Before putting this list down on paper I thought that it might end up reading something more like, “Twelve mostly pork things to eat in New York City from the most ridiculous Jewish girl ever.” But upon finishing, I’m actually quite proud of myself for such a well-rounded mix of sugar-high inducing snacks, complimenting alcohol beverages, and unforgettable meals… of pork.
1. Oatmeal Cake Doughnut at Doughnut Plant. Hyped up doughnuts really annoy me. Wow VooDoo Doughnuts, you made a smiley face with Froot Loops on top of a glazed doughnut and stuffed marshmellows and peanut butter in the hole— I made that shit with my halloween candy when I was five. But Doughnut Plant is another story. These doughnuts are classy. Their cake doughnuts are leavened with baking powder, so they’re cakey (duh) and slightly dense, but glazed like a doughnut, shaped like a doughnut (a small one), and the oatmeal flavor tasted like the best granola bar I’ve ever had. I don’t know how else to put it. Oatmeal flavor is made Wed and Sat.
2. BBQ at Fette Sau. Damn you trendy, Zagat-rated BBQ restaurant in Williamsburg, I want to hate you. Especially with that line out the door. My dad is from St.Louis and makes fantastic ribs, and I wanted to try yours and roll my eyes at your mediocrity. I got in that long line, and you were out of ribs, but the pulled pork was shiny and tender, the berkshire sausage link was juicy, and I loved how your counterperson manhandled them onto my plate, which was essentially a baking tray with a strip of brown paper. I loved the glass jugs and mason jars of beer sitting on the outside picnic tables, the rusty butcher knives above the taps, your bbq sauce, and the wallpaper of meat drawings. I’ll even come back to you to try your ribs, and you’ll probably be playing that Black Keys song I kinda dig. Your sides looked overcooked and weak though, so there.
3. Gelato at The High Line. The High Line is a public park on an historic freight rail line above the streets on the West Side of Manhattan. Walking here is a pleasent way to get some exercise and admire New York’s native plants as they once grew in between the rails, enjoy the city skyline over your shoulder and take a rest on a lovely sun deck. Actually, the plants mostly look like shrubs, and your ultimate goal should be to make it to the Upper Chelsea Market Passage, on the High Line at West 15th Street, where there are food vendors. We had some gelato from Le Arte del Gelato, which I inhaled after a long walk in the sun. The greasy, spicy smells from The Taco Truck were tempting, and I resisted a Blue Bottle Coffee stand even though it had no line. (Maybe New Yorkers don’t be knowing yet? Might as well fly there and back and get my coffee before anyone at the Mint Plaza location does!)
4. Pork Buns and Shoyu Ramen at Rai Rai Ken Ramen. There are endless debates over the top ramen shops in NY and SF, and personally I can’t engage or I’ll get obsessed. When the broth is right and the meat is good, I’m happy (which I believe is the purpose of comfort food). The Shoyu Ramen, soy sauce based ramen with roast pork, is just that and the sauce on the pork belly in the pork buns was even more. Great kimchi and gyoza as well.
5. Happy Hour oysters at The Mermaid Inn. From 5-7 pm find east and west coast oysters for $1 and $1.75, and a Porkslap Pale Ale for $5. It’s a toss up between Porkslap and Milk Stout for cutest beer label ever. Other snacks and cocktails are $7, which I guess is a deal in New York? Get there on the early side so you can sit outside and people watch.
6. Cookie at Levain Bakery. For a giant, fantasy-fulfilling cookie in both width and height, come here. Chocolate chip walnut is all you need to know. And that I plan to get one for myself on my birthday and put my own candle in it and sing to myself on a park bench and not give a fuck, because I love this cookie. The Upper West Side location is better than the Harlem one (unless you like doughy cookies).
7. Pork Plate at Porchetta. – NOW CLOSED. Porchetta is a fatty, boneless, herb-stuffed pork roast traditionally served on the street in central Italy. I’ve never had it in Italy, but after this experience I would like to make it one of my first stops when I touch ground. Mostly because the skin was so crunchy and garlicy and good, I bet it’s even better in Italy. Here you can order a sandwich for $10 or a plate (with greens and beans) for $14. Tiny place with limited seating.
8. Steamed Juicy Pork Buns at M Shanghai. There’s an art to eating soup dumplings, and M Shanghai is the perfect place to refine it. For $6 you’ll get six pieces of steaming fresh, plump pork dumplings filled with savory broth (I think they’re called Shanghai Dumplings everywhere else). Dip them in the soy, sesame, vinegar and ginger sauce the waitress mixes at your table, put them in a spoon, and attempt to catch the broth as you bite.
9. Fiat Lux at Brooklyn Brewery. When I go to a bar on a hot summer day I usually ask, “do you have something belguim-y and light?” Booklyn Brewery did and it was their brewmaster’s reserve summer beer. Drink while you take a free tour on Saturday— beers are $5.
10. Chocolate at the Mast Brothers Factory. These bearded hipsters in Williamsburg took their own boat to the Carribean to pick up cocoa beans from family farms. Their sea salt is hand-harvested. Their chocolate bars are hand-wrapped in gorgeous specially designed paper. It’s all too much for me, and yet, when I visited their factory it felt like I was in the Disneyland of new-wave chocolate, and I couldn’t resist that $7 serrano chile bar.
11. Sugar Hill Cocktail at the Red Rooster. Christmas met the tropics, got totally wasted and had a baby cocktail called Sugar Hill: Blackwell Jamaican Rum, lime juice, baked apple bitters, and a garnish of cinnamon dipped apple slice. Sugar Hill and other house cocktails are $6 during Happy Hour (M-Thu from 5-7 pm). A trusted friend said the food here is just ok, so with cocktails that cheap it may be the perfect place to have a liquid dinner.
-Brooklyn Brewery, M Shanghai, Mast Brothers, and Fette Sau are all in Williamsburg, so make a day out of it.