>> Eat the World NYC

18 July 2018

Los Verdes


A quick Colombian-style perro ($6.25, below), courtesy of Los Verdes in Sunnyside. This chain is all over southern Florida but has just this branch in New York City. Other Colombian favorites like arepas, and crossover Venezuelan classics like patacón sandwiches and cachapas are available here as well. This dog features mozzarella cheese oozing out (see cross section below), bacon, smashed potato chips, and a quail egg. Very satisfying, much more so than the famous NYC dog to be honest.

This comes covered with their house "rosada" sauce, a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise, but be sure to try the other house sauces as well including garlic, pineapple, and "green."

Los Verdes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Casa Vieja Restaurant


In 2009, Lourdes Peña took the jump from successful Red Hook Ballfields vendor to restaurant owner with her husband in Sunset Park. Originally, the menu was quite ambitious for the neighborhood, and the words "Fine Dining Mexican Cuisine" were prominent on the awning. Meat and seafood dishes went into the $20-25 range, and white people everywhere lost their minds on message boards and review sites. A Village Voice article even went so far as to call the prices "astronomical," an insult for sure to two talented Mexican chefs trying to offer something extraordinary. Apparently only chefs born north of the border were allowed to open restaurants charging that much for Mexican food.

In addition, the joint hired mariachi bands to entertain customers and delivered almost unanimously positive acclaim for their dishes. Unfortunately once the hype from various articles died down, business was not good enough to stay the same course and the menu has adapted itself back towards the median line of NYC Mexican. "Tortas Tacos Quesadillas" is now what adorns the awning in addition to the name.

I made a couple recent return visits, at first to chase down some old wise tales on Chowhound. Unfortunately some really rare dishes from Michoacán are no longer available, but the chefs are still talented and wonderful meals are still to be had at Casa Vieja.

One seeming leftover from these Michoacán specialties is the lomo de puerco adobado ($12.95, above), but this marinade uses a spiced up achiote sauce, more common in Yucatán. It is infused with pineapple of course, and then all covered with roasted poblano peppers, corn, and zucchini. It would be difficult to say sufficiently positive enough remarks about this surprising dish. The piles of pork were enough to take home a lot of leftovers and make adobado tacos later at home, which I sliced up some pineapples with and put on flour tortillas.

Further exploration of Yucatán flavor is possible with the salmon Yucateco, a dish we did not try. By the menu's description, it uses a similar sauce.

For our seafood quotient, an order of the mojarra frita ($13.95, below) was placed. This fried fish is stuffed with jalapeños, garlic, and onions before cooking (notice the slot underneath) and covered in a citrusy herb sauce.

The tinga de pollo here is outstanding, and a good vehicle for this are the uncommon-for-nyc molotes ($6, below), a half-moon shaped antojito not unlike an empanada but using a corn masa wrapper. At this price point, I was expecting a smaller portion, but this plate is more than enough to fill you up and on the first visit I was unable to eat anything else.

Molotes have their origins in Oaxaca, where you might find a vendor or three alongside more familiar antojitos vendors. They are usually a bit smaller than this and easy to eat with your hands on the sidewalk, but it was certainly no problem to tackle these with a fork and knife, as well as a bottle of cold beer.

Casa Vieja Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

12 July 2018

Tonkatsu Matsunoya


A food group with over 1,000 restaurants mostly in Japan has opened their famous tonkatsu shop in East Midtown. During lunch hours, the seating inside is always at a premium and the takeout window has a constant line. For good reason, the breaded cutlets here are some of the best you'll find in the city, along with their sister Katsuhama restaurants. This pork loin cutlet platter (below) is available at lunch for $12 and along with the katsu includes miso soup, rice, and salads.

Tonkatsu Matsunoya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

09 July 2018

Santa Clarita


A double take at the beautiful al pastor trompo (below) was the beginning of our flirtations with Santa Clarita. At first, it takes a moment to figure out this place, a few seats and tables in an outdoor covered area near the trompo are usually occupied by families and solo eaters, but inside it reads as a dive bar. But do not be fooled, grab a booth on the other side of the pool table or one of the tables by the door, order a $22 cubetazo (bucket of 6 Mexican beers), and ask for the menu.

Constant orders make sure this is replaced often and fresh

In addition to the trompo, a big Mexico City-style vat of simmering meats is in the outside window, cooking most of the meats available here for tacos ($2.50 each). All meats sampled here were excellent, with a heavy recommendation for the al pastor and buche. As you can see below, they pile on the roasted onions and serve the tacos with excellent red and green salsas to suit all tastes.

Please note that these items might only be cooking visibly during more busy times, evenings and throughout the day on weekends. Plan your trips here accordingly if pointing at your meat is part of the fun.

In addition to these beauties, Santa Clarita also makes great quesadillas de tinga ($5.50, not pictured), full of smokiness from chipotle and wrapped with a nice homemade tortilla.

Unusual for New York City menus is the metate, a dish named after the stone tool it is served on that is traditionally used for grinding grain and seeds and has been used since Mesoamerican cultures. It is not unlike an alhambre, which is another tool used as a vehicle for delivering a variety of meats.

They serve three varieties, the one above being the metate "El D.F." which is heavy on meats and omits some of the vegetables from others. Basically it is a way to eat antojitos without filling yourself up with corn masa of some form. Everything is so delicious that I cannot recommend against it, especially since the tacos are using packaged tortillas. That being said, they do a good job filling them with oils and toasting them up before serving.

Santa Clarita Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

06 July 2018

Shi Miaodao Yunnan Rice Noodle


Yunnanese cuisine is seeing its star shine brightly in New York City at the moment, and since it can be so delicious every new establishment must be tried. This new spot on Saint Marks Place focuses on Crossing the Bridge Noodles, the dish with the biggest back story of the region. This meal comes in many parts, all to be swiftly added to the bowl of boiling broth and combined before eating. In Yunnan, the noodles of choice is made from rice and makes a slick, slippery and thick base for all the other ingredients.

We still think that the new-ish joint in Sunset Park is going to remain our go to, but it is nice to see the expansion. The more the merrier.

Black fungus with vinegar $4

Spicy sirloin rice noodle $13

Cross the Bridge Noodle $10

Shi Miaodao Yunnan Rice Noodle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

05 July 2018

El Chivito d'Oro


After watching both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Copa America with Uruguayans at La Gran Uruguaya a block away, I decided to return to where I first cheered with the nation at the 2010 World Cup. That year, the country went deep into the tournament semifinals and the team was a beauty to watch. Having not eaten here since back then, a big chivito al pan (below) was ordered before the match started.

Chivito al pan con Pilsen.

This famous Uruguayan sandwich is the namesake of the restaurant and a no-brainer order when alone and the grilled meat platters are out of reach. Wash it all down with the nation's most recognizable beer, Pilsen, which are always cold here.

Uruguay is victorious!

El Chivito D'Oro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

29 June 2018

Russian Vodka Room


It is certainly the kind of place that is most frequented by tourists thinking to themselves "Hmmm... this looks like a fun NYC local spot," but regardless, this Midtown lounge has charms all its own. Find a dark corner and avoid their presence, or just grab a seat at the bar and give them an even better impression that they found the right spot and met a local. They are known for their long list of house made vodka infusions, but a full menu is also available if you want to eat hundreds of dollars worth of caviar or maybe just the Russian standards.

Red Bastard $12

Duck liver pate $14

Russian Vodka Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

24 June 2018

Pancoan Society Hippocrates Taverna Kos


Along with others that are remaking the neighborhood of Astoria in recent years, a new wave of Greek immigration has also taken place since the worst years of Greece's recent debt crisis. Certainly there are less establishments than one time, but it does not take too much looking around to find many points of Greek interest, especially towards the north end. One long-time private club and restaurant has opened its doors to the public in last couple years, possibly a result of changing demographics, but still caters almost exclusively to big loud Greek families sharing a meal together.

The menu, which simply reads "Taverna Kos," is now pinned up in the window, enticing passersby with big plates of seafood and grilled meats. The interior is split into two parts, an interior bare bones room, and a covered (and temperature controlled) patio where most people choose to eat and drink. The Greek flag and the color blue are everywhere, a big print of the Greek national football team adorns one wall.

Tzatziki ($6) and spicy feta ($6) are good meze choices

Some chippy things can be found on Yelp (as always), but I was greeted with kindness and found the service to be very pleasant throughout the evening. Tackle the appetizer list, or even better come with a huge group and get to sample lots of the fish and meat.

Small Greek salad ($9)

Saganaki ($15)

Grilled porgy ($20)

Lemon potatoes (side)

Peas and artichokes ($9)

The dish above is not on the menu and was the special of the day. Combining what it seems to say on the receipt and what I can Google, this dish may have the name arakas anginares.

Pancoan Society Hippocrates Taverna Kos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato