This late night la pastor cart in Jackson Heights is culinary catnip for a food nerd like me.
In this era of clickbait and “eating for the Insta” it’s all too easy to lose sight of my joy for food exploration, which is why I’m grateful to be what my pal Andrew Zimmern calls a “food nerd.” And, I am especially grateful for fellow food nerds, like my good friends Greg and Jumi of Food & Footprints, whose Instagram page continues to be an inspiration. Without them I would never have have known about the late night al pastor torta man who sets up at the corner of Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue outside a check cashing store.
If my memory serves I first tried to visit the much-heralded street food icon in the winter. While I eagerly waited for Greg, the al pastor man gamely sampled me a taco, after seeing me snap photos and listening to me gush about trying his spit roasted pork. When Greg arrived I eagerly told him about how the guy sampled me a taco, only to learn that this was the wrong al pastor cart. That didn’t stop us from ordering a torta though. It was good, but Greg was quick to tell me that the other guys was even better. (more…)
Simply called ‘salsiccia,’ Maialino’s breakfast biscuit is far from simple.
When it comes to breakfast sandwiches I used to be an old-school bacon-egg-and-cheese man. For the past year or so though, I have been leaning toward the BEC’s heftier cousin, the sausage egg and cheese. There used to be a coffee cart down the street from my house that made them, but one day in April it vanished. So when a pal said I had to try the sausage and egg sandwich at Roman cuisine specialist Maialino, I made it my business to head to the Gramercy Park Hotel for breakfast. (more…)
Cherry Valley’s Fatboy (left) combines roast beef, gravy, onions and mozzarella while the Corona features a chicken cutlet, cheddar, bacon, onion rings, and barbecue sauce.
A while ago I told a friend who is a longtime Whitestone resident that I’d just tried out the excessive 80-plus sandwich emporium that is Cherry Valley. “You gotta go to Cristina’s across the street,” came his response.
So when my pal Rocky proposed a trek to Whitestone to check out the dueling delis earlier this week I was on board immediately. On the ride over I expressed some concern about my appetite level and intestinal fortitude. “Don’t worry, we’ll strategize,” my pal reassured me.
First up was the O.G. Cherry Valley. The one good thing about going to this popular post-partying munchie spot for lunch as opposed to 3 a.m. is there’s no line, which gave us plenty of time peruse the voluminous menu.
Having wisely decided to get rolls instead of heroes, we ordered one Corona and one Fatboy. I went for the Fatboy first since it was new to me. The combination of grilled roast beef, fried onions, and mozzarella bathed in brown gravy on garlic bread was a great way to start an afternoon of sandwich indulgence. For a creation called the Fatboy it was somewhat dainty. Not so the Corona, though. It was just as I remembered: smoky crisp bacon, chicken cutlet, cheddar, and onion rings anointed with tangy barbecue sauce made for an excessive finale to my Cherry Valley revisit. (more…)
When it comes to fried chicken sandwiches I’m easy. I’ve wolfed down everything from a sad hot mess at Wendy’s to a spectacular lunch only dazzler at Joseph Leonard in the West Village. So I’m quite glad that I ducked out of the deluge yesterday and into Urbanspace Vanderbilt because it gave me the opportunity to try the latest creation from Delaney Chicken, the Ranchwich.
As it turns out I wasn’t the only one who decided to duck out of the downpour. Hundreds of stranded commuters waylaid by a suspension of trains from Grand Central crowded the food hall, but that didn’t deter me from making a bee line for Delaney Chicken. I’d tried his classic sandwich a couple of years ago and was wowed by its juiciness and the nice hit of cayenne in the batter.
“You got to try our Cuban,” George Landin owner of street wear boutique All The Right told me when I stopped by other week to sign his copy of my guidebook “111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss.”
Landin was referring to a Cuban sandwich on the menu of his latest venture, the Corona Diner, which opened this past summer. Just as my book is a love letter to Queens so is Landin’s diner. A mural featuring a who’s who of Queens—from rappers like Action Bronson, Run-DMC, and Nas to stars like Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, and Lucy Liu—lines one wall and the doors to the kitchen mimic those of the 7 train. (more…)
Half of the Hendu’s mighty chicken bolognese grilled cheese.
It’s not so easy to find—much less get excited about— a sandwich every Wednesday. Sometimes the sandwich in question is perfectly fine, but just not exciting enough to write about. And sometimes, as is the case with the unicorn of al pastor tortas, it’s not there when I go looking for it. Which is why I am glad for Hendu’s Sandwich Shop. It’s always there whenever Dutch Kills Bar is open, and it’s always good.
Last night I stopped by in the hope that Bill Henderson would have something to get me out of my Sandwich Wednesday slump. “I’ve got a chicken bolognese grilled cheese,” he said when I asked what was new. “Uh, yeah sounds good,” I stammered. (more…)
There’s something about shawarma—a Middle Eastern exclamation point of rotating meat basting in its own juices—that is absolutely fascinating. Like my dear departed friend Josh Ozersky who once gushed, “Just the outer edge of the meat is sliced, so essentially the sandwich is just the sizzling brown surface of a lamb roast,” I am fascinated with shawarma in all its forms.
Until very recently I have only had the chicken version, but lately the lamb variety—really a blend of lamb and turkey—has come on my radar. Most recently at Tov-Li Shawarma & Falafel a newish Israeli spot that opened on the Bukharian Broadway that is 108th Street in Forest Hills. (more…)
Triple cooked Sinaloan style pork via Elmhurst enriched with chilies among other things.
PLEASE NOTE THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to try Queens’ only Mexican restaurant specializing in foods from the Northwestern state of Sinaloa, a state that hitherto I’d only known as the birthplace of Mexican drug lord El Chapo. We only tried one dish from the aptly named Sinaloense, but what a dish. Chilorio estilo sinaloense is a heap of pork that’s been slowly cooked down for hours, then fried in lard, and lastly cooked in a ruddy concoction of chilies and other herbs and spices. The result is some of the most amazing Mexican pork I’ve ever had on Roosevelt Avenue. It had a glorious texture—not quite crunchy and not quite soft—and an amazing depth of flavor with notes of cumin, garlic, chilies and a not unpleasant vinegary acidity. “I’m coming back here for a torta estilo sinaloense,” I said to my pals as I perused the takeout menu between bites. (more…)
Way back in the last millennium I was a desk jockey at an office building near Rockefeller Center, 1221 Avenue of The Americas to be precise. Lunch was always the highlight of the day and my favorite sandwiches included the cubano from Margon and bánh mì that were always worth the trek to Chinatown.
One sandwich that was never in my rotation was the French dip. It’s a beloved classic, thinly shaved roast beef served on French bread with a cup of jus for dipping. The other day I learned that Del Frisco’s—a steakhouse that occupies the very same building where I toiled away—serves a decidedly deluxe take on this lunch counter classic, one made with wagyu beef. (more…)
Little Egypt’s kebab sandwich is packed with toothsome lamb.
Often when I eat lamb it’s in the context of Chinese food, whether it’s a glorious spice-encrusted Muslim lamb chop or an entire spit-roasted haunch. So I was pleased to see a good old-fashioned kebab sandwich ($6.99) on the menu at Little Egypt, a cafe/grocery in Ridgewood hard by the border of Brooklyn and Queens.
The lamb sandwich comes wrapped tight in the paper thin variety of Middle Eastern pita, itself rolled in paper and then foil, perhaps all the better to be eaten on the go. But why not soak up the atmosphere of this diminutive spot decorated with all manner of Egyptian ephemera? (more…)