Montauk – Ditch Plains Dirt Lot Road B


Turf, ever heard of it?  Probably not.  After a long exploration for the best lobster rolls in New York I was ready to crown The Lobster Roll aka Lunch as the champion.  That was until a local surfer led me to Turf.  Luke’s Lobster, Red Hook, Clam Bar, Ruschmeyer’s, The Sloppy Tuna, Duryea’s, Gosman’s and Cyril’s are all worthy competition but a far cry from the quality lobster rolls produced at the Ditch.  Turf, like Seabiscuit, had an inauspicious and somewhat unknown start, but the unlikely champion pulled off a victory that left me craving more.

Hidden down the Dirt Lot past the East Deck Motel in Ditch Plains lays an original 1967 Globetrotter Airstream.  The silver bullet serves fresh lobster rolls for local surfers and kook’s.  The quality lobster comes locally from Gosman’s Fish Market before Turf magically combines the lobster chunk and lobster salad styles.  Brought together by a touch of Old Bay-esq seasoning and a garnish of sliced scallion.  At a price of $18 Turf is $8 cheaper than The Lobster Roll and $3 more than Luke’s making themselves competitive in the pricey lobster roll game.

Do more, do less, better yet don’t do anything.  This may just be the staff’s modo and not just Paul Rudd teaching Jason Siegel how to surf in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  As they say: quality, price and service, pick two.  Quality? Check.  Price?  Check.  Service? …………… Let’s just chalk this up to the surfer bros endless summer, time standing still mentality. 

Pop up, do more.



Xi'an Famous Foods

Flushing – 41-28 Main St


Grab your sun-blocking umbrella, Hello Kitty sunglasses, and a deck of Pokémon cards, and head up to Flushing for a Chinese treat that will leave your taste buds spinning in circles.

Hop off the 7 Train at the last stop, head South on Main Street, then pass 41st Ave before hanging a right on 41st Road.  Yes, 41st Ave is right next to 41st Road.  And yes, I do denounce this crafty attempt at deceit.   The Flushing city planner obviously gave Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” a thorough read.  The address itself, 41-28 Main St, says it all.  Good luck picking the right door to enter.

Walking into Xi’an Famous Foods is like beginning a game of Dungeons and Dragons.  Just replace the Dragons with Chinese Noodle dishes and Lamb Burgers with a hint of Middle Eastern flavor.  Yes, that means you're still in a Dungeon. 

Not quite your state-of-the-art, big box Westfield shopping center, and not so properly named, Golden Shopping Mall is home to some of Flushing’s best Asian food station’s, including Xi’an Famous Foods.  The mall is a maze of amazing, cheap, and unique food court-style restaurants.

Xi’an is a famous city and the first capital of China, hence the name.  It is also known as a resting place for the famous terra cotta soldiers and a starting point of the Silk Road.  Doesn’t take a Pikachu card or a Terracotta army to realize swapping this gem for your neighborhood Chinamerican hole is a good trade.

An order of Liang Pi “Cold Skin” Noodles, Savory Cumin Lamb Burger, Stewed Pork Burger, Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles, and the Spicy & Tingly Beef Hand-Ripped Noodles are all worth a try; especially at a total cost of about $28.  Consider yourself warned - “Cold Skin” noodles are hot, yet another act of deceit.

The lamb and pork burgers are arguably the best $2.50-$3.00 I’ve ever spent, and undoubtedly the best value you can get for the money.  Flushing’s Main Street isn’t exactly Memory Lane, so write down this order: A1, B1, B2, N1, N2. 

Xi’an Famous Foods, you’ve sunk my battleship.


The Hideaway

Montauk – 364 West Lake Drive 


Enter The Hideaway and go seek some real Montauk flavor.  The restaurant/bar is tucked behind the Diamond Cove Marina engulfed in an old boat yard, appropriately deemed one of Montauk’s best-kept secrets.  The open-air shack is best known for it’s Mexican cuisine, extensive tequila selection, and signature sangria’s. 

At The Hideaway, food and drinks must be ordered separately due to some odd liquor law, however they are equally as enjoyable.  Frieda, from Chiapas, anchors the restaurant with fresh Mexican cooking and authentic home-style flavors, while Skip adds a beat of diversity to the menu with barbeque and seafood.

After a long day on the beach shredding waves and digging ditches, head to The Hideaway for a view of Lake Montauk and some afternoon delight.  I recommend the Mexican corn, along with the Shrimp or Fish Taco’s and Strawberry Pineapple sangria.

Hecho en Montauk.


Town Pizza

Ocean Beach – 317 Bay Walk


Mmm.  Town Pizza.  Not only the sound of satisfaction, but an acronym for a successful night out in Fire Island.  Mermaid Island, Matthews, and Maguires capped off with a slice of Cold Pizza.  Following this bar hopping treasure map is as easy as playing Candyland.  It requires little to no reading and minimal counting skills, making it suitable for anyone from young children to the highly intoxicated 25ish year old.

No better way to start off your night than with Fire Island’s signature drink: Rocketfuel.  A combination of vodka, tequila, white rum, coconut mixers or amaretto blended swiftly with crushed ice and served at basically any bar. If you’re looking for a big gulp, go for Mermaid Island’s.  If portion control is your goal, try the Rocketfuel at Matthews.  Ironically, the one place in the North East that doesn’t allow cars has managed to hang its hat on its very own source of renewable energy.  

Head to Maguires late night.  Bring you air guitar and dancing shoes, leave with an appetite.  Enough of the foreplay, we’re getting warmer... Exit Maguires, Enter Town Pizza.

Town Pizza is famous for its Cold Pizza.  Not to be confused with the banter broadcasted on ESPN between Skip Bayles and Woody Paige; Cold Pizza is a regular slice of hot cheese pizza topped with cold Mozzarella cheese.  Cold cheese as a topping for hot cheese?  The best ideas are the simple ones.  

Mentally prepare to wait in line for a $4 slice while members of the Sushi 12 Conference discuss camp, Greek life, and edamame!  The crust combines just the right amount of crisp, thickness, and chew.  The sauce and cheese provide a great flavor, while the extra cold Mozzarella topping is what puts Town Pizza on the map.

Like Candyland, you don’t need to make choices.  Just follow directions.  

Mmm.  Town Pizza.


Luke's Lobster

East Village – E 7th Between 1st and Ave A / UES- 81st Between 2nd and 3rd

UWS- Amsterdam Ave Between 80th and 81st / FiDi- 26 S Williams Street


Luke Holden, former UBS and CS Capital employee, enters the foodie arena giving new meaning to “claw backs” while bringing New Yorkers a fresh take on lobster.

Luke grew up in Maine working for the Portland Shellfish Company, his father’s seafood processing business. Between M.E. and Y.O.U, his strategic partnership with his father’s company solidified his leap of faith from crunching numbers in Excel to excelling in the restaurant business.

Luke’s is able to supply New Yorkers with lobster straight from the source, in what he claims takes 24 hours from sea to sale. His partnerships allow him to charge a steady rate of $15 for a New England top-split bun filled with succulent lobster, celery and butter. Splurge an extra $2 for a meal, which comes with a soda, chips & a pickle, or go the distance and turn that soda into an original Maine craft beer that you’ve never heard of… for an additional five dollars.

Each restaurant is decorated with buoys, lobster traps, and wood planks to provide the true Maine atmosphere to go along with the authentic Maine flavors. The lobster bisque sounds delightful but it’s a little too salty… almost as salty as every other lobster shack owner in NYC that actually pays a distributor.

Luke's Lobster, Portland Shellfish Company is your father.


Yakiniku West

East Village - E 9th Between 2nd and 3rd Avenue 

Japanese BBQ

Enter Yakiniku West to a wall of shoes due East.  Yes, authentic Japanese BBQ means following authentic Japanese rituals.  Of course, they make it clear that while taking off your shoes is mandatory, you leave them in a cubby at your own risk.  Walking into Yakiniku West is like walking into Flight Club; only the shoes are not fresh Nike’s or vintage Air Jordan’s wrapped in plastic, and they’re especially not for sale. 

The tables at Yakiniku are dug out into the floor.  At first, I thought I would have to sit Indian style on the floor, which would have been somewhat of an issue.  However, I quickly realized that the Japanese are smarter than that.  Maybe they sit legs crossed on the floor in Japan, but they know how we operate in New York: overweight, inflexible, and out of shape.  Grab a pillow, and take a seat. 

Yakiniku West abides by the “do it yourself” concept.   Quite frankly I think its genius.  You buy the raw meat; they provide your own grills built into the table.  A few pitchers of Kirin and some saki-bombs and boom! all of a sudden you are the modern day Morimoto.  Who needs Benihana anyway?  The meat is thinly sliced, well marinated and easy to cook.  I’m pretty confident you can’t really screw this up.  I’d trust Stevie Wonder to orchestrate my dinner at Yakiniku West any day.   

Don’t bother with the sushi menu; stick with the searing raw meat selection.  The sweet and sour dipping sauces come complimentary and gave me more satisfaction then trading my apple for someone’s Dunk-a-roos during lunch back in Elementary school.  While the cookie-to-frosting ratio may have triggered your adolescent anxiety, rest assure your sweet and sour dipping sauce can be refilled.

Yakiniku West is a slam-dunk.  Bring the whole team.


Pok Pok Wing

LES - 137 Rivington St Between Suffolk St and Norfolk St    


Ever look at your order of 20 wings and think, gee… here are the former wings of 10 chickens.  I didn’t think so.  The truth is, wing stops have been scamming us for years.  Order 20 wings, two wings per chicken, each get broken in half and your really only getting 10 wings.  Order twenty get ten?  I’ve been duped. 

That was… until I went to Pok Pok Wing in the Lower East Side.  We can all thank Bruce Willis’ doppelgänger Andy Ricker for bringing New York City authentic Thai flavor while serving genuine chicken wings.  The honest man hails from Portland, Oregon with the James Beard Foundation of Excellence Best Chef Northwest 2011 hardware around his waist; the foodie equivalent to a heavyweight title belt.

Open daily from 4pm to 11pm, Pok Pok may keep awkward hours but Ike’s Wings are guaranteed to make you feel comfortable.   Ike’s Wings come hot or not, and live up to all the hype New York Magazine delivered while naming Ricker’s wing shack “Best Wings 2012.”

Ike’s Wings leave you feeling indebted to Ricker for bringing your taste buds such joy.  So spend an extra $4 and try some Som Drinking Vinegars.  Sounds odd right?  Drinking and vinegars in the same sentence?  Nonetheless, a refreshing final touch.  The vinegars come in several fruit flavors mixed with soda water.  Flavors include tamarind, apple, pomegranate or honey. 

The Papaya Pok Pok salad is a spicy green papaya salad with a Muay Thai jump-kick to the face.  Eyes watering and face swollen upon contact.  Thankfully my side order of sticky rice was able to tame the heat.  The Khao Man Som Tam salad is basically the same with the added bonus of shredded pork cooked in palm sugar and black soy.  If your hungry and feel like Ike’s wings wont be enough, go with the latter.  Just brace yourself for a fight. 

Pok Pok Wing is to die hard for, with vengeance.


Café Habana

Nolita – 17 Prince Street at the corner of Elizabeth St


¡Bienvenidos a Café Habana! Since 1997 New Yorkers have congregated outside Café Habana devouring Corn on a stick as if it were an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.  Only in New York right?  Wrong.  Café Habana has expanded into Brooklyn and onto Malibu, California where the surfers and Latino’s agree; the Mexican-style grilled corn is hella good, brah.

The restaurant sits at the Corner of Prince St. and Elizabeth St. with a take out cafeteria next door down Elizabeth St.   The signature Cuban sandwich with roast pork, ham, swiss cheese and pickles on pressed bread is voted best in NYC but I can’t claim to know the sources, or necessarily agree.   The Cuban food is good, not great.   What keeps patrons coming back is the Mexican-style corn garnished with chili powder, lime and cheese.   The corn is unmatched in New York and well worth the $4.25.

Don’t bother with the sit down restaurant.  Don’t waste your time looking at the menu.  Order the Mexican-style corn, walk outside, find a bench and enjoy the ambiance.

On my way out, I saw actor and MC Mos Def walking in.  If he ordered the corn it’s Mos Def not the last time he’ll be seeing it and if Café Habana keeps cooking up the same quality grilled corn I’ll most definitely be back for more. 


Barney Greengrass

UWS -  Amsterdamn Ave between 86th and 87th 

Kosher Deli

Welcome to Barney Greengrass, put your name down, and wait.   At Barney’s the atmosphere will take you back to Sunday brunch with your grandparents.  Bagels, smoked fish, cream cheese, eggs, potato pancakes and blintzes; Barney Greengrass hits all the spots. 

Barney’s moved to the current location on 86th Street and Amsterdam Ave in 1929, ironically coinciding with the start of The Great Depression, which explains the choice of wallpaper.  Barney’s has been going strong for over 100 years of business. Forging on through two World Wars, The Depression, Savings and Loan Crisis, and Dot-Com Bubble, Barney’s continues to flourish on the Upper West Side to put my wallet through The Great Sunday Recession. 

At Barney’s the premium lies in the quality salmon, sable, white fish and sturgeon, along with the history and atmosphere that come with your breakfast.  I highly recommend Barney’s Specialties.  Mainly, the Nova Scotia Salmon Scrambled with Eggs and Onions.  My advice: add cream cheese to the mix to bring it all together.  While it may go without saying, you can’t go wrong with the Nova Scotia Salmon platter for however many people you are with.  Pick your bagels, sip your coffee or fresh squeezed orange juice while anxiously awaiting a breakfast that will meet all expectations. 

If you’re in a rush, grab a dozen bagels, nova, cream cheese and some black and white cookies at the counter to go.  Gary Greengrass sits at the register on top of his Throne as if he’s Sasha Baron Cohen in Borat.  “King of the Castle, King of the Castle.” 

Just remember, cash is King at Barney Greengrass, and your only way to settle up. 



Mable's Smokehouse

Williamsburg, Brooklyn – Berry St between N11th and N12th


Give it up for The Dark Knife NYC local Smokehouse of the day: Mable’s from Brooklyn.   Get off your barstool, throw on your hippest thrift store rags, put on all seven of your piercings, rip your skinny jeans, pop on your converse and head over to Williamsburg for some barbeque. 

Wake up with Jeff Lutonsky and Meghan Love, husband and wife and the muscle behind Mable’s Smokehouse.  The couple created this communal barbeque house filled with southern comfort and country recipes passed down from old grandma Mable.   The wooden rustic atmosphere will give you a taste of Texas, while the medley of random chairs collected from the Salvation Army will bring you right back to Brooklyn. 

I recommend sharing the Deluxe Platter for $27.95.  The Deluxe comes equipped with your choice of three meats, three sides, slaw, pickles, jalapenos, sliced onions and wonder bread.   No need to play guess that rack; they are St. Louis ribs.  While delicious and flavorful, the pulled pork and beef brisket are one and two on my depth chart, with the ribs taking the last spot in my starting lineup.

Now this brings us to a gentleman’s game of Marry, Fuck, Kill with the side orders.  I’d hands down make the sweet Candied Yams my wife.  While delicious, I’d probably have to kill the Borracho Beans for the obvious reason; they talk back.  Which leaves the Creamy Mac N’ Cheese and myself line-dancing to honky-tonk all night.  Make sure to ask for extra secret bbq-sauce; better safe than sorry.  Finally, wash down your meal with an ice cold $3 Schmidt’s.

Viva la Mable’s Smokehouse!