When I was living in New York, I used to eat falafel sandwiches, hummus, and other Middle Eastern specialties A LOT. It was one of those cheap things that I could grab on nearly every corner and still manage to convince myself that I was actually eating healthy. This thought was probably completely false since falafel balls are deep fried and pita bread is super-carb heavy, but it still had to be better than the fast-cheap alternative. Looking back, I realize that I must have been pretty naïve thinking that great, cheap falafel shops could be found every, even outside of New York. But, upon moving out west, I had to face the harsh realization that in California I no longer had easy access to great Middle Eastern food. I am happy to announce, however, that I have actually found a place in the Bay Area that up to my high standards and has proven itself as a more than suitable place to get my fix – Oren's Hummus Shop.
In an area filled with many fancy, upscale sit-down restaurants, Souvla is a welcome addition to the Hayes Valley neighborhood. With its cheap, high-quality spit-roasted meats served in either sandwich or salad form, excellent selection of Greek wines, and absolutely delicious french fries this casual, yet elegant spot is a real winner. It's the kind of place that's cheap enough for a random weeknight dinner and at the same time sexy enough to work as a great casual date night spot. There is no waiter service, which sort of takes away from the date night vibe, but it's done so well that I really can't complain. This place is a real gem.
What can I say about Taim that hasn't already been said. I think at this point everyone has heard of Taim and their ridiculously delicious Israeli style falafel, but there's another dish they make that I constantly obsess over. In fact, the lesser known Sabich Sandwich is my favorite vegetarian dish in NYC.
Let me tell you a story about how one awful waitress nearly ruined a great restaurant for me. On a random, spur of the moment Saturday evening, Amy and I decided we wanted to go out for date night dinner and drinks. We had each heard nice things about Burger & Barrel and were particularly excited to try Josh Capon's food because we frequently watch him on TV fixing awful kitchens on Bar Rescue. I also had heard that a few months back at this year's NYCWFF Burger Bash, Josh's burger was voted the best in the city. For all of these reasons, Amy and I were excited to experience Burger & Barrel for ourselves.
When I first spotted Cafe Nadery on this quickly growing, but still quiet section of 8th street, my interest was piqued. It appeared to have a quiet and leisurely vibe and really seemed more like a cafe for coffee and tea than a restaurant. Functionally, it is a coffee shop in every respect with many of people plugged into their laptops working silently. The biggest difference between it and your usual coffee shop is that their kitchen prepares homestyle Persian comfort food. I don't know much about Persian food, but I certainly wanted to try this very underrepresented cuisine in NYC.
So, it's November and it's getting colder which normally means it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving, but this year it also signals the time to start thing about Hanukkah since they fall on the same day. It's a rare occurrence that only happens once every 95 years giving many people the chance to plan a strange meal they're calling Thanksgivukkah blending the culinary traditions of the two. Well, today I'm going to ignore Thanksgiving all together because I'd like to talk about some of my favorite Jewish comfort foods and where I go to eat them in NYC.