My Top 10 Comfort Food Dishes in New York City
Alexia Nader Feijoada at Casa
New York City is full of fancy restaurants where people go for a spirited night on the town, to sample the exquisite creations of chefs in vogue, while sitting shoulder to shoulder with the other hundred diners in the know. Then there are the restaurants for the city's homebodies, people who would rather be holed up in their living rooms with big plates of pasta than at crowded, noisy restaurants. These places recognize that when the homebodies of the city are lured out of their apartments, they pretty much want to eat exactly what they would have eaten at home -- just prepared expertly and interestingly by a professional chef; their menus feature comfort foods, dishes you would enjoy at a cozy, private dinner for two, a backyard barbecue, or a family dinner.
As the newest member of the Fork in the Road team, I might as well let you know now that I'm one of these homebodies at heart. And I'm often forced to reconcile my persistent desire to stay in with the need to try out every restaurant that piques my interest by ordering my favorite comfort foods when I'm eating out. So below is a list of the best of these dishes, served at restaurants that manage to make you feel at home, even in the middle of the bustling city.
10. Feijoada at Casa Restaurant: Having grown up in Miami among people from all over South America and the Caribbean, I crave the rice and stew dishes that I used to eat at my friends' and family's backyard parties. Feijoada, a Brazilian stew with beans, beef, pork, and vegetables, prepared in a clay pot, simmered for hours, and served with rice and collard greens perfectly encapsulates the earthy, spicy flavors of Latin-American home cooking. Casa Restaurant's feijoada, eaten alongside its freshly made pão de queijo, is a meal worth writing home about. Casa Restaurant (72 Bedford Street, 212-366-9410)
9. Red Beans and Rice With Smoked Sausage at Sugar Freak: Maybe Louisiana Cajun cooking is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Astoria, but that's where you'll find some of the best red beans and rice around. Sugar Freak's beans get a good dose of spice from pieces of potent andouille, and the whole thing is topped with a tender smoked sausage. Sugar Freak (36-18 30th Avenue, Queens; 718-726-5850)
Robyn Lee/Flickr Bacon jalapeño cornbread at the Brooklyn Star
8. Bacon Jalapeño Corn Bread at the Brooklyn Star: Smell is everything when it comes to cornbread. While it's cooking in the oven, a cornbread loaf lets off steam, both sweet and savory, that wafts out of the kitchen reminding you that dinner is not too far away. This particular aspect of the cornbread-eating experience is honored at the Brooklyn Star, where the cornbread is brought to the table piping-hot from the oven in a cast-iron pan. You can almost taste the deep smokiness of the bacon and the piquant flavor of the hot peppers, while you wait for the whole thing to get cool enough to eat. The Brooklyn Star (593 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-9899)