Anthony Bourdain has proven himself to be a man who won’t hesitate to go out of his way to eat something tasty, unusual, or both. Here, he braves a New York winter to bum around the Bronx for a nosh. He’s an inspiration.
Gabrielle Langholtz: Koreatown
One of my favorite foods in all New York is so good, I’m willing to voyage to a strange land where I’d otherwise never set foot. I’m talking, of course, about Koreatown. That’s right people. In Herald Square. If it weren’t for my addiction to bibimbap, bulgogi et al, I’d leave that wasteland to the tourists. But in the lower 30s, just west of Broadway, there among the likes of the Gap, Hilton, Victoria Secret and Forever 21 are dozens of restaurants that offer a trap door to the other side of the world. K-town’s official borders are from 31st to 33rd, but my favorite place to eat from a hot stone bowl is Cho Dang Gol up on 35th where every customer is speaking Korean. The sides alone are enough to make me cry — everything from pickled spicy turnips to what look like deep-fried guppies, not to mention killer kim chi to accompany your (as they call it in English) spicy seafood casserole. It’s all far more exciting than the neighborhood’s most famous view, atop the Empire State Building. See you there.
Amy Zavatto: City Island
Years ago I made a day-trip there with my much-missed mother-in-law, Aurora Marotta. It’s so amazing about to head into the Bronx and find yourself on some wacky little island that feels more like New England (with an edge), complete with cedar-shingled homes and bobbing boats, than New York City. We strolled the streets, went into the awesome vintage record shop, ate fresh clams on the half and bluefish, devoured ice cream cones, got sand in our shoes. It was a rare occasion when I saw her without a care, and I felt the same way. Free and like we’d found some odd little seaside other-world. I hold that memory close and with a lot of love. But I’m kind of eager to go back and see what’s changed — which, hopefully, is not much. Island towns have that wonderful feeling of time standing still, and when everything around you is moving so fast all the damn time, there’s something really beautiful and special about that.
Caroline Lange: Rockaway Taco
Rockaway Taco is hardly a secret, despite it being at least an hour away from most parts of Brooklyn and even longer if you’re coming from Manhattan (and that’s if you remember to take the correct A train and don’t have to backtrack). Every summer weekend, folks wait—willingly, might I add, in the hot sun—for upwards of an hour for their orders of tacos, elotes, plantains and green coconuts with the tops hacked off, straws at the ready. And I’m among them, my pale shoulders burning away, but desperate for the tacos. My order: one tofu taco, one elote, extra napkins.
In reality, there is no one restaurant or neighborhood I try to get away to when I have time, it’s really what place haven’t I been to lately or haven’t explored at all. One of my favorite things to do is walk or even drive around this architecturally, culturally diverse city and take it all in — stopping for an al pastor taco here or Mongolian stuffed fry bread there or a tub of Greek taramasalata there. Often when I have a day off I’ll pick a neighborhood, gather a friend or two and spend an afternoon walking and eating. The goal is to equally balance out the two, naturally.
Anne Goldberg: L&B Spumoni Gardens
The last time I went to Rockaway Beach, the highlight of the trip came on the way home, when my friends made an executive decision to forego our traditional beach fare at Caracas Arepa Bar and make a pit stop in Gravesend at a place called Spumoni Gardens. I have since learned this family-owned Italian restaurant, which specializes in Sicilian style pizza and the eponymous tri-colored treat, is something of a Brooklyn legend. Di Fara it is not, but what it is is old school, and as far as I’m concerned that’s a good thing. We joined the legion of families at the picnic tables in front of the restaurant proper, and ordered two whole sheet-tray sized pies from the window: crust thick, with the sauce on TOP of the cheese! For dessert, we went back up for paper cups full of frozen spumoni. I am still not sure if “spumoni” is a variety of ice cream, or a flavor, or both. But it is very icy and very sweet, and here includes bright green pistachio, chocolate with bits of nuts, and vanilla. I was an instant convert, and did not hesitate to return (via a 45 minute ride on the F train from my apartment in Park Slope) a couple of weeks later, even though it was pouring rain.
Feature photo: Instagram/goldenan