Russell Crowe’s band TOFOG wrote a song called Memorial Day. It was tonally different from our experience.

In previous installments we’d learned that our heroes had faced a tough time finding good, honest, delicious and affordable grub. They’d come up against franchise after franchise serving bland, uninspiring fare unfit for a metropolitan hub such as Manhattan. This, however, was due for a change. For our heroes had a secret weapon up their sleeves reserved for such an occasion: The Reddit NYC food guide. Through the use of this bible and a honed sense of intuition, fortunes looked up. In fact, in just one day, these persevering protagonists turned things right around. If you plan on roaming New York at all and you’re looking for some choice places to eat and drink, here are some verified eateries and drinkeries:

Daily Press Coffee: Bedstuy.

Delicious espresso drinks, both hot and chilled. I always love a good mocha, which they made wonderfully. Not cloyingly sweet, but successfully staving off an abundance of bitterness. The iced espresso with coconut water really whipped the llama’s ass and the iced hazelnut latte cinched the sweat on a sweltering day. Helpful staff who recommended some places/attractions around town. Good music pumping instore, which doesn’t get enough mention in most reviews. Atmosphere is something worth knowing.

Vanessa’s Dumplings: Williamsburg.

$1.50 for 4 fried pork and chive dumplings. How can you go wrong (okay, Prospect Dumplings in Chinatown had 5 for $1, but these might have been slightly better dumplings. I feel like at that cost you can be discerning)? They had a host of pancakes and other dishes we didn’t bother trying and beers went for as low as $2.50. Cheap, tasty and filling.

Turkey’s Nest Tavern: Williamsburg.

A dingy place offering boozy, boozy margarita slushies. $7 for a 16oz or $13 for 32 oz. We shared the latter between us, played some pool, marvelled at the old Buck Hunter arcade machine and chatted with the locals. There was a super fluffy 10 week old Bermese puppy named Odin we immediately sought to kidnap, love and care for back in Toronto. One of the regulars stocked the bar with some sliced sausage from a local butchery, with horseradish and rye bread on the side for everyone to enjoy. We did, immensely.

The Charleston: Williamsburg.

A happy hour from 12pm-8pm with $1 off all (already cheap) draft and well drinks. Both of the above also came with a free pizza, with additional toppings available for $1. For $14 we sat in the shaded street front with cool beer/cider and a personal pizza each while we watched the Williamsburgians (Williamsburgers?) go by. Skee Ball and a phone charging station filled out the back of the bar. Nothing faulting this place.

Blue and Gold Tavern: East Village/Ukranian Village

The perfect dive bar, or my happiest place on earth. Owned by an old Ukranian dude for over 30 years, it was a place of hope and wonder. Beer and shot specials for $5, or top shelf liquor for the same. Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, Laphroaig, etc, all $5, as well as virtually any liquor you could think of. Small booths with inlaid chessboards, a jukebox with classic rock, soul, Motown and the Hot Tub Time Machine (a classic?) soundtrack. Board games available, plus a pool table. We left around 1.30am when it started getting busy (on a school night no less. Won’t somebody please think of the children?). I can’t emphasise how much this place made my trip, which means either I’m terrifyingly enthusiastic about a good bar or I might be an alcoholic. Let’s see how my next few months without alcohol go (Tough Mudder training) before clinging to that last idea.

Paul’s Da Burger Joint: East Village/Ukranian Village.

Holy shit, this was the epitome of the greasy spoon diner. A recommendation from the kindly bartender at Blue and Gold. I had a sumptuous 1/2lb turkey burger for $8.90 (pre-tax) that blew my previous turkey burger from Bills Burgers out of the fucking grill. A burger isn’t a tricky recipe, it doesn’t need to be an artisan product. These guys did it right and did it with a smile. My girlfriend had the bunless burger with a healthy side of cottage cheese for $8.10 (pre-tax). It didn’t include cheese on top, but with nothing more than her dazzling smile and dewey doe eyes they were kind enough to slather it in a marvellously melty slice. If you’re in the Lower East Side and want an unparalleled, simple honest burger, come here. Then give my main man at the Blue and Gold tavern some love. If someone’s doing it right, they deserve the recognition.

For a Memorial Day, it was pretty fucking memorable.

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