Everyone hates Valentine's Day. The holiday seems designed to make single people feel bad, and even happy couples frequently despise its iron command to be romantic at all costs. So for those of us, attached or alone, who wish to escape cupid's stinging arrows, here are a few places where St. Valentine would never trespass.
Sometimes called the Mecca of deli, Katz's is more accurately the Dome of the Rock of Deli: the sanctum sanctorum, the source and shrine of all that deli means in America. Go for the mystique -- but stay for the pastami.
Want someplace to play beer pong? Go somewhere else. The median age is 87 at this tiny bar, and the livers are twice that age. But amidst the lore, the bluster, and the smoke, you never know who you might run in to. If Bukowski was alive, this is a place you might find him drinking.
Chinatown offers some of the most authentic regional food to be found in America. But you won't find it at Wo Hop, possibly the greatest remaining bastion of old-school, Cantonese-American working class food left in New York. Here still may be found the chow mein, lobster cantonese, spare ribs, and egg foo yung which defined Chinese food to four generations of New Yorkers. You can make that a fifth, as the young people still drink and get an urge late at night for the Chinese food of childhoods.
"Old school French" usually translates to "classy - stuffy" but there was a time when New York had a lot of working class Frenchmen around, particularly sailors. This squalid but loveable French greasy spoon eventually morphed into a full-blown restaurant but it still maintains some of its original grit and je ne sais quoi.
It's not very fancy, but compared to most of the neighboring Bukharan and Uzbeki kosher restaurants, this one spent a lot on decor -- it's practically the Le Cirque of Rego Park. The chebureks which provide the restaurant's name are dumplings filled with coarse ground lamb, and best avoided. Go for the fine pelmeni (Siberian dumplings), plov (pilaf) and lamb fat (no translation required.)
A tribute to the great barbecues of the Texas hill country in general, and Kreuz Market in particular, this spectacularly big opereration is actually better than many of its models (though not the best of them.) The sides are lame, and the brisket sometimes too fatty, but almost everything is redolent of post oak and perfectly seasoned. Look out especially for the fantastic cheese and jalapeno sausage imported directly from Kreuz's.
Formerly an obscure stall in a Flushing food court, this offal specialist attracted first the attention of local bloggers, then Manhattan food writers, and finally Anthony Bourdain, whose praise led to a Manhattan outpost. Which is just as good (and weird) as the original.
For carnivores only! An army of waiters bringing a succession of body parts impaled on spikes defines this restaurant experience -- an orgy of roasted, salted pork, beef, and chicken. Just an meat freakout. Go immediately.