We were down in New York City last weekend for the long weekend, and every visit to New York has now become a chance to engage in a (non-highbrow and affordable) foodie tour. There are two places that are now required stops on every trip--The City Bakery and S'MAC.
The City Bakery. Remember those old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercials where a guy is walking through the park with a jar of peanut butter and a girl is roller skating with a candy bar? Then they bump into each other and discover the great taste of peanut butter and chocolate. Or this commercial with the famous Ralph Malph? (By the way, has anyone ever seen someone walking down the street while savoring a jar of peanut butter?)
Anyway, besides a gratuitous mention to get a Ralph Malph reference in here, I'm always reminded of those commercials when I visit The City Bakery and get their fantastic pretzel croissant. It combines all the flakiness of a croissant with the brown buttery glaze and salt of a pretzel. (Sesame seeds on top are an added bonus.) I'm not talking about a bad hotel continental breakfast croissant, but one that could hold its own in Paris. And I'm not talking about an Auntie Anne's mall pretzel, but an honest-to-goodness German beer hall pretzel. The combination is fantastic, but they are best when they're hot. Can someone in Boston please get on the ball and start making these or can we get a City Bakery franchise? I'm almost finished with the bag of pretzel croissants I brought home. The City Bakery is located near Union Square at 3 West 18th Street, right off 5th Avenue.
S'MAC. Our other stop is to S'MAC (which stands for Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese) for one of life's best comfort foods--macaroni & cheese. This East Village eatery is totally devoted to mac & cheese, and not the wimpy Kraft in the box kind of mac & cheese. It takes maybe 10-20 minutes to get your food after you order, but the wait is worth it. Besides your traditional mac & cheese with breadcrumbs (the All-American), there are nine different variations. My favorite is the cheeseburger, which includes ground-up hamburgers and, I think, a touch of mustard and ketchup. You can even create your own version if you don't like what's on the menu. The mac & cheese is served in iron skillets so it's always piping hot and cheesy. The restaurant itself always seems to be filled, and the quarters are a little tight so it's not always easy to get a seat. The best part for us out-of-towners is that S'MAC serves bake-ready orders in containers so you can take them home and heat them up in your oven. It tastes just as good after a few days in the refrigerator or even after freezing them and thawing them out. S'MAC is located at 345 East 12th Street.
Now if New York would only get a Cereality (which serves your favorite sugary cereals--the Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch and crumbled Oreos combo is magnifique), I might have to contemplate moving.