East Village takeout

I didn’t even consider doing takeout or delivery during the worst of the pandemic in New York (so far, at least), but though I still cook a lot and otherwise mostly subsist on dairy, nuts and other store-bought items, I have been to a few of my favorites for pickup in the last few weeks. (I’m glad some restaurants are profiting from outdoor dining for now, but I’m not willing to take the risk to have my mask off while people are walking past me, so for me, it’s strictly ordering for pickup, wiping down the plastic containers with alcohol and eating at home.) Somtum Der is open and also doing outdoor dining. Mala Project has been open for weeks, and I’ve gone there a couple of times for takeout. The day before yesterday, my girlfriend and I got dinner from Szechuan Mountain House, which has a nice outdoor dining area. You might remember that they never used to do takeout. Their food didn’t suffer from being carried a couple of blocks. Veselka is open till 11 PM now most days, and we got a lentil salad and a side of sauerkraut that they let us order less than 15 minutes before closing because it didn’t require them much time to prepare. I haven’t taken anything out from B&H since the second week in March (the last time I took anything out before the crisis hit New York), but they are open and have a sign asking people to contribute to their GoFundMe page to help them stay in business, which really saddens me. I used to eat there frequently after work, because they are one of the few remaining inexpensive restaurants in the area, they’re nice people, and their food is perfectly OK if you order things they’re competent at. I used to go to the Stage frequently, and before that, Teresa’s, and Veselka is not cheap anymore. But I digress. I also took out almost a pound of pastrami and some pickles from Katz’s the other day, and I took out a pint of gelato (2/3 malt and 1/3 white sesame) from Il Laboratorio del Gelato a few weeks ago. I’m sorry the St Marks location of Xi’an Famous Foods is closed because although I’m mostly low-carb, I would want their noodles at times.

Where have you been getting takeout from in the East Village and Lower East Side?

I’ve gotten takeout exactly twice since March - once from Foxface (an excellent softshell crab sandwich) and once from Cagen (an expensive sushi set, for my birthday dinner). I know a lot of the Essex Market places are up and running. My one and only sit-down restaurant meal (in NYC) was at The Grand Delancey, at a sidewalk table.

I’m not sure why my habits have changed so much. I go out plenty, to shop for food or just walk around. And I get tons of stuff delivered. But I’ve almost entirely stopped bringing prepared food home or having someone bring it to me.

It’s an interesting question of whether food shopping is or is not more dangerous than sit-down meals on the street. Being indoors brings much more risk of contagion, but shopping is briefer and we’re not in the same position for a long time, while sitting on the street means that you’re likely to be relatively close to other maskless people sitting down without a mask on at least part of the time, while those passing you on the street are out of your control. That said, I’ve been quite disturbed to see how often employees of Dual, a shop I go to often, are not wearing masks. I guess my rationalization is that shopping is necessary, while eating out is not, but each of us will make our own decisions about how much and what kinds of risks we are willing to take.

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My perception of risk plays a big role, I’m sure. I see stores as a lot safer, at least the ones I go to. The ceilings are pretty high, and people are not very close to one another, neither of which is as likely to be true of a restaurant. And I also do a lot of my shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket. Of course, that requires a bus ride, so it’s kinda six of one, half a dozen of the other, risk-wise.

I would think twice about hanging out in a store where the employees were unmasked. At the places I go most often - Essex Market, Chinatown Supermarket, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s - I have seen exactly zero unmasked employees, unless you count the Fed Ex and UPS guys, who are terrible at keeping their masks on.


I forgot to mention, my girlfriend and I also got takeout from Taim on Bleecker St. in the West Village while we were walking there a few weeks ago. I can never pass up their sabich, which we bought two platters of along with a side of beets, and I substituted spicy carrots for the Israeli salad in my platter. I love Taim.

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