Archive for the tag 'american food'


A new burger joint named My House is now serving up hot ground beef patties at 1650 Sheepshead Bay Road.

Signage for the store went up last week, and they opened the doors to the public this week. The owner, a partner in Yooberry Frozen Yogurt at 1501 Sheepshead Bay Road, said they’re still fixing up the storefront but were eager to get food in the hands of a hungry clientele.

“It’s almost done. We have to do a few more touch-ups, but because of the weather everyone has rescheduled. But right now it’s open to the public,” the owner said.

The storefront was most recently occupied by Ichiko Sushi, which opened in 2010 and never reopened after Superstorm Sandy. It’s also the first time in nearly two decades that the location will not be a sushi joint, having been home to the strip’s first sushi restaurant, Sakura, for many years.

Nathan's Famous in the 1950s (Source: eBay via

Nathan’s Famous in the 1950s (Source: eBay via

Every time I am tasked with writing something about the original Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Avenue) I get really hungry. There is something about those delicious, ketchup-covered* hot dogs, the salty crinkle-cut french fries and the sea breeze off the boardwalk at Coney Island that just presses all my happy buttons. We all know that Nathan’s is a Brooklyn institution, but a reminder never hurts. A report in Brownstoner delves into the near century-long tradition of the world’s best hot-dog palace.

Like many Coney Island businesses, Nathan’s was wrecked by Superstorm Sandy. The hot-dog headquarters had a triumphant reopening this past May after undergoing a full remodeling. After all, no mere storm was going to sink this royal house of franks. Brownstoner noted that the reopening of Nathan’s brought back something old to the new start:

It re-opened in the spring of 2013, in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. This time, they added something new – well, something old made a comeback, rather. The new Nathan’s has a curbside clam bar again, not seen since the 1950s. It’s a revival of the restaurant’s raw bar, with East Coast oysters and littleneck clams that are shucked on order over a mountain of ice. They are served with chowder crackers, lemon wedges, horseradish and cocktail sauce.

Brownstoner rolls back the clock even further, describing how Nathan’s was born from the original hot dog inventors:

The story is a familiar rags to riches, immigrant success story. Nathan’s Famous began in the mind of an enterprising Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker. Prior to 1916, he was working at the famous Feltman’s German Gardens, an immensely popular restaurant on Coney Island. Charles Feltman was another success story, a German immigrant who came to the US in 1856 at the age of fifteen. His Coney Island career started with a food pushcart on the beach, but by the early 1900’s, that push cart had grown into an empire that took up an entire city block. Feltman’s entertainment and restaurant complex contained nine restaurants, a beer garden, two enormous bars, a carousel, a roller coaster, an outdoor movie theater, a hotel, a ballroom, a bathhouse, a pavilion, a maple garden and a Tyrolean village. He was now a millionaire many times over.

Today, few people remember the enormity of his business, but they do remember that here in New York, he is credited for the invention of the hot dog. (There are other contenders.) He would later comment that his decision to put a sausage on a roll was not an attempt to invent something new, but was just an expedient way of serving the meat, one that didn’t need expensive silverware, or even a plate. He sold his frankfurters for ten cents, and they quickly became the most popular item on his menu.

The report then describes how Nathan Handwerker, (a great name for a hot dog pioneer, I might add) went on to build his own empire using cheaper prices and orchestrating the myth that his hot dogs were healthier than the competition’s:

Nathan Handwerker, as a worker at Feltman’s, was of course familiar with its famous fare. It was his job to split the rolls, and deliver the franks to the grilling station. Legend has it that he slept on the floor of the restaurant in order to save money for his own business. He wanted to make a better hot dog, and he had just the person to help him – his wife Ida Greenwald Handwerker. She had a recipe enhanced with secret spice ingredients handed down from her grandmother in the Old Country. With the encouragement of fellow Feltman’s employees, pianist Jimmy Durante and singing waiter Eddie Cantor, Nathan and Ida pooled together their savings, and with that $300, went into the hot dog business. In order to make their mark, and drum up their initial business, Nathan’s charged only five cents for their hot dogs, while Feltman’s were twice as much, at ten cents. It worked. The good tasting, cheaper hot dog was an enormous hit.

The dogs were sold at the small Nathan’s Famous stand on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, beginning in 1916. Nathan was a great idea man, and like all of the great Coney Island entrepreneurs, had more than a bit of the showman in him. He knew that a food like the hot dog would be suspicious to many people, especially in those early days before food inspectors. Ground meat products in casings, like hot dogs and sausages, caused many a raised eyebrow as to their content. They didn’t call it “mystery meat” for nothing. So he devised a two-fold strategy to overcome that stigma.

First, he had all of his servers dress in clean white surgeon’s smocks, to show cleanliness. He then handed out flyers to the local hospitals telling staff that they could eat for free, if they came to Nathan’s in their hospital white uniforms. Soon, long lines of doctors, nurses and aides, all in white, were standing in lines at the stand. Hey, if health professionals ate here in droves, it must be healthy, good food, right? Nathan’s never looked back.

Amazing stuff. The report goes on to detail the menu items added over the years and the subsequent massive expansion of the business over the years. I think I’m gonna hop on the Q-train now and grab a dog, but if your mouth isn’t quite watering yet, you can read the entire report by clicking here.

*Neditor’s note – Ketchup? F’ing ketchup?! MUSTARD! SPICY BROWN DELI MUSTARD! Ugh. I apologize to our readers for Willie’s uncivilized tastes. Freakin’ transplants.

Photo By Erica Sherman

Gothamist just released a list of its 10 favorite New York City diners and our very own El Greco (1821 Emmons Avenue) made the list. Although the list isn’t explicitly ranked, we’re going to assume that because El Greco appears at the bottom of the page, its #1! Why not?

Anyway, its cool that our local diner made such a highly competitive list considering there are probably a thousand diners scattered throughout the city.

Gothamist seemed most impressed by El Greco’s famously massive menu:

Everything from the menus to the portions to the layout of the restaurant is gigantic, and the prices ain’t exactly tiny either. It’s not a fancy place, but it’s no greasy spoon—El Greco serves a seemingly infinite variety of wraps, deli sandwiches, deluxe sandwiches (try the Fried Jumbo Shrimp sandwich), as well as the traditional diner fare, including a million salads, pastas, Mediterranean specialties and fresh seafood. Seriously, this menu is insane.

Bagels R Us, the newest bagel joint at 1424 Sheepshead Bay Road

There’s a new bagel place in the ‘hood.

Photo by Erica Sherman. Click to enlarge

A couple of tipsters – okay, I was one of them – alerted us to the brand new sign installation of Bagels R Us, including an anonymous tipster who sent in the above photo. The new bagel establishment replaces the slightly more than two-years-old Jonathan’s Bakery at 1424 Sheepshead Bay Road.

Jonathan’s Bakery – the evolution of the previously named  Dish D’lish, the bagel store that replaced Bagel Stop back in January 2010, and named after the owner’s son Jonathan – was the third establishment in that location offering the esteemed and enviable New York bagel, and is right around the corner from the competing Bagel Boy at 1602 Avenue Z.

If you’ve already stopped in to sample the doughy fare of Bagels R Us, let us know what you think in the comments.

In the meantime, we wish them the best of luck.

A portion of the Gears 'n' Grub illustration of Roll-N-Roaster

The Village Voice chose Roll-N-Roaster (2901 Emmons Avenue)as the subject for the inaugural post of “Gears ‘n’Grub,” their new illustrated series about foodstuffs found while the author bikes through the city.

The writer, L. Nichols, took a ride over to “Bottle Beach” – the name hipsters have given to what we know better as Dead Horse Bay – before finding himself in front of a plate of roast beef and Cheez fries.

Nichols made a wise choice by going with the standard Express-Line order, except for one rookie mistake – ordering soda instead of home-made Lemonade.

Looks like he’ll have to get back on that bike and take another trip down here. You want to order soda at Brennan & Carr’s? Go right ahead. Order soda from Roll-N-Roaster? Consider your meal incomplete.

A last-minute entrant took the top prize at Top Brgr’s first annual Burger Eating Competition on Sunday, gobbling down more hamburgers than his younger, more experienced opponents.

Sheepshead Bay resident Mike Gordin, a barrel-chested, keg-stomached plumber, scoffed down six-and-a-half burgers in 10 minutes, defeating regulars on the amateur competitive eating circuit, other locals, and even neighborhood champion Alex Mamutin, who won a local cupcake eating contest last year.

At least one contestant made a run for the garbage can, tapping out less than halfway through the competition. When we asked the champion if he needed to join him after the contest, he laughed off any suggestion of such a ventral vulnerability.

“No, it’s okay,” Gordin said. “I feel good. Free lunch.”

Gordin won a $150 gift certificate to Top Brgr (2267 Emmons Avenue), two tickets to a Yankees game and a big ol’ trophy. Gordin was a surprise entrant, volunteering to join the competition after two scheduled competitors failed to show.

View photos from Top Brgr’s Burger Eating Competition.

Om Nom Nom! Ned want! Ned want now! (Source: Top Brgr)

The following is from our friends at Top Brgr (2267 Emmons Avenue):

We all know you know about the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. Now there is a new challenger on the block;

Introducing the 1st Annual Hamburger Eating Contest held at Sheephead’s Bay renowned place, Top Brgr, where you can get the juiciest 100-percent Kobe beef burger. The competition takes place on Saturday, June 2 from 1pm-2 p.m. at Top Brgr, 2267 Emmons Ave. in Brooklyn, NY.

Top Brgr, which has become a New York-area destination since it opened in 2011, with a second Top Brgr location opening soon in NYC, wants to test the skill of some of the top local competitive eaters.

“It’s one thing to say that you’ve eaten the most hot dogs or wings, but how many people can make a claim to eating a good number of burgers?” said co-owner Steve Rakhmanov. “We offer a fun, friendly experience focused on a great place to spend with your family/friends as well enjoying some sensational burgers…. we wanted to do something enjoyable for the community.”

The public is invited to join us at this beautiful and fun waterfront dining experience, in a look of a classic 1950s soda shop. While the restaurant offers a traditional high-quality burger, it also adds flair with toppings such a caviar and pico de gallo.

“Nothing says summertime like the smell of grilled hamburgers, kids laughing and a bunch of nuts trying to outdo each other in an eating contest by the water,” said co-owner Ron Raykin. “We wanted to give this neighborhood a gathering spot for casual dining that is more than another chain with no character. Both Steve and I are from Brooklyn, so this business represents us and our love for Brooklyn.”