BY CAROLINE BENVENISTE | Typically, fall is a busy time for openings, and this year was no exception with several in high-profile spots and two in tiny triangular spaces. Some of the action was in newish food courts. A few places closed, but it was a smaller number than usual.
Tacombi – 139 E. 12th St., at Third Avenue
This mini-chain has opened a new restaurant that has a different format from other Tacombis and is meant to evoke the taquerias of Mexico City. Instead of the usual table service, guests order at a counter and take their food to go or consume it standing at high tops, indoors or outdoors. While we were there, we met Oscar Hernandez, culinary director and master taquero and also Tacombi’s first employee. He explained the philosophy behind the new restaurant and gave us some of the backstory. Tacombi started in 2006 with the acquisition of a VW minibus (“combi”) in Mexico City. From there the combi was driven to Playa del Carmen and converted into a taco stand. In 2010, Tacombi fittingly opened its first New York City location in a garage in Nolita (with a minibus parked inside). They immediately focused on using quality tortillas, made from fresh nixtamalized corn (rather than from masa harina, a sort of tortilla mix). I have not been to Mexico City, but my husband, who, coincidentally spent a semester driving through Mexico with two friends in a combi, said Tacombi was the first place he’s been to in the U.S. that reminded him of “El Tigre,” a favorite taqueria they patronized in Huatusco after their minibus broke down. I found the tacos spectacular. There are five options for lunch, and two for breakfast. My two favorites were the longaniza, a spicy pork sausage, and the suadero, a cut of beef used for tacos but not commonly found here. The tacos are simply dressed with onions and cilantro, and three salsas are available on the side. With a large infusion from Danny Meyer’s investment company, Tacombi is planning to open many more locations in the coming years, and I hope that these include the taqueria format that has Tacombi going back to its roots.
Spice Brothers – 110 St. Mark’s Place, between First Avenue and Avenue A
This small and charming restaurant is a joint project between Chef Lev Sercarz of La La Boîte, a well-respected spice shop, and David Malbequi. The focus is shawarma — layers of meat cooked on a rotating spit — and other Middle Eastern dishes. The two shawarmas on offer are spiced chicken, and spiced beef and lamb. These and other dishes can be ordered as a sandwich in a pita, or as a platter with rice, and they come with hummus, vegetables and herbs, and sauces like amba, zhoug, tehina and harissa. There are also vegetarian options, like falafel and sabich (fried eggplant with a hard-boiled egg). Not surprisingly, everything is perfectly spiced. The music, food and outdoor tables make you think you are sitting on a street in Jaffa.
Bangkok Supper Club (641 Hudson St., between Horatio and Gansevoort Streets) has opened in the space that used to house Michelin-starred Günter Seeger. It is the brainchild of the Fish Cheeks folks. The Web site describes the venue as “Inventive Thai cuisine inspired by Bangkok’s late-night food scene.” Bangkok-born chef Max Wittawat uses a charcoal grill that is on display in the open kitchen. Angie Mar, formerly of The Beatrice Inn, has closed Les Trois Chevaux and has replaced it with Le B (283 W. 12th St., at W. Fourth Street). The Trois Chevaux Web site indicates that it will reopen in Upper Manhattan. Of Le B, OpenTable reports that Mar said: “It’s a new restaurant that draws on the energy and the joie de vivre of The Beatrice Inn and the technique and finesse of Les Trois Chevaux. It’s a happy medium between the two.” The meal I had at Les Trois Chevaux was one of the most expensive I’ve experienced, and I felt that the staff’s attempt to upsell us at every course (caviar, truffles, etc.) was uncalled for. Sushi Lin, which has two locations in Brooklyn and one in Soho, is expanding to the West Village with a small space at 33 Greenwich Ave. (near W. 10th Street). The menu offers à la carte options, as well as omakase. A distinguishing feature of this restaurant is that it imports seafood from the Tsukiji Market in Japan. The diminutive Fellini Coffee (174 Seventh Ave. South, at Waverly Place) has opened in the triangular space next to Tivoli Trattoria and immediately drew people to its small sidewalk seating area. Cloud917 (496 Hudson St., between Christopher and Grove Streets), a kakigōri (Japanese shave ice) spot has opened where Brodo used to be. In more sweet news, Pamina (461 Sixth Ave., at W. 11th Street) opened in the triangular space that used to house a Japanese gift shop. It serves delicious gelato and is the first phase of the market/cafe/pizzeria/wine bar concept that will open in the long-empty Sammy’s Noodle Shop space from the owners of Alice and Osteria 57. Recently the featured gelato flavor was olive oil and tomato. Kora Kora Rice Ball Cafe, a small takeout spot, is making onigiri (Japanese rice balls) at 142 Sullivan St., between Prince and West Houston Streets.
There are more workout, athleisure and comfortable clothing options on Bleecker Street as Set Active (365 Bleecker St., at Charles Street) and Cuts (375 Bleecker St., between Charles and Perry Streets) have opened not far from each other.
Sadly, Quality Eats (19 Greenwich Ave., near W. 10th Street) has closed. The restaurant group it was part of is expanding elsewhere in the neighborhood, with the annexation of the space adjacent to Don Angie, and a new restaurant from the Don Angie folks in the old Benny’s Burritos space. Marron Pastry (270 Bleecker St., at Morton Street) has gone dark and on the window is displayed a “Fourteen (14) Day Notice Demanding Payment of Rent.” The rent, which is a bit more than $15,000 per month, has apparently not been paid since July — and with the addition of late fees and legal fees, the total requested is more than $51,000. Weed World (333 Sixth Ave., near Cornelia Street) does not appear to be a going concern anymore. Beatnic (185 Bleecker St., at MacDougal Street), which was the rebranded By Chloe, has also shuttered.
Sahadi’s, the renowned Middle Eastern store with two locations in Brooklyn, is planning to open a kiosk at Market57 (at Pier 57, 25 11th Ave., near 15th Street). According to their application for a wine and beer license submitted to Community Board 4, they will be serving lebany bowls, pressed sandwiches, soups, small plates, mezzes and homemade desserts. Frozen yogurt will soon be available again in the West Village as Pinkberry gears up to open at 509 Sixth Ave., at the corner of 13th Street. Red Mango had a store a block north that closed when a number of buildings on Sixth Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets were slated for demolition. A Community Board 2 application for a liquor license indicates that Amis 79, a French fine-dining restaurant, will open at 79 MacDougal St., between Bleecker and West Houston Streets, where Mermaid Mexicana briefly existed. A few months ago, Mermaid Mexicana indicated that they were closing temporarily “due to work being done by Con Edison in the building,” but they never reopened. Little Ruby’s Cafe (225 W. Fourth St., at Seventh Ave. South) has finished its build-out in the space that used to be the Riviera Café. The graffiti-covered building has a fresh coat of gleaming, white paint and the screened-in terrace has been rebuilt. According to the staff, they will open just as soon as Con Ed turns on their gas. Pinko, the Italian women’s fashion brand, will open a store at 367 Bleecker St., at Charles Street. Wegmans announced that it would be opening its Astor Place store, at 770 Broadway, between Eighth Street and Wanamaker Place, on Oct. 18, and Target, at 10 Union Square East, at 14th Street, is opening four days later on Oct. 22 where The Food Emporium used to be.
Olly Olly Market (601 W. 26th St., at 11th Avenue) is hosting a special event on Oct. 7: The storied Zingerman’s Deli from Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be selling its famous Reuben and other sandwiches at a pop-up for one day only. More permanent additions to the market include Kinn Thai, serving classic Thai dishes from Grandma Yaa’s recipes (and some unusual dishes, like Khao Pad American, which has a fried hot dog). An awning proclaiming Hudson Bagels initially went up at 535 Hudson St. (corner of Charles Street) where Lucky Louie’s used to be. However, as Alec Pruchnicki first reported in The Village Sun, a store-name scrap with the already-existing Hudson Bagel on Christopher Street was averted after the new place altered its awning to read Sofia’s Bagels. Sisley Paris (343 Bleecker St., between W. 10th and Christopher Streets) has relocated to a larger space at 652 Hudson St., at Gansevoort Street.
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