First Look: Taquitoria Now Open on the LES

Billy Lyons
Beef Taquitos "cheesy" style features nacho cheese, sour cream, and pickled jalapeño relish.
Just call 168 Ludlow Street a rite of passage for fast casual concepts. The former home of Tpoutine (Canadian french fries) and La Montanara (fried pizza) recently became home to another tenant: San Diego-style rolled taco specialist Taquitoria. We suppose it was only a matter of time before taquitos--those deep-fried, cigar shaped portals of pleasure--had their moment in the sun. (The torta continues to wait patiently in the shadows, longing for the day when it will be able to exploit a tear in the burrito's floury shell.)

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Grading the New Sushi Bar at Lobster Place in Chelsea Market

Lobster Place's uni (sea urchin) was breezy and briny, and got a grade of A-.

As part of the current evolution of Chelsea Market, old tenants are grabbing more space and revamping their premises to provide more opportunities for the sale of prepared food. In this connection, seafood distributor and retail fish store Lobster Place has added a new, narrow restaurant on the side with a separate entrance called Cull & Pistol, and placed several prepared seafood counters on its renovated and expanded retail floor. One such is a sushi bar, as distinguished from the sushi carryout mass-production facility directly behind it. Here the choice morsels are in a small glass refrigerator case, including perhaps seven or eight varieties of fish and crustaceans, to be made into sushi, sashimi, and ceviche, plus other miscellaneous tartares and tatakis. Here are some notes from FiTR's first meal there, in the company of Andrew the Sushi Fanatic, who took a somewhat dimmer view of the fish than we did. Together, we assigned grades to the things we ate.

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Joe's 14th Street: The Neighborhood Pizzeria Fights Back

The blobs of fresh white cheese on Joe's "Fresh Mozzarella" slice look like fluffy cartoon clouds against an angry red sky.

No doubt that the neighborhood pizzeria, once a leading dining institution in all five boroughs, has been undergoing a decline lately at the hands of fast-food franchises, dollar slice joints, and the tendency to think of pizza as a gourmet item. But its death has been prematurely announced; the old warhorse still has lots of life left in it. And the new branch of Joe's Pizza, just opened near the corner of Third Avenue and East 14th Street, is evidence of that.

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Chocolate Salami: A Look at Lafayette's New Saucisson au Chocolat

Categories: The Early Word

Looks like a salami

Andrew Carmellini's newest restaurant, Lafayette, opened on Monday and though we're giving the restaurant a little time before we stop in for dinner, we couldn't resist an early visit to the pâtisserie up front, where Jennifer Yee's tiny canelés (three for $4) and colorful macarons lured us in.

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Burger Joint's 'Normal' Burger

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At the new Burger Joint in Greenwich Village, a burger, fries, and a Coke will set you back $11.16, including tax.

The abrupt opening yesterday of the first branch location of Burger Joint occasioned a flood of notoriety, suggesting you get more publicity by behaving impulsively than by following the typical slow-moving campaign that usually attends a restaurant opening. After I'd read about it in Eater, The New York Times, and Fork in the Road, I had to run over there and check out the menu.

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Alchemy, Texas Replaces Ranger Texas Barbecue

Alchemy's rich and black-pepper-dotted prime rib

When New York barbecue legend Robert Pearson departed the final location of his Queens establishment, Pearson's Texas BBQ, in 2005, he left it in the hands of his able pitmaster, Angel Domingues, and the new owner, Cenobio Canalizo, both natives of Puebla, Mexico. They changed the name to Ranger Texas Barbecue, and the place soldiered on for a few more years, turning out 'cue that originally ranged from good to decent, but later was sometimes awful. Then a couple of months ago, due to a rumored death in the family, Ranger's eight-person crew mysteriously departed to points unknown, leaving Jackson Heights bereft of barbecue. Some say the extended family that ran the place returned to Mexico.

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Mei Yu Spring's Superb Chive Pancake

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The "chives pancake" (it's really more of an empanada, and yes, there are plural chives in there) at Mei Yu Spring, a new restaurant on Catherine Street. Shown broken open with a dab of Sriracha

Fifteen years ago new places like Fried Dumpling on Allen Street and Vanessa's on Forsyth revolutionized the world of Chinatown cheap eats. No longer were the best deals to be found at Cantonese coffee houses, serving a menu of congees and over-rice charcuterie, but at places that sold five Northern Chinese pot stickers bulging with pork and scallions for an almost ridiculous $1. Added to this was a perfunctory menu of hot-and-sour soup and pie-wedge-shaped sandwiches made with a homemade sesame bread that seemed nearly Arabic. Gradually, these dumpling stalls have become more like restaurants, with an extended menu of Northern Chinese, Fujianese, and even Sichuan fare, and Mei Yu Spring is a new place on the edge of Chinatown in the vanguard of that trend.

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Yuji Ramen's Tasty Fettuccine at Whole Foods Pop-Up

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Yuji Ramen's bacon and egg mazemen

Calling itself a Test Kitchen, Smorgasburg mainstay Yuji Ramen has assumed its temporary spot in the second floor food court of the Lower East Side Whole Foods. Their tenure will be two months, and the concise daytime menu (there's also an evening omakase) includes three varieties of mazemen - a type of unsouped ramen dressed with sauce and a variety of ingredients -- and one daily shoyu ramen with a broth that varies.

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Kirschen-Clark's Painterly New Food at Café Cluny

Heirloom beet salad -- Bartlett pear, arugula, ricotta, walnuts

First cutting his eye teeth at Jimmy's No. 43, playing a pair of hot plates like a DJ, chef Philip Kirschen-Clark bounced around trying to find a new place that was a good fit. Most recently, he developed a menu at Vandaag representing the adapted cooking of Holland and Denmark, incorporating his usual local and seasonal sensibilities. It closed, according to a recent interview with Kirschen-Clark in Grub Street, because there weren't enough customers. Now, he's installed at Café Cluny, a clubby and not-cheap boite in the West Village with a strong neighborhood constituency. His mission: keep the good stuff on the menu the locals love (like the tuna burger and pastas), but add his own French, vegetable-y, and color-intensive touches. At a recent lunch there, a friend and I found some of his new dishes amazing - great tasting and beautiful to look at, too, while employing some startling juxtapositions. Here are four.

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New Pizzeria in Tribeca: American Flatbread

The handsome beehive oven at American Flatbread, one of two

American Flatbread is a small but ambitious chain of pizza parlors that originated in New Hampshire Vermont. The chain recently opened a massive new pizza parlor at the corner of Hudson and Canal. As you wait for your pies, you can watch convoluted lines of cars entering the tunnel as they go back to Jersey. "What a beautiful view!" The waiter exclaimed, as the two of us stared out the window in near-disbelief, wondering at the chain's choice of location.

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