Merry Christmas! Get Yourself This Burger

Minetta TavernMerry Christmas everyone! Are you snuggled up in pajamas on your couch? I hope so! I just got back from an incredible trip to Laos & Cambodia but I got sick at the very end of the trip. Picture massive Exorcist-style sickness (or actually, don't picture it) at a beautiful restaurant in Siem Riep in front of multiple diners and friends. Then I got awful chills and a 103 degree fever on my flight from Hong Kong to JFK and the worst jet lag to ever hit a human being when I got back. Basically, it was a terrible ending to a wonderful, adventurous, life-altering trip. It took me days to come out of that fog and I've been a giant sloth since I returned.

Which brings us to Christmas day - can we talk about how awesomely terrible Hallmark Christmas movies are? I've basically had them on rotation. Candace Cameron Bure (Full House!) plays the same character who hates Christmas as an uptight career woman but then is shown the magic of the holiday through a handsome man and a failing business, usually a resort. Neil Patrick Harris played an especially terrible role as a dejected doctor in "The Christmas Blessing."

Our roast turkey, two kinds of stuffing, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts & pancetta, homemade gravy & cranberry sauce are filling our place with the most mouthwatering smells. But there is other food on my brain. You have to go to Minetta Tavern. I had been to this still super hot spot in Greenwich Village before, but for some reason I didn't order the Black Label Burger. I was an idiot. You have to get this burger. It's been written about thousands of times and for good reason. It's $29 but when a burger is this good, you'd gladly pay triple that. Plus, perfect French fries on the side. If you can't get a dinner reservation, try brunch, which is what I do.

Black Label BurgerAfter I was so sick, I ate the entire plate of food and didn't care because I was so happy I was hungry again. And the inside is just so super cozy and perfect for New York City's wintry mix days.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Best Shoe Repair in Greenwich Village

New York does a number on shoes. The city streets and cobblestones tear them up. I only sporadically wear heels - there has to be a guarantee of a cab both ways - and have instead invested in good quality, comfortable, and I hope stylish shoes that I can walk for miles in. I had another fantastic experience at my favorite shoe repair shop this week and had to post about it. I discovered Yakub Shoe Repair on Sullivan Street when I lived close by. Yakub is from Uzbekistan and works with his son on all the repairs. Shoes that I bring in looking like trash are returned to me like new. But he's also honest - if he can't fix something and it's beyond repair, he will tell you. Plus, his prices are very reasonable, he's across the street from Peanut Butter & Co. if you need a PBJ fix, and you can also get keys made and your dry cleaning done in the same tiny New York space. And he loves my dog.


Washington Square Park's Famous Dosa Man

It's that time of year when food trucks in New York are as ubiquitous as taxi cabs - sometimes you just want something quick to eat under the shade of trees on a hot day. But aside from the trend and ever-growing onslaught of food trucks, there is still the legend in Washington Square Park, the Dosa Man, who is originally from Sri Lanka. A dosa is popular in South India, made from rice and lentils. People love the masala dosa, which is stuffed with potatoes, vegetables and spices. You can ask him to explain each dish if you don't understand the menu. I enjoyed my dosa but didn't think it was spectacular, a little dry. You definitely need a cold bottle of water because of the spices. What I loved was the Dosa Man himself, who was charming and funny with the most genuine smile. He's on the southern border/sidewalk on the park - at W. 4th & Sullivan Streets.

Good-Bye to Rocco in the Village

It's a sad, sad week for Greenwich Village. Rocco Restaurant, open since 1922 (almost 90 years!) on Thompson Street, has closed due to rising rents.  And by rising rents, I mean an absurd price jump that should be illegal. $8,000 a month to $18,000 a month. This place has always given me the old-New York fuzzies, thinking of decades gone by and restaurants closed, and happy that Rocco always made it. Until now.  Mario Batali worked in the kitchen for 5 months and left in a dramatic huff.  I just finished reading Bill Buford's "Heat," and Batali's time at Rocco is briefly mentioned.  Funny that his extremely successful restaurant, Lupa, is now across the street.

It's being taken over by the team that runs Torrisi Italian Specialties, which has been a well-deserved hot spot for months now. So the food will be better than Rocco's was.  But it doesn't matter.

I ate dinner there one last time three days before it closed, and the owner said he's looking for a new place to move Rocco too.  He's also taking the famous neon sign that lights up Thompson Street.  Not the same at all, unfortunately. 

Eater New York wrote a short and wonderful piece on Rocco in their "Who Goes There?" column here.

The mustached owner is on the left Johnny Depp loved Rocco.

I snapped this photo of Rocco on the last night they were open.

The famous Rocco Restaurant sign in daylight.