Trendspotting Westchester’s Street Meat (and Veg), Spring Forward Dining Events, and Thinking of Japan

Westchester’s Street Meat (and Veg)

Let’s face it—no one is going to hand you a spinach salad through a street-truck hatch —and if they do, you have to ask yourself, what’s the point? The whole reason for food trucks is to tickle dirty impulse cravings that spawn from the delta of shame, salt, and grease. The ideal street food target is a buzzed twenty-something partier, who finds herself on the sidewalk at closing time with mobs of equally drunk friends. Stumbling and subway-bound, these girls need something to soak up the booze. With their dietary censors disabled by alcohol, they lay their crumpled Washingtons down for dirty salt, grease, and spice.

 But how does that work in Westchester, where pedestrianism isn’t the norm? Where street vans can’t generate siren smells that seduce morally weak urban walkers? Turns out that local restaurants are offering truck food from their brick-and-mortar stores, taking their inspiration from the streets and the mobile food purveyors that ply them. Here’s where to get yours:

These tacos buck the food truck trend because they’re actually almost healthy, with fresh herbs and tortillas—plus, the fish tacos that inspired this joint are favored by surfers and other wholesome, outdoor types. Yet the classic fish taco is still vended out the flank of a seaside truck to curbside diners, who eat stooping over the tarmac so they don’t drip food onto their bare toes. At bartaco, look for cheap ($2.50 each; three for $7) tacos which run the gamut of veal, beef al carbon, and pork chili verde, and include the surfer basics of baja fish and red snapper cooked a la plancha. We also love bartaco’s tamales; crisp pickles; and grilled corn with lime, cayenne, and cotija cheese—and, as an added bonus (and unlike the rest of these joints), bartaco slings a mean tequila. 

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Little Kebab Station
Oh, it’s little, all right—just 10 seats, unless you bum-rush the tea-service table and make it to the restaurant’s official tally of 12. It offers addictive, Bombay street food like foil-wrapped Frankie rolls—flat-griddled bread encasing your choice of spiced meat, eggs, lemon, mint , and chutney. Look for crisp and greasy (in a good way) keema nan discs filled with rich and spicy ground lamb, and bhajia, deep-fried veggie fritters that echo a good falafel. Plus, as the name might suggest, it offers a wide assortment of delicious kebabs (including three different lamb preparations). Folks, there’s a reason that kebabs are Go-To London drunk food.

Bhajia and chutneys at Little Kebab Station

A “Lubin” with cheese and onions: the dirty, illicit love child of a Philly Cheesesteak and short ribs

Lubins –N- Links
The “lubin” just screams food truck: it’s slow-cooked beef piled into a potato roll with the whole Pyxis MedStation System of crackalicious toppings (including crumbled bacon, cheese sauce, sautéed mushrooms, homemade chili—you name it). I can just imagine the drunkards shouting orders up through a window, occasionally stumbling backward to take in the menu printed on the side of the truck. But Lubins –N- Links is housed in an actual building (though just barely)—it’s miniscule, colorful, and snug, and can only admit a few diners. Check out the #21 pictured here, a “Bob-a-Lubin”—with cheese sauce and sweet onions: it’s the illicit love child of a Philly cheesesteak and braised short ribs.


Taiim Falafel Shack
It’s tiny, bright, casual, and—during lunch—oddly masculine, from the friendly guys behind the counter shearing off shawarma (and forming falafel spheres with the official, ice-cream-scoop-looking baller) to the men who show up to eat alone or in pairs. We love these juicy, crunchy, nutty falafels highlighted by beet-tinged pickled turnips, green onions, parsley, cucumber, tomato, and creamy tahini, and are happy to rub forearm hair with our similarly pigging-out neighbors.

Foiled again—falafel at Taiim Felafel Shack

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Masala Kraft Café: salty, greasy, delicious – Kosher and veggie, too!

Masala Kraft Café
It kills me that we have two cool Indian street-food places and not one measly noodle and dumpling bar (yet! look for cb5’s China White soon!), but, still…Masala Kraft Café makes a good South Asian bookend for Little Kebab Station. This colorful, cheap, Hartsdale vegetarian may be kosher but it’s not serving health food. It’s all about spicy, deep-fried eats like crunchy bhel and puri, or samosa chaat, which is kind of like a salad in which deep-fried tortillas make a welcome replacement for lettuce. We never miss the buttery, cracker-crisp dosas with fiery green and coconut chutney, and we’re devoted fans of the grilled and pressed sandwiches—never has the concept of “vegetable cutlet” been executed with such flair.


Spring Fever

How sucky was last week’s weather, with ice and snow repeating like a bad meal? I kind of wanted to go outside, look up at the snowing sky and say, “Really, weather?  Really?”

Here’s how to dine, drink, and dance your way into spring.

Lobster Night at PLATES
March 29

$52 per person, exclusive of tax and tip
This summer-in-March, four-course dinner promises butter-poached lobster sliders, lobster risotto w/ leeks, peas & port wine, miso-glazed grilled lobster in shiitake broth, and choice of dessert.

12 Grapes Music & Wine Bar Anniversary Weekend Bash
March 31 – April 3; 8:30 pm – 11:30 pm

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Cost of dinner, plus either $5 to $10 (with dinner) or $10 to $15 (without) entertainment charge
Dine and rock out simultaneously (leaving the prescribed period of rest for digestion), at 12 Grapes Music & Wine Bar in Peekskill, which is celebrating its third anniversary this weekend. Here’s the lineup:
Thu, March 31, 8:30 pm – 11:30 pm, Drew Bordeaux Group

Fri, Apr 1, 9:30 pm – 12:30 am, Johnny Feds and Da Bluez Boyz 

Sat, Apr 2, 9:30 pm – 12:30 am, Steve Wexler & the Top Shelf

Sun, Apr 3, 6 pm – 9 pm, “Best of” Singer/Songwriter Showcase, hosted by Petey Hop


Assorted Sushi at Sushi Nanase

Even though the Japanese tsunami news has been overtaken in the news by tumult in Libya, I’m still spending a lot of time thinking about Japan and hoping that my Japanese friends and their families are all right. I’m especially thinking about Sushi Nanase’s Japanese-born owners, Yoshimichi Takeda and his wife, Masayo. They’ve both gone a long way toward sharing their culture here in Westchester, and I’d just like to say thanks. Here’s a HotPlate from happier days.


Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

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