Join the queue for tacos, circular croissants and chile chicken.
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By Nikita Richardson
Life in a city of more than eight million people means that at some point you will wait in a line. Some lines are (arguably) worth it, like seeing the “Girl With a Pearl Earring” on its last day at the Frick. Others are questionable, like waiting to get into Union Pool in the Year of Our Lord 2022.
And then there are the lines for popular food items: pastrami sandwiches at Katz’s Delicatessen, mini croissant cereal at L’Appartement 4F, Cronuts at Dominique Ansel, cookies at Levain.
Recently, I decided to chase down three of the city’s hottest reservation-less waits: tacos at Taqueria Ramírez in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; the Suprême croissants at Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery in NoHo; and fried chicken at Pecking House in Park Slope. Because no matter how anti-line of a New Yorker you may be, sometimes curiosity gets the best of you.
Line to dine time: 46 minutes
As long as this Greenpoint restaurant has been open, it’s had a line. When I arrived on a Saturday about 15 minutes before opening, a short line had already formed to try the Mexico City-style tacos, with more folks joining by the minute.
A few tips: The space is tiny, so if you want to take your tacos to go, you have to bring your own takeout container. And even once you order, there’s another 15- to 20-minute wait. That said, the tacos are deeply worth it. The rich al pastor is my absolute favorite, especially when chased with a cold sip of Topo Chico Lime. You should order at least four tacos per person, as they’re roughly the size of a coaster and you won’t want to get back in line.
Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery
Line to dine time: 0 minutes
Have you ever played yourself? I did when I woke up at 7 a.m. on a recent Tuesday to get to this restaurant from the chef Andrew Carmellini so I could secure one of its Suprême croissants — only to find no line. Apparently, the line and the two-per-person limit are a weekend-only affair.
The signature croissant is circular, just under an inch thick and about the size of a toddler’s face. Most important, the Suprême solves what I think is the fundamental issue with all croissants au chocolat: The chocolate inside is almost always hardened. Not so with this beautifully laminated creation filled with thick pastry cream. It’s a sugar bomb of a pastry that I would definitely split with a friend next time — on a weekday, of course.
Line to dine time: 64 minutes
In recent weeks, Brooklyn has been dominated by two lines: the one outside a new location of Slutty Vegan, a transplant restaurant that started in Atlanta, and the one outside Pecking House, the fried chicken pop-up from Queens that now lives on Flatbush Avenue. The two restaurants were equally hyped.
Slutty Vegan’s line might have been more energetic, shutting down a major intersection in Fort Greene. But Pecking House’s new location has the distinction of replacing what was once a two-month waiting list. Now the wait is closer to an hour (at least on a Saturday evening). The Sichuan-seasoned fried chicken that Pete Wells called “a life preserver that you could eat” in the darkest days of the pandemic shares a menu with vegetarian and vegan options: a ma po tofu skin sandwich; fried cauliflower; a butter bean salad; and charred cucumbers with ginger. The standout, though, remains the chile chicken. You may not immediately recognize it as chicken with its thick EverCrisp coating, but I can confirm it is, indeed, poultry.
In Other News …
In his latest review, Pete Wells took a look at Laser Wolf, a Philadelphia import from the chef Mike Solomonov, where, Pete wrote, the salatim impresses but the quality of the skewers and entrees was uneven.
Openings: Urban Hawker, a food market inspired by the hawker markets of Singapore, has now opened on West 50th Street; Masalawala & Sons, the latest project from the restaurant group Unapologetic Foods (Dhamaka, Semma, Adda), has arrived in Park Slope; and the chef Eric Ripert has gone casual with L’Ami Pierre, a new spot for sandwiches, soups and baked goods down the block from his flagship, Le Bernardin, in Midtown.
Julia Moskin and Kim Severson reported on a new documentary on Discovery+ that features an interview with Eva DeVirgilis, a former employee of Mario Batali who said she was sexually assaulted by him at a dinner at the Spotted Pig.
Priya Krishna dove into the world of rookie dinners, a divisive, decades-old tradition in the National Football League that requires first-year players treat veteran teammates to exorbitant meals costing thousands of dollars.
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