Now that I’ve eaten my way through somebody else’s list (Time Out New York), I’m ready to compile my own 100 spectacular things I’ve tasted in 2012. Look for another five dishes every few days.
NUMBER 55: HOT DOG at DOMINICK’S HOT DOG TRUCK
I’ve spent the last few years on this site dedicated to the foods that are most associated with New York. And there are so many iconic dishes, that the journey always continues for me. Some of these are classic bites, some are new versions, but all are deliciously New York.
Practically everybody who’s ever visited New York has tasted a hot dog from a mobile food vendor. And while most of those generic Sabrett carts throughout Midtown are probably more popular, they can’t compare to the perfect link I tasted from a big blue truck way out in the middle of Queens. Dominick’s has been serving steamed dogs for almost 50 years. Topped with mustard, peppery onions, and sauerkraut, the legendary street food bursts with juiciness and has a persistent salty meaty pop. Dominick’s dog may just be the most perfect version in New York. Price: $3
|DOMINICK’S HOT DOG TRUCK|
|Woodhaven Boulevard (near 67th Avenue),
Rego Park, Queens
NUMBER 54: THE REUBEN at COURT STREET GROCERS
Court Street Grocers know how to make a classic sandwich even better. Normally when I get corned beef, I order it on rye with mustard and a pickle. I’ve certainly appreciated the toasty cheesiness of a reuben, but I never thought it was better than the classic way. Until now.
After trying their tremendous turkey club, I should have known that these guys could also work wonders for the reuben. Of course, they don’t use processed cold cuts, but instead cure their own meat, using the more tender and flavorful short rib. A schmear of homemade Russian dressing adds a smokiness along with nutty comté cheese and tangy sauerkraut. It’s all tucked between Orwasher’s wine bread, buttered and gilled to optimal melty brownness. Somehow the classic just got even better. Price: $9
|COURT STREET GROCERS|
|485 Court Street (between Nelson and Huntington Street),
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
NUMBER 53: MATZOH BALL SOUP at JACK’S WIFE FREDA
I really love my matzo balls with dill. Lots and lots of dill. In fact, I so associate the two that when I chop up dill for some other reason, I immediately begin to crave matzoh ball soup. Pavlovian response. Or Pavlovian-owitz response, maybe?
I imagine the heavy-handed dill was part of why I enjoyed Jack’s Wife Freda’s matzo ball soup so much. The lively new South African/Israeli (yes, you read that right) restaurant serves a large tender fluffy matzoh ball in a dark, rich duck broth that reminds me of the soup I wish my grandmother had made. Price: $6
|JACK’S WIFE FREDA|
|224 Lafayette Street (between Spring and Kenmare Street),
NUMBER 52: EGG CREAM at BROOKLYN FARMACY
On Urban Oyster‘s Neighborhood Eats tour of Carroll Gardens, we bring people to Brooklyn Farmacy to try their egg creams. For those who did not grow up in the New York area, I love explaining that these classic drinks contain no egg and no cream. So what the heck is it?
Owner Peter Freeman (or anybody familiar with NYC food) can tell you that it’s cold milk, seltzer, and a healthy dose of U-Bet chocolate syrup. But Brooklyn Farmacy goes a bit further by using organic Hudson Valley milk and their own seltzer from the tap. The U-Bet’s is non-negotiable. This classic take does not require a straw, but just a big gulp of the frothy, creamy, bubbly concoction for a light and sweet treat. Price: $2.50
|BROOKLYN FARMACY & SODA FOUNTAIN|
|513 Henry Street (between Sackett and Union Street)
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
NUMBER 51: GRAVLAX at BARNEY GREENGRASS
I know that Barney Greengrass is the “sturgeon king” and has been for well over 100 years. But I find the gravlax much more flavorful and tender than the infamous white fish.
The salty smoked salmon is rubbed with enough dill to make each bite pop with flavor. On a fresh pumpernickel bagel with plenty of cream cheese, there’s nothing better than letting the freshness of the fish melt in your mouth. Sturgeon or not, when it comes to smoked fish, I understand why Barney Greengrass is the king. Price: $14
|541 Amsterdam Avenue (between West 86th and West 87th Street),
Upper West Side