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The Smoky Rib Sandwich at East Village’s Foxface Is a Constant Triumph

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The tiny shop punches above its weight in innovative sandwich selections, Robert Sietsema writes

A brick storefront with a window that looks into a kitchen in which cooks can be seen, and a few customer mill around outside...
Foxface is just a small kitchen with a window on the street.

Is creativity where sandwiches are concerned a plus? Does hearing of some innovation automatically make you want to try it? Foxface is a good test of these questions. It occupies a tiny East Village space just west of First Avenue, inside a bar that’s connected to the historic Theatre 80 St. Marks. The windowed kitchen, which can be seen from the street, was previously flogging Feltman’s frankfurters.

Foxface is a sandwich stall that serves five or six sandwiches per day with punning names. Many deploy multiple, often seemingly incongruous, ingredients. On a recent weekday afternoon, the fixin’s of various sandwiches included goat, Ethiopian berbere spice powder, line-caught halibut, turnips, horseradish, apples, and wild boar prosciutto. How random is that? Because the menu shifts on a daily basis, you’re never sure what you’re going to find on the white strips of paper that flap outside the order window. But there’s one constant: the smoking fox ($12).

A sandwich on a demi baguette is cut to reveal boneless smoked ribs and cole slaw.
The Smoking Fox sandwich

This marquee sandwich features smoked pork rib, coleslaw, pickles, and a spicy slather of cryptic sauce. It’s damn good, a mixture of sneakily familiar flavors together for the first time. The smoked ribs, which sounds like the most difficult preparation step, boast a hammy flavor unlike barbecue, and reminded me of versions I’ve had at Eastern European butchers in the East Village and Greenpoint.

Nevertheless, all the sandwiches at Foxface take a long time to prepare, and there are often three employees gyrating in the small space at once. Not everything tried there have I liked, but the smoking fox is a triumph of sandwich making. As I said, this is a place for adventuresome sandwich eaters, for whom a ham on rye or PB&J is never enough. 80 St. Marks Place, between First and Second avenues, East Village

A look inside the kitchen, where three are seen working...
Watch your sandwich being made, sometimes by three people at once.

Foxface

80 Saint Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003 Visit Website

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