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Sietsema's Favorite International Greasy Spoons

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12013_greasy_spoon_map12.jpgWhile we often associate the term "greasy spoon" with Greek diners, this list proves that nearly any nation or cultural group can launch one successfully.

All photos by Robert Sietsema

· All Posts by Robert Sietsema [~ENY~]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Elza Fancy Food

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3071 Brighton 4th St.
New york, NY 10007

Located on a side street in Brighton Beach, this small bright spot features Korean-Uzbek fare that sometimes skews toward the strange, but even then remains oddly familiar. Examples are mash-hurdy, an omelet wrapped around a mayo-slathered minute steak; and a version of chicken tabaka that reads as fried chicken swamped in an improved version of ketchup.

2. La Taza De Oro

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96 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-9946

This ancient Chelsea Latin lunch counter sports a menu that rotates by day of the week, offering pig-centric dishes as unctuous and old-fashioned as you might desire, and cut-rate espresso, too. Sit on a swiveling stool at the long formica counter for maximum enjoyment.

3. Downtown Bakery

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69 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-1757

Long ago it was an Italian bakery, then it turned into a Mexican bakery. Finally, a few tables were thrown down and a massive menu of southern Mexican peasant fare was added: enchiladas drenched in chile-based sauces, masa antojitos in multiple permutations, plus some Tex-Mex stuff thrown in for good measure, including a perfect versionof one of New York’s most elusive dishes, breakfast tacos.

4. David's Brisket House

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533 Nostrand Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 783-6109
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It started in the last century as a Jewish deli, but was bought by devout Muslims early in this one. They lovingly maintained a menu consistent with both kosher and halal principals, and a premises that suggests a diner where traveling salesmen might hang – chowing down on the splendid roast brisket hero swamped in brown gravy.

5. Dosa Hutt

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4563 Bowne St
Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 961-5897

Can a strictly vegetarian southern Indian restaurant qualify as a greasy spoon? Step inside this long-running establishment – hard by a picturesque Hindu temple festooned with bas reliefs of the elephant-headed Ganesha – and your answer will be an emphatic “Yes!”

6. Laliguras Restaurant

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3763 76th St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Offering Nepalese, Tibetan, and even some Bhutanese fare in a greasy spoon setting, this compact spot is named for the national flower of Nepal: the red, red rhododendron.

7. Abidjan

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1136 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11221

This Ivory Coast gem under the J tracks serves up marvelous orders of lamb in peanut sauce with a side of mashed white-yam fufu, and if you squint your eyes it looks for all the world like Salisbury steak in gravy with mashed potatoes.

8. Haandi

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113 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10016
(212) 685-5200
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This Pakistani cabbie hang handily fulfills all the imperatives of a greasy spoon -- quick in and out, food ladled from a steam table and all the better for it, lots of seating jammed into a small area, and a certain shabbiness – and don’t forget cheap as hell. Upstairs room preferred.

9. New York Bakery

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51 W 29th St
New York, NY 10001
(212) 741-8324

A tiny walk-up space in what is sometimes known as the Merchandising District – surrounded by all sorts of wholesale establishments selling cut-rate watches, crappy umbrellas, and plastic jewelry – offers a menu that combines Korean and Mexican fare. All have an engagingly thrown-together quality. And the view out the smeary window is sublime. But was it ever really a bakery?

10. Sapporo East

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245 E 10th St
New York, NY 10009
(212) 260-1330

One of the first Japanese restaurants in the East Village’s Little Tokyo, this modest and now-shabby space has been a defacto neighborhood diner for going on 30 years. Believe it or not, the sushi isn’t awful, and their katsudon qualifies as some of the city’s greatest comfort food.

11. Mr. Gyros

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21-19 Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 204-5569

Proving that a Greek restaurant doesn’t have to be a diner to be a greasy spoon, the raffish-sounding Mr. Gyros provides a full range of Greek kebabs, pastries, and mezze in a brightly lit setting at cut-rate prices in a western Astoria strip mall.

12. EL Nuevo Bohio

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791 E Tremont Ave
Bronx, NY 10460
(718) 294-3905

What is the world’s best type of grease? Lard, of course. And this Tremont Puerto Rican greasy spoon specializes in pork in all its myriad variations, from ears and tails to garlic-rubbed roast shoulder to crumbly blood sausage, at bargain prices.

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1. Elza Fancy Food

3071 Brighton 4th St., New york, NY 10007

Located on a side street in Brighton Beach, this small bright spot features Korean-Uzbek fare that sometimes skews toward the strange, but even then remains oddly familiar. Examples are mash-hurdy, an omelet wrapped around a mayo-slathered minute steak; and a version of chicken tabaka that reads as fried chicken swamped in an improved version of ketchup.

3071 Brighton 4th St.
New york, NY 10007

2. La Taza De Oro

96 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

This ancient Chelsea Latin lunch counter sports a menu that rotates by day of the week, offering pig-centric dishes as unctuous and old-fashioned as you might desire, and cut-rate espresso, too. Sit on a swiveling stool at the long formica counter for maximum enjoyment.

96 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011

3. Downtown Bakery

69 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

Long ago it was an Italian bakery, then it turned into a Mexican bakery. Finally, a few tables were thrown down and a massive menu of southern Mexican peasant fare was added: enchiladas drenched in chile-based sauces, masa antojitos in multiple permutations, plus some Tex-Mex stuff thrown in for good measure, including a perfect versionof one of New York’s most elusive dishes, breakfast tacos.

69 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003

4. David's Brisket House

533 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

It started in the last century as a Jewish deli, but was bought by devout Muslims early in this one. They lovingly maintained a menu consistent with both kosher and halal principals, and a premises that suggests a diner where traveling salesmen might hang – chowing down on the splendid roast brisket hero swamped in brown gravy.

533 Nostrand Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216

5. Dosa Hutt

4563 Bowne St, Flushing, NY 11355

Can a strictly vegetarian southern Indian restaurant qualify as a greasy spoon? Step inside this long-running establishment – hard by a picturesque Hindu temple festooned with bas reliefs of the elephant-headed Ganesha – and your answer will be an emphatic “Yes!”

4563 Bowne St
Flushing, NY 11355

6. Laliguras Restaurant

3763 76th St, Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Offering Nepalese, Tibetan, and even some Bhutanese fare in a greasy spoon setting, this compact spot is named for the national flower of Nepal: the red, red rhododendron.

3763 76th St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

7. Abidjan

1136 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11221
Read Review |

This Ivory Coast gem under the J tracks serves up marvelous orders of lamb in peanut sauce with a side of mashed white-yam fufu, and if you squint your eyes it looks for all the world like Salisbury steak in gravy with mashed potatoes.

1136 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11221

8. Haandi

113 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

This Pakistani cabbie hang handily fulfills all the imperatives of a greasy spoon -- quick in and out, food ladled from a steam table and all the better for it, lots of seating jammed into a small area, and a certain shabbiness – and don’t forget cheap as hell. Upstairs room preferred.

113 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10016

9. New York Bakery

51 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

A tiny walk-up space in what is sometimes known as the Merchandising District – surrounded by all sorts of wholesale establishments selling cut-rate watches, crappy umbrellas, and plastic jewelry – offers a menu that combines Korean and Mexican fare. All have an engagingly thrown-together quality. And the view out the smeary window is sublime. But was it ever really a bakery?

51 W 29th St
New York, NY 10001

10. Sapporo East

245 E 10th St, New York, NY 10009

One of the first Japanese restaurants in the East Village’s Little Tokyo, this modest and now-shabby space has been a defacto neighborhood diner for going on 30 years. Believe it or not, the sushi isn’t awful, and their katsudon qualifies as some of the city’s greatest comfort food.

245 E 10th St
New York, NY 10009

11. Mr. Gyros

21-19 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106

Proving that a Greek restaurant doesn’t have to be a diner to be a greasy spoon, the raffish-sounding Mr. Gyros provides a full range of Greek kebabs, pastries, and mezze in a brightly lit setting at cut-rate prices in a western Astoria strip mall.

21-19 Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106

12. EL Nuevo Bohio

791 E Tremont Ave, Bronx, NY 10460

What is the world’s best type of grease? Lard, of course. And this Tremont Puerto Rican greasy spoon specializes in pork in all its myriad variations, from ears and tails to garlic-rubbed roast shoulder to crumbly blood sausage, at bargain prices.

791 E Tremont Ave
Bronx, NY 10460

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