The Secret Chipotle & The New Doughnut Plant


When word spread that Nate Appleman, a chef anointed by the James Beard Foundation and Food & Wine for his San Francisco restaurant A16 (where I ate in 2007), was working at a Chipotle in Chelsea, the food world was incredulous.

He’d left San Francisco to help open Pulino’s here in N.Y.C. and when that didn’t work out, no one knew what his next move would be. His next move, apparently, was to run a Chipotle in Chelsea.

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Café Sabarsky, Company (Pizza) & Billy’s Bakery


I don’t have a fast answer to the question “what’s your favorite restaurant?” (it’s a tie, at this point, between Blue Hill Stone Barns & Prune) but I do have an immediate suggestion when someone is coming to New York for the first time and wants to know where to go: “Cafe Sabarasky,” I almost always say. “It’s one of my favorite places in the city.”

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Hill Country


I swore off restaurant reviewing a while back, and yet I really like talking about restaurant experiences. Unfortunately, a singular experience can somehow morph into what seems like a review and that’s not my intention. With that in mind, here are simple facts about a meal I had last week with Craig and my friend Lauren at Hill Country on 26th Street between 6th Ave. and Broadway.

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Ninth Street Espresso


One of the best things about working at Food Network, which is located in the Chelsea Market, is that the elevators that get you up there are directly across from one of the best coffee bars in the city. That coffee bar is Ninth Street Espresso which many of my barista friends (including those that work at my favorite coffee shop, Joe) speak of with such great reverence there’s often a coffee glow in their cheeks.

Ninth Street Espresso takes its coffee seriously, as evidenced by its menu which does not allow for sticky, gloppy, blended coffee drinks but, instead, sticks to the classics: espresso, cappuccino, latte. They only come in one size, so no “super grande iced mocha latte with a twist of vanilla”–this is coffee as philosophy, as a spiritual exercise. And, correspondingly, patrons of Ninth Street Espresso gather around the bar like worshippers at temple: there’s a calmness in the air, a peacefulness and community cheer that’s unusual in this fast-paced city. It doesn’t hurt that the drinks are outstanding.


The cappuccino, as shown here, is an artful marriage of frothy milk and deep, dark espresso. Normally, I put a packet of sugar in my cappuccino but the balance is so right-on here that such an act would be criminal. It’s as if a cloud floated down to earth and landed in your cup–if you let go, the whole thing might float away.

Working at Food Network has been a very happy experience thus far, but Ninth Street has made it that much happier. If you plan to judge Iron Chef or guest on 30 Minute Meals any time soon, don’t miss Ninth Street on your way up. It’ll make your day.

Once Upon A Sausage: Lunch with Elise & The Serious Eats Team at Biricchino

Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes has been reading this blog from the very beginning. She championed me on her site, way back when, and the hits came pouring in. Ever since, I’ve considered her this blog’s favorite aunt. And yet she’s been an estranged aunt: until last week, I’d never met her. But then she came to New York and invited me to join her and the Serious Eats team for lunch. We met at the Serious Eats offices and after leaping into each other’s arms, we entered a serious discussion about where we were going to eat. Ed Levine mentioned Biricchino, the restaurant half of Salumi Biellese, one of the most prominent purveyors of sausage in the United States.

“Sold!” I said and Elise said “Sold!” too which was a little awkward because I said it first and then we were out the door with Ed, Adam, Alaina and Elise ready to scarf down sausages like that woman in the Howard Stern Movie.


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Pretty Indian Food at Bombay Talkie


There are two types of Chelsea restaurants: those that are near Billy’s Bakery and those that aren’t. I have been known to plan entire evenings around Billy’s Bakery: “Well,” I will say, “We can meet at Billy’s Bakery, go find a place to eat and come back for a cupcake.” The biggest supporter of this type of plan is my friend Lisa, who also adores Billy’s Bakery. “I adore Billy’s Bakery,” she’ll frequently say.

On the night, more than a week ago, that I met Lauren for dinner at Cookshop (a Chelsea restaurant that is sort of near Billy’s Bakery, but not wildly close) I found myself walking across the street from Billy’s Bakery and in the process discovering not one but TWO interesting looking restaurants. One was entirely vegan the other was entirely Indian. “I will put these in my mental catalogue,” I told myself, “so that when Lisa and I have plans we can come to one of these two places and then do what smart, food-loving Chelsea residents have been doing for centuries: nosh at Billy’s Bakery.”

And so it was that on Saturday night, Lisa and I met outside Billy’s Bakery (her roommate and our dear friend Annette, who had walked with her, went inside to buy cupcakes to bring to a party) and made our way across the street to examine these two new restaurant finds. The first, the vegan place, looked very nice but the menu was too pricey. I take exception to a vegan menu where the entrees all cost more than $15. At the end of the day, these are just vegetables and whatever transformation you make to them, whatever pairing you give to them cannot–with few exceptions–justify such a hefty pricetag. (I think Angelika Kitchen and GoBo: Food for the Five Senses merit their menu prices, but even their menus have cheaper options.)

Next door, then, was the Indian Place: Bombay Talkie. It looked very cool inside, very hip and yet inviting. There was one table in the window sandwiched between two serious looking couples. “If we get that table,” I told Lisa, “Those people are going to hate us because we talk so loud. I hope we get a booth.” There were booths towards the back. “I don’t think we’re getting a booth,” said Lisa. “The booths look like they’re for parties of 3 and 4.”

We decided to venture in anyway and, once inside, the host–a lithe, muscled gay man (this is Chelsea, after all)–asked us if we had a reservation. When we said “no,” he told us we could sit at the tall communal table. “That’s ok,” I said which he took as a yes before I could finish, “we’ll go somewhere else.” Lisa heard me say the last part and laughed but his selective ears led us to the tall communal table where Lisa was hefted high above the ground. “Enjoy your meal,” he said.

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Cookshop A Loo-Bop A Wop-Bam Boom

On a gorgeous Chelsea evening last week, I met my former roommate and psychic birthday twin Lauren for dinner at Cookshop on 10th Ave. The walk over there was gorgeous, standing outside waiting for her was gorgeous, taking this picture was gorgeous. Say hi to the picture: Hello, gorgeous.


Springtime in New York makes awful winters worthwhile; I love having seasons. Having done much of my growing up in the consistently muggy South Florida tropics, I find it so gratifying to suffer through a freezing winter only to awake one morning to a bright, invigorating springtime air. The weather right now is so perfect that if I could freeze a temperature in a bottle and release it at my most miserable, this would be the weather. It’s just excellent.

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Best Way to Wash Down Your Dumpling When Your Dumpling Isn’t The Person You’re Dating in a Bathtub But An Actual Dumpling: Meyer Lemonade at Rickshaw

The Oscars have nothing on The 2nd Annual Independent Food Festival and Awards and if you don’t believe me check out and click the snazzy logo (which, apparently, I’ve been able to wrap my text around. Whee! It’s text wrapping!)


Oh how I love the Independent Food Festival and Awards. No, it’s not because of all the wonderful food bloggers posting their recommendations to thousands of food blog readers around the world, it’s because I love power. I love that finally I, the guy who always got picked last, get to pick FIRST… or at least in the first group of food bloggers selected to pick awards, which–incidentally–isn’t a function of how great we are, I think it was just randomly done. But still: it’s power and it’s corrupting me absolutely. Après moi le Deluge!

Actually, there might be a deluge when people catch wind of what I’m awarding. Despite my love of power, when it actually came down to what I wanted to award I was a bit flummoxed. “I’m a bit flummoxed,” I told the cashier at my local CVS when pondering my award. “Try some Benedryl,” she suggested. I did and that’s when it hit me: I’m not one of those fancy pants food bloggers who knows about things like “quality” and “authenticity” and “cultural significance.” I can’t recommend artisinal ham cured in the basement of a former communist dictator living on the Lower East Side: that’s just not me. I’m a simple lad who enjoys simple things. Like lemonade.


I love lemonade. It’s my favorite drink next to iced tea. It’s bright, it’s refreshing, and when it’s made well it can perk up the most mundane of lunches. Lemonade is the wine of lunch: you can’t get drunk on your way back to school or work, so you drink lemonade. And on my way to school (which involves a walk down 23rd street to board the NR train) I make a weekly stop at Rickshaw to eat dumplings and to enjoy their Meyer lemonade.

The deluge mentioned above comes from the fact many people loathe Rickshaw’s dumplings. “I loathe Rickshaw’s dumplings,” says my friend and colleague James Felder. “They taste like styrofoam.” Others, apparently, feel the same way: “The Chowhound message boards are filled with people who hate Rickshaw’s dumplings,” says James. “I can’t believe you like them.”


But to these people (James included) I say: “You’re crazy!” The dumplings are great: they’re packed with exciting ingredients (my favorite are the shrimp “with jicama, scallion and a hint of wasabi served with a miso dipping sauce”) and they’re served however you want them: in clusters of six or nine, fried or steamed, and in soup or in salad. Most importantly, though, they are the perfect complement to my new favorite lemonade, the Meyer lemonade: made fresh daily with real Meyer lemons. [This was fact-checked when I asked the guy at the counter how they made it. “Made fresh daily with real Meyer lemons,” he said.]

What is it about chasing those hot, greasy dumplings down with that sweet and tart citrusy elixer that causes me to come back again and again? Here’s the thing: I can’t imagine eating dumplings at Rickshaw without the Meyer lemonade and, inversely, I can’t imagine sipping Meyer lemonade without the dumplings. This is a bizarro musical romance that’s enacted on my tongue on a weekly basis with Lea Salonga playing the role of “dumplings” and Tommy Tune playing the Meyer lemonade. If a helicopter landed on my head while chewing, I wouldn’t be surprised.


Look: I don’t want my award to motivate you to fly here from Des Moines tomorrow in order to eat the dumplings and the lemonade, that’s not what I’m trying to say. There might be better dumplings in New York, there might even be better lemonade. I’m not giving this award because I think it’s a “must try” New York experience. I think, culturally, Rickshaw is less than authentic: especially with Chinatown only a few subway stops away. Why am I giving it? I’m giving it because it’s an expression of me, the award giver, and my own personal tastes and obsessions. I like the quirky combination of these two unexpected partners in taste crime: in this case, the crime of deliciousness. My tastebuds do a dance of joy when Rickshaw’s on the menu and if that’s not good criteria for an award, I don’t know what is. And should you accidentally fly here from Des Moines tomorrow and should you accidentally sample the dumplings and Meyer lemonade, might you accidentally do a cartwheel back on to the street? I think, perhaps, you might. But I’m not paying for your airfare if you don’t!

Thanks for reading my award. Check out all the other awards over the next few days and thanks to the tasteeverything crew for putting this all together! It makes me proud to be a food blogger.