Having a bad day in NYC is actually the WORST.
Or groceries, or eating out, or new clothes, or hanging out with your friends at the bar they all want to go to that charges $12/drink.
And you’re just about ready to throw in the towel. Move somewhere easier.
But then you remember…
MAYBE I WILL GET A TREAT!??
The requirements for a Remind-Me-Why-I-Live-Here-It’s-Been-A-Really-Bad-Day snack are as follows:
1. Must be nearby. Maybe even in your neighborhood. (You will notice most of these are in the East Village, which is where I live.)
2. Quick. You can’t sit down at a restaurant because you’re tired and the tears could come any second.
3. Reliable. It can’t be seasonal. It can’t be some special offering at a hip baseball park.
4. LIFE REDEEMING. This food needs to prove why you stick it out in this godforsaken hellspot instead of moving back home to Oklahoma where, no, you could not get an amazing lobster roll any day of the week, but you could probably buy an entire house and raise a happy adorable golden retriever.
Something about the crunch of this crust instantly conveys what pizza can and should be. Sure, you can argue that Di Fara or any of the city’s great neapolitan pies are better, but this is an easy-to-get-your-hands-on, eat-during-your-lunchbreak slice; it’s better than the pizza most of the rest of the world, and this is why you live here.
7 Carmine St.
(between Avenue Of The Americas and Minetta Lane)
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 a.m.
It’s hard to say what Levain bakery does to their cookies that causes them to remain soft and gooey on the inside long after they’ve come out of the oven. All of the bakery’s cookies (try chocolate chip AND chocolate chocolate AND chocolate peanut butter) are unreasonably good, and if you are ever on the Upper West Side and don’t stop to get a cookie, even if it means waiting in line, then we simple can’t be friends.
167 W 74th St.
(between Columbus Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue)
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
There is something magical about walking past this LES institution at 6 p.m. on a random weekday and seeing two people on the bench outside eating a bagel with lox and cream cheese in complete silence. Russ & Daughter’s is a national treasure, and living in the same city as it is a blessing.
Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St.
(between East Houston Street and 2nd Avenue)
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
I still like Magnolia bakery cupcakes. Haters gonna hate. But most of the time the best move is an order of banana pudding because there’s more textural contrast and it lasts longer and it’s perfect for an eat-while-you-walk treat. (Sugar Sweet Sunshine has a great one too, if you’re on the East Side.)
401 Bleecker St.
(between 11th Street and Perry Street)
Hours: Monday – Thursday, Sunday, 9 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
This shit is FRESH. SO GOOD. New Yorkers, we are so lucky that it (and a few other great lobster rolls) exists here because, sure, good lobster rolls are easy to come by in Maine, but anywhere else in the world, no. And a good lobster roll can fix anything.
93 E 7th St.
(between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
Hours: Monday – Thursday, Sunday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
6. The “chocolate chip extravaganza” at Sugar Sweet Sunshine
You guys, this chocolate chip cookie dough trifle pudding mush is off the hook. There’s something wrong with it. It’s too good. It’s a problem.
Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery
126 Rivington St.
(between Norfolk Street and Essex Street)
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
There are other banh mi in the country that are better than this one. But the beauty of this sandwich is that it tastes amazing and it costs $4.25 and it’s huge and full of pate. Careful though, because this place closes at 6 p.m., which is almost enough to disqualify it from this list.
Banh Mi Saigon
198 Grand St.
(between Mulberry Street and Mott Street)
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
A cone of French fries that are fat and thick, crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, covered in anything you want, in your hand.
123 2nd Ave.
(between 7th Street and St. Mark’s Place)
Monday – Thursday, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 a.m.
To follow the “can’t sit down” rule you gotta order this to go and take it home. I’m not even sure it’s still on the menu but they will give it to you and you will die of happy. It’s spicy as the dickens and full of yummy rice cakes.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave.
(between 10th Street and 11th Street)
Hours: Monday – Friday, 12 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Monday – Thursday, Sunday, 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 5:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
THIS COSTS $1 AND IT TASTES SO GOOD.
Vanessa’s Dumpling House
118 Eldridge St.
(between Broome Street and Grand Street)
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
GAWD OK, get this sandwich at Mile End. Or you could get one at Katz’s but I think the bread at Mile End is better. It’s not for any old day because it might knock you out but sometimes that’s just what you need.
53 Bond St.
(between Bowery and 2nd Street)
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Wednesday – Saturday, 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Be careful with this place on a true Bad Day because they aren’t very nice and they sort of bark at you to order. But don’t even look at the menu, it’s a lot and overwhelming. Just order the Cumin Lamb Noodles and go home and faceplant in it.
Xi’An Famous Foods
(locations in Chinatown, Midtown West, Williamsburg, and Flushing as well)
81 St. Mark’s Place
(between 2nd Avenue and 1st Avenue)
Hours: Monday – Thursday, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Not sure pine nut cookies are as delightful to everyone as they are for me, but the real treat here is the spot itself: Veniero’s is a charming old world Italian bakery in the East Village. You can tell it’s been there for years and years, doing the same funny Italian desserts, and sometimes that perspective helps cure a Bad Day.
Veniero’s Pastry Shop
342 E 11th St.
(between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue)
Hours: Monday – Friday, Sunday, 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. – 1 a.m.
People who live in most other cities don’t get to eat good bagels. Surely you understand what a tragedy that is. Do you understand that most people understand a bagel to be something that comes in a plastic bag from the supermarket bread aisle?! David’s Bagels makes their bagels fresh every day and I swear to you they are the most delicious bagels in NYC. Especially an everything bagel with bacon, egg, and cheese.
273 1st Ave.
(between W Stuyvesant Loop and 17th Street)
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.
This tiny carry-out outpost of East Village Dessert Bar Chickalicious is close enough to this hellishly crowded serve-yourself froyo place called 16 Handles, but Chickalicious is so much better than 16 Handles that you will never need to go to 16 Handles again.
Chickalicious Dessert Club
204 E 10th St.
(between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue)
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 7 a.m. – 12 a.m.
A good option if you want something super delicious but don’t want to destroy your intestines and feel fat. (Great for Sunday nights, for example.) The soba noodles at Cocoron have a superb chewy al-dente character and they come with an array of interesting broths and fresh veggies. You can eat a huge bowl of anything here and feel better about life. (This is sit down only, but allowed on the list because it’s good, clean food that is truly satisfying, and that is hard to find.)
61 Delancey St.
(between Allen Street and Eldridge Street)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.; Tuesday – Saturday, 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
A bacon-wrapped hot dog with avocado and sour cream. Pretty much anything else on the menu will work too — another great Bad Day Cure is the Morning Glory, which comes with a melted craft single and a fried egg. Note: They deliver.
113 St Marks Place
(between Avenue A and 1st Avenue)
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Friday – Saturday, 12 p.m. – 4 a.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.