THE TOP 5: Kips Bay Blues
When I tell people I live in Kips Bay, they generally have no idea what I’m talking about. When I describe the Dutch settler Jacobus Henderson Kip whose farm ran around a bay in the East River, they become even more confused. When I attempt to extol the industrial charms of the I.M. Pei designed Kips Bay Towers, built in 1963 it rings no bells. Eventually I give up and tell them I live around the corner from the big movie theater and they nod, puzzled that anyone actually lives over there or I stretch the boundaries with a little wishful thinking and say I live in Murray Hill. There aren’t many highlights over here in what I like to call the Middle East Side, which stretches roughly between East 23rd St. and East 34th St., from Lexington Ave. to the East River. It’s a neighborhood full of ass-kicky Irish pubs, frat boys and in the Summer, the Bellevue meth heads come staggering up 30th St. like zombies. Every drinking establishment seems to have been issued 6 flat screen TV’s with their liquor license. But the bright spots that are here, because of their scarcity, feel even more essential. Here are some of them:
1. Todaro Bros.
Just a great market, serving NYC since 1917. There would be no point in living in this neighborhood without this store. I can’t think of another grocer that’s so essential to his neck of the woods. Without Todaro Bros., Kips Bay would be a bleak, depressing stretch of Food Emporiums and Gristedes. Stellar salumeria and cheeses, flavorful garlic, parsley and olive oil soaked ready to cook meats, well-pounded scallopinis of veal and chicken, beautiful seasonal fruits and vegetables and a fine collection of canned, smoked seafood. They’ve got it all and it’s all good.
2. Turkish Kitchen
Upscale Turkish cuisine. Paper thin lamb slices served over sticky rice, tasty baked shrimp casserole with mushrooms and kasar cheese. Killer hummus and a sparkling shepherd’s salad. Wash it all down with a cold Efes. Plus an all you can eat brunch on Sundays and the best rice pudding in the history of the world.
3. AMC Loews Kips Bay 15
Why see movies anywhere else? I know it’s a big, commercial, sprawling, suburban experience and it’s got nothing to do with supporting indie cinema. But my days of craning my neck around the stone columns of the Film Forum and squinting to see the postage stamp sized screens at the Angelika are over. So give me my big popcorn and soda and let me watch Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a tutu! Hilarious!
4. Mexico Lindo
Old school Mexican, since 1972. You know, with the garish paintings and the strolling singing guitarist. The surprise is that the food here is way better than it has to be. Great guac and salsa, nice rice and refrieds, delicious chile rellenos, tacos, and enchiladas. Family friendly and full of good cheer.
5. La Delice Pastry Shop
One of those classic bakeries that used to be so plentiful, where the cookies are identified by number. You pick an assortment and they wrap it in a little white box with pink and white string. I hope they never change the old eyesore of a sign or lose the goofy baker statue that stands guard out front.