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9 NYC Food Myths That Need to Die

New York City Food + Drink
by Katka Lapelosová Mar 23, 2015

1. New Yorkers are skinny because they are super healthy.

There are health nuts in the city, but there are also lazy fatasses such as myself who rely on Seamless to deliver the cheapest, greasiest Thai food from the Lemongrass Grill. How do we stay so fit? By walking everywhere, including the five flights of stairs to our apartments. We give off this illusion that we’re the healthiest city in America, but our erratic work environments and constant need to “fit in” cause many of us harbor dark habits (such as binge drinking, eating disorders, and lack of cooking skills). Wearing a lot of black helps deflect attention from our beer bellies and pallid complexions.

2. Magnolia Bakery has the best cupcakes.

The cupcakes aren’t bad, but I’ve only ever tried some when someone else brought them as dessert for a dinner party. Time is something a New Yorker never has enough of, and waiting even fifteen minutes in line for a cupcake, or a cronut, or whatever pastry is coolest at the moment, is just time we can’t afford to waste. If you had me do a blind taste-test I’m not really sure I’d prefer Magnolia’s over something you baked in the time it would have taken you to get a cupcake from Magnolia’s.

3. $1 pizza is the worst pizza.

No; $1 pizza is the cheapest pizza. It doesn’t make it better or worse than Artichoke Basil, or “Ray’s Original” (fun fact: No one actually knows where the original Ray’s pizza is located. It may not even exist, to be honest). All foods taste the same when you’re drunk at 2:33 am and trying to figure out where the nearest subway station is.

4. Bottomless Brunch is the best deal in town.

It can be, if you are smart about which brunch establishment you choose. $40 for an entrée and all you can drink mimosas for an hour? Sounds tempting, until you realize your waitress has only refilled your champagne flute twice since you walked in. A lot of people get suckered into the allure of “something for nothing” but the ultimate best bottomless brunch in town is found in the diviest bar: for $16 at Epstein’s Bar, you’ll get the best hangover entrée and unlimited Bloody Mary’s, mimosas, beer or coffee all afternoon.

5. Eating in Times Square is stupid and touristy.

While Bubba Gump’s, Dallas BBQ, Hard Rock Café, and Planet Hollywood are definitely not “artisanal eateries,” they’re still pretty fun to experience. The Jekyll and Hyde Café was my favorite restaurant as a kid, and admiring the wannabe Broadway actors dressed in poodle skirts and pleather pants singing hits from The Whiz over chicken fingers at the Stardust Diner was practically a rite of passage in middle school. As an adult I’ve been lucky enough to dine at Carmines (the 2-hour wait is worth it), and every so often I’ll check out a new place that pops up near Hell’s Kitchen. Don’t judge me.

6. Every bar is expensive.

You can easily spend $70 on booze in one night, but the best of New Yorkers know where to drink on the cheap. 123 Burger Shot Beer offers $3 beers all day long, Crocodile Lounge throws in a free pizza with any drink you order, and when all else fails, we take full advantage of “business networking” parties where the people are as dry as the free Chardonnay from the sponsored open bar.

7. There’s nothing good in Harlem.

I find it hysterical when I have friends, especially ones that have lived here for several years, who have never ventured above 96 Street. Everyone thinks that they’ll get shot if they find themselves in Harlem, but the reality is that the working class families A) have created diverse culinary ecosystems within the area that include a wide variety of Hispanic, Caribbean, and soul food restaurants and B) they’re paying way less rent than you are for your shoebox apartment on the Lower East Side, so really, who’s losing in this situation?

8. The best Italian food is found in Little Italy.

I’ll be real with you – whenever I’m craving 3lbs of thinly-pounded chicken parm over a bucket-load of pasta, yeah, I head to Mulberry Street. The atmosphere is romantic, especially when you can dine alfresco under the fairy lights in the summer. But very few of the restaurants here are legit Italian anymore. It sort of feels like the Italian area of Epcot sometimes – especially when your waiter speaks fluent Spanish and mentions he’s from Ecuador. You want real, authentic Italian eats? Head to the Bronx, Bay Ridge, or Western Nassau County, where the mafia still has control.

On a different note, Chinatown pretty much does have the best Chinese food in NYC. You might have to travel into a basement to get it, but it’s definitely legit.

9. Gluten-free vegan bakeries are good for you.

It’s still a fucking cupcake, and if you eat enough of them, your ass will be enough proof. Not all niche restaurants and cafes are created equal, and just because you find a place that caters to the latest food trend doesn’t mean you’re doing your body any justice. If you have celiac disease, I will accompany you to Tu-Lu’s and maybe get a cake ball. But while Baby Cakes has the cutest name, their cupcakes taste like sawdust and I think I just prefer to eat normal food, really.

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