Eating Fifth Avenue – Tacos Matamoros II

IMG_6014It’s been delicious fun, eating 5th avenue, and I’m not done yet.  I am, however, done blogging about it . . . at least for a while. It’s time to move on to other avenues.

For this final post, I checked out the second, expansion location of a Sunset Park institution: Tacos Matamoros. I’d spotted this place on one of my earlier forays, and liked the look of the (non-taco) daily specials posted out front. So I hopped on an R train to 59th St. yet again and walked the couple of blocks to its narrow storefront on 5th between 57th and 58th.

A new roster of daily specials was posted on the door. Mole de olla! Pipián verde o rojo! Bistec encebollado! I felt lucky to be there on a day when all these things were offered. Then I looked at the menu, and saw that they were, in fact, regular items, priced exactly the same as always. But I’d come for the specials, dammit, so that’s what I ordered. Pipián verde, to be precise. Continue reading


Happy Valentine’s Day from Brooklyn

cupid crop

After yesterday’s text-heavy post, just pictures today. All of these images are from storefronts on 4th and 5th avenues . . . mainly in Sunset Park, but extending as far north as 4th ave and President street. I don’t know if they’re the work of the same artist, or if, over the years, certain conventions have become standard (androgynous couples embracing, Cupid in tighty-whities).

Whichever: enjoy! Continue reading

The banks were made of marble

Greater NY Savings BankFinance may be ascendant in NYC, but plenty of once-grand bank buildings are now repurposed as retail stores, fitness centers and (of course) luxury condos.  Here’s a small sample gathered from some recent Brooklyn runs, along with whatever information I was able to dig up about the history of each institution and location.

I like to think that the stories of these buildings, combined, help tell a bigger story about financial consolidation. The plot of that bigger story careens from one financial crisis to the next, with a hot redlining subplot, all set against a backdrop of Brooklyn’s decline as a manufacturing center and growth as a lifestyle brand.

I don’t pretend to do justice to that story here, just to hint at it.

(One acknowledgement that absolutely must go up front: as I was working on this post, I quickly discovered  that Kevin Walsh’s “Forgotten New York” blog has visited most, if not all, of these same sites – and many others as well. If you aren’t already familiar with FNY, and you have even a smidgen of interest in the social, economic and architectural history of Brooklyn and New York City, then you owe it to yourself to check it out.) Continue reading

Eating Fifth Avenue – La Flor de Izucar (plus Karen redux)

flor de izucar menuIt wintry-mixed all morning, adding to the trenches and pools of wintry mix already on the ground. With the weather forecast calling for the mix to turn increasingly wintry as the day progressed, my personal forecast called for comfort food and a hot drink.

Make that hot drinks. Although I had a lunch destination in mind (La Flor Bakery, between 40th and 41st streets), I’d been having non-buyer’s remorse ever since my visit to Karen Deli Grocery two weeks ago. Karen’s menu of hot, milky atoles – rice with chocolate! sweet corn! – was intriguingly different from the standard offerings along 5th Ave. Not to mention perfect for a miserable, gray, wintry mixy day.

And so I deliberately overshot my destination and took the R all the way to 59th St. A quick zig and another quick zag and I’d be at Karen, where I’d get a drink to go and sip it as I doubled back to La Flor on foot.

The downside of that plan, of course, was that it entailed walking a full mile in miserable, gray, wintry mix. But you know what? Karen’s Salvadoran-style atol de elote (sweet corn atole, $2),  was totally worth it. It was like imbibing the essence of corn – sweet and creamy, almost buttery. The only thing that might have made it better would be a sprinkle of cinnamon on top (mental note: ask for some next time).

A sprinkle of cinnamon, and not plunging my foot into an ankle-deep puddle of wintry mix at a crosswalk. Continue reading