You’ve undoubtedly heard of a pub crawl, but what about a food crawl? It’s a great way to try a bunch of different restaurants and explore a neighborhood, especially one with a variety of cuisines. The Accidental Locavore was part of a junk food crawl through New York’s East Village on a warm spring night recently. We were a group of eight; a couple of chefs, a few foodies and a brave soul or two. The rules were simple and like the evening, flexible; food had to be able to be eaten outside, standing up. There was an initial group discussion to pick the general direction and possible theme for the evening (hot dogs).
We started off down St. Mark’s Place. A few steps in, my husband spotted Mamoun’s, a falafel joint he’s talked about for years. Before we knew what happened, he was inside with one of the guys, grabbing a couple of lamb shawarmas. Delicious! Lamb, freshly grilled, piled high in a pita with hot sauce, which quickly made you think of another good rule for a food crawl: wear dark clothing, so the first bite of something doesn’t show up on light-colored pants!
Moving down the block, and back on the hot dog theme, the next stop was Japadog. Believe it or not, it’s a Japanese-inspired hotdog stand by way of Vancouver (undoubtedly, the first two places that come to mind when you think of hot dogs). Trying to keep things under control, we only ordered four dogs, Croquette, Love Meat, Terimayo and Negi Miso. Now, I don’t know what passes for a hotdog in Vancouver, but I would call these sausages. They were interesting, but unlike the ones we’ve been getting from the country, not going to make me a convert.
After two main courses, time to revert to an appetizer course. Around the corner, Pommes Frites, a tiny shop with one thing on the menu: fries. You have your choice of about thirty different dipping sauces, ranging from classics: malt vinegar or ketchup to odd-ball things like Irish curry and peanut satay sauce. Two big cones of thick-cut frites with four different dipping sauces were quickly consumed. The fries were really good, if a little too thick-cut for my tastes.
To walk off the fries, we headed down the block to Currywurst, another culture’s variation on hotdogs. Unfortunately, the place was packed, so we headed on. On our way back to St. Mark’s Place, we passed an interesting storefront with a pile of mozzarella and three big wheels of Parmesan in the window. Turned out to be a tiny pizza joint that a couple of the guys had passed but never tried. Eddie and I decided that in the spirit of the food crawl, we owed it to everyone to pop in and grab a slice or two. This was really good pizza! Lots of fresh basil on a good tomato sauce and a good crust. The guy behind the counter was kind enough to slice it up in little pieces so we could share it with the gang.
After that it really was time for dessert. We decided on a new-to-all-of-us place that my friend Peter recommended; Spot Dessert Bar. It’s another interesting clash of cultures; Japanese-inspired tapas desserts. Attempting moderation we ordered five tapas ranging from smoked coconut cheesecake to a crèpe stuffed with ricotta and mangos. As with all Asian desserts, I found them all to be incredibly sweet.
My favorite? Has to be the shawarma from Mamoun’s, with the pizza from South Brooklyn Pizza coming in second. Are you inspired to try a food crawl in your town? Grab a bunch of friends, the more, the merrier, wear some washable clothes and give it a shot!