Eisenberg's: Good for the soul
It wasn't initially part of our Friday night dinner plans, but there we were on Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District -- and there was Eisenberg's. Its warm glow and long counter compelled us to come in and sit a spell. We enjoyed Eisenberg's wonderful onion rings and grilled-cheese sandwich washed down with a vanilla egg cream. It was near closing time, and the place was fairly empty. A regular who had been sidled up to the counter promised a return visit the next day as he rushed out the door. A couple sauntered in just after us, pointing out the vintage fixtures and signs and marveling at the place's very existence. Two older women stopped in to pick up some grub to go.
Places like Eisenberg's were a staple of the city block, part of the way New Yorkers ate before cafeterias and Automats began to give way to Burger Kings and later Quiznos and Chipotles. The continued survival of Eisenberg's speaks to the worthiness and importance of the idea of landmarking functioning businesses, not just the architecture or the original interior. (Witness Gage and Tollners in Brooklyn -- landmarked inside and out -- but at one point home to a T.G.I. Friday's.) We are relieved Eisenberg's remains in the good hands of Josh Konecky, who took it upon himself to "landmark" the place by keeping it just the way it's always been.
There's never a bad time to go, but we'll happily recommend a quiet Friday evening, when you can commune with Eisenberg's in relative peace, and get lost in the vibe of one of the most authentic places left in New York City.
-- Rolando Pujol