A Tribeca Alternative

Once again, my friend Joe has taken vacation leave, and left me in charge of his humble abode in Tribeca. After a three month stint here, I have grown attached once again, only to return to my dear Harlem flat.

Tribeca, in its current manifestation, is an odd neighborhood to figure out. With its million dollar lofts and baby carriages running amok, Triburbia would be a more apt moniker. There are a number of high filutin’ restaurants, some of which are quite good, but at the price, they’re not exactly a perfect Monday night choice. There’s Nobu, Danube, Bouley, and Chanterelle leading the pack, followed by Tribeca Grill, Harrison and Devin Tavern, Odeon, Arqua, Azafran, Bread Tribeca, Centrico, Mai House, etc. Landmarc stands apart from these in terms of quality/price ratio, and is the only one open late at night for people in the industry, like myself. There are however, a number of good places other than the aforementioned which I have separated into tiers.

Starting at first tier, or moderately expensive, casual and good are Landmarc, Bouley Upstairs, Takahachi, Nobu Nextdoor, and Blau Gans. I could probably add two or three more to the list, but the aforementioned have been more consistent. Landmark’s wine list always offers good value, and the late night snacks such as bone marro with sea salt and grilled bread is a winner. The sushi at Takahachi is very good and underrated. Some nights there is a special, silken tofu that will transform your feelings about it. Bouley Upstairs secretly has some of the best o-toro in town, as well as a great, fun ecclectic menu. Austrian pub is fab at Blau Gans, especially the schnitzels and weiners. Only order warm dishes at Nobu Nextdoor, like the black cod or the rock shrimp. None of these places are cheap, but you will find yourself returning more than once.

The second tier is a wave of places that fit in the middle. They are moderately priced and easy going kind of places. Look to Petite Abeille, Edward’s, the newly opened Max, Salaam Bombay, Viet Cafe, Industria Argentina, Bubby’s, The Little American Place, Kitchenette, etc. These places have specials, especially for lunch. Try the buffet at Salaam Bombay, or the five dollar banh mi at Viet Cafe. Max serves a slew of inexpensive pastas and pannini, and Petite Abeille and Edward’s always offers some value during the weeknights.

The third tier is fast food, and there are many good ones. Bon Bon just opened up for Korean fried chicken, and oh my god is it addictive. Next to Bon Bon is Sylvia’s for classic Cuban fare. Province serves great pork buns. A couple of good Indian spots dot West Broadway near Chambers, such as Pakistan Tea House, as well as fast food sushi venues. Then there’s WichCraft, Panne e Peppe, and Bazzini’s for the sandwich market. The best diner is Square, near the Franklin Street station.

Then there are the bakeries. Ceci Cela serves great omelettes and overall pastries, but Bouley Bakery takes the cake. The croissants alone define its character and commitment. Another lovely bakery is Duane Park, where the cookies and cupcakes are king.

I am sure I have left a couple of place out of my reflections, this being my last week in Tribeca for some time.

Bars exist, and I am partial to the Other Room for beers, and the bar at Landmark. I just can’t figure out the other bars or their vibes. The best wine shop is easily Chambers Street, with a fine selection and excellent staff, frequent tastings and overall standard of excellence.

The flavor of the neighborhood is changing once again, what with the buildings on Greenwich being converted into luxury, market rate housing. Where will the people go? This is a condition of New York City, not just Tribeca.

I had one banging meal just before I go, what with the indoor grill available to me. Quail, baby lamb chops, piquillos stuffed with blood sausage, sweetbreads in panko with alioli, montaditos de boquerones, and hand carved jamon Serrano from the leg, chorizo, a lovely cheese course from Murray’s, and a homemade olive oil loaf courtesy of my friend Yaellie. Wine highlights were a 1995 Miguel Merrino Reserva, and a Bourgogne Aligote from Domaine Roulot. Throw in a Super Tuscan and a Brezeme from Eric Texier. Not bad for city living.

All in all, I will miss Tribeca, but luckily it’s just a train ride away.