Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Fork NY Top 10 Under $10

Need Something to Snack On For A Few Bucks?... Here are a few of the best.....

In this city, you can get anything. No, really. Anything. But sometimes, that realization can just be too much. What if you just want fast, yummy and simple?

Enter street food.

I qualify street food as anything you can grab from a small store or deli, foodcart, etc... and consume on the street, upright. While I could have named 10 pizza places as well as 20 hamburger places, I have focused here on joints that do real volume, and care about chatter. The list is a diverse gathering of meals, snacks and sweet treats.

So without further ado, here are Andre's Top 10 Under $10. I'll see you at the counter.

10. Hot Dog, Grays Papaya

This isn’t a copout, but a tip of the hat to the guys who have been the backbone of streetfood in NYC for decades. If you haven’t been as of late, the juice is still cold and the perfect snapskin hot dogs warm and toasty. As inflation goes, still affordable at buck and a quarter.

9. Chicken and Rice, Halal Cart at 53 and 6th
The fun is gone with this once “insiders” 3am dinner stop, but that doesn’t change the fact that their chicken and rice container, heaped with grilled pita and topped with magic white sauce (and a spray of spicy) is pure heaven. By the way, this 4pm to 4am cart still demands lines of a half a block and more.

8. Cheesesteak, 95 Miles to philly

There is something about a really good Philly cheesesteak (other than congestive heart failure) and nobody in NYC delivers better than this shop, on 3rd Ave btw 12th and 13th. The beauty of 99 Miles is that it is the same joint you would find in Philly, with the same taste…. Warm chewy bread, filled with steak, onions and whiz. Love it love it love it.

7. Lamb Pita, Kwik Meal Cart (45th and 6th)

Yes, it’s all that and more. Muhammed Rahman used to be a chef at the Russian Tea Room, and is now proprietor of one of the best street-food carts in NYC. Although you can make very few if any bad choices on this menu, the lamb pita stands out as one of the best sandwich options above 14th Street, and the lines at lunch are a good indication that the locals agree. I also recommend the falafel and chicken and rice plate.

6. Cuban Sandwich, Margon

There are dozens of respectable Cuban dives in the city, but Margon does it without the fanfare and high prices. Tucked away in midtown and a skip from Times Square, this mom and pop serves terrific Cuban food, and what could be one of the best Cuban sandwiches in the city. Word on the street is they are now serving these on egg bread as well…..

5. Creampuffs, Beard Papa’s
OK, I admit it. I have ridden the subway to the West Village to buy a box of these lighter than air creampuffs, and eaten every one of them before I could get them home. Twice. These gems are hard to describe, other than heavenly. Freshly baked puffs filled with light flavored cream, while you wait. Thank god they opened on the Upper West, at least now I have a fighting chance of getting 2 or 3 of them back to the apartment.

4. Caramel Crisp and Cheese Popcorn, Garrett’s Popcorn
I first became an addict years ago while living in Chicago, when the smell of their caramelcrisp popcorn would waft down Michigan Avenue. When they moved to Manhattan recently, I knew the reaction would be incredible, and it was. If you haven’t been, go today…. or send yourself a tin online :)

3. Spicy Hot Chocolate, Jacques Torres
I love drinks you can chew, but this is insane. Imagine a glass of smooth, creamy drinkable hot fudge, add some spice and heavy cream… and there you have it. The best cup of hot chocolate on the planet. Now on the Upper West as well.

2. Nutter Butter Cookie, Bouchon Bakery
There is nothing average with anything that comes out of this kitchen in the Time Warner Center, but the sweets are extraordinary. This cookie is the king of their cookie empire, and the line at the counter is a good example of people who have no reservations about shelling out $5 to get one.

1. Falafel Sandwich with Fries, Maoz
I fell in love with Maoz several years ago in Amsterdam, and when this store moved into NYC, I was there on opening day. NOTE: If you are a falafel fan, there is simply none better in New York. Again, hear me people…this is the best falafel in the city. Add killer Belgian fries and a bar of condiments to make your own sandwich, the way YOU like it, and well…. you’ve made Andre’s “best of” list, haven’t you.

note: Andre steals photos from all over the universe to add to his non-profit food blog. If there is a photo of yours here, please let me know so I can credit you, or ask me to remove and I will :)