I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order.
NUMBER 70: BROCCOLI SANDWICH at NO. 7 SUB SHOP
The menu at No. 7 Sub Shop, which is located inside the Ace Hotel, is bizarre. And even I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. The odd combinations sounded exciting, but a sandwich simply called Broccoli was confusing. Who wants to eat a broccoli sandwich? But after being blown away by the General Tso’s Tofu (a strange combination that was delicious!), I figured I’d take a chance.
Listen to these ingredients: broccoli, lychee, pine nuts, and ricotta salata cheese. What the – ? It works wonders. The earthy roasted broccoli is spectacularly tender and plays off the salty cheese and the tangy lychee. The pine nuts add the perfect crunch. This may be one of the most bizarre sandwiches I’ve ever encountered, but it’s definitely one of the best. And there’s no meat anywhere. Imagine that! Price: $9
|NO. 7 SUB SHOP|
|1188 Broadway (between 28th and 29th Street),
Inside the Ace Hotel
NUMBER 69: AL PASTOR CEMITA at EL PASO TAQUERIA
El Paso Taqueria is my go-to restaurant whenever I visit my friends who live in the food lacking area of East Harlem. They live off the 103rd train station. A little further north or south has plenty of options, but in this area there’s nothing terribly exciting (especially now that La Fonda Boricua closed). But El Paso Taqueria, which has a few other locations nearby and recently expanded from a take-out shop, serves delicious, authentic Mexican food in a grown-up comfortable dining room.
I’ve eaten in a few times, but usually still do the take-out or delivery. And once I discovered their cemitas, it’s hard for me to try anything else. The flattened, grilled sesame bread holds any number of spicy, sweet ingredients. I’m partial to the smoky grilled pork (al pastor) accompanied by stretchy salty oaxaca cheese, sweet marinated pineapples and onions, and large intense chipotle peppers. It makes my trip to this neighborhood worthwhile. Price: $6.95
|EL PASO TAQUERIA|
|1643 Lexington Avenue (between 103rd and 104th Street)
|237 East 116th Street (between 3rd and 2nd Avenue)
|64 East 97th Street (between Madison and Park Avenue)
NUMBER 68: BURGER at BURGER & BARREL
When I went to lunch at Burger & Barrel in the touristy, shopping district of Soho, I felt like I was in a chain restaurant in a shopping mall somewhere in middle America. I’ve heard this place fills up and is quite a scene at night, but for lunch it was reminiscent of my suburban, food pathetic childhood. Maroon 5 playing on the radio didn’t help.
But the food, especially the famous Bash Burger, was nothing like the grub you get at Applebee’s or TGI Fridays. Chef Josh Capon (of high-end fish bar Lure) concocts an amazingly delicious, perfectly cooked burger. The caramelized onions and bacon jam bring a rich, sweetness to the charred meat patty. And just in case there wasn’t enough flavor, he tops the bun with two fried thick onion rings. You can see why this burger won a People’s Choice Awards. Has Ruby Tuesday’s ever done that?? Price: $15
|BURGER & BARREL|
|25 West Houston Street (between Mercer and Crosby Street),
NUMBER 67: SAUSAGE, BROCCOLI RABE, MUSHROOM, & TALEGGIO PANINI at BOCCA LUPO
I had heard raves about Bocca Lupo since they opened in 2006 and walking by, it looks like a very romantic, lively restaurant. But the menu I had seen online didn’t scream “dinner” to me. This restaurant is mostly known for their tramezzinis and paninis. And while there were plenty of cheese, wine, and sliced meats listed, I kept putting it off because I prefer more than a little grazing when I go out for dinner.
Turns out I greatly underestimated Bocca Lupo. We had meatballs, lamb chops, a nice salad, and a wonderful panini. All were filling and tasty and we left spending just a moderate amount of money. The panini was the panini of my dreams. I’m still dreaming about the classic combination of fennel-studded pork sausage, bitter and tender broccoli rabe, soft and meaty mushrooms, and melted nutty taleggio cheese. The crusty bread was a phenomenal crunchy beginning to the garlicky flavors inside and the side of cauliflower was greatly appreciated and more refined than a bag of chips. Looks like Bocca Lupo got the last laugh. Thankfully so. Price: $11
|391 Henry Street (between Congress and Warren Street),
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
NUMBER 66: TURKEY CLUB at COURT STREET GROCERS
Poor turkey. Aside from Thanksgiving, I think it gets beat up quite a bit. It’s usually amped up with chemicals and turned into a thinly sliced deli meat that’s mostly bland and dry. But the turkey revolution has begun. More and more high end deli/restaurants are making a moist, tender fowl.
Court Street Grocers specializes in interesting and artisanal food products, but at the back counter they have a menu of some well-thought out, tasty sandwiches. I’ve had a few amazing specialities there, but the Turkey Club has got to be the best. It’s a double layer of turkey goodness. The first layer is a mound of turkey confit (that’s right, it’s cooked in fat), which brings even more flavor to the already superior dark meat. And the second layer houses juicy, moist white meat that’s been marinated and roasted in herbs. Smoky bacon, a schmear of mayo, crisp iceberg, and a fresh tomato slice round out the top layer. It’s sandwiched with Orwasher’s white bread and puts all other turkey clubs to shame. Makes me want to join an actual Turkey Club. Do those even exist? Price: $12
|COURT STREET GROCERS|
|485 Court Street (between Nelson and Huntington Street),
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn