Meatloaf, Buddha, Cocktails & Evil Sweets in NYC

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Shopsin's General Store, clean plate club

Legendary short-order cook and notorious f-bombadier Kenny Shopsin has moved his creative comfort food and prickly mood to a tiny space in the Lower East Side's Essex Market

I went there and can confirm that Shopsin's potty mouth and irritability were in fine form. So was his cooking.

Moonpie Meatloaf

A round bottom layer of almost delicate meatloaf topped with rich, melty white cheese gets even more loaf put on it and finally an exterior slathering of mole sauce. When cut into, it really does resemble a moon pie-- and fittingly tastes out-of-this-world!


The 1st Noble Truth of Buddhism is that existence is suffering; the second N.T. is that suffering is caused by desire... well, gobbling down this desirable and delicious veggie-headed and seemingly stoner-designed "Buddhaboy" sandwich will endow you w/ an inner peace and joy that just might make you question the Buddha's infinite wisdom. Maybe the sandwich is some sort of koan. Anyway, comes with great toasted bread, deep-fried brussels sprouts, green beans and lots of butter and cheese.

Economy Candy

Near Shopsin's is a funky, overcrowded place that's fun to go to called Economy Candy. The sweet shop houses multinational kiddie faves from the 80s, 70s and even 60s that are nearly impossible to find anyplace else.

Just blocks away from EC and literally down a blind alley, is Freeman's -- a one-time hangout for slumming celebs but still an interesting place to get a great cocktail (pictured is the Dark & Complex; it's shaken rye,pomegranate molasses, lemon juice & bitters).

Another excellent drinky destination is MOMA's super snazzy bar/restaurant called The Modern -- with like a gazillion different bottles of hooch and some suitably pretty complex cocktails (I had a Surfsider w/ Floraison gin, cucumber, lemon verbena, A.B. Smeby summer verbena bitters & soda).

Also in Midtown is the plush St. Regis New York and its King Cole Bar, where there's a famous mural of Old King Cole and the Bloody Mary is said to have originated (then called a "Red Snapper"). The day I wet my whistle w/ the old King, there were more people in there wearing tuxes than not. Two days later, Bill Clinton & friends held a fundraiser in the St. Regis and I'm guessing Bill wasn't paying $18 for drinks like I was.

Snacks at the St. Regis

Top-notch mixed nuts and crunchy wasabi peanuts served in a fancy dish help offset the drink's hefty price tag.

One of the trendiest trends in NYC is speakeasy type, practically hidden-in plain-sight cocktail clubs with little to no signage. What you do is knock, then give your cell phone number to a (probably English) guy who will call you back when they have space for you. Yeah, it's a bit of a schtick, but the creative cocktails are usually worth the fuss.

Like Freeman's, the tequila-centered Mayahuel (below) sorta recalled a hoodoo-voodoo New Orleans style haunted house.

Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar David Chang's created a pork and ramen empire in the East Village which I got to visit a couple of years ago, before it--and the worldwide worship of pork fat-- became an insane sensation. Now getting a reservation at the super-tiny (12-seat) Ko is equivalent to winning the lottery, and waits for his Ssam Bar can seem eternal as well. But a Sunday afternoon was the perfect time for Momofuku Bakery and Milk Bar's trademarked Crack Pie (oat crust + gooey, buttery and brown sugary filling) and Compost Cookies (pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, chocolate chips).

Evil, evil sweets.