For whatever reason (actually, see above) there is something I find deeply reassuring about a restaurant that only sells one dish. Maybe it's the obsessive commitment, or the practical benefit of having to only do one thing well. Or maybe it's that I know just where to go when I have that particular longing. Anyway, here is the one-track mind hall of fame. Note: if many of the places on this list are in East Village, I can't help that. For whatever reason, the neighborhood is a one-dish epicenter.
French fries are the ultimate walking-around food, and this temple of frites might be the ultimate source for them. The twice-fried potatoes come in paper cones with a choice of dipping sauces, and you buy them from a window, pay, and then walk away, happy and greasy.
There are over 20 varieties of macaroni and cheese in this niche eatery, but they're all pretty good. That said, few call the place out as their favorite mac 'n cheese in the city.
Only one thing is sold at this tiny East Village storefront, and it isn't prime rib, roast chicken, or hummus. The titular sandwich is monstrously enjoyable.
It's crazy that New York has two restaurants that serve nothing but macaroni and cheese, but we do, and this is the better of the two. It's trendy atmosphere is somewhat offputting, though.
The battle for lobster roll supremacy in New York is surprisingly intense -- it is a New England specialty after all. But we do it better than they do, and Luke's does it best of all.
Most brasseries center on steak frites, but this place really takes it to an extreme: they literally serve nothing else. The steak is just ok, but the fries are copious and superb, and the sauce just makes the whole thing.
The name is almost perversely misleading: This Little Piggy sells roast beef sandwiches, nor pork. And they are very good, especially for the money. Get lots of broth.
There's not much to say about Philly Slim's, other than that they make great, great cheesesteaks. Others are slightly more authentic and one or two are better, but this one has it all.
Lots of mussels, lots of different ways, with a minimum of cost or sand: just a great concept, well-executed.
New York has a surprising number of hummus specialists, none better than Hummus Place. It's not that hard: fresh chickpeas, fresh tahini, a clean kitchen.
Everybody loves The Meatball Shop. Why? Because everybody likes meatballs, cheap good food, and restaurants that are open very late. The Meatball Shop provides all these things, and in addition, its meatballs are really good. There are pork, veal, beef, chicken, and even some form of vegetarian "meatballs" all in a choice of sauces. You get in, you get out, and you have just enough on your stomach to ground all the beer you had (or are planning to have. )