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A Dish Right Out of the ’70s Is an Early Bestseller at This UES Revival

Hoexters is the return of the first of over 25 restaurants for the Shapiro family

A table set against a tartan plaid wall at Hoexters.
| Hoexters
Melissa McCart is the editor for Eater New York.

Co-owner of Flex Mussels and now the revival of Hoexters on the Upper East Side, Alexandra Shapiro comes from a restaurant family. Her father, Bobby Shapiro, has had a hand in 27 restaurants, she says. In addition to founding Hoexter’s Market in 1977, he opened Texarkana and Chez Louis in Manhattan, a Boca Raton restaurant with Florida-renowned chef Norman Van Aken, and David’s Cookies, among others.

So it makes sense that, in the reopening of Hoexters, at 174 E. 82nd Street near Third Avenue — a neighborhood restaurant that originally reigned around the corner for about a decade — she’d look to the family legacy.

The menu comes from chef Lauren Schwichtenberg, who most recently cooked at Brooklyn’s LaLou, featuring French onion soup, Caesar salad, fried calamari, shrimp cocktail, and clams piccata among starters, and meat-centric mains like a half-chicken, a whole branzino, stuffed shells, and pork Milanese.

But it’s the gorgonzola garlic bread ($18) from the original menu — a 1970s dish if there ever were one — that’s been the bestseller so far. Here, the (not particularly photogenic, white-on-white) appetizer is an Italian loaf dressed with garlic, herbs, and a gorgonzola bechamel. “I’d been hearing about it my whole life,” Shapiro says. Nevertheless, she’s been “astounded” at the number of orders since the restaurant opened earlier this month.

The road to reopening Hoexters started with the fire at Flex Mussels back in 2022. As Shapiro rehabbed the space, a larger spot nearby freed up, allowing Flex Mussels to move. Still on the hook for the original Flex space, she had to decide what to do next. Turns out, the location held some nostalgia for the family where they had run a restaurant for over 20 years (before Flex, it was another family restaurant, Zocalo); it wasn’t an easy location to give up.

Around that time, Shapiro got a notification from Etsy of a matchbook for sale from Hoexter’s Market, her father’s first business, which had been a butcher shop that he’d converted to a well-regarded market and restaurant, with positive reviews from the New York Times’ Mimi Sheraton. It prompted a discussion about reopening the spot. “It all fell into place,” she says.

Hoexter’s has always held sway in the family even after her father sold the restaurant in the late ’80s. A giant mural of the original staff that used to reside behind the bar had been periodically hanging in the family home; it shows Shapiro’s father and grandfather in a butcher’s jacket. “I can remember as a child everyone going through who everyone was,” she says. And Hoexter’s laid the groundwork for the family’s other restaurants.

Caviar and chips.
Caviar and potato chips for $95.
A chopped salad with meats and cheeses.
Hoexter’s chopped salad for $21.

Today that mural overlooks one of three dining rooms in the 90-seat restaurant with a 10-seat bar, with retro design elements like a black-and-white penny tile floor, checkered bathrooms, and tartan wallpaper, with pine, burgundy, and midnight accents. (“Market” and the apostrophe have been dropped from the name.)

Of the reopening, Shapiro says, “It’s been fortuitous, as if it was meant to be.”

Hoexters is open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m.

Garlic bread on a plate in a dim room.
The $18 gorgonzola garlic bread at Hoexters.
A smash burger with fries.
The double smash burger at Hoexters for $28.

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