NYC picks: Comfort foods for your soul
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New York City is a playground for food lovers. Everyone has a favorite spot and a beloved dish. Before spring menus are unveiled at restaurants around the city, we offer one last look at the comfort food favorites that took us through the heart of winter -- and satisfy any time of year.
1. MAC AND CHEESE
WHAT The gooey pleasure of macaroni and cheese has remained a constant through the decades, and the East Village's S'Mac pays homage to this simple dish. With generous nosh-size portions starting at under $5 to massive party platters, the four-cheese and buffalo chicken combinations rank as favorites. Looking to try more than one? Come hungry and opt for the S'Mac Sampler ($16), with tastes of eight decadent pasta concoctions.
WHERE S'Mac: 345 E. 12th St.
INFO Open daily until 11 p.m. 212-358-7912, smacnyc.com
2. FRIED CHICKEN
WHAT Each perfect, crispy bite of Blue Ribbon's celebrated fried chicken will leave you wanting more. Served with collard greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, it's the city's ultimate Southern comfort food plate. Rumor has it, there's a dedicated fried chicken restaurant in the works. We sure hope so.
WHERE Blue Ribbon Brasserie: 97 Sullivan St., and Blue Ribbon Bakery, 35 Downing St.
INFO Both open daily. 212-274-0404; 212-337-0404, blueribbonrestaurants.com
3. GRILLED CHEESE
WHAT Situated inside the trendy Ace Hotel, this sister establishment to the beloved Spotted Pig serves the grilled cheese of all grilled cheeses. Oven-baked, oozing with three cheese varieties, it is served with a side of tangy onion marmalade and spicy mustard that guarantees a return trip. Add ham for ultimate enjoyment.
WHERE The Breslin Bar & Dining Room in the Ace Hotel: 16 W. 29th St.
INFO Open daily. 212-679-1939, thebreslin.com
4. CHICKEN POT PIE
WHAT Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter's exclusive West Village restaurant, The Waverly Inn, feeds the fabulous a steady helping of classic dishes at inflated prices, but the standout chicken potpie -- with its buttery brown crust and velvety vegetable filling -- helps soften the sticker shock when the bill arrives.
WHERE The Waverly Inn: 16 Bank St.
INFO Open daily. 917-828-1154, waverlynyc.com
5. HOT DOGS
WHAT In addition to killer fish and chips, the uptown and downtown locations of Ditch Plains host some of the city's most coveted dogs. A two-for-one comfort treat, the Ditch is covered in creamy mac and cheese, while the Sloppy is smothered with meaty chili.
WHERE Ditch Plains: 29 Bedford St. and 100 W. 82nd St. (at Columbus Ave.)
INFO Open daily. 212-633-0202; 212-362-4815, ditch-plains.com
WHAT Though you wouldn't normally associate Fatty 'Cue, Zak Pelaccio's shrine to swine, with pancakes, the light ricotta flapjack stack served at brunch in the new West Village location is slathered in smoky maple syrup and butter, alongside some irresistible crispy bacon strips. More pork, you say? Throw in a side of ribs.
WHERE Fatty 'Cue: 50 Carmine St.
INFO Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 212-929-5050, fattycue.com
WHAT At Peels -- a bright, bi-level temple to home cooking -- you can top your buttermilk biscuit ($3) with a variety of ingredients including bacon, sausage, fried chicken, cheese and, of course, gravy. Shot of hot sauce optional.
WHERE Peels: 325 Bowery.
INFO Open daily from 7:30 a.m., biscuits served at breakfast and lunch. 646-602-7015, peelsnyc.com
WHAT There's a reason this spot's called Mama's. The bacon-wrapped meatloaf at this no-frills Lower East Side joint evokes Norman Rockwell-style Sunday dinners. For $12.50, the dinner plate comes with one side. On weekends, it's served as an open-face sandwich.
WHERE Mama's Food Shop: 200 E. 3rd St. (between Avenues A and B)
INFO Closed Mondays. 212-777-4425, mamasfoodshop.com