Places to eat in NYC before it gets too, too cold
Despite my well-documented enthusiasm for fall (and I promise to return to the Autumn-themed posts very soon), I’ve had more than a few moments this week where I’ve been catching myself, coat off, sandals on, enjoying my time in the sun despite the late September date. We’ve had some unseasonably warm days of weather this week (is this what we call Indian Summer?) and it reminded me of one of the great pleasures of living in this city: sitting outside on a beautiful day, catching up with a friend over food that’s more than decent.
Here are just a few of my favorite places in the city that to me, are at its peak when the weather is incredible and you have a lunch hour (or a happy hour) to burn. I’ve avoided the obvious places, like Habana Outpost or the requiste rooftop bars, but by all means, check those out too.
Now here’s hoping we have a couple of more nice days left…
1. La Esquina Taquiera
Little Italy/SoHo (106 Kenmare Street – NY Magazine listing)
My lunch here today actually prompted this post. This might be one of my favorite quick eats in all of New York, but maybe for sentimental reasons – I interned around the corner from it back in the summer of 2006, and my lunch hour was the greatest relief from a not-so-great job. Objectively speaking though, the food is good. With a large misleading sign saying “Corner Deli”, La Esquina is more than a stand (it has a few tables outside and some diner stools inside) , but is not much of an actual restaurant. (It does have an adjoining cafe, but I’ve never been.) The Taquiera doles out authentic tacos, tortas, grilled corn and Mexican sodas, at prices that can be a real relief when surrounded by the SoHo and Balthazaar crowd. The draw here is the shared camaraderie by the patrons. One of my favorite memories is watching World Cup games in ’06 with fellow taco-eaters, trying to understand the Spanish commentary, but oh-so happy that it was summer, that I was out of the office, that I was in NYC.
Upper West Side, (412 Amsterdam Avenue, Website)
When it’s not too busy (try it during a weekday) do your best to grab a table outside. But do your best also to not to have to go to work after you eat, as its charred pizzas and dense pasta dishes will most likely put you in a stupor. The salads and antipastas are worth the extra purchase, as is the half carafe of house wine if you’re having that sort of day.
3. Le Gamin
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (556 Vanderbilt Ave -between Atlantic Ave & Pacific St): NY Magazine listing
Let’s be clear – I love Le Gamin in the winter too. In fact, there’s nothing better than warming up indoors with one of its giant bowls of cafe au lait, or sitting down frigid to some moules au muscadet. But at its Prospect Heights location, the outdoor garden is just so darn charming, that it’d be a shame to be unaware of its existence until New York thaws out again. Strung with some colorful lights and surrounded by a rare amount of quiet, trees and general French-like loveliness, this is one of my favorite spots to come after a day of work, a Kir Royal and maybe a crepe or two at hand.