>> Eat the World NYC

06 July 2020

Merguez and Frites

ALGERIA 🇩🇿

[COVID-19 UPDATE: The northern African sausages are still grilling and there are a few tables set up out front for diners. An new enclosed attachment also offers some quick standing space.]

Some addresses in New York City just seem to be cursed and never hold a tenant for very long. The previous business here was a not dissimilar Moroccan sandwich shop that only called it home for a short time. The newer owners hail from the neighbors to the east: Algeria, a country without a ton of representation in the city (One Algerian-ish place in the East Village and now-closed Bar Omar in Williamsburg precede this).

Like their predecessors, the space seems often busy and a meeting point for some of the neighborhood's northern African people to share stories and get together. They have built out a temporary structure like you often see in winter to provide more space to stand and eat. With current conditions, it likely will just be a place to spread out and avoid the hot sun while waiting for takeout orders, at least in the near future.

Merguez frites, kofta frites, and Algerian pizza.

The main offerings here are again sandwiches, those wildly popular on the streets of the capital Algiers and other cities. There you will find a diet high in meat intake, often with lamb being the most popular and readily available. The foods of France are of course no stranger to the once-colonized land, and baguettes circulate along with other Algerian breads.

The combination of lamb, the French baguette, and fries which seem to find their way onto and into many other foods, give the place its name and a sense of what you will find. Looking to the top of the menu, the merguez frites ($7, above and close-up bottom of page) seems like the obvious place to start here. The baguette is of very good quality, as are the sausages, especially for such a low price for a sandwich longer than a foot.

A list of sauces will be offered, ranging from hot sauce and ketchup to their "special sauce" which is a spicy mayo of some sort. A combination of the hot and special ended up being a very good choice to complement both sandwiches, but dijon mustard is never a bad idea either for merguez.

Ask for a quick reheat on the tasty pizza.

If you have ever traveled in the south of France, and specifically Marseille, the sandwich may even be claimed by the French, but be sure this is the product of the other side of the Mediterranean, quintessential food from the streets of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

These three countries make up the heart of the Maghreb, the cuisine offered proudly by the menu here. Any travelers to this region of the world will also be offered a direct route to their memories with the tray of pizza ($2/slice, above) that is always displayed and ready to eat. Like in Algeria, each slice is adorned with one black olive. Algerians are mad for pizza of all slices (pun intended), but the olive seems to be the constant. It is hard to go a few city blocks without seeing a pizzeria there just as it is in New York City. Stay here at Merguez and Frites long enough and you are bound to see someone ask for the squeeze bottle of mayonnaise to drizzle on their slice just like back home.


Even in the midst of a pandemic, Steinway Street is ready for anyone who wants to come out and eat and enjoy hookah. Most restaurants have built dining areas in the parking spots directly in front of them, and the mood is still convivial for those comfortable with being around others.

Some options are not always available here, like the keskrout lablabi, a sandwich of tuna, chickpeas and cumin. So make it a plan to come multiple times and at least once at night when the weather cools and you can enjoy some Algerian tea made with pennyroyal.

🇩🇿🇩🇿🇩🇿

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

28 June 2020

Santorini Restaurant & Café

EGYPT 🇪🇬

[COVID-19 UPDATE: With outdoor dining now legal, Santorini has set up quite a few tables. In addition, takeout and delivery are available as always.]

While the website of Santorini proclaims they have been "making delicious Mediterranean food since 1990" and is directly followed by some Lorem Ipsum text, it was only sometime after the summer of 2019 that they took over the space from a nondescript bakery named Mon Gateau. Hardly any work took place outside besides swapping out the name, and a new casual Egyptian café was born.

The casual passerby might be led to believe this is a new Greek restaurant given its reference to one of the most famous islands on the planet, but a closer look reveals an Egyptian fascination with that island rather than the island itself. In Egypt you can actually find a beach on the coast west of Alexandria named "Santorini Greek Beach," outfitted with blue umbrellas to simulate the tops of houses.


Regardless of any confusions that delayed trying the food here for over a year, it is nice to have a place in Bay Ridge specializing in feteer since the closing of King Tut back in early 2018. As with Hemo's Spot Juice Bar a bit further north on 5th Avenue, they also add different kinds of coffee, western breakfasts, and fast foods to cater to a younger generation of kids that have mostly grown up here and want the mixture.

Middle Eastern and North African couples will be seen here ordering the feteer, often times getting one of the massive pies per person. This phyllo dough layered Egyptian pastry is enjoyed in both savory and sweet versions, the medium version of which comes out around 12 inches in diameter.


The sujuk feteer ($13, above) is stuffed with stringy melted mozzarella, onions, green peppers, olives, and tomatoes. While the skill is not quite that of what King Tut possessed, you can never go wrong with this type of dish. They can also make different types of feteer with a variety of cheeses, different meats, tuna, and shrimp, or a mix of most everything.

Santorini is set up like a fast casual restaurant, and you can walk to the counter and order, but if you plan to dine in, take a seat and the friendly staff will come to you with menus and everything you need.


Another great order here is the mix mahashi ($18, above), an assortment of vegetables and grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices. The chef must have thought meat was fine given the feteer order, and threw on some mombar as well, the red "links" at the bottom of the plate. These have the same stuffing, but use the thin lining of sheep intestine to contain everything.

The combination of these, stuffed peppers and grape leaves is a wonderful plate to share between a group.


As the younger employee and older manager fight between upbeat pop music and more traditional sounds, respectively, other diners are moving on to satisfy their sweet tooth with either one of many crêpes or an order of feteer meshaltet, the same phyllo crust drizzled with honey.

A next visit might also try the loukoumades, deep fried dough balls soaked in honey and the Greek flag-bearer of the menu. These are of course also enjoyed throughout the Arabic-speaking world, but just another fun quirk of the menu that they go by their Greek name instead.

🇪🇬🇪🇬🇪🇬
BAY RIDGE Brooklyn
8101 5th Avenue
Santorini Restaurant & Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

22 June 2020

Cosina de Chencha

MÉXICO 🇲🇽
(OAXACA)

[COVID-19 UPDATE: The chairs are still on top of the tables as seen below, but Cosina de Chencha is still cranking out orders for delivery and pickup daily, which has always been their main source of business.]

As reported from New Brunswick last summer: "New Brunswick, New Jersey, a growing town of about 57,000 people is most known for Rutgers University and surrounding area that firmly place it in the image of a "college town." But not far outside of the university section and the city's downtown, roads stretching south and west reveal where the growth in population is coming from, and an almost magical area containing one of the densest concentrations of Oaxacans on the east coast."

The interior is in much better shape.

During warm months, and when there is not a pandemic, you will see pastries being sold on the sidewalk. Many of these are familiar to folks who frequent panaderias, but some have names that reveal them as Oaxacan specialties and are much more rare outside of New Brunswick.

Step inside the small dining room to take a look at the menu and see more Oaxacan favorites like the gigantic tlayuda (below), which is available with or without meat. The massive wrappers, imported from Oaxaca, are folded over all the ingredients, and at least for takeout, the whole thing is chopped in half. As always, it takes a bit of skill and luck to get everything into your mouth without losing some to your jeans.



Also of note are the rare masa triangles from Oaxaca called tetelas ($2 each, above and below), antojitos that are filled with beans and cheese. These are satisfying snacks and always available.

The sad lonely tetela pictured here was a mistake, as he definitely deserves to have many friends. Purchase these by the dozen!



One of those baked goods you may find on the sidewalk when passing during better days is the empanada de lechesilla ($2.75, above and below), dusted with sugar and filled with a vanilla cream.

A set amount of these are made each day, and if lucky they will still be warm when you find them. On those days, place them directly into your mouth and enjoy.



I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

23 March 2020

COVID-19 Takeout and Delivery Ideas

SITE UPDATE/COVID-19
I obviously do not need to tell you what is happening in the world. I just wanted to mention that if you read this website but are not following us on social media, the @EattheWorldNYC Twitter feed has been going through each and every restaurant ever written on these pages and figuring out if they are offering takeout and/or delivery options right now.

Please follow us on Twitter for more:
https://twitter.com/EattheWorldNYC

If you are having reservations about ordering food right now, that is understandable. I found this article recently published on Serious Eats to be very informative concerning the safety of prepared foods right now and what you can do to keep yourself safe:
https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/03/food-safety-and-coronavirus-a-comprehensive-guide.html

I hope you all are very well, and thank you for reading these pages over the years. I can't wait to get back to it.

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

12 March 2020

Gorkhali Nepalese Restaurant & Bar

NEPAL 🇳🇵

It must have been eight months or more since Gorkhali had put up its bold sign on Roosevelt Avenue, signaling another expansion of the area's Himalayan cuisine. But then as happens with a lot of restaurants trying to open, realities of bureaucracy and the unknown set in and the windows remained papered. There must have been two dozen occasions on other trips to the neighborhood that the (lack of) progress was checked in on.

And then finally, poof! In mid-February the restaurant opened up and hit the ground running. The first floor seems to be constantly busy with small groups of family and friends as well as solo diners coming in for lunch. There is a steam table, possibly a sign of the previous tenant or maybe offerings still to come, but currently unused.


If you come for a one of those weekday lunches, you will be seated downstairs where the walls have been given a coat of bright orange paint. Upstairs is where you will find the "bar" portion of the name, along with quite a bit more seating amongst an open dining room. This seems to be where the action will take place during busy times, albeit without spirits as for now there is no alcohol.

One of the first things you notice when looking at the menu here at Gorkhali is that unless your familiarity with Nepalese foods is very high, there are many dishes that are unfamiliar and not in every restaurant around town. This was true on this occasion with the bhatmas sadeko (above), a "salad" snack made of dried soybeans and some excellent chili and herb enhancements. This made the lack of a bar more sad, as the spicy crunch would go perfectly with a cold beer.


Because chicken and vegetables made their way to the table in other forms, an order of the beef jhol momo (above) was preferred, eight perfectly formed dumplings in a slightly spicy soup. This dish was slap in the face good, rising to near the level of the jhol momo from Bajeko Sekuwa in Sunnyside. It is one of those times in life where drinking all the leftover juice is required, embarrassment or not.

Halfway through the meal a family of three sat down and ordered thalis, a different one for each person. While waiting, they told the story of the chef, a woman who had faced tragedy and loss but was in their view most deserving of a restaurant like this. They were very excited to be able to eat her food on a more regular basis now.


Furthering the theme of appetizers, the chicken choila (above) is one with dense grilled hunks of meat cooked with red chili oil. These are a bit tough and dry but absolutely delicious. Order this in Nepal and you are likely to have sweat running down your forehead, but here they tone it down quite a bit.

Another dish that was initially unrecognized was khasiko taas (below), boneless pan-fried goat. The finished product takes on the texture of being deep-fried, but the crispy exterior is done through low heat and oil at the bottom of a tawa. The spices and herbs just taste like Nepal, but feel free to squeeze a bit of the lime to cut the grease.


Gorkhali Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

05 March 2020

El Buen Chapin Deli

GUATEMALA 🇬🇹

The Guatemalan offerings at this address have went through quite a transformation over the past year. After the old flower shop went out of business in early 2018, the shop eventually became somewhat of a corner store for Central Americans despite its mid-block location. It had some trinkets and a few groceries, but seemed to be mostly used for people to send remittances and otherwise back home.

Eventually a sign showed up outside with the simple offer of chuchitos, the wrapped-and-steamed masa delights very similar to Mexican-style tamales. With a crisp new Guatemalan flag in the window and no other outward facing signage, it was hard to resist coming in to check it out.


El Buen Chapin Deli is continuing the story of the Central Americanization of Sunset Park, and surpasses Karen Deli in the southern reaches of the neighborhood as the strongest presence for the country.

Even back before the new steam table opened, the shop was selling some packaged baked goods, national team jerseys, colorful tradition dresses and pants and a hodgepodge of other pantry products.


Before this year, the woman running the shop would have to leave her envios booth and open up the big Coleman cooler that had the foil-wrapped chuchitos (above, one unwrapped) sold individually. On the first attempt it was noticed that they would be gone not much after noon.

Chuchitos are still made almost daily, but now a rotating steam table is on offer and has taken command of the interior. Two tables offer four seats each and depending on when you arrive finding a seat could be difficult. Plan to make some friends at any rate, as you will probably share a table once you do sit down.


Most dishes besides soups will come with a hearty portion of rice and beans and two fluffy homemade Guatemalan-style corn tortillas for $10. On the first time coming to the steam table, the woman smiled and asked "Conoces la comida guatemalteca?" very confidently. It was nice to hear a specificity of cuisine, a sort of pride that references back to the name of the place.

On some days you might find chiles rellenos (above and below), very thin peppers stuffed with ground beef and vegetables. Each one is dipped in a flour and egg batter before frying. The dish is quite mild but they have a good green salsa available if you need it.


As mentioned, like most dishes this comes served over their very good rice and black beans. It is an enjoyable and filling dish, exactly the type of meal many other customers are looking for before or after their day of work.

The restaurant is everything you might expect and want from a workaday place. A dry erase board is out front daily with the selections available inside, but you will see everyone take a look at the offerings before deciding. The kitchen staff are happy to remove lids and offer views of each dish.


On one recent visit, a simple sopa de pollo ($10, above) was enjoyed. Filled with potatoes and chayote, the extremely large chunks of on-the-bone chicken are actually difficult to handle with the plastic silverware. By the end the tortillas came in handy to hold meats and keep juices from splashing.

A bit of a surprise in execution was the pepián de gallina ($10, below), a hen stew that is served with a really rich sauce that almost has the thickness and likeness of a mole. One of the most famous Mayan dishes still loved today is done really well here, although the bony bits of hen are almost an afterthought. Bites of the rice and pepián were the real winners.


Tablecloth.

The store still seems to do the tasks it used to, and some come in for medicines or other reasons, but now someone will have to leave the kitchen to attend to these needs in the front. The back of the shop and its daily prepared foods are clearly the focus nowadays.

The shelves seem to get more stocked with each visit, including many universal products and some Guatemalan things like Pollo Campero-branded ketchup, something every fridge needs. You will also find packaged bakery items from a famous place in Philadelphia as well as fresh baked goods in a case from a local baker. A true one stop shop.


🇬🇹🇬🇹🇬🇹
SUNSET PARK Brooklyn
El Buen Chapin Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

25 February 2020

Café con Pan Bakery II

MÉXICO 🇲🇽

In the world of chain operations, Café con Pan is the type the city needs. This location is the second of three, a company that originated in Sunset Park, Brooklyn about ten years ago but has spread to two spots in Staten Island since. Currently in its sixth year of business, this panaderia and pasteleria makes a lot more than baked goods and sweets.

Café con Pan exists at a really exciting time on Port Richmond Avenue in Elm Park, a stretch that gets more and more interesting with every visit. Its many tables might not seem busy at most times, but in just a few minutes you realize it is a very active place. People are in and out quickly, grabbing sweet breads or tamales and tortas mostly for takeout.


In the dining area, those chairs and tables are all so colorful, each painted differently with scenes from rural life mixed in with cathedrals, horses, and men playing music around a fire. The barstools each have a scene from a movie. The bar is loaded up with alcohol, but early in the day at least it does not see much action.

While deciding what to get, the large family that had come in just before went straight for the tongs to grab pan dulce. To make a lunch decision easier, a danish and coffee was ordered to follow suit and give a bit more time. The shop has a logo that looks a lot like this order, so it confirmed it was a proper first move.

Café con pan.

If you grab a menu, you get a sense of the massive amount of cooking the place does in addition to their many racks of breads, cakes, and cookies. A full range of antojitos as well as soups and weekend special exist alongside the torta section, which is 30 deep!

Two tamales ($2 each, below) started this meal, of which the rajas con queso was the winner. Plenty of cheese worked well to smooth the masa and keep it moist, something the verde was lacking.

Tamal verde de pollo/tamal de rajas con queso

Conchas

A few of many cookies

As other families had come in to request custom cakes for future parties, the next course of this meal was decided to be the pozole con 2 tostadas ($12, below). This pork and hominy soup was deeper and richer than usual with ample amounts of oregano and rosemary. The tender meat was delicious. The only thing missing was some ground red pepper, which does not appear to be available to spice up the soup.

The two tostadas come completely plain except for a squirt of crema on top. This is a bit different than most restaurants around town, which serve a more "complete" tostada with beans, lettuce, and cheese as well alongside the soup. This allows you to combine bites easier and eat them with the pozole rather than simply as a side.


When it was finally time to attack that list of tortas, the torta mixta ($11, below) won the lottery, a sandwich packed with three meats (chicken tinga, bacon, and ham) as well as two types of cheese, beans, lettuce, avocado, and jalapeño. All of these ingredients were excellent.

What held it back, somewhat surprisingly for the setting, was the bread. It appeared as if the bread was once good, but was it old now and reheated, possibly in a microwave? While this was disappointing, surely a next time would have fresh bread?



The torta should not be written off just by one attempt. If you have had an experience good or bad, please let everyone know in the comments, and of course the article will be updated when another torta is eaten soon.

Or will it be that chipotle torta burger full of quesillo they advertise?

🇲🇽🇲🇽🇲🇽
ELM PARK Staten Island
Café Con Pan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

21 February 2020

Bikanervala

INDIA 🇮🇳

You would not know it when you see the bright colors and modern logo, but Bikanervala has over 100 years of history all going back to a simple shop that sold sweets and namkeen. That shop was just east of the present-day border with Pakistan in the small city of Bikaner in Rajasthan. The company now has almost 100 stores around the world and ships everywhere.

After expanding to Delhi in the 1950's and blowing up through the next few decades, the shop has stuck to its principles for the most part, still excelling with a good selection of sweets and namkeen. The menu has expanded somewhat, with more filling meal options, and the next time you are in Hyderabad, you can even stay at the boutique hotel that the company opened in Banjara Hills.

Pea samosa plate ($2.99, hard pass)

Despite its gloss, Bikanervala still sticks to an informal format. Small portions are served on disposable paper plates. Plastic cutlery is provided nearby. Place your order at the counter and wait for the robotic voice to call your number and say "Please take the meal."

While waiting, browse through their packaged goods section, just a taste of what you can have shipped just about anywhere in case you ever find yourself long distances from a branch.



At a normal dinner time, the bird's nest-like wonder tokri chaat was unavailable but the cashier recommended raj kachori ($7.99, above) as a stand-in. This worked pretty well, with all the flavors and crunchy textures you need from chaat. While in other parts of India, kachori is a spicy snack on its own, in Delhi it is usually served as a chaat dish, the namesake on top as a sweetened wet bread to add another layer than usual.

Having noticed the nightly special of a paneer kati roll, and many other dishes including cheese, this dairy product seemed to be a theme of the offerings. In this spirit and as a reason to get some naan ($2.99, below back), a bowl of paneer butter masala ($9.99, below) was added.



The butter masala had a nice and proper amount of heat to it and hit the spot, although the thin naan was unfortunately a bad companion. It will probably be a more wise move to stick to namkeen dishes on future visits and supplement these with orders from the large sweets case.

After all, this is the bread and butter of Bikanervala.

🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳
JERSEY CITY New Jersey
Bikanervala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!