Sunday, January 17, 2010

A listicle to debate: The best East Village restaurants

I originally posted this on Friday morning...The conversation in the comments continues. So I decided to move it up for the weekend...



As promised, Robert Sietsema listed "the best East Village restaurants" over at The Village Voice today.

And....

10. Dirt Candy (Vegetarian), 430 East 9th Street, 212-228-7732
9. Porchetta (Central Italian), 110 East 7th Street, 212-777-2151
8. The Smith (Gastropub), 55 Third Avenue, 212-420-9800
7. Back Forty (New American), 190 Avenue B, 212-388-1990
6. B & H Dairy Lunch (Jewish Dairy), 127 Second Avenue, 212-505-8065
5. Hasaki (Sushi), 210 East 9th Street, 212-473-3327
4. Prune (New American), 54 East 1st Street, 212-677-6221
3. Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar (New American), 101 Second Avenue, 212-979-1012
2. Momofuku Ssam Bar (New American), 207 Second Avenue, 212-254-3500
1. Ippudo (Japanese Noodles), 65 Fourth Avenue, 212-388-0088

No Odessa! Why you *&^%*#%*&^3!

OK, I've only been to four on the 10 here. And of those four, I'd never go back to Porchetta, which I tried once after caving in to peer pressure.

Also included in the feature....

Readers' Suggestions

Mamoun's Falafel (Middle Eastern), 22 St. Marks Place, 212-387-7747
Veselka (Ukrainian), 144 Second Avenue, 212-228-9682
Degustation (Science Chef), 239 East 5th Street, 212-979-1012
The Redhead (New American), 349 East 13th Street, 212-533-6212
Motorino (Pizza), 349 East 12th Street, 212-777-2644
Ukrainian East Village Restaurant, 140 Second Avenue, 212) 614-3283
Kyo Ya (Japanese), 94 East 7th Street, 212-982-4140

51 comments:

esquared said...

again, no odessa's in reader's suggestions

what about shiki kitchen, old devil moon, elvie's turo turo...oh wait

i'd really like to try momofuku, but whenever i go there, the line, and the yunnies that makes up the line, just turn me-off.

pinhead said...

Nice to see Hasaki here among the new names. It's still my go to sushi place after 20 years.

Goggla said...

Old Devil Moon still makes me cry...

I'm down with the Back Forty - excellent fried chicken and waffles.

Am I the only one who can't stand Veselka? The food has NO flavor...it's as if they somehow suck it out before serving. I've tried the place several times thinking they'd just have an off-day, but the food has been terrible every time.

EV Grieve said...

Goggla! You don't like Velselka!

Ha. Yeah, I don't go there much anymore. It's not so much the food as the patrons. Seems like I always showed up when it was NYU parents weekend. Which, actually, may be every weekend...

EV Grieve said...

Clarification:

"Seems like I always showed up when it was NYU parents weekend."

And this was on like a Tuesday afternoon.

Goggla said...

I'm waiting for all the Velselka-defense comments...

A few years ago, late-night on Labor Day, I was desperate for a place to eat. I tried almost every eatery along 2nd Ave and was told repeatedly, "We're closing, try Veselka." So there I was, starving and this was the only option in the whole dang neighborhood. I just couldn't let it win...

Barbara Hanson said...

Luke's Lobster.

l.e.s.ter said...

Grand Sichuan St. Marks.

Melanie said...

B&H vegetarian matzo ball soup with homemade challah is outstanding.

Lisa said...

Back Forty - good food, attitudinal a-holes working the place. Friends and I went one weekend, the place was half-empty, there were 3 of us and the snotty manager in charge would not give us a table for 4 on the off-chance a party of that size came in. We were stunned, to say the least, so went down the block to Rue B and had a decent meal. Afterward, walking past Back Forty, we saw the place was still half-empty, and also short the 60 bucks we spent on our lunch. Won't go there again.

Jill said...

I agree, Veselka sucks. I loved that Polish place that I can't believe I can't remember the name, on the corner, up on the 2nd floor, glass windows. I think on 2nd Ave? It's been gone a long time now but I thought it was the best of the bunch unless you include Christina's $1.99 breakfast special that I still yearn for every weekend.

The place Spy something that replaced Old Devil Moon is excellent.

I'm the only one not in love with Back Forty. I've been there twice and wasn't impressed, and kind of spendy.

I think Hummous Place is arguably the best value and food in town these days (though on some occasions they have been inconsistent with the freshness of the pita.)

Porchetta? I was literally sick for a full week after eating there. I think the food sits too long in that creepy case.

ak said...

hooray for b&h! im throwing in a outstanding award for their tuna melt.

i hate veselka. ok, not hate, just dislike veselka: food, patrons, table arrangement, big bright lights with huge windows. the whole thing bothers me.

and i'm still upset over old devil moon as well. ugh.

EV Grieve said...

Any love for the Neptune on First Avenue?

@Jill. Ha! That case is creepy...

Ken Mac said...

why did I read this as last testicle?

Melanie said...

EV Grieve--Neptune for breakfast and their blintzes and matzo ball soup are good too.

Anonymous said...

No love for Stage? For shame.

Curt said...

McSorley's Roast Beef Sandwich

Ken Mac said...

Goggla, absolutely right on. I could never figure out why Veselka's bland food is so popular. Why not just lick the sidewalk?

Ken Mac said...

i live in the building that houses Mamoun's. Good falafel, but the absolute worst neighbors. They used to clean up at 5am playing heavy metal as loud as possible. It took two tenants on rent strike for 6 mos for the building owner to make them stop. A-holes of the first order.

Anonymous said...

POLONIA! Service is snippy and couldn't-care-less, but food is good-old-fashioned good and pretty cheap. (1st Ave Btw. 6th and 7th)

dmbream said...

I'll give a bump to The Redhead.

And can't forget Luzzo's.

Sapporo East is consistent. Dunno if it's Top 10 material, but...

Good list/discussion, people.

dmbream said...

Ooh, also, hidden gem of a dish --- not much of a full restaurant menu:

Try Zeitzeff's Kobe burger on a Portugese muffin.

EV Grieve said...

@dmbream.

I've had a few burgers (not Kobe) at Zeitzeff's...Good, but way too expensive. Aren't they like 10 bucks or so?

EV Grieve said...

Caravan of Dreams?

Zabb City? (I've never eaten here...just asking....)

dmbream said...

@EV Grieve:

RE: Zeitzeff -

Yah. I think it's $8-9 for a quarter-pound kobe burger.

Certainly for special occasions.

Of course, there are really douchey bars in, say, midtown that will try and sell you the same thing for three times that price.

dmbream said...

More:

MAX Italian on Ave B.

Buenos Aires.

Girl said...

Thanks for posting this! I'd add Angelica's Kitchen to the list, since it's known to be one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country --- 300 E. 12th.

Anonymous said...

Little Poland is good and cheap.

I agree w/ the Veselka bashing -- I always WANTED to like it, but it just wasn't that good (I much prefer Ukrainian National Home).

Zabb City is good too, and teh staff is very nice.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Tree (on First Ave near 12th Street)
Sapporo East
Dok Suni

James Taylor said...

A lot of anti-Veselka sentiment going on here. I must say I have a slight affinity for the place. I used to be able to see straight into the kitchen from my 5th floor bedroom at my first apartment on Second Avenue & 9th Street. I had breakfast there the morning after moving to the city. The coffee always tasted weird, vinegary, but I got used to it (and they never charged me full price for it). One night I stayed there all night talking to this old guy named Jeff, who told stories of his life as an artist/poet in the sixties. He said in 1978 there wasn't a restaurant to speak of in the East Village, and that on a Saturday night you could stand on the corner of St. Mark's and only see one other person walk by with their dog.

PS: Luzzo's is the best pizza I've had in the city.

EV Grieve said...

@dmbream

True about cookie-cutter "pubs" in Midtown/Murray Hill, etc. charging too much for a blob of meat on a bun.

And I appreciate that Zeitzeff is a family operation -- mother and two sons, right? (There's also one on John and Nassau...)

EV Grieve said...

@James Taylor. Thanks for the comment. Regarding Veselka, I guess I'm in the Wants-to-Like-it-More-Than-I-Do Category.

I think my first breakfast here as a resident was at the Odessa, before the renovation next door. Which is probably why it's still my favorite.

EV Grieve said...

Pylos?

Jeremy Sadwith said...

Apiary and Luzzo's.

Veselka is a mediocre diner in a city of terrible diners.

Jeremy Sadwith said...

And as for B&H, you can really make any food on the planet taste as good if you used as much butter on everything as they do.

Steve said...

Artichoke for best new pizza spot
And come on, how would you guys leave out Panna II!! Best cheap Indian spot in the East Village!

Lisa said...

Does anyone remember a Polish restaurant called Stanley's that used to be on Avenue A between, I think, 9th and 10th Street? It was a dive, closed around 1981-82, but the waiters were a bunch of sweet old men, once it shut down I started going to Leshko's for their 99 cent breakfast. And around the same time the space that used to be Love Saves the Day was also a downbeat Polish place, always filled with old winos, anyone remember what that was called? (At my age, the memory isn't what it used to be...)

Anonymous said...

You people. Enough hating on Vesulka. If you order the boring food, it will be boring, yes. And what do you expect from Ukrainian Place? Yes, local sausage. Yes, local punk parents. Yes, deadly potato pancakes. However, the borscht is nice. The pumpkin chocolate muffins are very nice. The chicken soup will clean up your skin. Their coffee is drinkable.

I once saw Joey Ramone back to back with Lawrence Block at Vesulka. I've seen kids toss bowls of borscht and I've returned the next day. Even way back when it was for geezers and kids. I like Back40 and Hasaki but Vesulka is cheaper and easier with kids.

How about Strecha's Ukrainian Kitchen? They merit a footnote and they are still open. Also, Casa Adela still knows from chicken.

KSE said...

I love veselka. I also love: curly's, mama's, plump dumpling [even though the delivery guy REFUSES to use my building's buzzer], motorino, and I admit, I am an absolute sucker for s'mac. Dear reader who gives props to artichoke: really? That stuff tastes like bad artichoke dip slathered on bland chiabatta.

Anonymous said...

...bad artichoke dip slathered on bland chiabatta...

I don't get Artichoke. Their cheese pizza is eatable but nothing special but their eponymous slice is exactly as you described, not even suitable for a Superbowl snack, IMO.

Has anyone been to Knife + Fork? They are a bit out of my price range but I've been tempted, just based on reading the menu in the window, many times.

Anonymous said...

wow. lots of comments to comment on......firstly - I'm surprised anyone remembers Leshkos !
The original list here is lame...too many mistakes there to even get into. The Smith? gimme a break...that is NO "gastro pub".
Truth is, Back Forty is not good enough. I want it to be but I am consistently disappointed.
Nobody should mourn the loss of Old Devil Moon...it had a great run but the food got so bad the last few years.
Best EV restaurant: Mogador. period. decent prices, nice atmosphere, nice enough staff, excellent food. I'd eat there every meal for the rest of my life before ever going back to pretentious Prune.

HippieChick said...

John's on 12th Street: best garlic bread in the city. Three of Cups: fabulous pizza and baked stuffed clams. Telephone (sob...): best chicken pot pie in the galaxy. And the steak sandwiches used to be good.

But there's not a decent burger in the whole EV. Nothing to compare with Burger Heaven chain in midtown...

EV Grieve said...

The artichoke pizza at Nino's is better than Artichoke.

EV Grieve said...

@HippieChick.

You're the first to mention John's. I've always liked John's. And I haven't found any garlic break hereabouts better than that...

Rmom said...

I go to Westville for burgers, they are decent and I can replace French Fries with more "healthy" options like collard greens or kale (or sweet potato fries, when my kid's around...)

EV Grieve said...

Thanks, Rmom. I like Westville's food, though I've only ever had it delivered. Do they have a liquor license now?

Anonymous said...

...John's on 12th Street...

John's, esp. fairly late, is lovely. The food, and, of course, the space, is way old skool but therein lies the charm.

John's isn't very expensive but, oddly enough, if you get your hair cut at Neighborhood on 9th St., you can pick up a coupon for 20% off at John's at the cash register.

I mentioned Casa Adela before but I forgot to mention the Friday mofongo. IMO, it's the best mofongo south of 125th St. (Is Casa Adela the last sit-down Puerto Rican place left in the 'hood?)

Rmom said...

@EV Grieve: Yes, they serve wine and beer.

Anonymous said...

No one has mentioned Kajitsu on 9th St. yet! Yes, it's on the pricey side, but their food is some of the best I've ever tasted (if not the best).

amillionrevolutions said...

A few omissions:
1) Kafana: The serbian joint on Ave C! I mean you have to be into balkan food, but jesus christ is it tasty! Plus the owner/staff are so nice.
2) Angelica Kitchen: sure its a bit niche-y, but its got to be there.
3) Back Forty: in a sea of unimpressive restaurants running northward from the park on B, this is the best of the bunch.
4) Gruppo: Great Pizza
5) Takahachi: Best sushi around for the price. (Hasakai is the best, but I can't afford it)
6) Minca: great ramen is a very unassuming and quiet place. Its ramen for people that hate ramen joints!
7) A Bit of a stretch as its on the wrong side of the Bowery, but Great Jones Cafe (if its eligible) really should be up there, fabulous unpretentious grub. It filled the place in my soul that died when Old Devil Moon closed.

Oh, and one word of agreement regarding B&H. Frankly i think it should be higher on the list. This place does things to me that words do not exist to describe. I work downtown, and now live in Clinton Hill, and I will frequently go to B&H "on my way home", which on it's face is completely ridiculous. Oh, and I just had to disagree with a previous poster that argued that butter-usage was the only reason their food was good. Phooey! They bake all of their challah in the tiny kitchen in back, and their soups are outstanding.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks for the list, A Million Revolutions. I always hear good things about Kafana. Have yet to try it myself. Need to get there one of these days. And I do like the pizza at Gruppo. Though I'd still rather just grab a quick slice at Nino's...

We checked with the Listicle Committee: And they will allow the inclusion of Great Jones Cafe! Unpretentious is the right word...