Restaurants & Bars

Lower East Side plus Totonno's and a Couple of Side Trips

Steve | Jun 25, 201908:12 PM     24

A report from four days of eating and sightseeing. Many places in the LES I've been to before.

Stayed a block away from the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Boy has this area changed. The block of our hotel has bars on top of bars on top of vintage t-shirt shops and bakeries, and ice-cream and restaurants. At night, it is drunk central. Not more people than Times Square, but more inebriates.

In chronological order we had:

Russ and Daughters Cafe. Great, and thanks to howdini for recommending a shrub, got the cherry flavor. Smoked sable and strugeon were heavenly, pickled herring trio was really good, and the beet salad was so well prepared. Been to the appetizer shop before, first time in the cafe. 5:30pm reservation, but they got us in at 5pm with no fuss. During the day, no reservations and there is a line to get in..

Katz's: third time here, once every nine years like clockwork. I was never impressed with it, and I am still not. Pastrami this time, it was okay. I know a much better place in DC for pastrami and corned beef, but as long as I was in the hood, why not?

Yonah Shimmel's Knishery: Second visit. A mountainous knish with such a thin dough. Loved it. Nice potato flavor, dipped it in some salt and pepper and upon occasion mustard. Nothing quite like it elsewhere.

Kossar's Bakery. Bialys and a chocolate babka. Bialys were small and chalky. Babka was fine, though Trader Joe's is better.

Pickle Guys: Second visit. Garlic pickles were powerful-tasting, not necessarily a good thing. Very, very salty, with some sweetness too. Amazing crunch for this type of pickle. If i grew up eating pickles like this, all other would seem tasteless. But since it's the other way around, takes some getting used to. Also got the brussel sprouts. Very, very sweet. By themselves, way too sweet, but with a salami sandwich, I could get used to it. A ton of selection here. If I had the time to go through everything, maybe I could pick out some favorites.

Moishe's Bakery. Hasidic. Sunday morning, everything was delivered by Biegel's, a commercial bakery. Depressing. Bought a couple of bagels anyway, took a couple of bites, then threw them away.

Davidovich Bakery. Had an olive loaf, a savory pastry about the size of a croissant. Crispy on the outside. Very delicious.

The Good Kind coffee shop and baked goods. Got an artichoke mushroom quiche. Good, but can find something like this just about anywhere.

Van Leeuwen's Ice Cream. Got the salted caramel. Such intense flavor! Salty and salty, which I appreciated very much.

Outside of the LES:

Butcher's Daughter. Had the smashed avocado toast and a coconut date shake. Toast was delicious, shake was tasteless.

Simit Sarayi: Part of a huge international chain and tastes like it. Had the menemen (eggs mixed with tomato, onion, and peppers.) Also had fried eggs with soujouk and mushrooms and peppers. Both as bland as can be.

And finally, Totonno's. First time. We almost made it into the first seating, but a slight delay at the last moment got us there at 12:10pm. They were supposed to open at 12pm, but opened at 12:15. We waited 50 minutes, and it was worth it and more. I don't think it matters what toppings you get. We got olives and garlic on one side and peppers and onions on the other. We were floored. By 2pm, there was only one table waiting. First day of summer beach season, and the beach/boardwalk scene was serious.

It pained me that I didn't make it to Jackson Heights or Flushing, though it wouldn't have been my first trip to either.

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