One of the things I love about NY is that you can find good food anywhere--even in the quirkiest and tiniest of places, such as El Rey Coffee Bar in the LES.
The place does very brisk brunch/lunch business and just recently started offering dinner. I had heard very good things about the AM menu, especially the kale salad and the baked goods, and it really lived up to expectations. There are so many kale salads out there, but El Rey's is in a league of its own--it's the bright, sweet almond vinaigrette and the almond shavings that really do it. It's one of the top 2 kale salads in my book, the other being Northern Spy Food's. You can't go wrong with any of the baked goods, but the sweet potato bread is especially moist and delicious.
I also returned for dinner service, where the restaurant assumes a distinctly Latin vibe. The menu offers a selection of small plates with a lot of heat and spice. I tried the papas bravas, the shaved cauliflower, the green mole burrata, the sardines tostada and the chorizo. I was very impressed by the sardines, and generally preferred the plates with more subdued flavors (cauliflower, green mole, sardines).
The place has about 15 seats, and it's first come first serve, but tables turn very quickly. If you're lucky, you can speak to Chef Gerardo Gonzalez in the back booth, who is the nicest and chillest guy on earth. And of course, you should walk on over to nearby Morgenstern's for some raw milk ice cream.
You can check out my blog for more pictures and detail, but seriously, the kale salad, sardines tostada and sweet potato bread are amazing.