Yellow Rose in East Village

There’s a little bit of Texas in the East Village, in the form of a newish Tex-Mex restaurant called Yellow Rose. The restaurant captures the saloon-like vibe of a low-key bar you would find on Austin’s Sixth Street somewhere. Walking in here and looking at all the dark wood paneling reminded me of something you would find in Frontierland. The food, though, is much better than anything you would find at Disneyland (although prices are probably similarly high). If you’ve ever had a hankering for queso and good breakfast tacos, Yellow Rose should be your go-to spot.

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La Cabra in East Village

La Cabra is a Denmark-based coffee shop that recently opened a NYC outpost in the East Village. It has all the credentials of a proper coffee shop – a commitment to sourcing the best beans, refining its roasting technique to maximize the beans, being mindful of the seasonality of the beans, etc. But what really brings me back repeatedly to La Cabra are the baked goods. I always look inside the display case, intending on buying just one pastry to bring back home, but then I end up buying two or three. The pastries are that good. There is a very minimalist Nordic aspect to them. They’re not cute sweet buns with smiley faces or beautiful cakes with meticulously pipetted icing. They’re straightforward in their visual presentation but there are subtle layers to the flavors and textures that make them very memorable. La Cabra is a coffeeshop first and foremost, but in my opinion, it is one of the best bakeries in New York City.

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Hip Korean American food at Nowon in East Village

Nowon, the new Korean restaurant in the East Village, specializes in a genre of food I like to call “Asian American” fusion food. It’s been popularized by the likes of Roy Choi of Kogi and Pot in LA, as well as Dale Talde, Chef Jae Lee’s old boss at Rice & Gold. Lately the trend in Asian food seems to be either elevating a cuisine (fine dining Korean at Atomix or Jungsik as an example), or to be super authentic and introduce a regional cuisine unfamiliar to American audiences (mixian noodles, Taiwanese noodle soup, etc). Asian American fusion food, though, truly mashes up the two different cuisines together. Normally the foundation of the dish is a familiar comfort food, like a hamburger, served with Asian embellishments like kimchi or gochujang. And of course it can go the other way around, like spicy korean tteokbokki rice cakes sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

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Grilled Pizza at Violet

Where do we draw the line between calling something a pizza vs. a flatbread with toppings? This is the question I struggle with when I think about the pizzas at Violet, the new restaurant in the East Village run by Matt Hyland of Pizza Loves Emily fame. The specialty here is the Rhode Island style grilled pizza, but something about it feels so far removed from a traditional pie that the meal ends up being very unsatisfying. It’s the same type of feeling you get when you melt some cheese over a piece of bread in the microwave out of desperation to make a “pizza”, but despite the effort, the end result is anything but. The cheese is so subtle and scant that you can hardly taste it, and the crust lacks that bubbly, doughy chewiness that’s a trait in even the thinnest of New York crusts. You would do better with a box of Celeste frozen pizza than a slice of grilled pizza at Violet.

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