Sunday, September 19, 2010

National: My Kind of Lower East Side Eatery

National is at 8 Rivington Street between Chrystie and the Bowery ((212) 777-2177).   It's the kind of quirky hole in the wall restaurant that you imagine when you think about a Lower East Side restaurant. A little place on a side street way downtown....unpretentious, comfortable with good food and a chef who values quality local ingredients.  Sorry, there I go waxing nostalgic again; of course the Lower East Side has exploded in the last 5 years so places like National have become less the norm more than the exception.   The big boys have gotten into the action and opened up places like Pulinos (Keith McNally) and DBGB (Daniel Boulud) and now even the owners of the funky, hard to find, up an alley you didn't know existed Freeman's has built a mega 2 story food palace: Peels.

For my dollar give me National.  They're so dedicated to being laid back they don't even have a web site.

Open for dinner during the week and brunch on Saturday and Sunday, every time I go the food is exactly what I want: local (mostly), tasty and reasonably priced.  My brunch entree yesterday was $14.  A big bowl of Anson Mills Grits with cheese, 2 fried eggs and 3 large shrimp that had been sauteed in a velvety rich brown sauce filled with bits of thick bacon.  I sprinkled some Tabasco over the entire affair and was one happy camper.
I thought it was important for some reason to get my book  (Edmund White's City Boy) in the shot so here you have dueling images.

During the day National is open for coffee.  The one time I went for dinner I sat at the bar and had a very engaging conversation with the bartender and more delicious food (and some tasty wine as well!)

So if you're feeling like escaping the hoards of twenty somethings from New Jersey having a loud bridal shower outing over pizza at Pulino's and would rather something a little bit more low key.... check out National, it's the real deal.  Just don't make it too popular, OK?

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