HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >



  • r

I would really like to go, but am slightly apprehensive given all I have read and heard about how fickle the Shopsin's can be about who they serve. They seem to like regulars but we are tourists and would only be going once.
Is it really as difficult as I have heard, to be allowed to stay? I am aware of the 'rules' and we are generally quite amiable, not loud or obnoxious or demanding. I have a fear of being thrown out. Guess I have taken 'eat me' and 'I like killing flies' too much to heart!
I have researched the menu and would really like to try the sliders amongst other things..

Myth? or fact?

Shopsin's General Store
120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Myth. Just go, sit down wherever you want, and enjoy. I actually had the sliders the other day and they were great. Have fun. Remember, Shopsin's is still in business to make money. They can't turn away all the customers they don't like or they wouldn't be able to pay rent. This is especially true in this challenging economic environment. The prices are on the high side for American comfort food so don't be concerned about acting the right way. They'll be happy to have you...

    1. rekha, i used to live right across the street from the old location of shopsins and eat there semi-frequently without incident. i knew shopsin is a bit grouchy at times and he has a dirty mouth, but i never really knew the extent of the cultish allure or the stories about shopsin's bad temper until chowhound and calvin trillin's new yorker article.

      just take it for what it is: a decent diner serving interesting, off the beaten path versions of comfort food, owned by a normalish man who is sometimes very grouchy and sometimes very nice like other normalish people (unless he's gotten a lot worse with fame and notoriety). he does have a dirtier than average mouth -- but i guess i find that more endearing than anthing. ;)

      3 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        Ditto. I've never had a problem. Just I go in with an open mind (don't be scandalized if Kenny comes out and drops the f-bomb a few times after arguing with one of his daughters), no allergies, no special requests, no entree modifications. His daughters and sons are quite nice people! Kenny....he's cranky but loveable. Although given the publicity they've gotten recently, I wouldn't be surprised if a few newbies have been wearing him down.

          1. re: chocolatebirthdaycake

            I don't think they do food to go.. I think I will just go and see what happens, the allure of the sliders and a chocolate malted milkshake is proving too strong! Thanks for the advice.

        1. re: spankyhorowitz

          Essex Street Market. Next to Saxelby's Cheese. Note that the market is closed on Sundays.


            1. re: kathryn

              Their site you linked to shows Sunday hours of 10-3.

              1. re: NuMystic

                This thread is from 2008, the hours changed! :)

                1. re: kathryn

                  Hi Kathryn and co.! You guys seem to be brunch gurus so I was wondering if you have a guess as to wait time for brunch for 2 on a Sunday at 12 pm at Shopsin's?

                  Thanks so much!

                  1. re: inkydinky

                    It might be 1-1.5 hours before you sit, and it takes the food a while to come out after you order too, as they are usually slammed on weekends. They only have three tables for two, and thee counter stools. They cut the line off at 1:45pm.

                    Note: they don't take down names, people stand in line waiting. Every once in a while the server comes back to check on the line.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      thanks kathryn ... wait sounds long and stringent. sigh.

            1. There have always been remarks made about hygiene at Shopsin's. Kenny was preparing something on Letterman recently and he did something that Dave made fun of as being less than hygienic and Kenny said, "hey, I washed my hands!", which I thought might have been defensiveness about the issue. Things are not spanking clean, but, if you have a sense of humour, you probably can get by a glass being a little filmy or a general shabbiness that you have to wonder whether it continues in the kitchen clean-up methods. I don't find the place to be a model of spotlessness, shall we say...

              1. Don't worry about it. They are particularly welcoming of large groups with children, and will basically customize their dishes to suit your taste.

                6 Replies
                1. re: EarlyBird

                  Wait what? This is in direct opposition to what countless other reviews have stated over and over. Or are you suggesting that they will do this specifically if you have children… because they are certainly not known to do so for adults.

                  1. re: NuMystic

                    I imagine that EarlyBird is being sarcastic, but it would've nice to have some signal. Kenny does indeed like little kids, but don't dream of a party of more than four, and don't tempt fate by asking for substitutions on the menu. Anything that violates the social contract that Kenny envisions with his customers is grounds for getting chased away.

                    1. re: americanafan

                      Of course it was sarcasm, egads. Read the post just after waking up and my sleep addled sarcasm receptors were clearly not firing. Thanks for the obliging reply. :)

                      1. re: NuMystic

                        Sarcasm for sure. It doesn't always translate well into print. Sorry.

                        1. re: EarlyBird

                          Nah, I'm the one that's sorry. The comment was hilarious once I read it again without being half-asleep. Carry on. :)

                  2. re: EarlyBird

                    Heh. This made me chuckle. It wasn't very nice though. ;-) It would make a great story to be cursed out and expelled from Shopsin's. Anyone would remember that far longer than whatever they (would have!) had for breakfast.

                  3. I love shopsin's and ate there many times without incident when i lived nearby, although i did see kenny curse out a nice old woman once who poked her head in and asked what the name of the restaurant was. he was in the middle of talking about pernil with this young regular customer, who didn't seem to know what to do as kenny was outright telling the lady to go [ahem] herself. the poor young guy seemed torn between telling the woman the answer to her question or risk his dining privileges there forever. he chose to keep his mouth shut.

                    as mean as it was to the old lady...i have to say, looking back on that day, it was kind of hilarious.

                    you're fine at shopsins as long as you're not annoyingly picky, asking for substitutions and special circumstances and whatnot. the food's worth it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: emilia

                      I took my seventeen year old son to Shopsin's two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning. We arrived as they were opening, were seated. and had a nice breakfast. The mac 'n cheese pancakes were terrific, particularly with the addition of maple syrup AND hot sauce. I look forward to a trip back for sliders and salads some time soon. No odd happenings that morning at all. Just a nice breakfast, good coffee, and a big check. Ahem.

                      Shopsin's General Store
                      120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                    2. Since I see this thread is active again, I have to ask - My husband and I tried to go to Shopsins during a visit in December. Have been to most of the highly recommended brunch places (The Breslin, Locanda Verde, Clinton St. Baking Co., Minetta Tavern plus others) and really wanted to try this out. Never even made it in! Kenny was sitting on a stool near the entrance, looked us up and down and declared "we're closed", although they were very clearly open and serving other customers. I have been trying to figure out what went wrong and if we somehow broke some rules (even though I can't see how that would have been possible). I keep wondering if we were wearing something wrong (although we were both dressed normally, I promise!). It was around 1-1:30 on a Wednesday, so I am hoping that it was just because they were actually closing soon and not taking more customers! Does anyone have an opinion on this? I am definitely going to try to go again on my next trip (probably in July). Being denied has made for a pretty funny story, but I really want to try the food!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: jovialetr

                        They close around 2pm anyway, if you were there at 1:30pm, they maybe just wanted to call it quits for the day. He's a cranky old man, after all.

                        1. re: jovialetr

                          Their hours are until 2pm, so they may well not have been taking more customers. But where anyone else might have explained why they could not serve you in a reasonably polite way, this grunt is just one more case for taking your money elsewhere. And it's also a little sick when posters even look forward to the excitement of getting"expelled" from this joke of a place.

                          1. re: bob96

                            Here's the thing with Shopsin's-- it really shouldn't be in the same category as The Breslin, Clinton St. Baking, Minetta, etc. Their crankiness is part of the entertainment. There's a documentary about Shopsin's called "I Like Killing Flies," which probably did great deal for their public likeability. I'm not saying that everyone should watch this film. But it's really entertaining and touching. It brings you into the weird world that Kenny Shopsin (and his kids) inhabit. Their food is not what anyone could call "fine dining." It's not junk food, but I'll call it "junky." It's really tasty. It's the kind of food you dream up when you've been out drinking and you're hungry and you only have two eggs, a can of green chiles, a can of coconut milk and half a jar of orange marmalade. Everything on their 900+ item menu is weird like that... but it's all really tasty. Not "fine." Also, it's pretty inexpensive.

                            bob96 - I wouldn't say that Shopsin's is a joke. But I also wouldn't say that it's a *serious* restaurant either. They have plenty of business. They have more customers than they want, actually. So they don't really care about being nice. For all of their/his gruffness, it's not personal.

                            1. re: egit

                              Kenny reminds me of Poochie from Wiener's Circle in Chicago. That would make a great couple!

                          2. re: jovialetr

                            Thanks for the responses! Glad to hear it most likely had to do with the hours. Will definitely go earlier next time and hopefully get to try the food! Despite the mixed opinions, I would like to give it a shot.

                          3. I have been considering going here for breakfast since I'm going to be moving to Dallas in a few months, and Shopsin's is on my foodie bucket list. Are there any small breakfast dishes anyone can recommend? I'm a slow eater and also have a small stomach, I'd hate to piss Kenny off by asking for half my plate to go.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: alkonost

                              You can order half plates of many dishes. Fine dining no, well prepared with quality ingredients yes. The egs are special and he is a master of the griddle which enables him to prepare food that is difficult to replicate at home.

                              1. re: walker42

                                Thanks very much! Speaking of eggs I ran across this video on shopsin's website:


                              2. re: alkonost

                                Everyone who sits down must order a full meal. That is one of the rules. They don't mind doggie bags of leftovers. I think you'll be fine with one of the Pete dishes. They're a little bit lighter.


                                1. re: kathryn

                                  I guess the half portions are if you want something additional, or for kids. Our server asked my 11 yo if he wanted 3 or 6 slutty cakes. Kind of a weird question to ask an 11 yo come to think of it.

                                  1. re: walker42

                                    They do half orders on all french toast or pancakes which are half price +$3.