New York has some characters. Amidst the tourists, the businessmen, the supermodels, and the college kids live some crazy cats, and because New York is a much cleaner, safer town than it used to be, those cats are occasionally hard to spot. Enter Shopsins.
Shopsins Essex Street Market, 120 Essex Street (corner of Essex and Delancey), New York. Shopsins is a tiny diner that used to be located in the West Village and relocated to a stall in the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. Kenny Shopsin, the owner, has some bizarre rules: no parties over 4 people, no cell phone calls, and he has the right to kick you out whenever he feels like it. He hates the press and notoriously denies interviews. As soon as our waiter, Kenny’s son, went back into the kitchen I snuck this picture. The last thing I wanted was to be kicked out before I got my RIDICULOUS meal.
On the menu:
Leeky Boat: fried potato skins filled with scrambled eggs, leeks, and gruyere
Slutty Cakes: pancakes made with pumpkin, pistachios, and peanut butter
Strider: maple veggie sausage, eggs, and avocado on an English muffin
Verdict: I. Love. This. Place. Word has it, Kenny Shopsin loves his loyal, regular customers and I want to be one! When I was sitting at the tiny table, waiting for my crazy incredible meal to be delivered, Kenny himself sat down outside the stall front and yelled out to someone in the kitchen, “WHAT KIND OF F***ING VEGETABLES DON’T THEY LIKE?!” If you’re looking for a New York character, this is it. Think Soup Nazi. And the food was incredible. The fried potato skins were crisped to perfection with the silky smooth blend of leeks and cheese stuffed inside, and the Slutty Cakes (if I was stuffed with pumpkin, peanut butter, and pistachios I’d probably be pretty popular, too) were to DIE for. The cakes themselves were crisp on the outside and the filling (who’da thunk it!) was an incredible blend of salty, sweet flavors. And the kicker? Each plate of pancakes is served with a tiny bottle of REAL maple syrup. Be still my heart.
The real draw of this place, outside of the character who runs it, is the extensive menu. Coconut cinnamon pancakes, hash with eggs and toast over “white trash” gumbo, the Quack (BBQ duck drumettes with chili cheese fries, eggs, and toast), MAC AND CHEESE PANCAKES!, bread pudding French toast, corn fried catfish with gumbo… Does any of this sound good to you? Over 900 menu items. If you can’t find something to love, then I don’t want to know you. There I said it.