Monday, March 31, 2014

Best Rainy Day Trip

Saturday I bussed down to Philadelphia to spend the day hanging out with Jenica, Carol and Ryan.

The first stop of the adventure was Philadelphia's famed Federal Donuts (where, if you were wondering about the logo, you can also buy fried chicken—like it says under the logo).

The establishment's treasure are its fried-to-order fresh hot donuts.

But the room temperature donuts aren't so bad, either.

Philadelphia stuff:

Then we went to the Mutter Museum to see its famous collection of medical abnormalities. Photos aren't allowed inside the museum and I didn't even remember to take a picture of the outside of the museum, but here's the outside of the building around the corner from the Mutter.

Then I got to spend some personal time at that museum with the steps.

Later that day we'd be talking about movies set in Philadelphia and the only one I could name would be The Sixth Sense.

Wouldn't dream of it.

I actually didn't see the Korea exhibit. I felt like they over-sold it a little.

Some of the stuff I did see, though.

Then we reconvened for lunch/dinner at Los Gallos, a place Carol had researched up.

The mood struck me to try their Torta Cubana. I am grateful for that mood. It was a very, very good monster.

And, when unwrapped, discovered to be much larger than I had dared to fear.

The tacos al pastor weren't at all shabby, either.

Then we went and watched Ryan headline at the Helium Comedy Club. (No pictures allowed!) After his set we met with local Ryan fans in the green room to ask Ryan the questions he must be asked all the time.

Look at me, I'm in a green room! (And posing for my Presidential Portrait)

And then it was time to go wait for my bus and then ride on my bus home to New York. The bus entered the city through Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I've never had a Chinatown Bus approach Manhattan so sneakily. What an exciting way to end a good day.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Best Local Spot Worth Knowing About

In the shadow of Manhattan Central Booking, on a nondescript stretch (Walker to Bayard) of a nondescript street (Baxter), between a Vietnamese restaurant and bail bond businesses, you'll find the Breakroom, an unassuming little establishment just minding it's business and getting things done. After three visits (the first late at night during a snowstorm as it was one of the only places still open in the Chinatown, the second and third this Wednesday and Thursday) I'm ready to say this is a solid neighborhood spot worth a visit from other neighborhoods.

The Breakroom menu can basically be broken down into three categories: Burgers, Tacos, and Fries (with some salad and hot dog options in there, too). On my snowstorm visit, and on my return Wednesday, I tried their trademark "Breakroom Fries"—a mix of crispy french fries and tater tots topped with pork belly, bacon, a runny fried egg, and cheese.

It wasn't until my second visit that I tried their trademark Breakroom Burger, a lovely 6 oz patty topped with pork belly, fried onion halves, fried egg, lettuce and tomato.

On second visit I also sampled some tacos, Steak, Chicken and Fish. The fish one was especially nice.

The menu reminds me of Roy Choi's magnificent Chego and Kogi truck in LA and the food is the JV equivalent of Choi's cuisine (this isn't a slam, it's an endorsement of how stinkin' great Chego and Kogi are and good company for the Breakroom to be in). I think each dish just needs one more ingredient, something spicy or funky, like kimchi (which you can order as an extra) on the burger and in the tacos...I mean, as the tacos are flirting with Asian-ness, why not go all the way?

At Chego meal number two I noticed an add for their Happy Hour menu and, low and behold, found myself back on Thursday afternoon to give it a shot.

And on visit three I noticed this leftover from the Breakroom's grand opening. Even if there was competition, these would still be the best burgers and tacos in Chinatown.

As advertised above, 99 problems but a hot sauce ain't one. Seating in the restaurant is all around a bar and the bar is completely lined with hot sauces (as well as hand sanitizer an the occasional bottle of Italian dressing or A1).

The $2 portion of their Thai's really, really good. It hits the flavor notes that I wished some of the other dishes went for. I see there's a chili dog and chili fries on the menu, both might be in need of trying out soon.

Chicken tacos and pork belly tacos are also available for $2 a piece during happy hour. The chicken is all right but the pork belly taco is really, really good.

Also of note: Breakroom has one of the friendliest staffs around. Extremely personable, hip but friendly, and they'll never let your water cup go without a refilling. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Best Long Story Short

One more thing about my trip to LA.

My last night there I went to a taping of Doug Loves Movies, a favorite podcast of mine, where my Tacos hat was plucked from the audience and thrust into the spotlight by Kumail Nanjiani, a comedian you may or may not have heard of and may or may not have seen on TV but didn't realize his name was Kumail. This is a screencap from a Vine that host Doug Benson posted.

Kumail wound up winning the evening's Leonard Maltin Game, which meant my Tacos hat and I won the evening's prize bag...included in the prize bag was the DLM t-shirt (size "Totally Small") seen below. I tweeted it at Doug and Kumail, Doug retweeted, 21,000 views of my tweet followed (I'm not much of Twitter fiend so this definitely counts as the biggest dipping of my toe into those waters). With luck this means I'll see more new friends in new Tacos hats out in the world.

And if you want to hear the episode, you can download it here (look for the March 5th episode). Be forewarned that good-natured profanity abounds. Tacos hat becomes a star around minute 26.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Best Order of These

Up bright and early and on the Upper West Side Friday morning to visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. 

Because a couple of Phoenixes live there for the time being.

They are big, made of materials from construction sites, and Chinese.

There is a boy one and a girl one but you'd have to ask an employee which is which to really know the difference.

Item of Note: I have never been to or around St. John's without seeing a High School Choir Group there, even at 9am.

Things seen outside of the Cathedral