I’m back in the East Village! The power came back last Friday, and although it was nice to spend some quality time with the family, there’s just so many nights one can attempt sleep on a hard, Korean grain-filled pillow, and just so many days one can watch the Disney channel (my nephew’s station of choice) without going mad. So I’m back. It’s good to be home. And it’s almost back to normal downtown. Almost…
I thought Sunday would be a good day to restock the refrigerator, but unfortunately, Key Food on Avenue A hadn’t yet.
Luckily, there was one carton of regular eggs left. Five dollars for free-range eggs? No thanks.
As for Tompkins, there wasn’t too much damage. The bent elm tree next to the Hare Krishna Tree is still bent but still standing, although it did lose a lot of branches.
Elsewhere, there were more broken and fallen branches.
Street lights and traffic lights, for the most part are all back up, except along Avenue C near 14th Street, but some like the pedestrian crossing signal on 9th Street remain a bit confused. After Sandy though, I’m under the impression wrong lights are still better than no lights.
It seems the worst hit in the area are the restaurants and restaurant employees. Many businesses remain closed, and the ones that are open are struggling due to a loss of revenue, a loss of inventory, and a loss of traffic. FEMA and insurance can partially help the business owners, but for restaurant workers who live paycheck to paycheck, there’s no assistance that will cover their losses. So what can you do? It’s really quite easy, especially if you eat out all the time anyway. Eat downtown. You may have seen #eatdowntown on Twitter. This is what it’s all about. And if you can afford it, #eatdowntipup. Your server/delivery person will be forever grateful.
Where to go? There’s many options.
For breakfast, grab a flaky chocolate croissant ($3) at the newly opened Croissanteria. If chocolate doesn’t do it for you and you can’t decide what to get, order a few mini pastries. Three minis and a coffee will cost you $6.
Or if you need more sustenance of the fried kind, fried pierogi ($7.50 for a combination) await at Odessa, our local greasy spoon. David and I usually order the cheese and sauerkraut and mushroom.
If you need something sweeter, but still fried, there’s also blintzes, plain or your choice of five fillings. Cherry ($6.50) usually works for me.
Later for lunch or dinner, if you want thin-crust pizza, the cracker-like pizzas at Gruppo are as thin as they come. I usually like to make my own combination of hot sausage and peppers, but David likes the plain with marinara and cheese ($7).
But if you need something hot and comforting, especially after nor’easter Athena last night, nothing can beat a bowl of warm pozole verde ($12.95) with shredded chicken, made with ground pumpkin seeds in the Guerrero-style from Sabor A Mexico.
It comes with half an avocado, lime, dried oregano, chopped raw onions, and raw jalapenos, so you can garnish as you please. I throw in a bit of everything along with a handful of thick, fried tortilla chips broken into little pieces. On a cold night, it makes for an amazingly satisfying and filling meal.
Although a few corn quesadillas with chorizo ($8.50) on the side definitely doesn’t hurt.
And remember, if you can, tip a little extra, even if you’re not eating at the restaurant. Remember, the delivery people were affected by Sandy also. At Sabor a Mexico last night, I saw one guy on the way out for a delivery in a pair of shorts. For god’s sake, in shorts in a snow storm! What the hell?! Who knows why, but all I know is that he definitely deserved a fat tip.
And for dessert, don’t forget the downtown pastry and dessert shops that need your help too. Macaron Parlour opened a few weeks before Sandy, and post-Sandy, when the East Village was dark, they opened with hot coffee and macarons with the help of a generator. When I stopped by earlier this week, Simon, the husband of the husband-wife team, told me they still don’t have power in their apartment in Chinatown. But even still, he had a huge smile on his face. I wish I looked like that after a long day of work.
There’s lots of macaron flavors to choose from at Macaron Parlour, and while they aren’t the best macarons in town, they definitely have the most interesting flavors. Cheetos was quite weird and made my fingers stink of cheese long after I was done, but honey cognac, although not boozy, was quite nice with a light and airy filling. A pretty box of six costs $15.
So do what you do best. Eat up, or in this case, eat down. And if you want to help further, there are many ways to do so. Good luck and stay warm!
119 Ave A (b/n St. Marks & 7th St; map)
New York, NY 10009
Sabor a Mexico Taqueria
160 1st Ave (b/n 9th & 10th St; map)
New York, NY 10003