I Ate My Way Through New York

Marisa Demarco
3 min read
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My husband and I journeyed to the Village Voice’s Siren Music Festival (The Rogers Sisters rule!) on Coney Island last weekend. The trip was also just an excuse to spend a few days sampling the city. This meant lots and lots of walking through air made souplike by sticky humidity. But, oh the food!

I won’t bore you by recounting every tale of Manhattan’s soft soft sushi as big as your leg (not really, more like two fingers thick) or blueberry beers in Brooklyn, hopsy and not too sweet.

I had no bad meal, but a couple of real gems stuck out. Somewhere near Little Italy, on a derelict and foreboding street, there is a door that reads: “ñ.” On the other side of this mystery door is a long, skinny tapas bar with dimly lit brick walls and housemade sangria. New Mexicans beware. What they call a tortilla is some kind of scone-shaped deal made of potato and onion.

We happened upon three Indian restaurants locked into the Cold War of chili Christmas lights. Each boasts a tangled display, which the friend we were staying with says grows larger and more gaudy all the time. One of them also offered an outdoor garden as a dining area, so in we went. We were seated among a bazillion plastic plants and even more strings of lights in a space enclosed by various sarongs.

I couldn’t stop myself from peeping through the wall of colorful material to discover an alley filled with garbage, our fake garden along one border and mildewed, dilapadated apartments on the other. That made me like it all the more, though delicious cheap food certainly didn’t hurt. The poori was basically a sopapilla stuffed with cheese. The banana lassi now resides among my top 10 favorite foods.

The real find came Monday morning, as we were looking to burn time in Brooklyn before heading to JFK. We told the cabbie to take us to a place for breakfast—anywhere, we didn’t know where. She looked annoyed, then dropped us off outside Junior’s, which for all appearances, looked like just another diner to us out-of-towners. We were greated at the door by classical music and waiters in bowties. The food was diner fare, eggs, pancakes, bacon, but cooked with such attention to detail that it was some of the best we ate all weekend. They put a basket of fresh-baked danishes on the table when you sit down. For six bucks, you can get juice or coffee and a bigger breakfast than you can eat.

I guess it doesn’t really count as a “find.” Come to find out, Junior’s is pretty darn famous, mostly for its cheesecake. Call it bumpkin’s luck.
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