Welcome,Anthony Bourdain:No Reservations viewers! I’ve added a number of shots to this post that I took during the filming of “Obsessed”. Enjoy.
358 River St, Hackensack, NJ
Fast food is not something I indulge in frequently, and when I do, I tend to prefer the classic Americana kind rather than the big chains. White Castle is an exception, just because of the uniqueness of the product.
If the hours are right, and the moons are properly aligned, and my stomach says “throw your best at me, you son of a bitch!” then I head over to my very favorite Jersey burger place of all — White Manna, on River Street in Hackensack.
White Manna as seen in daylight. Photo by “Daniel”, eG Forums
White Manna is a tiny little diner structure that can seat about maybe 15 people, tops. The story goes that the original was built in 1937 prior to the 1939 Worlds Fair exhibition in Flushing, NY, was then used at that event, and then later moved to New Jersey. The Hackensack location is not the original, it was built in 1946.
All this historical stuff aside, it’s pretty much acknowledged by everyone who has been to both that the better burgers are at the Hackensack location.
When Tony Bourdain asked me where we should go eat when arranging our interview for No Reservations, I could only think of one place — the tiny little belly bomb joint which has over the last few years probably accrued more web traffic on this blog than any other.
There’s No Reservations at White Manna. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Ali Kabab Cafe on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. This tiny storefront could be easily overlooked by a passer-by given the dozens of Middle Eastern restaurants and stores on that block. Don’t pass this one up.
Lately I’ve been taking more flights in and out of New York’s LaGuardia airport given that fact that I have been giving more and more of my airline business to Delta, who has a substantial presence at LGA in both the main and Marine Air Terminals. The side benefit of this is that LaGuardia is right next to the town of Astoria, which houses one of the largest Greek and Middle Eastern communities in the United States.
The main strip of Steinway Street, which used to be predominantly Greek 20 or 30 years ago is now more of an enclave of Lebanese, Palestinian and Egyptian stores and cafes. One such cafe that I had always wanted to visit but never really had the opportunity to eat at is Ali Kabab Cafe, a tiny, cramped but eclectic cafe that rightfully boasts some of the best Middle Eastern food in the New York metropolitan area.
I do have to warn you that if you eat at Ali’s, you are not just going there for the food, which in and of itself is creative and phenomenal and will not be like any Middle Eastern food you have ever eaten before.
You’re going there to be a guest of Ali Al-Sayed, who is a character that can only be described as an intellectual entertainer. If you strike up a conversation with Ali, you had better be prepared to listen, because this guy is a student of art, history and politics. If you have any interest at all in Egyptian and Middle Eastern culture, you’re in for even more of an experience. Just ask him questions about the stuff hung on his walls and you’re going to get an earful. He is the closest thing to a culinary ambassador that Egypt has in New York, or perhaps the United States.
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry link below” for more.