Hell’s Kitchen may not be the typical neighborhood to head to for Vietnamese food in New York. Granted, I don’t know where the typical neighborhood for such food might be, but my coworkers thought I was crazy to head that way. Once again, though, I put my faith in my brother-in-law and his wife and found myself at Cha Pa’s looking at a vast menu with a ton of delicious-looking options. I began with a Tiger Beer.
As a man from the Detroit area, I was pretty spoiled by Greek food growing up. Thus, I am pretty skeptical when I encounter the stuff anywhere else, especially in Midtown Manhattan, which is not exactly known for good food. Nonetheless, my brother-in-law recommended stopping in to Souvlaki GR and I joined to find essentially the smallest Greek restaurant in history with enough charm to get my hopes up.
A little over a year ago I paid a visit to Montreal and took down some of their famous bagels from Fairmount. While this may be hard for those of you not in the bagel know, they are totally different from New York bagels and obviously different from the bread shaped like a donut that many cities peddle as bagels that are made with the best bread with a machine where they review the best bread maker. It’s probably pretty hard for New Yorkers to admit that Montreal bagels might be better, which is why I was surprised to find those fair bagels in NYC at a place called Black Seed.
In the world of great Kosher-style pastrami, the list almost always begins with Katz’s, with very few others even coming close. This is an insane New York bias and after years of proclaiming Langer’s in LA to be the greater of the two, I finally had a chance to put my money where my mouth is (pun very much intended).
The little village of Rhinebeck in Upstate New York is really one of the more uninteresting small towns I’ve ever seen. I’m sure it’s refreshing coming from New York City, but coming from Pittsburgh, which is filled with small town-like neighborhoods, I couldn’t help but feel bored. Yet, that didn’t stop me from popping into Village Pizza for lunch.
Somewhere between Hyde Park and Saugerties in Upstate New York I was on a quest for quick bite and found myself at Bubby’s Burrito Stand in Red Hook. I like burritos and the reviews were good so I figured I would give it a try. Little did I know that I was walking into the most dangerous trap ever laid.
From the people that brought you Bar Bill in East Aurora, comes 189 Public House literally right next door (with the address of 189 Main Street). This Southern-influenced jazzy gastropub is a far cry from its neighbor, which might be ill-advised considering the perpetually long lines for tables at Bar Bill. On the other hand, it’s perfectly positioned to pick off those who don’t want to wait so long and want something a little bit different.
Curly’s in Lackawanna is a restaurant and a banquet center. It’s also American and Caribbean. Oh, and they have grill food. It’s kind of confusing, but somehow it works. The tables have fancy tablecloths and likely because of this we got some delicious bread to start off our meal. I flipped through the pages from the grill food to the fancier banquet food and because of some things I heard, decided to go with the grill.
Throughout my time in Western New York, I saw a great many signs for “Chicken BBQ.” They would often appear on weekends as fundraisers for churches and the like. Eventually I learned they were using Chiavetta’s Marinade and while the chicken itself was ordinary, I found the existence and cultural phenomenon of Chiavetta’s strange enough to turn Chiavetta’s Chicken into a strange meat.
EDIT: This Bill Gray’s is closed, but others live on to serve you garbage.
While I was lucky enough to get out to Rochester to get a Garbage Plate from the source, my roommate was not so lucky. To make up for it, we went on a quest for a plate in Buffalo. This first took us to University Hots, which a friend of mine lauded but appeared to have relocated or changed names or something confusing like that. So, since this was late-afternoon and we weren’t in the typical drunken state of mind it takes to eat a Garbage Plate, we drove over to Bill Gray’s.