Tamales in the Village, Whole Lobster and More Reader Questions

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Hello from the final week of July! Summer is fully in swing — are you eating your daily ice cream? — and the requests keep coming. This week, I’m helping a reader who will be in town for the U.S. Open and needs recommendations for where to dine in Manhattan and on the way back from the stadium in Flushing. Also, a reader is searching for great tamales in the Village, and another wants to eat whole lobster without breaking the bank.

Please send your own questions and recommendations to [email protected], and you may see them shared here. And, most important, stay cool!

I am stumped as to where to eat during our weekend at the U.S. Open. We arrive on a Friday late afternoon and are staying close to West 110th and Central Park West. What suggestions do you have for us to dine close by? Walking distance, and we are good walkers. We love good food, great design, a good vibe, but not over the top expensive. Then Saturday and Sunday we will be out at Flushing Meadows until about 7 p.m., then back to Manhattan. So anywhere in between where we can hop off the train, have a culinary experience and back on the train later is great. — Marike B.

The good news is you won’t have to walk too far for either of my Manhattan recommendations. To fortify you for the trip to Queens, you should grab brunch at Melba’s, one of Harlem’s finest soul food destinations. Chicken with a side of eggnog waffles (or is it the reverse?) are the specialty, but I suggest committing to the catfish. And for dinner, stroll over to the Peruvian restaurant Contento on East 111th Street near Park Avenue. They serve my favorite yuca fries in New York City, and you can’t go wrong with the fluke katsu or the short ribs over glossy udon noodles (each demonstrating Japanese influence on Peruvian cuisine). For his part, my colleague Pete Wells really enjoyed the arroz con pato pictured above.

As for your train ride back from Flushing, I can’t recommend the Tibetan restaurant Phayul enough. It’s a very homey, very low-key spot, and the beef-filled tsak sha momos with chile crisp are such a treat. Disembark at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue stop to enjoy.

Any recommendations close to the Village for tamales? I relish ones that are generous with corn meal. — Judi

Factory Tamal, anyone? There are two locations: one on Ludlow Street and a more Village-adjacent storefront on East Fourth Street near Cooper Square. As the New York Times Magazine columnist Ligaya Mishan wrote in her 2017 review, it’s one of just a few places in New York City that makes masa the old-school (read: ancient) way. Her favorite tamales: mole poblano, chipotle, salsa verde, rajas con queso, and the so-New-York-it-hurts bacon and cheese; $5 each.

Where are the best places to eat whole lobsters in Manhattan? We’re prepared to spend some $$$, but not The Palm. — Pat L.

I wasn’t aware we were having another meeting of the Finer Things Club! In all seriousness, a whole lobster isn’t too far out of reach for you. At Keens Steakhouse, in Midtown, the market price for a whole steamed lobster is currently $35 per pound — they generally top out at five pounds, or $175 — and they even let you choose your own lobster. And if you get over to north Brooklyn, please check out Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Company. Market price at its restaurant is currently $49 to $59 per lobster, which the restaurant told me is finally coming down after last year’s whole lobster price spike. All its seafood is sustainably sourced, and best of all, your lobster comes with a bib!

  • In his latest review, Pete Wells gave three stars to the yakitori restaurant Kono, where the chef Atsushi Kono treats chicken as “not one ingredient but many ingredients.”

  • Openings: Le Rock, the latest project from the team behind Frenchette, is now open at Rockefeller Center; HAGS, a queer-owned restaurant offering vegan and omnivore tasting menus, opened last week in the East Village; and after more than two years, Russ & Daughters Cafe is back to full service on Orchard Street.

  • Want to bar-hop your way through the natural wine bars of Lower Manhattan? T Magazine has a mini guide for doing just that.

  • Tejal Rao reflected on the complicated legacy of Diana Kennedy, the British-born cookbook author and researcher who “changed the way millions of people perceived Mexican food, and relished the power in that role.” Ms. Kennedy died on Sunday at 99.

  • Gas prices and rising supply costs have made owning and operating ice cream trucks untenable for some owners, Christina Morales reports.

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