Tango food - 24-hour eateries!
Trouble finding eating choices after the all-night milonga? The following suggestions do not fall into the New York City fine dining category, but the needs of tangueros/tangueras at 5am after dancing all night are slightly different than earlier in the night. These are places to go relax with your tango friends and dissect the events of the evening so you can unwind, have a drink or five, and/or seduce your tango partner. There will be many more suggestions to come, but for now here is the down and dirty; the best of the New York City 24-hour eateries!
When you just need to fall into a booth or off a stool and eat something RIGHT NOW even though it is 5am, dive into this Ukrainian diner and buy yourself some hearty down home cookin'. They're even open during blizzards! They source their foods from some very surprisingly excellent purveyors as well and attract foodies as well as everyone else at all hours of the day or night.
What to eat: Their specials often ROCK (like cucumber or blueberry soup, blueberry or sour cherry pierogis, or some killer grilled cheese sandwiches) so check the board before the menu. Bigos (a big thick stew of kielbasa, cabbage and pork shoulder, perfect for those January and February wee hours to get you home without freezing) or the incredibly comforting and delicious vegetarian soup or matzo ball soup. Alternately, you could just have a festival of carbohydrates with pancakes, delicious cheese blintzes or pie. You can work it off in the milonga tomorrow night. You know you're going.
Address: 144 2nd Ave. at 9th St.
Closest subways: 6 at Astor Pl., F or V at 2nd ave., L at 1st ave. or 3rd ave.
Price Range: $-$$
Type of food: Ukrainian
Payment methods: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Alcohol: Beer and wine (and they started adding some fancier drinks like a prosecco martini in 2010)
Recommended dishes: Specials (look at the list on the board), veggie soup, matzoh ball soup, cheese blintzes
Belly up to the comfort food bar at this über-hip Chelsea diner in the wee hours and you can also have the dubious pleasure of seeing New York celebrities in their most awkward drunken states. The mac 'n cheese is better than your mom's. The digs are casual but the people are a mix of fancy, fabulous and freaky. It's the 24-hour diner for the extra cool and as a tango dancer you are automatically in that category of course. If you are up for showing off a bit while you eat delicious diner food in a celebrity-watching, crowded arena at 5am, then look no further. If you are more interested in a down-home joint without any fashion police, don't go here.
Address: 119 7th ave. at 17th st.
Closest subways: 1 at 18th st., A/C/E at 14th st., F at 14th st.
Price rating: $$-$$$
Type of food: American comfort food / American diner
Payment methods: American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa
Alcohol: Full bar
Recommended dishes: As previously mentioned, if you are in the mood for mac 'n cheese then by all means dive right in. Feeling more breakfast-ey than dinner-ey? Try the croissant French toast or salmon-and-potato hash.
24-hour French restaurants
Let's face it, there are some people who just want to have some blood sausage at 4:30 in the morning. For those times, head straight on over to one of the 24-hour French diners; French Roast or L'Express. (Note: They have plenty of vegetarian fare too, I just wanted to say "blood sausage") They are fairly interchangeable in their décor and food, so just grab the closest one and take a little power nap while you wait for your French toast to arrive. Be careful not to let your sleepy head drop into the maple syrup though, it's very difficult to get out of the hair. Yes, I speak from experience, having spent twenty years of early mornings at one or the other after all-nighters dancing and carousing. These are great spots to deconstruct who-was-wearing-what-at-which-milonga, and, "can you believe what so-and-so said to that other person?" so that you can actually get some sleep instead of staying wound up with excitement. French Roast in particular has some lovely dark corners if you are going to 'eat' after the milonga with the ulterior motive of seduction.
French Roast and L'Express
Price rating: $$
Type of food: French
Address: French Roast West Village: 78 W. 11th St. at 6th Ave.
French Roast Uptown, 2340 Broadway at 85th St.
L'Express: 249 Park Ave. South at 20th St.
Closest subways: French Roast West Village: L at 6th ave.; A/C/E/B/D/F/V at West 4th st.
French Roast Uptown: 1 at 86th St.
L'Express: N/R/W at 23rd St.; 6 at 23rd St.
Price Range: $$
Website: www.lexpressnyc.com/, www.frenchroastny.com
Type of food: French
Payment methods: American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Alcohol: Full bar (at L'Express, good classic cocktails, several interesting French and Belgian beers)
Recommended dishes: French Roast: Broccoli gratin, mango chutney pork chop, French toast.
L'Express: What to eat: If you feel adventurous, try the pig's feet, blood sausage or tripe. Otherwise go for the steak au poivre, salads or grilled salmon.
There are a gazillion other great restaurants in NYC. To find more, I recommend checking out the New York Magazine Restaurant guide. Search by location and price, and then always check out their critic's picks. They haven't steered me wrong yet!