If you are somebody who loves food as much as I do, living so close to NYC can be a little dangerous for your bank account and your waistband! Although Wagner’s food is delicious, sometimes it's a nice change to get away and find something else. My freshman year I faced this struggle, but had no clue where to go or what I was looking for. All I knew was that I wanted something cheap and tasty. I would usually end up at Chipotle or ShakeShack. Those are great, but when that’s the only option, they get old pretty fast.
I made it my mission to try as many new places as I could that were “off the beaten path” and that had great food for even better prices. I have lived at Wagner for three years now and I have found quite a few “hole in the wall” food joints that if you weren’t paying attention, you might walk right past. Here are three of my favorite places that you won’t find on any tourist “to-do” lists.
- Empanada Mama was one of the first places I found my freshman year. My friend had been there with her family and recommended it to me. This place changed my life. These are some of the most flavorful empanadas I have ever had. They are wrapped in a soft pastry shell and have beef, chicken, pork or vegan filling, with a grand total of over 40 different flavors. It has two locations, one near Hell’s Kitchen and the other in the Lower East Side. The restaurant serves food of mostly Colombian influence. They have a large menu with a variety of different kinds of food, but specialize in empanadas. “It’s a treat to be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
- Essex Taqueria may be the best taco place I have found in NYC. It is located on Essex street and Rivington St. and is one the easiest and fastest places to get to from Wagner. After getting off the ferry, walk a few blocks to the J train and take it 5 stops to Essex street. Once you get off the subway it’s only about half a block walk. There are only 10 chairs in the whole place, usually all full due to the restaurants popularity. If you weren’t looking for this place, you might walk right past it, but I can tell you that you don’t want to miss out on those tacos.
- The third place and my most recent find is Flip Sigi, a Filipino fusion restaurant. Similar to the other places, this one only seats about 16 people. It is located in the West Village and specializes in unique tacos, burritos, rice bowls, burgers and bao buns-- and the Instagram famous Cali burrito. A giant burrito stuffed with pork belly, pulled chicken, sour cream, crispy fries, avocado, and more! There is also an amazing list of specials that is always being changed and updated. For anybody who loves new and unique food, this is the place to go!
After three years of exploring the city, I can tell you that some of the best places with the best food might be tiny or look a little sketchy or be down a dark ally, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.
There are a few questions to ask to judge if a place is gonna be good.
- What’s the health rating in the window? If it’s an A it’s OK!
- Are there other there are people in the restaurant? If yes, it can’t be too bad.
- Does the food/resturaunt have a presence online? People don’t post pictures on instagram of bad food.
- Does it look/smell good? If yes, EAT IT!