04/18/18 10:41pm

“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…)

04/11/18 10:09am

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…)

03/21/18 2:08pm

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…)

01/31/18 12:38am

Triple cooked Sinaloan style pork via Elmhurst enriched with chilies among other things.

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…)

10/11/17 3:43pm

Photo: Jeremy Jacobowitz/Brunch Boys

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…)

09/27/17 11:22am

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…)

09/13/17 1:00pm

About a week ago my good friend Kent asked if I wanted to take a road trip to Philadelpia for a “cheesesteak that kicks ass on Pat’s and Geno’s.” I immediately said yes and asked him which place he had in mind. When he didn’t respond, I didn’t sweat it too much for Kent is trencherman to be reckoned with, i.e. one who knows.

We met up around 11 a.m. and got on the road, and Kent informed me we’d be hitting up a joint called Gooey Looie’s, a favorite of the late great Holly Eats. Kent had his order all planned out, a large cheesesteak and several more to go for friends and family. It had been more than five years since his last visit and he was jonesing.

When we arrived in South Philly at around 2 o’clock, we found the truly locals haunt, no tourist trap vibe at all. I was pretty ravenous, but still thought it would be a good idea to get just a small. “One wit wiz, peppers and mushrooms” Kent said to the counterman who quickly interjected, “we only use real cheese.” “I sure hope these guys don’t notice my Mets colored kicks,” I mused as I waited for my order. (more…)

09/06/17 10:20am

I have yet to travel to my paternal homeland of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, but when I do I might have to trek Southeast to Siracusa to feast on a sandwich from Chef Andreas of Caseificio Borderi. It’s a good thing that this 10-minute video starts with a shot of the finished product—piled high with a gorgeous salad; several types of cheese, including fresh ricotta; and lovely ham—because it takes Andreas almost that much time to complete a single panino.

This delay is largely because he stops halfway through to make a snack for the long line of customers.  “OK now I make you taste this one. Do you know garlic?,” he asks. “For us Sicilians, garlic was truffles,” he says as he prepares chunks of ricotta with garlic and herbs.

“You have to know that ricotta is the most valuable asset of human beings,” he says as he passes out the Sicilian amuse bouche, only to be interrupted by the customer who ordered the sandwich: “Where is he going? I want my sandwich!” Apparently, it’s well worth the wait!

08/30/17 1:23pm

Puerto Rican sweet bread cradles a tasty amalgam of hamburger and American cheese.

I’ve been eager to try a chopped cheese ever since the classic New York City bodega sandwich rose to controversial fame a couple of years ago on a wave of culinary Columbussing. I was going to hit a spot near Queensbridge and then I thought about White Gold Butchers for April Bloomfield’s $11 artisanal version and then I remembered my pal Giuseppe González was serving one at his Lower East Side watering hole, Suffolk Arms.

Actually that’s not what happened at all. I was in the neighborhood and I wanted to try the food at Giuseppe’s bar. I almost ordered the $13 Thanksgiving burger, which combines turkey, stuffing, and cranberry and then I saw “Joey’s Classic Chopped Cheese.” At $5 it’s the cheapest item on the menu, and that’s intentional the veteran barman says. “I went to two bodegas around my way one charges $5.50 and one charges $6, so I’m cheaper than both.” (more…)

06/21/17 11:26pm

Hendu’s pork shoulder sandwich in all its glory.

I have been meaning to try Hendu’s Sandwich Shop—Bill Henderson’s ode to bread, meat and gravy—for at least six months. The other day I was walking by Dutch Kills and who should I see in the window, but Hendu himself.

I took it as a sign, a sign to order sandwich. I was torn between the roast beef with gravy and horseradish ($12) and the beer braised pork shoulder with fennel and apple ($13). I decided to get the pork and I’m glad I did. It’s the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten in a cocktail bar, and not just because it’s the only one.

Like many good things it comes wrapped in butcher paper. Open it up to find a dreadnought of a sandwich. Hendu hails from the Bronx and so does his bread, A&M Bakery to be specific. The seeded Neapolitan bastone is slathered garlic thyme butter and with filled with suculent pork shoulder that’s been braised in Guinness. A trifecta of apple, fennel, and lime zest do a great job of brightening things was did the baby arugula. The secret to this sandwich? “Veal stock, that’s my gravy,” Hendu said.

Hendu’s Sandwich Shop, Dutch Kills, 27-24 Jackson Ave,m Long Island City, NY 11101