I do try very hard whenever I am out for a meal to frequent the side street restaurants, but I cannot deny that I have eaten at Peacefood Cafe on the UWS often, as it is one of my favorite vegan spots. The atmosphere is as relaxed and informal as one can get in Manhattan. The food is consistently excellent and inventive. I love their soups, sandwiches, desserts and muffins. One of my sisters-in-law has terrible food allergies, and whenever she comes to the city, this is her first stop. She loads up on whatever home-baked goods they have on the counter that day. Needless to say, I am thrilled that there is also a location downtown on a side street. I recommend to anyone, vegetarian or not, to go and enjoy a meal there, as this location is equally as wonderful.
Be prepared to wait, and then to wait some more, but once seated, there was no doubt that it was well worth our almost two hours. The good news, though, is that there are many terrific bars to visit on 10th Street while passing the time. Opened at the end of June 2012, Rosemary's has not skipped a beat since they began. The restaurant is always packed and on any nice day, the large windows are wide open onto 10th Street. We ate here on a Friday night in the middle of September. Everything that we ordered was just superb. My chopped salad had crunchy chickpeas, artichokes, olives, caper berries, ricotta, and more, but it was the fresh lettuce leaves and the perfect dressing that really made it all come together. And then came the pasta - linguini that was also cooked to perfection tossed with preserved lemon, pickled chili, and parmesan. Oh my goodness, it was just heaven. Once we were two for two with my meal, and everyone else was also thrilled with their choices, I decided I had to give dessert a try as well. The olive oil cake with whipped cream and blueberries was also terrific. Rosemary's does not take reservations, so to avoid the long waits, I might suggest is choosing an odd time - obviously not the weekend - and have a plan B (Manhattan Sideways has many to recommend).
Opened in 1936 in Milan, Sant Ambroeus has had a solid run both in Italy and in the New York area. Situated on a fairly quiet corner, this old-world Italian restaurant is known for its pleasant service and good food. What stands out for us, though, are the pastries, espresso and gelato which are available throughout the day.
They say you can never get a good bagel outside of New York or a heavenly croissant outside of Paris. My daughter, who lives in Washington DC, agrees whole-heartedly with the bagel philosophy, but she also lived in Paris and she can attest to the fact that Patisserie Claude would be the exception to the rule. With the most buttery croissants, fresh brioche, cookies, cakes, meringues, quiches, tarte tatin, macaroons and coffee, she was beside herself. This petite cafe truly goes over the top bringing Parisian patisseries to Manhattan. Now if we could only figure out how to get New York's pizza and bagels to my daughter in DC.
The ice cream at Alphabet Scoop is refreshing in more ways than one: Managed by Robbie Vedral, Alphabet Scoop is an extension of Father’s Heart Ministry, which has been focused on empowering the neighborhood youth in the Lower East Side since 2005. Robbie, for his part, has always believed that if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you—in this case, those employees just so happen to be high schoolers from the East Village. Under the wishes of his parents, who are still pastors of the church next door, Robbie has taken it upon himself to hold Alphabet Scoop to an uncompromising standard, always ensuring that things are done right. From a background of 25 years in retail, Robbie has found that he can learn from anyone’s mistakes - including his own. He has, in this vein, adjusted the shop’s schedule to keep it open all year; previously it was just a summer stop, but Robbie found that being a seasonal location made it more difficult for customers to anticipate when Alphabet Scoop would be in business. So, now, rather than seasonal hours, Alphabet Scoop boasts seasonal flavors. Pistachio flavor, a summer 2019 special, comes highly recommended by the Manhattan Sideways team. Alphabet Scoop is also constantly experimenting with new flavors suggested to them by customers, so if you’ve been saving up that million-dollar ice cream flavor idea, Alphabet Scoop might just be the place to make it a reality. The “sweet n’ salty” flavor is proof of the potential here, as it was suggested by one of the shop’s younger customers. While the spritely New Yorkers that work in the shop are paid for their work, Alphabet Scoop is also a non-profit. The mission, transparently, is as stated on the walls: “Justice & Sprinkles for all. ” The kids, typically between the ages of 14 and 16, learn all aspects of the business, from hands on skills such as making ice cream to managerial skills like taking inventory. The goal of Alphabet Scoop is to encourage maximum involvement from its employees, so they are invited to help make decisions about the business. Robbie told us a story of a young woman, for example, who has worked in the shop for close to two years, and who was initially quite difficult to work with - but with patience and persistence from Robbie and other employees, the young woman grew to better understand the mission of Alphabet Scoop, and now even has keys to the shop. Robbie’s work at Alphabet Scoop shows the importance of creating strong foundations for young people, as well as how truly influential small businesses can be in their communities. Stop by the shop - any time of year - to help Robbie make his impact.
Since its opening in the summer of 2011, Empellon has been welcomed by just about every food critic in the New York area - and all to rave reviews. We finally had to try this for ourselves... and we were not disappointed. The team of highly regarded young chefs and the renowned head chef/owner produce a truly outstanding Mexican-inspired menu and pay homage to the taco and tortilla. The mezcal margarita with a tincture of seranno pepper was a great way to start the meal. Then we moved on to guacamole, several different tasty salsas, and a refreshing watercress salad with apples, pineapples and a mole dressing. Next up were shishito peppers and melted cheese served on warm tortillas, a healthy chicken taco, yucca fries and sweet plantains. Empellon definitely lived up to our expectations.
When first walking in, we thought we were entering just another Mexican takeout place, but after spending a few minutes looking around and chatting with the husband and wife team behind Dorado, we realized that this was something special. It isn't often that you see a large glass dispenser with homemade Sangria on the counter at a takeout Mexican place, or a variety of sauces to choose from to put on your freshly made tacos. As described by Rachel and Michael Brau, Dorado has "gourmet food at fast food prices. " Right around the corner from NYU, the restaurant has a constant flow of young people. There are a few tables for seating, so we placed our order and sat and enjoyed some tacos, including a vegetarian option and, of course, we had to share the guacamole. We were all quite satisfied as we moved on across 12th Street.
Since 1983, Burrito Loco has sustained an intimate, yet fun atmosphere for casual occasions through a pleasant mix of dim lights and colorful elements, including stained glass windows. The food itself is as authentic as one can get in Manhattan, but it also manages to balance its culinary tradition with a series of “inventive fusion concepts and techniques” that make for great dishes. Sitting down at the ceramic tiled tables with rural designs allowed us a brief detachment from the bustling West Village outside. Before we even looked at the menu, I placed an order for their guacamole, prepared table-side and served with crunchy chips and salsa. While I always order Chiles Rellenos as my main course when I am in a Mexican restaurant, another member of the Manhattan Sideways team chose the burrito poblano with an exquisite mole sauce, while a third selected a simple taco. Needless to say, none of us were disappointed and agreed that the food had been perfectly prepared. The bar offers a variety of cocktails for customers looking for a distinctive Mexican taste. We sampled the frozen strawberry and spicy margaritas, but it was the flaming chocolate-flavored shot that manager, Norberto, brought to our table that we appreciated the most. Aptly named cucaracha borracha, or “drunken cockroach, ” it was a great surprise at the end of the meal. For those looking to try an even wider selection of tacos in a lively atmosphere, The Taco Shop - part of the Pepe’s Restaurant Group that owns Burrito Loco - is just downstairs.