I know, I know, I live in Paris, I should be taking the national August vacation to discover other European cities. But the problem is that the rest of France has that exact same idea! Besides I haven't been home forevah and what could be more fun for a cook than a layover in NYC dedicated solely to food and debauchery on the way to SF?
I love NYC – the people, the food, the theater, the energy – I don't love the weather, but it's no worse than Paris. We stayed in the Lower East Side and spent time with old theater friends currently taking respites from their Broadway careers.
Lo-side used to be seedy but now it's the place for food, music, and eclectic boutique stores. They even have some trendy cool hotels now such as the Rivington Hotel. The area has always been a haven for music with venues like the legendary CBGB's (closing soon –quick get a t-shirt) but the food is incroyable and affordable.
Here's my suggested itinerary...Start at Suba's, a tapas restaurant whose Chef de Cuisine is a prodigy and the recent recipient of the James Beard Best Restaurant award. Sip fresh peach white sangaria while waiting for a table (hopefully next to the moat – yes, there is a little river that surrounds the restaurant) and get into the spirit of the evening while listening to latin inspired techno grooves spinning overhead. The tapas are divine, but our group opted for main courses because we needed fuel for the night ahead...
After Subas, walk down Ludlow street just before Rivington Street to the rockabilly hangout, Motor City. As one city search reviewer described it: "The bouncer is the Lower East Side and the bikini girl dancing in the window is directly out of 1950's. Cheap beer, decent drinks and a Star Wars pinball machine". Couldn't have said it better myself...
And don't forget the Pabst Blue ribbon with the shots of tequila
After Motor City check out the local venues for music. We went in and out of different places in search of the the best grooves and more snacks. We poked in Katz Delicatessin the famous 24-7 eatery but decided we weren't hungry yet and headed over to Arlene's Grocery for live music (it's not a grocery store) but they wouldn't let me in because I didn't have my ID with me. Bummer! – don't they know who I am!?!?
Somehow we ended up at a dive bar on the corner of Clinton & Houston Street bordering Alphabet city that had a secret backroom where a salsa band was playing and it just happened to be right across from the famous Clinton's restaurant known for their cuban sandwhiches. The service is notorious slow, but worth the wait.
We finished the night at the marvelous afro-french colonial restaurant Le Pere Pinard on Ludlow Street, for some well made nightcaps, groovy beats, tarot card readings, and French conversation with the fabulous owner FiFi.
One last photo...we had to get a picture with the local fireman. I'm not too sure what they were doing up so late at night or where exactly the fire was – but we attempted to put it out! God Bless the New York Firemen and all those that lost their lives.