Best Reason to Embrace The Slice:
33 Havemeyer St., betw. N. 7th & N. 8th Sts., Brooklyn, 718-599-2210
Most chefs, when realizing a dream of opening a pizza joint, opt for the sitdown, brick-oven, upscale routeno slices. Now, from the minds behind Roberta’s and Brooklyn Star comes the un-Google-ably named "Best Pizza" in Williamsburg. Best Pizza currently features the straightforward Margherita Slice, with a perfect cheeseto-sauce ratio, the Grandma covered in a subtly anchovied tomato sauce, and our favoriteand pick for Best New Slice a white slice topped with cheese and caramelized onions on a sesame crust. Motor-what now?
Best Place to Eat Before a Show, Manhattan:
93 Ave. A, at E. 6th St., 212-254-3286
Pop Quiz: That show at Cake Shop doesn’t start for an hour and the opener kind of sucks, anyway. What do you do? If you’ve got half a brain, you’ll drag your lazy ass to Benny’s Burritos on Avenue A. If the restaurant just had $4 margaritas, that would be enough of a reason to go. But Benny’s also has something approaching real, reasonably priced food. It’s a revelation on the LES, which is otherwise stuffed with overpriced crap for condo dwellers. By the time you sit down and enjoy a Chicken Mole Ole burrito and frosty beverage, you’ll be right on schedule to go back and enjoy the headliner.
Best Place to Eat Before a Show, Brooklyn:
355 Metropolitan Ave., betw. N. 4th & Havemeyer Sts., 718-384-5054
If it weren’t for The Knitting Factory, some of the most interesting and obscure bands in the country would have no place to play in New York. If it weren’t for St. Anselm, some of the most interesting and obscure parts of the animal would have no place to be cooked and served to Brooklynites. St. Anselm welcomes brains, tongues and guts, always serving them with pride and creativity. However, our snacks of choice are the Disco fries with brown gravy and ricotta cheese, and the Sriracha fried pickles.
Best Snacks at a Music Venue:
702 Union St., at 5th Ave., Brooklyn, 718-638-4400
Shall we have the Tex Mex Rolls or the Drunken Jamaican Wings? The Pot Stickers or The Triple Threat of mini burgers? These are the questions, the delicious, delicious questions we ask ourselves every time we go to see a show at Park Slope’s Union Hall. The bocceball haven boasts a small but substantial selection of tasty snack foods that go well with any of the bar’s revolving lineup of draught beers. Yet despite these various snack offerings, there’s one to which we shall be forever faithful: Basket O’ Corndogs, you and your PBR batter and Dijon mustard dipping sauce have never led us astray, and for that, we thank you.
Best Way to Eat For $6:
Sandwiches at Graham Avenue Meats & Deli
445 Graham Ave., betw. Frost & Richardson Sts., Brooklyn, 718-389-9777
Get away from your $12 aged Gruyere-andwhatever sandwich and go find Mike at Graham Avenue Meats & Deli. A throwback to the neighborhood’s Italian heritage, there’s no bullshit here, just cheap and delicious meat and Italian specialties. Ask Mike to hook you up with the special Turkey sandwich, which is a ton of homemade turkey breast, Swiss cheese, spices, oils, vegetables and other tasty morsels. For $6, you get a sandwich big enough for two meals that, in the words of one Yelp reviewer, "will ninja kick your stomach, it will fight terrorists, it will reunite your family and cure your lingering toe fungus."
Best Bar to Buy Dirt-Cheap PBR and Yell at the Bartender:
769 Washington Ave., betw. Sterling Pl. & Grand Ave., Brooklyn, 718-622-1211
It was game seven of the NBA Finals. The Lakers had stormed back against our beloved Celtics. And the bartender was letting us hear it. "That’s my boy, Kobe Bryant!" he shouted, as if he’d given birth to that arrogant prick. "Go to L.A.!" we shouted, emboldened by $10 pitchers of PBR. "New York has enough assholes already." We still left a nice tip.
Best Bar to Have Drunk Sex In:
484 Union Ave., at Meeker Ave., Brooklyn, 718-609-0484
Don’t let the "one per stall" sign detour you: Union Pool is known as a classic neighborhood hookup spot for many reasons, and the private, roomy bathrooms are one of them. For even more drunken fun, check out the larger handicap room to the right of the stallsmost people don’t know it’s there and it’s big enough to have a full-on orgy.
Best Samosas to Buy on a Sweaty Bike Ride to Coney Island:
1107 Coney Island Ave., betw. Foster Ave. & Ave. H, Brooklyn, 718-421-4100
Saturdays, when the Jews have abandoned Coney Island Avenue for the Sabbath, we like to pedal to the beach on the mostly barren boulevard. For sustenance, we snap up a half-dozen homemade, deepfried and zippily spiced samosas for 75 cents a pop. Whether on two wheels or two feet, they’re a filling treat.
Best Restaurant to Make Us Reconsider Our Ban on Brunch:
21-17 49th Ave., at 21st St., Queens, 718-425-6917
We despise brunch, that overpriced mess of mimosas, eggs and strained conversation. Yet we’ll make a morning exception for this marvelous Queens diner, where the English muffins, biscuits, donuts and sausage are all crafted in house. Add in cheap prices and potent coffee, and this is one brunch we can get behind.
Best Balls on the LES:
The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton St., betw. Allen & Orchard Sts., 212-982-8895
The Lower East Side may have swapped its seedy vibe for condos and restaurants featuring $12 cocktails, but there’s still an option for pleasure-seekers who find themselves down there in the wee hours of the morning: The Meatball Shop. Open till 4 a.m., Thursday through Sunday, the cramped, stylish joint serves up a limited-but-yummy menu of assorted, you guessed it, meatballs. Order ‘em over spaghetti or as sliders slathered in your choice of sauce and supplement with various sides. While you nosh on the spherical delights, rub elbows with other carnivores at the cramped, central community table. Apparently twenty-something New Yorkers have a real jones for fresh takes on Grandma’s old standby, meaning there’s almost always a wait, so whet your appetite at the bar with some classic libations.
Best Retail Store to Double as a Cheapskate’s Favorite Bar:
191 5th Ave., betw. Union St. & Berkeley Pl., Brooklyn, 718-230-7600
As cheap bastards with a drinking problem, we’re always searching for inexpensive ways to get pie-eyed. In lieu of making pruno (prison wine concocted from ketchup, sugar and fruit), we hit Bierkraft. The beer store sells cut-rate growlers for in-store consumption, meaning we can pound craft beer for a pittanceand nab cheese samples for sustenance.
Best Greenpoint Kielbasa Sold by Polish Men Who Don’t Hate You:
Steve’s Meat Market
104 Nassau Ave., betw. Eckford & Leonard Sts., Brooklyn, 718-383-1780
In Greenpoint, we’ve grown accustomed to salespeople as cold as a Krakow winter. That’s why it’s refreshing to shop at this family-run butcher where the swine is smoked on site. With uncommon patience, the staff guides us through the dozen-plus styles of sausages, slicing off thumb-size samples of anything we please.
Best Way To Enjoy Fried Pastrami:
Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, 174 5th Ave., betw. W. 22nd & W. 23rd Sts., 212-675-5096
We’ve had the pastrami egg rolls at FoodParc and heard all about the rye-and-pastrami croissant at Momofuku Milk Bar, but for our money, the best fried meat in town comes from Bea, the friendliest waitress at Flatiron lunch spot Eisenberg’s. She mixes pastrami, olives, peppers and onions, shoves it all inside of dough and serves the oversized, deep-fried gut bombs with a spicy garlic dipping sauce. It’s enough to leave you asking, Reuben who?
Best Place to Go After You’ve Been Dumped:
The Donut Pub
203 W. 14th St., betw. 7th & 8th Aves., 212-929-0126
For those breakups that leave you too blue for even a bartender to psychoanalyze, plant yourself at a stool in this Formica bar and bury your woes in a red velvet donut and a cup of joe. Watch the light in the window to know when the donuts are fresh, and don’t worry if it’s difficult to pick just one: at $1.10 a pop, you won’t have to. Since 1964, the Donut Pub has been mending hearts and filling stomachs 24 hours a day. So stop in to satisfy some late night drunchies and maybe meet your next great love over a black-and-white cookie.
Best Vegetarian Bun Served by Women Who May Not Understand the Word Vegetarian:
150 Mott St., betw. Grand & Broome Sts., 212-966-8998
We’ve visited China twice, yet there are still infants who understand more Mandarin than we do. And the women at Queen Bakery know little English. Hence, trying to purchase a veggie bun is like playing charades. But success grants us a pillowy 75-cent bun crammed with squiggly mushrooms and wheat gluten. It leaves us speechless.
Best Overstuffed Torta to Chomp After Riding the Cyclone:
Carne Enchilada at Alex Deli
1418 Mermaid Ave., betw. 15th St. & Stillwell Ave., Brooklyn, 718-265-0675
Lest we lose our cookies and crema, we visit this Mexican deli after we’ve rattled our vertebrae on the coaster. The wait is worth it: The tortas (our fave is the spicy carne enchilada) are grilled to order, served on crispy bread loaded with Oaxacan cheese, avocado, refried beans and salsa verde that’s not gringo-mild.
Best Happy Hour Snacks:
999 Manhattan Ave., betw. Huron & Green Sts., Brooklyn, 718-349-7292
Just when we were starting to believe those jerkoff Californians about that whole, "New York has everything but good Mexican food" thing, a number of tasty Mexican joints have popped up, bringing us authentic Southof-the-border grub. Leading the charge is Greenpoint’s Papacito’s, featuring tacos and burritos that would make even the most stubborn Angeleno relent. Even better? Happy hour happens at least twice a daythree times during the weekand features insanely cheap drinks and excellent food well into the night. You can keep your laid-back attitude and movie-star governor, we’ve got cold Tecate and $1 tacos till 4 a.m.
Best Thing to Come Out of New Jersey Since Bon Jovi:
New Jersey Beer Co.’s Garden State Stout
The brewery does our western neighbor proud with its stable of superlative craft beer. The Hudson Pale Ale is fresh and hoppy, while the 1787 Abbey Single is crisp and Belgiankissed. Even better: the Garden State Stout, a creamy, cocoa-like brew that’s like state pride by the pint.
Best Place to Fall in Love with a Waiter:
Caracas Arepa Bar 291
Grand St., betw. Havemeyer & Roebling Sts., Brooklyn, 718-218-6050
We aren’t sure if it’s the Latin lover aura or the spicy South American food and potent Cachaca cocktails at the Williamsburg branch of Caracas Arepa Bar, but something about the joint has our knees knocking with a super waiter crush. And it’s not just the tall skinny one with the hipster haircut, thick glasses and Venezuelan accent, it’s all of those (predominantly) Central and South American transplants that serve the steaming hot chimichurri sauced meat stuffed into griddled corn cakes, the sweet and spicy micheladas and the crispy tostones with mojito mayo. Either way, delicious food and a nice smile have us craving more.
Best Street Meat Worth Waiting in Line Beside 25 Clueless Tourists:
53rd and Sixth Halal Cart
West 53rd Street & Sixth Avenue
We’re addicted to this corner cart’s creamy white sauce and tender chicken, which also attracts tourists like moths to light. Silently, and often vocally, we curse the Spaniards and French queued in front of us, until the moment comes when we can mutter these words: "chicken, rice, white sauce, hot sauce."
495 Lorimer St., betw. Powers & Grand Sts., Brooklyn, 718-388-7771
You need to know that your barista might hate you. Pulling espresso shots can be a thankless job that requires all the nuance and skill of being a bartender, but with less gratitude, leaving most baristas in a state of general saltiness. As you sit a few feet away from them, working on your screenplay, they are banging their scoops and making little spades atop your latte, waiting to get home and work with Pro Tools until sunrise. This is what makes the baristas at Gimme! so un-objectionable. In fact, between Marta the bike punk girl, Alex the band kid, Joe the long-haired California dude, Mike the DJ and Elia, the guy who’s good with computers and holds the place together, the baristas at Gimme! aren’t just un-objectionable, but welcoming, which wouldn’t be as big a deal if they weren’t also making the best espresso drinks in the borough.
Best L.E.S. Bar to Get Molested In:
138 Ludlow St., betw. Stanton & Rivington Sts., 212-477-0280
We’d come to Local for its $3 happy hour, not religion-defined sexual assault. "Jews have big dicks," the drunk Latina woman said, her red fingernails dancing up our thighs. "Take off your glasses and let me see how sexy you are." We kept our glasses on, pounded our $3 beer and sprinted into the sweaty night.
Best Chinatown Greasy Spoon to Wait Behind Bums for Hangover-Killing Food:
Wah Fung No. 1 Fast Food
79 Chrystie St., betw. Canal & Hester Sts., 212-925-5175
Benders usually leave us broke, broken men. But come red-eyed morning, we like to pull together a fistful of quarters and queue up behind downtown bums for Chinatown’s porkiest bargain. Just $2.50 buys a brick-size (and heavy) portion of fatty, caramelized roast pork as crunchy as candy. It’s as much medicine as aspirin.
Best New Outdoor Drinking Spot:
546 Clinton Ave., at Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, 718-230-580
Alan Harding doesn’t serve chicken in his food truck located in Hot Bird’s incredible yard. He does, however, offer an amazing lobster spring roll and bevy of sausages that pair nicely with the bar’s rotating list of brews, like Pretty Things IPA and Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye. Get there soon to take advantage of the last of the warm nights at one of the large picnic tables that litter the yard, lit by the glow of McDonald’s arches and soundtracked by the muffled roar of Atlantic Avenue.
Best Spicy Fried Chicken for Gentrifiers:
415 Tompkins Ave., at Hancock St., Brooklyn, 718-483-9111
"Excuse me, where’s the" "You want to go there, don’t you?" the grizzled gent said, pointing to Peaches. Um, yes. Since opening in Bed-Stuy, the Southern eatery has attracted culinary adventurers in search of incendiary fried chicken. One bite brings sweat. Two bites bring tears. Three bites bring tears of joy.
Best Beer to Restore Our Faith in a Brewery:
We were ready to write off Brooklyn’s Kelso until brewmaster Kelly Taylor created this astounding IPA. Fresh and juicy, with little lip-scrunching bitterness and lots of wine-like complexity from New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin hop, Kelso’s IPA is our favorite locally brewed beer.
Best Double-Fisted Rocket Ship to Drunkenness:
Sly and Rye at d.b.a.
113 N. 7th St., betw. Berry St. & Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, 718-218-6006
At most bars, the shot-and-beer deal means PBR paired with wincing whiskey. Not so at this Brooklyn good-brew haunt. Here, a fiver buys a bolt of spicy Old Overholt sided with a can of beer from Pennsylvania’s first-rate Sly Fox. It’s the most fun we can have with two hands.
Best Use of Turkey, Non-Thanksgiving Edition:
Turkey-leg Sandwich at Henry Public
329 Henry St., betw. Atlantic Ave. & Pacific St., Brooklyn, 718-852-8630
While this old-timey tavern’s repurposed vintage aesthetic is calculated, we’ll put up with the mustachioed nonsense if it means we can munch this gobble-gobble goodness. Roasted turkey is de-boned, braised in milk, then mounded on Pullman bread and finished with fried onions and juniper pickles. It’s what the day after Thanksgiving should taste like.
Best Alternative to Wasting Your Money on Overpriced Grub at Hester Street Fair:
27A Essex St., at Hester St., 212-529-2760
We wanted to buy the boutique, "artisan" food at the Lower East Side’s outdoor fair, but we’re allergic to spending nearly $10 for a hot dog topped with kim chi and a popsicle. Instead, we took our appetite across the road to North Dumpling, where five pork-and-chive pot stickers cost a buck.
Best Raping of a City’s History:
Ninth Ward in NYC
180 2nd Ave., betw. E. 11th & E. 12th Sts., 212-979-9273
We’re bastards, but we know better than to open a bar named after a New Orleans neighborhood devastated by a natural disaster. Ninth Ward: Where the drinks are never watered-down! Screw you and your Sazerac too.
Best Drinks to Sip If You Have an Extra 20 Minutes to Wait:
49 Essex St., betw. Hester & Grand Sts., 212-777-8454
When we want to get insta-drunk, we don’t hit tiki haunt Painkiller, where cocktail preparations are as slow as a cross-town bus. But when time’s no concern, we order a swizzle that’s layered, complex and as balanced as a teeter-totter. Bonus: They’re so strong you needn’t order a second round.
Best Restaurant to Approximate Sitting on the Coast of Maine:
Red Hook Lobster Pound
284 Van Brunt St., betw. Verona St. & Visitation Pl., Brooklyn, 646-326-7650
In lieu of spending six hours driving to New England to gnaw on just-harvested lobster, we bike to Red Hook. In a rustic dining room decorated with discarded buoys, we slurp BYO Allagash White (Maine’s finest) and chomp mayo-dressed lobster rolls served in split-top buns. It’s Maine by way of Brooklyn.
Best Hipster Fried Chicken:
366 Metropolitan Ave., at Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, 718-218-7632
Sure, you can get attitude anywhere in Williamsburg, but how often do you get to eat decent fried chicken while in the midst of it? Brought to you by poultry master Stephen Tanner, The Commodore is Brooklyn’s answer to Manhattan’s Rusty Knot. Now that it has taken over the old Black Betty spot, the rec-room-in-the-’70s-themed eatery should be your go-to for either a plate of the now-famous chicken with a biscuit or a deliciously ironic (but mostly delicious) pia colada. Extra points go to the bar for being an excellent end-of-the-night stop, even on weekends, when morons enthusiastically roam Metropolitan Avenue and render most drinking holes intolerable.
Best Freebie Bar Snack:
Bacon Maple Popcorn at South Houston
331 W. Broadway, at Grand St., 12-431-0131
Offering patrons free pretzels, nuts, wings and even tater tots is old hat. Enter brown sugar and bacon-coated popcorn, fresh from the kitchen and oozing sweet-savory goodnessand gratis to boot. At SoHo’s new sports bar South Houston, they treat you to a metal bucketful of this sinful snack, which is perfect to help coat your belly before you have too many of their potent cocktails, like the Grand Street Manhattan or the cool and refreshing Martini Cochon. You might not want to get seconds if you have meal plans later; you’re likely to ruin your dinner.
Best Restaurant to Take Your Vegetarian Girlfriend:
229 S. 4th St., betw. Havemeyer & Roebling Sts., Brooklyn, 347-844-9578
On the tongue-in-cheek scale, few activities can top our favorite weekend pastime: escorting our vegetarian shiksa girlfriend to Hasidic Williamsburg’s Traif, where we snack on bacon-topped donuts. "But you don’t even like the donuts that much," she tells us. "True," we reply, "but sometimes irony trumps taste."
Best Taco Truck Open Long After You Should Be Slumbering:
Tacos El Bronco
5th Ave., betw. 43rd & 44th Sts., Brooklyn
Though the Sunset Park truck opens around 8 in the evening and serves its palm-size namesakes till sunrise, we like hitting Bronco around 2 a.m., waiting in line behind boisterous men who’ve also hit the bottle. Four pineapple-chunked al pastor and fatty suadero tacos fill our belly and, when we get home, send us into much-needed dreamland.
Best Hero to Make You Rethink Deli Meat:
Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry St., at Prince St., 212-965-0955
To us, a turkey sandwich is elementaryschool sustenance. To Torrisi, it’s art. The herbaceous, mouth-stretching masterpiece begins with Parisi Bakery bread, which is stuffed with house-roasted turkey (glazed with garlic, herbs and honey), shaved lettuce, wisps of red onion, tomato, mayo and piquant sauce so good, we lick the wrapper clean.
Chocolate Gelato at Popbar
5 Carmine St., at 6th Ave., 212-255-4874
Remember when you were a kid and your mom placated you with Jell-O Pudding Pops? The chocolate gelato bar at Popbar has the same rich, creamy texture and deep cocoa flavor, but unlike the corn syrup-filled treat of childhood, the pure, high-quality chocolate in this bar is imported from Italy and there are no artificial flavors added.
Best Dessert That Could Be a Meal:
Crme Brulee di Parmigiano Peggiano at Perbacco
234 E. 4th St., betw. Aves. A & B, 212-253-2038
Hidden among classic Italian dishes like ravioli and risotto, Chef Simone Bonelli has included some gastronomic surprises in the menu at Perbacco in the East Village. Perhaps most stunning is the crme brulee di Parmigiano Reggiano, an appetizer that pretends to be a dessert that actually tastes like a savory meal. The dish is made with 18-month aged cheese, but, instead of caramelizing sugar on top of the mixture like a normal crme brulee, Bonelli uses a 12-year-old aged balsamic vinegar. When you dip into it, make sure to scoop from top to bottom so the burst of creamy cheese goodness will play off of the sweet crunch of the hardened vinegar.
Best Unfancy Sandwich:
This Way from This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef
149 1st Ave., betw. E. 9th & E. 10th Sts., 212-253-1500
Piles of thinly sliced roast beef on a fresh, eggy bun with a slathering of Cheez Whiz for only $5.50 is exactly what makes this the best meaty sandwich around. Though This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef came at a time when Brooklyn’s Mile End was getting all the glory, the sheer convenience of this joint in the bustling East Village and its deli-like prices trump the Canadian competition. Of course, we aren’t surprised owners of the delicious fatty food havens Artichoke and Led Zeppole did their meat sandwiches right they have the heart attack cuisine cornered and we’re forever grateful.
Best New Wine Bar:
434 Amsterdam Ave., at W. 81st St., 646-863-3896
Head west, young man (and woman), and you will find a gem of a wine bar. The Tangled Vine opened in March with wine director Evan Spingarn in charge of the heavy menu laden with organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines, mainly from France, Spain, Austria, Germany and Italy. Not only are the servers and bartenders eager to help you choose a drink, the book of wine is set up in such a way that it’s actually easy to translate. You have reds, whites, ross and bubbly listed not by price or region, but by dryness. And, if you fancy a real adventure, sample something you’ve never heard of before, like the rueda or refosco.
Best Eatery to Trick You Into Thinking You’re In Middle America:
The Pop Tarts Store
West 42nd St., betw. 6th & 7th Aves.
Just a stone’s throw from the trappings of Bryant Park rests a monument to convenience and processed food that seems better suited for Minnesota’s Mall of America: the Pop Tarts Store. So dubious they wouldn’t even let it into Times Square proper, this barren outlet exists, it seems, only to hoist the vile sushiflavored pop tart upon the world.
Best Use of Carbohydrates, Chinatown Edition:
5 Catherine St., betw. Division St. & Broadway, 212-925-8308
We’ve never had carbohydrates quite like this Hong Kongstyle joint’s "world famous rice in casserole." A heap of fluffy rice is tossed into a clay pot, crowned with toppings (we like the mushroom trio), then cooked till crisp, steamy and flavor-infused. Finish it with sweet soy sauce for a bowl-scraping feast.
Best Place to Eat Green:
187 9th Ave., betw. W. 21 St. & W. 22nd Sts., 212-627-1144
A restaurant can’t get more self-righteous and preachy than local, organic, kosher, vegan fare offered at a 15-percent discount to members of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. A crunchy version of upscale dining (no entre clocks in at less than $18), Blossom Restaurant serves up good eating, even if you thought seitan was the lord of hell, not the vegetarian wheat meat. As you sign the exorbitant check, feel that congratulatory tingle of being more environmentally conscious than your fine-dining brethren.
Best, Worst and Only Burmese Restaurant in Manhattan:
1393B 2nd Ave., betw. E. 72nd & E. 73rd Sts., 212-744-8008
"Unpretentious" is not a word we normally find ourselves using on the Upper East Side, but the vibe at Caf Mingala is just that. Since Burma is bordered by China, India and Thailand (among others), you can feel worldly without suffering through some horrific Pan-Asian yuppie echo-box ordeal. Try the addictively tangy Mango Chicken/Beef or the crispy Gold Sesame Chicken/Pork Stick with sweet chili sauceand don’t skip dessert! If you can get past its soggy-cereal appearance, the Thousand Layer Bread, a sweet, scallion-free riff on Chinese scallion pancakes, is worth feeling like the fattest person north of 59th Street.
Best Halfway Enjoyable Place to Meet NYU Girls:
Josie Woods Pub
11 Waverly Pl., at Mercer St., 212-228-9909
There are really bad places to pick up drunk NYU girls, and then there’s Josie Woods. The 21 and over (obviously) collegiate crowd that hangs at this place can surprisingly hold their own. While over on Avenue C, overdressed co-eds are vomiting on their knock-off Manolos, the crowd at Josie’s is likely to be found splitting pitchers of beer, sharing wings, shooting pool and discussing their Latin studies courses. Even though it’s on the corner of Mercer and Waverly, the college crowd doesn’t completely dominate, and a mix of sports fans and angry old Irish dudes can always be found at the bar. Still, chances are you will meet an NYU girland she’ll be able to hold her liquor.
Best Mess of Noodles, L-Train Adjacent:
Double Pan Fried Noodles at M Shanghai
292 Grand St., betw. Lorimer & Union Sts., Brooklyn, 718-384-9200
"These aren’t even fully cooked!" shout the Yelpers who have no idea how cooking even works. The truth is the double pan fried noodles at M Shanghai are hard on the outside because they are super-cooked, or something like that. In fact, the outside of this mess of noodles tends to be the best part, crunchy in a way that’s reminiscent of eating raw Top Ramen, but far better. The inner area of this mess is so soft and slick that it’s almost soupy. In the end, you’ll find yourself slurping every last strand of noodle with the almost magically wet salty goodness surrounding it, and then chowing down the Chinese broccoli so as to not feel so bad about yourself, you nasty pig.
Best Doughy Breakfast Treat:
Cinnamon Challah Knots at Amy’s Bread
250 Bleecker St., betw. Leroy & Cornelia Sts., 212-675-7802
A brilliant twist on everyone’s favorite sweet, Jewish bread. Pick up one of these bad boys and then rip out the moist and sticky middle part, the knot, and shove that baby into your mouth. Then, if you aren’t yet full of self-loathing, finish it off and promise yourself you’ll go to yoga. Amy’s Bread continues to prove that they can turn bread into something worth seeking out. This is not the kind of thing they teach you to make in Hebrew school.
Best Music at a Bar That Smells Bad:
7 Ave. A, betw. E. 1st & E. 2nd Sts., 212-375-1352
Remember being 12, sneaking your parents’ vodka into your room and smoking out the window while listening to the Operation Ivy record? Remember how you used to think that a bar was a place full of wonder where you’d have more fun than ever before? The Jukebox at The Library is full of the albums you used to skateboard toincluding Op Ivy. So, when you need a hearty dose of Misfits or Minor Threat, go to one of the few places where you can still get cheap drinks on Avenue A and pump all of that leftover money into the jukebox. The kid in you will be psyched, and the adult, well, you’ll get used to the smell.
Best Coffee Shop For Killing Time:
The Gershwin Hotel, 5 E. 27th St., betw. 5th & Madison Aves., 212-686-1444
Sure, people crowd about Stumptown in The Ace Hotel, but only two blocks away lies the true hidden treasure of New York hotel caffeine dispensors: Birch. Between serving their own fair trade coffee and delicious baked goods (big ups to the goat-cheeseand-apple muffin) and doling out other fine drinks (like the best peppermint iced tea in town), the shop also lures us in with a menu of real food, plenty of seating and a big take-a-book, leave-a-book library on the second floor that could easily be one of the most magical rooms in townthere’s enough to do here to kill an entire day without working at all.
Best Place to Bring Your Broke Friends to Dinner:
295 5th Ave., betw. 1st & 2nd Sts., Brooklyn, 718-965-1108
Everyone has that friend, the one who puts in just enough to cover exactly his portion of food and, if you’re lucky, a 15-percent tip. Well, you can take that friend to Song and probably get them to split the bill in the endplus tax. Everything on the tasty Thai eatery’s menu is not only delicious, it’s cheap as all hell. And the place doesn’t scrimp on ambiance to make up for it. Pungent spices fill the lofty space on Fifth Avenue in north Park Slope, and there’s always a hip-looking DJ spinning records in the dimly lit spot on weekends. The best part? Sharable portions of appetizers range from $3 to $6 and a heaping bowl of noodles sure to produce leftovers can be had for under $8. You can even afford to tip your server 20 percent.
Best Winter Wonderland:
Rooftop at The Delancey
168 Delancey St., betw. Clinton & Attorney Sts., 212-254-9920
For smokers, the island of Manhattan is becoming hell on earth. Between 12 bucks for a pack, the proliferation of bumming and the growing number of people who just hate you for smoking, smokers have become the new black sheep of NYC. Years away from the indoor smoking ban, the idea of having a smoke in a nice warm area during winter was a mere dream, but the rooftop at The Delancey offers a respiteone stocked with palm and banana trees, a fountain filled with fish and much-needed warmth, even in the wintertime. It’s just that all of the exhaust from the cars on the Williamsburg Bridge, well, it makes us a bit nervous about our health.
Best Burger And Drink In One:
M&M Burger at Rare Bar & Grill
152 W. 26th St., betw. 6th & 7th Aves., 212-807-7273
While the fancy environs of Rare might not normally attract our sort, the meat mecca, which features a pretty kick-ass rooftop bar, is home to the $15 M&M burger, a gigantic hunk of meat that, just like us, is sloshed with Maker’s Mark (then cooked). The burger differentiates itself by hiding beneath carmelized shallots, cheddar cheese and applewood-smoked bacon, making it well worth braving the inside of a building called The Fashion 26 Hotel for this boozy beast of a burger.
Best Spiked Milkshakes:
Dutch Boy Burger
766 Franklin Ave., betw. Lincoln & St. Johns’ Pls., Brooklyn, 718-230-0293
It should be no surprise, since this burger joint is an offshoot of the popular watering hole Franklin Park, but the boozy milkshakes here are good enough to make hauling home from this Crown Heights spot seem a small price to pay (if you live in the neighborhood, all the better for you). Subbing spirits for milk, Dutch Boy offers the Moo-Thunder Stout Spiked Float, consisting of ale and vanilla ice cream from Blue Marble, the Root-Spiked Milkshake featuring the same vanilla ice cream with root beer schnapps and, our favorite, the Jeremiah Weed Bourbon Spiked Milkshake, which, true to its name, is ice cream splashed with bourbon. Our secret is to ask for a squirt of chocolate syrup in the latter, making it a Black-Out Black & White.
Best Frozen Drinks to Slurp While Sitting on the Beach:
155 Beach 95th St., betw. Shore Front Pkwy. & Joseph Alcamo Blvd., Queens, 718-474-2374
Come July, we beeline to Rockaway Beach’s summer-only lifeguard and surfer haunt for a go-cup of their frozen drinks. The specials change daily, but we consider ourselves lucky ducks if we can suck down a rummy pia colada or perhaps a daiquiri. It makes sitting on the sand pure bliss.
Best Bushwick Taco Shop That Almost Makes Venturing to Bushwick Bearable: Cholula Bella Deli
888 Broadway, betw. Belvidere St. & Arion Pl., Brooklyn, 347-435-0813
Since we’re north of 30, we avoid Bushwick like it’s a nuclear dead zone. But we’ll ditch our old-man prejudices to visit this bright taquera. Here, the horchata is homemade, tortas are overstuffed and the fresh-masa huaraches are plate-size behemoths finished with rich refried beans, crema, lettuce and your favorite flesh.
Best Way to Beef Up For Winter:
Baked by Melissa
7 E. 14th St., betw. 5th Ave. & University Pl., 212-842-0220
It only takes a bit of one of Baked By Melissa’s compact cupcakes to understand that the treat isn’t a gimmick, but a game-changer. Pop one of those frosting-topped babies, chew and just wait for it. The tiny-ness of Melissa’s cupcakes account for keeping them moist, more so than any of their full-sized competitors, and with a perfect butter-sugar ratio that always manages to surprise. Additionally, Baked By Melissa ensures at least one flavor that all your friends will like, without being flavor-happy like Crumbs; they only stick with what works.
Best Sit-Down Tacos:
Taco Nuevo Mexico
491 5th Ave., betw. 11th & 12th Sts., Brooklyn, 718-832-0050
Tacos are best cheap and simple, which, aside from the awesome array of taco trucks littering Jackson Heights, makes Brooklyn’s Taco de Mexico the best place to eat tacos in the city. Here, they stuff a steamed corn tortilla like a sushi hand roll, but instead of raw fish, you get piles of crisp carnitas, strips of grilled chicken, chunks of tender lengua or pieces of savory asada. They lace the top with spicy pico de gallo and a dollop of guacamole. Chase these babies down with a bowl full of salty margarita and relish in the fact that you are drunk, full and happy, all for under $15.
Best Bar to Pet a Pooch While Sipping a Big-Ass Beer:
303 Bedford Ave., betw. S. 1st & S. 2nd Sts., Brooklyn, no phone
When we’re struck by the combined urge to caress a canine and get tanked, we beat a path to Williamsburg’s finest mutt-friendly saloon. In the retro confines, we order a 24-ounce draft of Genessee Cream Ale, take a swig, then drop to the plank floor and pet the carousing dogs till we’re happily covered in slobber and fur.
Best Hummus Spot With a Stupid Name:
Yummus Hummus Bar
55 Waterbury St., betw. Meserole & Scholes Sts., Brooklyn, 347-984-6202
Sure, it’s on a creepy, deserted strip in industrial Bushwick, but when that adorable Israeli waiter drops down the incredibly smooth and delicious "Baked Bulb," a pile of just-made hummus with a roasted garlic bulb on top, a plate of baked falafel or the simple and refreshing Mediterranean salad, you might as well be on a creepy, deserted strip somewhere in Tel Aviv. Major points for anyone who can convince Manhattandweller friends to visit and then scoff at their obvious fear.
Best Spot for a First OKCupid Date:
161 E. Houston St., betw. 1st & 2nd Aves., 212-228-4143
So you’ve managed to convince some unfortunate babe or hunk through the Power of the Internet that you’re actually a redeemable human being worthy of being loved and/or fucked. Nice work. Now you have to make up for the fact that you presented yourself as way cooler than you are. Oliva is perfect for that: It’s dark, so neither one of you will notice how much uglier you are in person; it’s loud and usually has an amazing Spanish house band playing, so neither one of you will notice how boring you are; and it’s sexy as hell, sending the important message, Come over, but don’t sleep over.
Best Spot to Chomp Snails and Sip BYOB Beer Amid Destruction:
Kaz An Nou
53 6th Ave., betw. Dean & Bergen Sts., Brooklyn, 718-938-3235
Bruce Ratner may have bulldozed half of Prospect Heights, but amid the rubble this gracious French-Caribbean restaurant has risen. Impeccable service, stupendous jerk lamb, curry-spiked snails and a BYOB policy create a bright spot in a crumbling, construction-strewn neighborhood.
Best Spot to Buy Seafood That Seems Like a Chop Shop:
DeMartino Wholesale and Retail Fish Market
315 Douglass St., betw. 3rd & 4th Aves., Brooklyn, 728-522-1119
To find some of Brooklyn’s freshest seafood, amble down to this industrial Gowanus block before 10 a.m. weekdays and push a buzzer. "Whaddya want?" a voice will crackle. "Scallops and tuna," you should reply. It’s the password to enter this cut-rate seafood wholesaler with an ocean’s worth of cashonly bargains.
Best Hope For Manhattan Dive Bars:
The Kitchen / Sanctuary
314 W. 39th St., betw. 8th & 9th Aves., no phone
He might not own the place, but our pal Tracy Westmoreland, he of famed Midtown dive Siberia and short-lived but much loved Prospect Heights watering hole Manhattans, is calling his flockmostly mischievous journalists, off-duty cops, bad girls and other rabble rousersto congregate at this new West Side drinking hole. ""I’m not the owner, I’m the Minister of Propaganda," Westmoreland tells us. "The bar is named The Kitchen but people started calling it Sanctuary in the Kitchen. Now everybody just refers to it as Sanctuary for short." And lest you worry that the bar won’t be everything you expect, the Minister assures us, "It’s a sanctuary for Siberians."