10 Things in New York City the Phoenix Food Scene Will Never Have
Village Voice Mamoun's has been a favorite cheap meal of New Yorkers for more than 40 years.
Arizona has an up-and-coming food scene, and there's a lot to be proud of, for sure. But when Chow Bella published a list of things that make Phoenix a better food town than New York City, I just had to laugh. The difference in size alone makes the two incomparable. Since moving back to New York six months ago, I've come to miss the food at Phoenix haunts like Short Leash Hot Dogs, La Tolteca, St. Francis, and -- quite obviously -- dessert at top restaurants like Cowboy Ciao. But, by comparison, I still miss a lot more from the food scene in Portland, Oregon, where I lived for four years. So for me, Phoenix is small potatoes, but to give the Valley something to shoot for, here are 10 food favorites New Yorkers take for granted that Phoenix will likely never see.
Cheap Food After Midnight (that's not greasy Mexican fare)
When I first lived in NYC in 2004, this was one of the attributes that hooked me on the city. If you want off-hours food in Phoenix, you'd better be in the mood for a burrito, quesadilla, or a few tacos. The salsa bars at these late-night hubs for greasy Mexican food can be surprisingly good, but overall, the options in the Valley are really lacking after regular dinner hours. Not so in New York. Near Washington Square Park, the original Mamoun's -- first opened in 1971 -- sells $3 falafel and $6 shawarma until 5 a.m., a college kid's dream come true. Even where I live now, in a residential part of Bushwick, there's a cheap restaurant on the corner, OMG Pizza, selling staples like falafel, salads, and burgers until 3 a.m.
Bodegas, Bodegas, Bodegas
I miss being able to drive my car to a giant grocery store, à la Fry's or Safeway, but it's a fair trade to be able to run to my choice of countless bodegas or dollar stores when I'm in a pinch. Need ice cream after the grocery store is closed? A six-pack with no detour on the way home, no matter where you're coming from? A single stamp so you can stick that letter in the mail right away? Best of all, a lot of bodegas have healthy options for snacks and sandwiches, including organic juices and protein bars. Most also will make a sandwich on the spot, slicing meats and cheeses from a fully stocked deli case.