If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.
65. THE COMPLETO at SAN ANTONIO BAKERY #2
A Chilean hot dog is not something you come across every day. Unless of course you live in Chile.
But here in New York, I believe there are only a handful of places that have a Completo on the menu (probably because there are only a handful of Chilean restaurants in the entire city).
I’m lucky enough to live close to a really good one: San Antonio Bakery #2 in Astoria is an unassuming little restaurant that serves great sandwiches, pastries, and Completos. And they don’t have a menu so you have to pretty much know what you want.
The Completo (which translates to “complete”) is a grilled hot dog topped with the Chilean works: fresh tomatoes, onions, guacamole, and mayonnaise. It’s all balanced on top of a fresh toasted bun. The rich creamy textures play really well off the smoky snap of the wiener.
It’s a hot dog like you’ve never had and one you won’t taste too often in this country. Unless, like me, you know where to find them. Price: $2.50
|SAN ANTONIO BAKERY #2|
|3620 Astoria Boulevard (between 37th and 36th Street)
64. GREEK FRIES at SOUVLAKI GR
I don’t think I have to convince anybody about the joys of french fries. Even vegetarians are on board.
But besides some fancy sauces or frying the things in duck fat (I just lost the vegetarians, I know), I didn’t think there was a whole lot of room for improvement. That was until I tasted the Greek Fries from the Vendy Award winning (for Rookie of the Year) Souvlaki GR Truck.
They’re usually parked in the Chelsea area and besides really succulent and tender pork and chicken pitas, they make these unbelievable and surprising french fries. The fries are warm and crispy and then loaded with oregano, salt, pepper, and crumbled feta cheese. I’ve seen Belgian frites, British chips, and of course, the French Fries we’ve made our own. But this new Greek version is a welcome addition to the fried potato world. Price: $4.
|In the Vicinity of: 21st Street and 6th Avenue
|Follow on twitter: @souvlakitruck
63. BACON DOUGHNUTS at TRAIF
Free food is hard to resist for me. But the one thing I will consistently turn down are doughnuts. I’ve been (heart)burned one too many times with the fried fritters. So I avoid them unless they’re made fresh on a farm or featured prominently on a fancy restaurant’s dessert menu. Or if they have some unusual flavor.
And that’s why I just had to try the Bacon Doughnuts at Traif, the proudly non-kosher gastropub in Williamsburg. Lots of people are still squeamish over the idea of bacon in dessert. In my mind, it works the same way as it does at breakfast. Bacon, pancakes, maple syrup, whipped cream. These are perfect flavor combinations.
Traif takes it one flavor further by topping it with coffee ice cream. The doughnuts are light and fluffy, dusted with fresh bacon bits, and drizzled with ducle de leche. The sweet, salty, and greasy flavors are so perfect, I’d be happy having them at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
And so they make my Top 100 for not only being seriously delicious, but also because they were so fresh and light that I felt no pain while digesting them. Why are these never the free doughnuts on offer at morning meetings? Price: $6
|229 South 4th Street (between Havemeyer Street and Roebling Street)
62. TARTE FLAMBEE at AUGUST
Having worked at The Modern for many years, I feel like I’ve had the ultimate tarte flambee. Chef Gabriel Kreuther is from Alsace (where the pizza-like dish originated) and it’s so light, crispy, and full of deep comforting flavors.
I’ve had a few others and none come close to what I consider to be the ultimate version. So I was hesitant when I saw one on the menu at likable neighborhood spot August. How could it possibly compete with the one that’s near and dear to my heart?
Immediately I felt it was too thick with big chunks of bacon (as opposed to the thin smoked slices) and globs of onions. This was all wrong!
But as I took a few bites, I discovered it was totally different than The Modern’s and in its own way, just as successful.
The crust was actually quite light and crispy with a strong smoky flavor coming from the bacon, a bit of sweetness from the caramelized onions, and a nice bite from the creme fraiche. It’s exactly how I’d describe the one at The Modern (although I’d say that one is more refined) without being the exact same dish. It’s an example of how different chefs can interpret one dish and they end up completely different yet both turn out right. Price: $14
|359 Bleecker Street (between 10th Street and Charles Street)
61. LAMB BURGER at THE BRESLIN
The search for the best burger in New York will happen for me one of these days. This is a city that takes its burgers very seriously. But truth be told, I’m sort of tired of the same old beef burger. Sure, you can put interesting toppings on it and use different cuts of meat. And that’s all well and good, but I’m always searching for surprising flavors and for the most part, a burger’s a burger.
Then I tasted the lamb burger at The Breslin, inside the Ace Hotel. It exploded with flavor. April Bloomfield (of The Spotted Pig fame – which also has a killer burger) uses lamb meat, which is not the newest of flavors for me. But I’ve never had a lamb burger that has retained that salty, gamey flavor while bursting with the meat juices accustomed to a juicy beef burger. This was a revelation.
It was served on a firm, yet soft bun, cooked to a perfect medium rare with a nice smoky char on the outside. Even though the price tag is more than I like to spend on a burger ($17) at a bar (even a glorified bar like this one), it was well worth it. Price: $17
|20 West 29th Street (between 5th Avenue and Broadway)
inside the Ace Hotel