Shorty’s

When I worked in Flatiron, I visited just about every decent restaurant in the neighborhood. I can tell you where to get the best lunch special in New York City (Chote Nawab, obviously) and where to find the best Korean buffet (Woorijip, hands down). I can even tell you what the most optimal conditions are for snagging a ShackBurger in Madison Square Park, wait-free (when it’s raining, duh!). But, until this morning, I couldn’t tell you where to find a Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on a fresh-baked bun in all of the big apple. All this time, pork roll was right around the corner — and I had no idea.

The self-proclaimed purveyor of “NYC’s only authentic cheesesteak,” Shorty’s prides itself on serving up South Philly cuisine (at South Philly prices). I had been talking to MDP about heading over to Hoboken to get a Taylor Ham sandwich some Saturday morning, and, per usual, he got down to scouring the internet for the ever-elusive-outside-of-New-Jersey tried and true Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. He found Shorty’s, so we gave it a go today. If you too are searching for the beloved Taylor Ham, put Shorty’s at the top of your brunch list.

When we got to the spot at five to 11, a sandwich board listing the Philly standards — roast pork, Italian fries, fresh-baked Philly bread, and, of course, cheeseteaks — greeted us, so we went inside. “Give us about five minutes,” called out the bartender, and we slid through the door as quickly as we had entered. Leaking air conditioners sprayed down on us for a good five until we decided it was okay to head back inside at 11:01.

The Flatiron space is narrow and deep, with a bar running the length of the restaurant. Shorty’s offers just about every bourbon — even Blanton’s, which isn’t your run-of-the-mill Maker’s Mark — and a diverse selection of beers on tap. We sat at a high table that faced roughly five TVs and pored over the menu that doubled as a placemat. I appreciated the efficiency, which felt more New York City than Philadelphia.

I had been planning to order the pork roll, egg, and American cheese on a roll since early last week. After much deliberation, MDP landed on the roast pork with provolone, and we opted for the Italian fries to share.

Italian fries

shorty's italian fries

italian fries

Let’s start with the fries. Crisp and crusty, they were covered with Italian seasoning — whatever that means/probably oregano — and Romano cheese. I found them to be quite delicious and even verging on addictive, as the placemat/menu/restaurant storyboard suggests. I highly recommend these fries!

Roast pork with cheese

shorty's roast pork with cheese

roast pork with cheese

Okay, so I was skeptical about the roast pork at first. Honestly, I don’t understand what it is. When I think about “roast pork,” I see something like a pork roast in my mind’s eye, but maybe I have it mixed up. I suppose, being from central/north Jersey, I’m not too familiar with some of the nuances of Philadelphia cuisine, including this particular sandwich.

MDP said he had tried it a couple of times, but he owned up to being something less than an expert on it. “Here, why don’t you try it,” he said, gesturing with the sandwich. “No, it’s okay,” I said, shaking my head. But then I went ahead and took a bite.

It was amaaaaazing. So tender, so flavorful. The texture of the bun was perfect, and the melted provolone brought the entire sandwich experience together. I highly recommend this sandwich at Shorty’s.

Fresh-baked Philadelphia bread

As a side note, I should mention that Shorty’s ships their bread directly from Philadelphia. It sounds like they get the dough from the city of brotherly love and bake it on the NYC premises. I could be wrong, but, given Turnpike traffic and the prohibitive cost of Amtrak, I can’t imagine it’s literally fresh-baked from Philly.

Pork roll, egg, and American cheese

shorty's pork roll taylor ham egg and cheese

pork roll, egg, and cheese

As you know, I’m a fan of Taylor Ham. It is this blog’s namesake and only brings back fond memories of sitting at the Mark Twain Diner from age 4 until well into my college years. So, I had high hopes for the pork roll, egg, and American cheese sandwich at Shorty’s.

I was surprised when I received a foil-covered sub-shaped sandwich. Shouldn’t Taylor Ham exclusively be on a kaiser roll? But then I bit into the fresh “hoagie” roll. And I realized this must be what heaven is like.

The compact feel of the sandwich delighted the senses. Though the pork roll was cut on the thicker side, it was delicious. I’m kind of down on eggs lately, but I liked them in this sandwich. As you can see, they were somewhere between scrambled and fried. And the melted cheese was a nice touch. I gobbled the whole thing down in about five minutes. And at $5, the sandwich couldn’t have had more value. Be aware that the Taylor Ham sandwich is only available at breakfast or brunch.

Head to Shorty’s for brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, sports — whatever! You’ll enjoy it no matter the reason you’re there. With four locations around the city, you have your pick at your convenience. But do try the Taylor Ham if you’ve never had it. Eating Taylor Ham in New York City is like seeing a dog walking on its hind legs while juggling — a very rare thing. Take advantage; go to Shorty’s.

Shorty’s
66 Madison Avenue (near 27th Street)
Flatiron, New York
Check the website for other locations!
Take the 6 to 28th Street and Park Avenue South, or N/R to 28th Street and Broadway.

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V Street (Philadelphia)

Tell me about the time you had some of the best food you’ve ever eaten. Consider the nuances, the flavors, and the textures. Think about its provenance: is it the type of all American fare offered by drive-in spots on lonely highways? Or is it extra-U.S. in origin, from lands far, far away? And, finally, does it have meat? I’m guessing your knee-jerk response to the last question is “yes.” But that’s because you’ve never been to V Street, the self-proclaimed vegan street food bar, in Philadelphia.

v street togarashi fries

togarashi fries

A sophisticated threesome led me to V Street, tucked away on 19th Street in the Rittenhouse neighborhood. As we walked through the restaurant’s double doors, one of My Lady Dining Partners (MLDPs) commented that it felt like we were entering someone’s apartment. The level of hospitality shown by V Street staff makes you feel like you’ve landed in a friend’s home, so I suppose the unusual entrance is well-suited for this fantastic spot.

You’re going to like what we ordered (because I certainly did): we basically got the entire menu. Using discretion, we avoided some of the less exciting small dishes, such as the market greens and spicy chaat salad. But, we opted for the other two small plates and all of the large plates listed on the menu du jour. Oh, yeah, and we got both desserts (more on them later). (V Street changes up the menu every so often, but the dishes we tried were definitely representative of the magically delicious food they serve.)

Okay, so, here we go.

The server brought out all the dishes in quick succession and placed them on our rapidly diminishing table surface.

v street chilled kung pao noodles

chilled kung pao noodles

The togarashi fries and chilled kung pao noodles–both small plates–were probably my favorites. The heavily spiced fries feature scallions and cilantro, but the real star of the show is the gochujang mayo. Whoa, gochujang mayo! For the uninitiated, gochujang is an amaaaaazing spicy paste used in Korean cuisine, which you may be familiar with if you’ve ever had bibimbap. I’m sort of speechless about these fries, but even more so about the cold noodles. The perfectly cooked noodles are slathered with a delicious peanut sauce, with bits of charred broccoli mixed throughout. Everyone at the table was like “these noodles!” and rendered basically speechless, as I am now thinking about how incredible these two dishes were.

The large plates were also very good, and my favorite among them was definitely the blackened tofu taco salad, which seemed to be less favored by my company. I think it was the uniquely charred tofu that did it for me. I also enjoyed the accompanying smoked black beans, crunchy tortilla, and creamy avocado. The most innovative dish we ordered was easily the Korean fried tempeh reuben that turns the classic sandwich on its head. It has kimchee kraut and sriracha thousand island dressing (!). If you go to V Street and order this dish, you will never ever feel okay ordering a reuben anywhere else–it could never compare.

v street blackened tofu taco salad

blackened tofu taco salad

I couldn’t tell what everyone else liked best because whenever someone asked what one of the dishes was, the common response was, “I don’t know, but it’s good!”

We had to get dessert, obviously, because we clearly hadn’t eaten enough already. So, V Street has soft serve and a churro ice cream sandwich on offer. The flavors for both change on a regular basis. We were fortunate enough to be there when they had Mexican chocolate soft serve, which has a tequila topping sprinkled over it–yum! The churro ice cream sandwich that day had a tropical blend sorbet squeezed in between two halves for a sweet yet tangy treat to finish our meal.

You should know that V Street also serves up fascinating beverages, such as interesting iced teas and lemonades (with trees in them [???]), as well as a selection of rotating cocktails that will keep you on your toes.

v street churro ice cream sandwich

churro ice cream sandwich

All said, V Street’s laser-like focus on the adventurous and original keeps their customers coming back for more. And it makes New Yorkers like me wish I lived in Philadelphia. Yeah, it’s that good.

Philadelphia is awesome, by the way, so you should visit whenever you get the chance. Here’s a list of fun things to do in the city of brotherly love over the next few months. When you do make it down there, go to V Street–you won’t be sorry you did!

V Street
126 S. 19th Street
Rittenhouse, Philadelphia
I have no idea how to get there. Grab a friend, use your GPS, and get walking. I swear it’s not far from 30th Street station, but it may be a trip worthy of a cab.

Village Whiskey (Philadelphia)

Philadelphia has definitely been undergoing a food revolution over the past few years. While I (obviously) don’t live there to attest to this fact first-hand, it’s all I’ve been hearing about the city of late. “It’s the sixth borough,” say those who aspire to commuting to New York City from the relatively inexpensive city of brotherly love—and no respectable New Yorker would dream of moving to a place that didn’t have good food. While relocating may not be in the cards for me, an occasional visit never hurt anyone. I’m telling you—if you decide to stop at a bar, any bar, in Philadelphia, make it Village Whiskey in the Rittenhouse neighborhood.

village whiskey village burger

village burger

Village Whiskey features an unmarked exterior, which emanates the speakeasy vibe that comes from within. When you walk through the double glass doors into the mini-lobby where a hostess meets you, you feel as though you’ve traveled back in time. Inside, the walls are lined with white subway tile and stately, dark brown leather booths for a clean, masculine feel. Fewer than 10 high tables dot the left side of the place with a decent bar certain to be packed with locals who enjoy the occasional (or frequent) whiskey on the right.

You see, the eponymous spirit in Village Whiskey’s name is a favorite of Chef Jose Garces—and they’ve got plenty of it. The menu comprises more than 80 whiskeys, which recalls the thorough whiskey list of Maysville. Although Village Whiskey charges a pretty penny for their drinks, they at least offer a decent pour, unlike Maysville where bartenders measure 2 oz. of liquid and serve that up as a “drink.” If you’re into whiskey, you’ll want to stop here, but don’t be surprised if you can’t get a table or a seat at the bar.

village whiskey bbp pork sammy

bbp pork sammy

Now, what about the food? Well, it is, in a word, excellent. I ordered the 8 oz. Village burger, featuring tomato, lettuce and house made thousand island dressing on a delectable sesame bun. I opted to add the mild tasting Jasper Hill cheddar. The puck-like burger was fantastic. The meat was tender and flavorful, and it had a delicious char on the exterior. I can see why Village Whiskey claims they have one of the best in the country.

MDP got the bbq pork sammy and he was very pleased with his selection. While I felt the sandwich had an understated pork flavor, he commented that it could have had more sauce. His sandwich came with fried pickles that were quite good.

village whiskey duck fat fries

duck fat fries

We also ordered the duck fat fries, which were good, but I expected their flavor to be a departure from fries cooked in, say, peanut oil.

Village Whiskey also has a lobster macaroni and cheese dish that I would be interested to try next time I go. And they’ve also got a good selection of drinks on tap, including Crispin apple cider, for anyone who isn’t into the whiskey menu.

I highly recommend Village Whiskey, but definitely go there during off hours (mid-afternoon on a weekend, possibly weeknights) to ensure you grab a table. One last thing worth mentioning is that Village Whiskey has an outpost in Atlantic City, for all you Jersey folks who don’t want to make the trek to Philadelphia (though you should).

Village Whiskey

118 S. 20th Street (across from the Shake Shack, on the corner of Samson and S. 20th)

Rittenhouse, Philadelphia