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Foodie bibles say cheap eats are in

Street Sweets

Street Sweets Photo Credit: Stephen Reiss

Haute cuisine is so over. Nowadays, casual but tasty specialty food is whetting Gotham’s appetites, according to the 2011 Zagat guide, which hits bookstores today. And it needn’t even come from a restaurant.

“Fine dining is on hold,” said Tim Zagat, the native New Yorker who created the revered guide in 1979. “All the money is going to younger, more hip places,” he said.

New York City is home to the best reasonably priced meals in the world, added Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin Guide, which was scheduled to unveil its 2011 top restaurant picks for NYC this morning.

To reflect the bargain trend, Zagat for the first time included food trucks in its reviews this year.

The grub-on-wheels model has come a long way in the city.

“People used to think of them as ‘roach coaches,’” said Thuy Tran, 26, a media buyer who lives in Queens. Now, there are gourmet options, said Tran as she ordered from Street Sweets last week.

Street Sweets NY tied with Wafels & Dinges for first place among the city’s roughly 300 food trucks, the Zagat guide reported.

“We wanted to bring a high-quality product to the streets of New York,” said Samira Mahboubian, a former Polo Ralph Lauren executive and co-owner of the truck.

Cultish foodie faves including Korean-style fried chicken and lobster rolls are on the upswing, said the Zagat guide. And custom sandwich shops — the banh mi, meatball sandwiches and Canadian-style combos are among the offerings — have exploded in popularity this past year.

“These kind of casual sandwich shops are to this year what burgers and pizza were last year,” said Tiffany Herklots, a Zagat spokeswoman. “They’re affordable and exciting cuisine.”

With the lower budget faves, it’s no wonder Manhattan is being edged out by trendy and cost-conscious Brooklyn, both Zagat and Naret agreed.

The borough’s appeal has to do with its “community vibe,” said Ari Sadowitz, 25, an employee of Mile End, the Canadian-style Jewish deli in Boerum Hill voted in Zagat as offering one of the best sandwiches in the city.

But at the end of the day, it comes down to the food. Mile End’s best-selling ’wich features smoked beef brisket cured for 11 days then smoked for eight hours.


Zagat’s 2011 winners

Top food trucks
(new category 2011)
1. Wafels & Dinges/Street Sweets
2. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
3. Treats Truck/NYC Cravings
4. Schnitzel & Things
5. Rickshaw Dumpling Truck/Cupcake Stop

Hipster hangouts
(new category 2011)
1.  Vinegar Hill House (Brooklyn)
2. Marlow & Sons (Brooklyn)
3. Little Giant/Spotted Pig/Artichoke Basille’s
4. La Esquina
5. Freemans

Pizza
1. Di Fara (Brooklyn)
2. Lucali (Brooklyn)/Denino’s (Staten Island)
3. Zero Otto Nove (Bronx)
4. Amorina (Brooklyn)/Keste Pizza e Vino
5. Franny’s (Brooklyn)/Posto

Lobster rolls
1. Pearl Oyster Bar
2. Luke’s Lobster/Mary’s Fish Camp
3. Brooklyn Fish (Brooklyn)/Ed’s Lobster Bar
4. Mermaid Inn
5. Ed’s Chowder House
6. Ditch Plains

Best restaurants overall: Le Bernardin (French/seafood)

Tied for second place are the following:
Per Se (American/French)
Daniel (French)
Jean Georges (French)
Sushi Yasuda (Japanese)
La Grenouille (French)
Gramercy Tavern (American)
Eleven Madison Park (French)

Are New Yorkers stingy with their tips?
Average tip: Philadelphia: 19.6% (highest American city)

                    NYC: 19.1%

                    San Francisco: 18.6% (lowest American city)     

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