Sure, I consider myself a foodie. Not because I have a discerning taste / palette. Simply because I LOVE food – all types of food. So it’s no wonder I have a mental list of places, non-restaurant places, that surprisingly serve good foodstuffs. Okay, this is just my list of places I will shamelessly stuff my face. YOU’RE WELCOME.
(Also filed under one of my favorite dive bars) Upon entering this fine establishment you notice it is nothing short of a real dive bar. Sticky floors, the oh-so- fragrant beer smell permeating the air. The seats are sticky, obviously, but what really puts the icing on the cake are the koozies that come with your can of (probably) PBR. But your choice of beer in a can aside, the real situation here is all about the free cheesepuffs. I’ve sat at the Levee for hours on end drinking, and eating cheesepuffs. Sources tell me they also serve a great Frito pie for those that are fans of the neon cheese, curious ground mystery meat and chip dish. For the not so adventurous, stick to the cheesepuffs. ALL THE CHEESEPUFFS.
BEAUTY & ESSEX
Okay, so this is a restaurant, but I’m going the reverse here. This is a great restaurant that also serves as a great place to get sloshed. Say youre on a date and you don’t want to look, well, unladylike and order your 4th drink (yeah, sounds like a bad date), all you have to do is pop into the ladies room where there is all the free champagne you need! Alright, try to be classy about it, you animal.
My sister and I stumbled upon this fine establishment on Ave A after I had a particular craving for something sweet. Sure, on the outside it looks like another bodega with homeless dudes and crusties and their rabid dogs hanging outside, but alas, you step inside and discover its a magical place, stuck somewhere in either the 80s and early 90s … a diabetics dream. A toothless Ray greets you with some indistinguishable accent (Brooklyn? Eastern European? god knows) while the smell of hot oil and fried everything basically wafts in the air. You look up at his handwritten menus, made of poster board and a dying Sharpie pen, which are situated next to 80’s esque photos of girls licking their delicious chocolate dipped ice cream cones with sweat bands and all. You decide to forgo the 50c bananas he seems to have discounted, and choose the beignets because that’s what Ray is famous for. He flashes you a toothy/toothless (not sure, haven’t had the nerve to maintain eye contact let alone look at his gaping hole one calls a mouth), and disappears into the back where you assume his deep frier is. You look around, the decor is every bit 1990’s roller rink gone decrepit, lead paint chipping and all. You beg your sister not to tell your mother you took her here – let alone, you ate food from here. THE RATING?! It’s probably a B or a C (I don’t have the heart to look). Just don’t think about it. But the beignets… they were godly. That Ray…
Everytime (which is like very rarely because eating this is like asking for cardiac arrest) I get Halal Guys there is usually one person that is like, ‘oh ewww you eat street meat’ and I’m like ‘oh ewww you can go die unhappy because you’ve never tasted the godliness that is Halal Guys and their famous crack sauce so you live a bland and meaningless existence”. I mean, typically that’s how it goes. Back in the day you’d have to actually go uptown (GASP!) to 6th/53rd street to find their glorious carts… but now, and what great news for me since I’m in the hood, you can just hop on over to 2nd Ave and 14th St where they opened up their first brick and mortar. But seriously, its godly. When my visiting friend got it, she texted me, “IS THIS SOUP?” but little did she know at the time that the white sauce / crack sauce, is GLORIOUS AND AMAZING… resulting in a party in your goddamn mouth. Note: If you try to flirt with the Halal Guys they will not give you free food, I’ve tried.
THE AMERICAN GIRL CAFE
Well jeeez, I work right down the street I don’t see why I HAVEN’T eaten at this fine establishment yet! As this perfectly-written Gawker article puts it:
“It was sort of the restaurant experience I designed as an 8-year-old when I would make my Nana pretend to eat Play-Doh in her basement: girls only; constant dessert; everyone gets a doll; lots of little gifts to hoard (including a FREE PINK BOW HAIR TIE that doubles as a napkin ring and a doll-sized cup and saucer set)… The girl sitting directly across from me who was having her special day with just her mom was feeding her doll out of the miniature teacup, and she looked so despondent. Like she was just going through the motions of feeding an inanimate object a drink that wasn’t actually there.”
BLIND TIGER ALE HOUSE
Unless your lactose intolerant there is no way that you DONT like cheese. (I eat cheese 24/7 for all occasions – my nightly cheese, my fancy cheese, my wine and cheese, my drunk cheese etc). That being said, if you love cheese (which is like everybody) then by the transitive property you love anything from Murray’s. But you know whats better with cheese? A baguette. And whats better with cheese and a baguette? Beer. At happy hour. Blind Tiger’s happy hour (starting at 6pm) on Wednesday serves baguettes and cheese from Murrays until supplies last. Even though I’ve been reprimanded by the bouncer at this place (it was a hot day and I busted a window open), they have a great beer selection and even better noshes.
Great place to go if you are both famished and looking to get drunk, and if you are already drunk and need to somewhat, kind of sober up. I have five words for you: Free pizza with your drink. Its not artisinal, more like papa johns pizza but hey, pizza is pizza and they took away the Two Bros down the street so it’s like, might as well… when in Rome, right?!
CONDE NAST’S CAFETERIA
You really think you’ll brush shoulders with VOGUE, GQ, Vanity Fair, editors here? Fat chance. Very few people in Conde Nast actually eat, especially the fashion interns. Its kind of like the place you go to not be seen. You know, like those dark, shady restaurants you take your ugly dates? Oh was that only in Sex and the City and not a real life thing? Hmm… Needless to say, if you’re stuck eating lunch in house because you do not yet have the salary of Anna Wintour to afford you Cipriani or Quality Italian/Meats lunches, then you will be fortunate enough to feast upon the offerings of the Conde Nast Cafeteria. Even more anxiety inducing than the Conde Nast elevators, are the selections at the salad bar (do I get kale? She’s getting kale… but I feel like romaine – will I look fat if I add cheese on my salad, probably. I’ll just eat carrots). But savour it. Enjoy the feeling knowing you are, indeed eating lunch at Conde Nast’s Cafeteria – while underlings not as fortunate as you to grace the building of the most famous editors and writers – eat lunch at subpar locales.
UNNAMED HOTEL’S HAPPY HOUR
Um hell no I will not share the name of the hotel that has a goddamn good happy hour complete with free ‘secco / white wine / red wine, AND cheeses, crackers, veggies and cured meats. HELL. TO. THE. NO. Its a little hidden gem and if anyone ever finds out about it well GODDAMNIT THIS IS WHY WE CANNOT HAVE NICE THINGS. Needless to say, don’t let the quaint environment fool you, as the alcohol flows freely (for 2 hours), and the food is readily available to you. This is a great time/place to easily get drunk pretty quick, as well as throw in a meal of cheese and crackers and fruits and veggies. Fun AND practical! What more could you want.
SHAKE SHACK AT CITIFIELD
Ugh ditch the typical hot-dog-at-ballpark cliche. Get yourself a shake shack burger with fries and call it a day because you deserve it. Just because you’re all the way out in Queens at the end of the 7 line, watching a Mets game (you’ve fallen low, my friend), doesn’t mean that you’ll escape the typical Shake Shack line… they’re still agonizingly long. But hey, once you get your burger and fries and whatever else you get, you get to sit down and scarf it down whilst enjoying
David Wright’s ass at third base America’s favorite pastime. Said my friends boyfriend after I arrived at our seats with my Shake Shack meal, “Whoa Maddy – where did your burger go?” My response was muffled by me stuffing fries in my piehole.
So now that I shared…
Where are YOUR #SHAMELESS non-restaurant eating places?
But seriously, email ’em in to firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @madtab