Back when I was a kid, my parents would take me “junking it” on the boardwalk at the Delaware beaches. Thrashers fries, thick and creamy milk shakes, Gus n Gus burgers and creamy chocolate and vanilla soft serve twists were the culinary glories of my childhood. Ahh . . . you’ve gotta love summer! We’d wander from food stand to food stand filling our bellies with a sampling of our favorite foods.
And now, fast forward a few decades, and we’re repeating history with my own kids. But instead of flip flops upon splintered planks, with ocean breezes and seagulls, we’re walking in hard soles on concrete, with the background hum of car engines and perching pigeons, our urban board walk. Welcome to the East Village of New York City, where store front after store front offers tantalizing nibbles and bites to taste (or “junk”) your way around a neighborhood with intense flavors.
It’s impossible not to include New York City in our Flavor Excursion series, since that’s where so many of my culinary adventures occur. Not to mention, it’s just a hop, skip and a big jump from here. So, get there how you wish — by car, bus, train or subway — but land somewhere close to Saint Marks place near Second Avenue.
Start at Mark (33 St. Marks place between 2nd and 3rd Avenue) for the best sliders you’ve ever had. It’s not for vegetarians, but not to worry, you can always grab a hummus wrap at Hummus Place (109 St. Marks Place) a few blocks down after your carnivores have had their meat fix. Pass on the fries at Mark and head to Pommes Frites (123 2nd Avenue) a block and a half away, for the best Belgian fries you’ll ever have! Served with every imaginable dipping sauce (ask for the OMG sauce which is a to-die-for combination of their favorite sauces) these crispy fries are the best you can get (at least in my opinion). If you look baffled about what to get they’ll start making you a tasting palate. And if you get lucky enough to snag the two high stools outside in front, with holders for your paper cones filled with fries, sit back and watch the world go by just as you would on a bench on the boardwalk.
From dumplings, to crepes, fries, dogs and burgers, this is an urban example of food at its most varied and best. And while you’re there, if you want to throw in a non-food related treat for the kids, head over to Toy Tokyo located at 91 2nd Avenue and stroll down memory lane in this amazing toy store packed to the rim with collectibles and figurines.
So on the next nice day, when you’re looking for something to do, head into Manhattan’s East Village and junk it.