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Apr 29, 2008 10:22 AM

absolutely delicious take-out snacks/treats around Manhattan?

I'll be visiting Manhattan at the beginning of July with 5 non-chowish friends for a bachelorette weekend. I'll let the bride-to-be decide where she wants to eat, but in any free time I have, I'm hoping to seek out the best tasting snacks/treats/street eats I can find to meet my foodie reqs.

I'm hoping to make a trip to the Donut Plant, and might make a visit to the arepa place in the East Village that I visited about 4 years ago. I'm not really into cupcakes, but I'd be especially interested in suggestions for empanadas.

I'll be staying in Midtown, but I'm looking forward to trips around town in search of treats I can't find in Toronto.

If you only had 3 days in the city, and were focusing on snacks roughly the size and caloric load of an empanada, rice ball or a donut, etc., where would you go?

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  1. ruben's empanadas is good-on 1st avenue in the east village

    im with you on cupcakes-but the banana pudding at magnolia is amazing!!

    Magnolia Bakery
    401 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

    1 Reply
    1. re: cocoloco14

      Thanks, cocoloco14! Which empanadas do you like the best at Ruben's?

      If I find myself in the West Village, I'll have to give Magnolia's banana pudding a try;)

    2. All of these are in midtown:

      * empanadas, arepas and ok tamales: Empanada Mama
      * Jamaican patties: Jamaican Dutchy
      * chaat / Indian sweets: Sukhadia's (might have to give the downhill alert for this place, though)
      * fried chicken, mac & cheese, collard greens (all in small, snack sized portions): Piece O' Chicken

      Jamaican Dutchy
      W 51st St and 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019

      17 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036

      Empanada Mama
      763 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

      6 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        Thanks cimui, I'll have to check these places out.

        1. re: phoenikia

          Skipp Jamican patties from referenced cart. We took 1 bite and tossed it. That cart does sell OK food generally, but the patties are weak. You need to go to a real patty shop in Brooklyn, Bronx or even Queens for a decent Jamican Patty, especially if you're coming from Tornonto where there is a huge West Indian population and great food. In a pinch, you can go to Golden Crust in Manhattan, but that's pretty much it.

          Jamaican Dutchy
          W 51st St and 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019

          Golden Krust
          105 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

          1. re: Ora

            hi ora, i fully admit to not being a jamaican patty expert -- i only know what i like -- but jamaican dutchy's were more to my taste than golden krust's for two reasons: the filling was plentiful and the pastry was nicely layered and flakey.

            what was your objection?

            i do agree with you that jamaican dutchy's forte is not the patty; the jerk chicken is the much stronger draw for me. (don't really like the curry chicken.)

            1. re: Ora

              ya golden crust is just a tiny bit better than the tower isles crap sold in most of the pizzerias in new york city unfortunately. have to admit that I haven't had any patties in nyc since sampling the real island fare two summers ago; nothing compares to a fresh dozen from juicy patty (which I did take on the plane in a convenient travel pack that they have; I wasn't the only one either!)

              1. re: bigjeff

                Go to Kingston Tropical Bakery in the BX or another good dedicated patty shop in the outer boros and you wont buy patties in Manhattan--anywhere. Kingston Tropical has a far better supplier than Duchy or Golden crust, then they bake the patties fresh all day on the spot in the bakery. The coco bread is great there too. I don't know there isn't a truly good patty to be find on this island. Duchy's patty is poorly flavored and low meat quality. Golden Crust is a franchise chain, which is only slightly better. Trust me--take the train and get great patty--elsewhere.

                1. re: Ora

                  Very cool. Thanks for the tip, Ora! Kingston sounds like a good excuse for me to take a field trip.

        2. Good Argentinian empanadas at the bakery on 8th Avenue just south of 14th Street in the West Village. And a couple blocks down on Hudson, phenomenal British pies at Myers of Keswick. Don't miss tiny pork buns, either, at New Green Bo or Moon House.

          Myers of Keswick
          634 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

          Nice Green Bo
          66 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

          13 Replies
          1. re: JungMann

            Thanks JungMann! Are the tiny pork buns baked or steamed?

            I checked out Myers of Keswick- looks good. In addition to their savoury pies, do they sell any British sweet pastries like Eccles cakes or Bakewell tart? I could only find meat pies/pasties and groceries on their website.

            1. re: phoenikia

              The tiny buns I like at Moon House are fried. They're not xiao long bao. However when they're steamed at New Green Bo, they are indeed soup dumplings. Both are good, but the fried tiny buns at Moon House were my first introduction to Chinese dumplings.

              Myer's sadly has no freshly baked sweets. But you can certainly get Lammingtons (and Aussie pies!) at Tuck Shop. While in the Village, you might want to also stop by the automat at Bamn! It's not exactly gourmet, but there is something deeply satisfying about getting warm croquettes out of a machine.

              On the very off chance that you find yourself in Spanish Harlem, I highly recommend a stop at the cuchifritos stand on 116th between 3rd and Lexington. Their pastelitos are crunchy and brimming with a brightly flavored mincemeat filling. Their morcillas and chicharron are equally inviting (though probably not on the same fat calorie scale as rice ball!). On the West Side, Silver Moon Bakery is known for their macarons (although I am no huge fan) and Levain Bakery for their massive chocolate chip cookies.

              Tuck Shop
              68 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

              Silver Moon Bakery
              2740 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

              Levain Bakery
              167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023

              168 E 116th St, New York, NY 10029

              1. re: JungMann

                The tiny buns sound great- I've never tried a fried tiny bun before.

                Not sure I'll make it up to Spanish Harlem on this trip, but the pastelitos you describe sound delish!

                1. re: phoenikia

                  ya those are great, called "shen-jian-bao" basically, like, fried on the bottom but then they add water while cooking, so the top steams as well. the filling is just as soupy as soup dumplings. very inexpensive too. I heard rumors moon house was closing unfortunately, really hope not, one of my favorite easy places in chinatown.

                  1. re: bigjeff

                    Noooooo! First Mei Lai Wah, now Moon House?! That's my husband's fav lunch spot. :( I hope they don't have to close.

                    PS. the fried tiny buns are very good.

            2. re: JungMann

              I Think the bakery is called Sweet Heart. It has some pretty great coffee as well.

              1. re: JungMann

                At New Green Bo (now called Nice Green Bo) they're called "steamed tiny buns" on the menu. Steamed tiny buns = xiao long bao = soup dumplings. Not sure if you are easily get these in Toronto...

                1. re: kathryn

                  Not only are they easy to get in Toronto, I think they've got a better xiao long bao scene than NY.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    Miss Needle, you're correct that they are fairly easy to find in TO- but my first taste of xiao long bao was at Joe's Shanghai in 1997!

                    Joe's Shanghai
                    9 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: phoenikia

                      Well, Joe's is still around if you want to drop by for old time's sake. : )

                      And my first experience too was at Joe's -- probably around '95. It was quite a revelation for me.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        Agreed with Miss Needle that you can get much better soup dumplings in Toronto.

                        In general, I think you can skip Chinese food as a whole, since it is much better in Toronto.

                  2. re: kathryn

                    Ok...I was picturing tiny char siu bao. Thanks for clearing that up;)

                  3. re: JungMann

                    Great tip on Myers. For some reason, I never remember to recommend this place, but it is very delicious.

                  4. I like cimui's suggestions for Empananda Mama in Hell's Kitchen.

                    Those 4 or 5 for a dollar dumpling places in Chinatown (near Donut Plant) may be of interest to you. They also sell sesame pancakes for $1.50. My favorite is Prosperity. But as I see you're from Toronto, you may want to pass as I think Toronto has superb Chinese food compare to Manhattan. In Midtown east, you've got Cafe Zaiya for some Japanese snacks like croquettes, mochi donuts (they're very good) and cream puffs. And there are delicious fries at Pommes Frites in the East Village with different dipping sauces.

                    And I hope I don't get flamed for this suggestion, but there's White Castle on 8th Ave in the mid 30s. As I don't think Toronto has a WC around, you may want to try it as it's quite a different experience. A slider is about 50 cents or so. Perfect snacking material.

                    Pommes Frites
                    123 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    Prosperity Dumpling
                    46 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

                    Cafe Zaiya
                    18 E 41st St, New York, NY 10017

                    White Castle
                    525 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      Oh, you've got Oms-B in Midtown if you're in the mood for riceballs.

                      156 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        good one, i forgot to mention oms/b. some people find it a little pricey for "just rice balls", but it's a nice place to go if you don't live in a place where you have easy access to them and don't make them yourself. they have a lot of interesting fillings/toppings.

                      2. re: Miss Needle

                        I'v been meaning to try Pommes Frites on other trips- which of their sauces do you like the best, Miss Needle?

                        Are the mochi donuts super-chewy?

                        Toronto does not have a WC, although interestingly Harold and Kumar visit WC was mostly filmed in TO. Not sure I'll make a special trip to try a slider, but if I happen to be hungry and in the neighbourhood, I might give WC a try;)

                        1. re: phoenikia

                          I think the place has been under so many different people that the sauces have changed. But the last time I was there (run by Filipinos), my favorites were the curry sauce and a spicy sweet sauce that was off-menu that the guy gave to me for free to try it out. It definitely had an Asian flair and was made with Sambal. But as it wasn't on the menu, I don't know what it's called. But they do give samples of the sauces.

                          And the mochi donuts aren't super chewy like mochi but do have a bit of stickiness to it. Generally I'm not a fan of donuts but am only willing (at this moment) to eat these three:

                          1. mochi donut
                          2. Donut Plant cake donuts (the yeast ones are too heavy and greasy for my taste)
                          3. bombolini or malasada

                          Oh, you might also like something like Roomali for roti rolls. Really delicious. DH and I once spent a day doing what you're doing instead of eating meals. It was fun!

                          97 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            Fries here are just a bit of a come-down from what they once were. Can't figure out why, but I no longer make this a destination.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Pommes Frites is a great call. I also found it somewhat jarring to see Filipinos tossing around Belgian fries, but speaking in Tagalog gets me the benefit of free sauces. My favorite is the war sauce (frites sauce, peanut satay and raw onions), although I find it a little hard to choose plain old frites over poutine, as inauthentic as it might be.

                              1. re: JungMann

                                The war sauce sounds great- If I don't make it to Pommes Frites during the trip, I might have to try combining satay and frites on my own one of these days.

                                1. re: JungMann

                                  OMG, how did I forget about Pommes Frites! Soooo good! My favorite sauces are vietnamese pineapple, pomegranate teriyaki, and roasted garlic. Just beware--those paper cones fit a lot more fries than you'd expect.

                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                  Thanks Miss Needle...might have to sample a couple sauces.

                                  The mochi donuts sound interesting. I'm not usually a big fan of donuts but I've been craving a good one lately for some reason & figured I might find that in a Donut Plant donut.

                              2. re: Miss Needle

                                There is also a Cafe Zaiya in the EV if you happen to be passing by, it's on 3rd Avenue between 7th and St Marks. Pinkberry is also around the corner - not sure if the frozen yogurt trend has hit Toronto yet.

                                Also nearby is the Beard Papa on Astor Place. Mmmm, cream puffs.

                                Cafe Zaiya
                                69 Cooper Sq, New York, NY 10003

                                24 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Thanks for that info. I had no idea about the EV Cafe Zaiya. Was actually in that area today after a lovely meal at Ippudo. If I had known, I would have picked something up.

                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                  10 Dumplings for $3 at Super Taste absolutely crush Prosperity Dumplings (and just about all other pork-based dumplings) to smitherines. Try them immediately and you will NOT be disappointed.


                                  Super Taste
                                  26 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

                                  1. re: FuDee

                                    very different dumplings, no? the super taste ones are boiled dumplings served wet, prosperity's are delicious pan-fried joints. unless they now have pan-fried at super taste, I'm still big on prosperity

                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                      Agreed- wet and boiled vs fried and doughy. Different. But dumpling vs. dumpling, Super Taste takes the title.

                                3. In terms of just good ol' street food, I love the gyros from the cart at the corner of 2nd Ave & 43rd St. (weekdays only, generally midday). They're just $3, which is even better. My only gripe is the lack of raw onions, but hey, again, $3, plus all the delicious grease you need :). Since you'll be in Midtown, it'd be an easy quick lunch.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: porceluna

                                    If you're not from Chicago I highly recommend Garrett's Popcorn on 34th and 8th. They have divine cheese and caramel corn and the Chi way is to get the mix. When it's warm it's at its best and it makes great snack food. But be warned that your fingers will turn orange and you will be addicted. :)

                                    Garrett Popcorn
                                    242 W 34th St, New York, NY 10123

                                    1. re: bostonfoodie111

                                      Will try to remember to check this out. Sweet, salty and cheesy;) Sounds like a great combination.

                                    2. re: porceluna

                                      Thanks for the tip- haven't tried the gyros in NYC. It's funny- I lived 1 block away from that corner in the late 90s and I don't remember any gyros in the vicinity.
                                      Are the gyros at 2nd & 43rd the chopped and formed type, or the random pieces of meat stacked on a spit type?