It was a beautiful Friday afternoon and we found ourselves in the East Village surrounded by many tantalizing grub-tastic options. Why should we go to a single eatery and have another moderately priced sit-down dinner, when we could eat at 5 or 6 fun funky joints? We should not. We did not. We created an on-the-spot tour and enjoyed grub from Belgium, Vietnam, Mexico, and Israel – for the price of a standard boring meal.
123 Second Ave (7th/St Marks), NYC
This well-known counter/tiny storefront has arguably the best fries on the planet. They are slightly less thick than steak fries and perfectly crispy and salty. They are scrumptious on their own, but the creative plethora of sauces puts them on an even higher level. We had the Vietnamese Pineapple Mayo, Wasabi Mayo and War Sauce (Frite Sauce, Peanut Satay and Raw Onion). All were incredible. Of course my lady, Spud, was in potato heaven. This is a craving we’d have daily if we lived in the hood. There are only maybe 12 seats, but the place has faux Belgian feel. The fries come in a paper cone and all the tables have little holes that fit the cone. It’s a nice touch. And all for $7.
Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches
150 2nd St (A/B), NYC
I had heard about Nicky’s awhile back, but never got there until now. The facade is a regular awning and the inside is nothing special either. There are 3 small tables and looking around you might think you were in a pizza place or coffee spot. The Simpsons DVD was playing in a loop on the flat-screen TV. The vibe is a low key neighborhood feel that caters to a lot of regulars. Spud and I split a Classic Vietnamese Sandwich: Pâté, Vietnamese ham, roasted ground pork, pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and mayo on a toasted French baguette. The melange of ingredients yielded complex interesting flavors and textures – it was tasty. The ground pork and pickles carrots stood out to me more than the other ingredients. While I did enjoy it, I don’t think it will be a destination for us. Although I would definitely eat it again and try some of the other sandwiches: Chicken, Sardine and Pork Chop. It certainly makes for a better lunch than a standard grilled chicken or deli sandwich. $5.
Snack Dragon Taco Shack
199 East 3rd Street (Ave B), NYC
I found this place on Menupages and its name makes for a decent description. It’s a window with one employee and a few chairs outside. As small as it is, it definitely has a funky Avenue B attitude. It is directly across from Mama’s Food Shop – one of our all-time favorites. There are Christmas lights up and an eclectic mix of info and kitsch. We ordered a carne asada taco and it was delicious and beautiful looking. The blue corn tortilla contrasted with the red salsa and bright green herbs. The meat was tender and spices were authentic. This is not a typical fast food taco. My only regret is that we did not order several. They are really good and really difficult to share with another person. If you are in alphabet city, Snack Dragon makes an awesome meal or snack. $5 ($4 during happy hour 4-6p).
Sundaes and Cones
95 East 10th Street (3rd), NYC
After this food, we needed a cool treat. S & C is an ultra-modern spotless ice cream shop. It is the opposite of the old fashioned ice cream shop. The staff is Asian and efficient and you come here for the frozen treats, not for the atmosphere or experience. The ice cream is quite good though and the Asian inspired flavors are unique. Not sure that I have ever seen flavors like Wasabi, Ginger, Sesame Seed and Black Bean. I had the Lychee which was interesting, but not really good or bad, and the maple walnut which was good. The wifesters had pumpkin which was amazing. All the ice creams were thick and dense with a rich creamy texture. This is “real” ice cream with a high fat content, which makes it tasty of course. Maybe next time we will try a sundae or 3. $8.
After, we took a few hours off and saw a good movie at the Sunshine. Man on Wire is a great documentary. Phillipe Petit performed the most amazing/crazy feat I have ever seen in my life. Down the block from the theater we found a Chickpea for some fast Middle-Eastern grub.
147 East Houston (2nd Ave/Chrystie)
This place is tasty and reliable, although it has too much of a chain feel for me. We had platters of baked falafel and hummus and chicken shwarma with salad and pita. Some good healthy food to round out the day. Doesn’t their chickpea logo look like something else? A vagina or butt, perhaps? Maybe they should re-think it. The platters were fine, but next time I’ll have the shwafal sandwich, their specialty of falafel and shwarma, and skip the thick plastic packaging. The menu is slightly confusing and could use some deals instead of the mix-n-match structure. $19.
So this was an exciting afternoon and evening of eating and wandering around the EV. We ate lunch and dinner at 5 joints representing 5 different cuisines. All for $39 for both of us. This city can actually be quite cheap if maneuvered properly. Either way, it certainly is fun.