120 Essex StNew York, NY 10002
**** (Definite Must)
At the other end of the spectrum of dining experiences I’m normally used to, lies Shopsin’s - a small restaurant unlike no other, tucked away in one corner of Essex Street Market in Manhattan. This, I say, not because I had to wait in line for an hour and a half before I was seated for lunch. And not even because the menu I grabbed to idle time away during my wait was over 900 items long and so cramped that it hurt my eyes just trying to make sense out of it. Shopsin’s is different in that its approach is exactly the opposite of that of the typical ‘customer is always right’ one.
The restaurant’s owner, Kenny Shopsin, who is an overweight grey-haired grouchy old man often seen either busting it out behind the line or jabbering away to any of the several devout regulars who eat here, is probably the most foul-mouthed, unbecoming restaurateur in New York City. He wouldn’t hesitate to kick a customer out for the most insignificant of reasons including chatting on the cellphone during a meal. Why then has Shopsin’s had a tremendously huge regular customer base for over 28 years and continues to draw in a crowd every day it is open?
For starters, the dishes it offers (atleast what I ordered) are not just borderline ingenious in their innovativeness but are also really freakin’ good. Blisters on my Sisters, for example, is Shopsin’s crude but near perfect rendition of huevos rancheros served in the same cast-iron pan it’s cooked in. They also do a terrific job with the simple classics. Their Sliders with Grilled Onions are without doubt the best ones I’ve ever come across.
If you’re anything like me and agree that a painfully long wait, the risk of being kicked out, and the possibility of having to listen to obsenities from a self-confessed SOB of an owner are only a cheap price to pay for truly fantastic food, then Shopsin’s is a definite must!