A display case at Treat House
New York City is full of unique eateries for people with all appetites, and as we’ve continuously explored on our series about places that only sell one thing, the city is dense enough to support a plethora of single-food spots. Using Mitch Broder’s new book New York’s One-Food Wonders, a follow-up to the book Discovering Vintage New York, which we used for our guide to NYC’s Vintage Restaurants, Bars and Cafes), we compiled a few of our top one-food eateries.
9. La Maison du Croque Monsieur, 17 East 13th street
While you’ve probably heard of the “Croque Monsieur,” the native, toasted French sandwich with ham and melted cheese, you can now head over to a petite sandwich shop called La Maison du Croque Monsieur on the Lower East Side to try out other variations of the sandwich.
These include the “Mr. Antonin,” which has turkey, provolone and cranberry sauce, “Mr. Lawrence,” which has spicy tuna and cheddar, and for those who want dessert, “Mr. Gonzalo,” which has banana, Nutella and mascarpone.
How did they choose these names? They took the first names of the lovers of French-Cuban writer Anais Nin (who lived in the same building as the restaurant and has her own croque named after her), and tacked on a “Mr.”
8. Beyond Sushi, 229 East 14th street
Interestingly enough, you won’t find any fish at Beyond Sushi on the Lower East Side. Instead, you’ll find various assortments of tofu, fruits and veggies in your sushi rolls at this vegetarian, non-Japanese restaurant, whose slogan is, unsurprisingly, “The Green Roll.”
The eight different kinds of sushi rolls available (plus a “Roll of the Month”) include “The Green Machine,” which has asparagus, cucumber and marinated vegetables. Mushrooms loves should definitely go for the “Mighty Mushroom,” which has tofu, arugula and two different kinds of mushrooms. Though sushi is part of Japanese cuisine, Beyond Sushi offers “La Fiesta,” which is made of black rice, avocado, chayote, pickled jalapenos, and cilantro.
You can also buy individual sushi pieces, which include ingredients like baked tofu, snow peas and enoki (a kind of mushroom). You also won’t find any white rice, as the restaurant instead uses black or six-grain rice.
So if you’re a vegetarian that misses sushi or are curious about this restaurant’s unique offerings, be sure to head over to Beyond Sushi, which also has locations at Chelsea Market and the West Side.
7. Melt Bakery, 132 Orchard Street
Instead of buying regular ice cream at a grocery store, try Melt Bakery on Orchard Street, which sells only ice cream sandwiches. The cookies are made freshly and the ice cream, also freshly made, comes in flavors other than the conventional vanilla. To make the ice cream sandwich experience truly one of a kind, the baker, Julian Plyter, specifically pairs the cookies and ice cream in non-traditional ways.
Melt Bakery’s signature item is the Classic (chocolate chip walnut cookies with vanilla ice cream). But since the bakery promises diversity in its selections, there’s also the “Lovelet” (red velvet cookies with cream cheese ice cream), “The Morticia” (crunchy chocolate cookies with malted chocolate rum ice cream), and “Elvis” (peanut butter cookies with banana ice cream).
If this doesn’t sound quirky enough already, alternative ice cream flavors have included buttercream, pumpkin pie, and beer.
6. Piada, 601 Lexington Avenue
The first thing you should know about Piada is that its piadas (or piadinas) are named after Fellini films. But what’s a piada? A piada is an Italian sandwich made with round, flat bread lightly filled with various sharp (perhaps hard to pronounce) ingredients that contribute to a unique sandwich experience. For instance, at Piada, you can get the Amarcord, made with prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella and arugula. You can also order a piada with mortadella, parmigiano, and tomato, called the Notti di Cabiria, or one with speck, Fontina and tomato (called the Satyricon.
Though New York City is packed with culinary options from all over the world, chances are you haven’t tried piadas. Now you can head over to Lexington Avenue (or Piada’s other location at 1 West 59th street) to try these traditional Italian (but not Italian-American) sandwiches.
5. Popbar, 5 Carmine Street
Popbar, which sells popsicles, is every bit as fun as its catchy name implies. A vibrant display case inside showcases hundreds of them in rectangular rows, immediately drawing you in. With over two-dozen flavors to choose from everyday (and you can see what those flavors look like before you choose), Popbar is sure to have one that entices you.
PopSorbettos range from apricot, blood orange, strawberry pineapple split, and dark chocolate-dipped strawberry. PopGelatos, which are less colorful and eye-catching than the PopSorbettos, include coffee, gianduia and hazelnut. The basic flavors also form the basis of “myPops,” which are dipped in chocolate and/or “poppings” (basically, toppings for popsicles).
4. Snowdays, 241 East 10th street [Update: Closed]
For tastes of the Western U.S., try “snow cream” at Snowdays, which the store’s owner, Tony Quach, brought from California to New York City. Snow cream is low-fat milk with heavy cream that is then frozen in blocks and shaved into ribbons to create a dessert with a light fluffy texture, which Broder described as “snow with cream.”
Flavors include matcha green tea, New York cheesecake, roasted black sesame, Yeti Tracks (blueberry and Oreos), and more. Of course, you can also add a variety of interesting toppings to your snow cream or drizzle it in different sauces.
Snowdays is also located at 167 7th Avenue and 37-20 Prince Street in Flushing.
3. Sockerbit, 89 Christopher Street
Called “Sweet & Swedish,” Sockerbit, which is also a kind of marshmallow, specializes in Scandinavian candy, making it quite a gem among New York City’s culinary locales. If you were to enter the store, you’d immediately see a wall with bins containing over 130 different kinds of Scandinavian sweets, which you can pick and choose from to scoop into your bag (you pay per pound). The candy names are foreign, but you can read their English descriptions if you’re not sure what to choose.
Your options include gelehallon, which are raspberry drops with sugar, rabarberbitar, which are rhubarb licorice with lemon filling and sura persikobitar, which have a creamy, peachy inside but a sour exterior.
2. Treat House, 452 Amsterdam Avenue
A display case at Treat House
Treat House is a popular New York City eatery because it’s dedicated to a snack many are nostalgic for: Rice Crispy Treats. Treat House sells fancy Rice Crispy Treats flavored with Cranberry Orange, Maple Pecan, Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Cup, and even Bubble Gum, all in 1.5 inch cubes .
What also sets this eatery apart is its inside: there’s an area at the back of the store with a blackboard and seats that look like tree stumps.
1. Victory Garden, 31 Carmine Street
Victory gardens were the gardens citizens planted and grew food in for American war efforts. The “Victory Garden” in Manhattan, however, doesn’t sell fruits and veggies, as you’d expect. Instead, it sells goat milk ice cream.
At Victory Garden, you can buy goat milk ice cream, with flavors ranging from Chocolate Cardamom, Orange Blossom Vanilla, Honey Lavender, and Ethiopian Coffee. Aside from ice cream, Victory Garden sells goat milk-based products like brownies, cake with goat-cheese frosting, blondies, smoothies and coffee.
Get the books New York’s One-Food Wonders and Discovering Vintage New York. Next, check out the Top 10 Hidden Restaurants in New York City and 10 of Manhattan’s Best Hidden Underground Bars & Lounges. Get in touch with the author @sgeier97