meal: Crack pie & candy bar pie (all slices are $5.50 each)
    • Don’t worry, the crack pie contains no crack, just butter, heavy cream, brown sugar and a little corn flour.
    • The candy bar pie has toffee, house made nougat and a chocolate cookie crust. Plus, it’s topped with mini pretzels!
  • Address:
  • Prices:$5.50 a slice, $44 a pie

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Caracas Arepa Bar (Williamsburg & East Village)

If you’re like me, when you hear “Caracas Arepa Bar” you probably wonder “what is an arepa and do I want to go to a place that has little else on the menu?” Well… an arepa needs to be experienced, not explained, but I’ll do my best and say it’s a Venezuelan corn muffin, crisp on the outside and steamy-soft in the middle, stuffed with any of the following: pulled pork, beef, avocado, black beans, plantains, etc… And if that doesn’t get you excited, consider this: the most expensive arepa is $8.

Caracas Arepa Bar Williamsburg, East Village Venezuelan

  • Why it’s worth it: Let’s just say.. when you Google arepa, Caracas is the second listing (first is Wikipedia)
  • Vibe/Layout: The decor of this small and cozy ‘straunt is warm and hip, with old mismatched wall and ceiling panels, semi-old or worn down looking furniture and cool fixtures which add a Venezuelan flair. Light Latin and Spanish music play in the background of this ‘straunt, which has a small bar, high top seating and amazing outdoor picnic-table seating.
  • Ideal meal: Yoyos ($6) & Tequenos ($8.75) to start & then La del Gato ($7.25)
  • Straunt tip: Grab din & sangria at Caracas and then check out the speakeasy, Larry Lawrence next door!
  • Address: Williamsburg, 291 Grand St (Roebling & Havemeyer Sts); East Village, 91 E 7th St (7th St and 1st Ave)
  • Prices: $4.75-$16

Caracas Arepa Bar on Urbanspoon

Caracas Arepa Bar on Urbanspoon