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. 

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