Even people who craft food for a living can’t resist the lure of cheap, fast bodega eats.
“Bodegas are the lifeblood of New York,” Katz’s Delicatessen owner — and bacon-egg-and-cheese lover — Jake Dell tells The Post. “When you need milk at 2 a.m., that’s where you’re goin’. They make New York New York.”
His restaurant-world colleagues agree. Here, the city’s top chefs share their corner-store standbys, from sinfully cheesy breakfast sandwiches to scarfable late-night tacos.
Laying it on thick
For Jean-Paul Bourgeois, executive chef of barbecue joint Blue Smoke, which has locations in the Flatiron District and Battery Park City, the Italian combo sandwich ($ 10.34) at Sal, Kris and Charlie’s Deli in Astoria is a must. A hefty hero with salami, pepperoni, mortadella, sharp provolone and hot and sweet peppers, “it’s a proper New York Italian deli sandwich,” he tells The Post. To balance out its strong vinegary flavor, he recommends a healthy smear of mayonnaise. “Ask for it, ’cause it doesn’t come with it.” 33-12 23rd Ave., Queens
All juiced up
For Matt Hyland, executive chef and co-owner of pizzerias Emily and Emmy Squared, bodega runs are “all about balance.” So at Mr. Melon in Clinton Hill, which he pops into multiple times a week, he orders something healthy to justify something snacky. Usually, that means a mango-pineapple-ginger juice ($ 3) from the stores’s juice bar — like a smoothie, but “without seeds and with a sweet and gingery punch” — plus a bag of greasy sea salt-and-vinegar potato chips ($ 4.99). 975 Fulton St., Brooklyn
Nick Anderer, executive chef of East Village pizzeria Martina, tends to pop into his local Kips Bay bodega, Red Pepper, when “it’s late and I need a quick bite.” His usual is a ham-and-egg sandwich on a roll with double American cheese, salt and pepper ($ 5.49). “I’m very specific that I want twice as much cheese,” he says. “It becomes like a grilled cheese sandwich on a kaiser roll.” 361 Third Ave.
Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, the married owners of Greenwich Village’s Don Angie, don’t live in the East Village anymore, but they’re still loyal to their longtime corner store Sunny & Annie’s. “Their sandwich selection is unparalleled … ranging [in flavor] from Vietnamese to Italian to classic American,” Rito says. Plus, she and Tacinelli love that the cooks there “don’t skimp on the toppings.”
Rito orders the George’s Hero ($ 10.33), a “glorified Philly cheesesteak” with roast beef, Muenster, grilled onions, sweet peppers, watercress and horseradish, while Tacinelli opts for the Love Shine ($ 13.05), a wrap with lemon chicken, bacon, avocado, red onion, tomato, jalapeños, mozzarella and pesto. 94 Avenue B
Fried and true
Dale Talde, a former “Top Chef” competitor and founder of his namesake Talde in Park Slope, is kind of a bodega addict. “[It’s where I go] to grab Chapstick, water, Tylenol, lunch,” he says. If he’s popping in somewhere new, he plays it safe with turkey, Swiss, American and cheddar on a roll with mayonnaise and mustard. But if he’s in Downtown Brooklyn at Metro Finest Deli, his favorite corner store, he opts for a three-piece order of fried chicken (75 cents per piece). “[It’s] some of the best fried chicken in NYC,” he says, although “the sides are usually garbage.” 233 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn
Tacos to go
Like many chefs, Boris Bangiev, who runs Uzbek restaurant Nargis Bar & Grill in Park Slope, works a weird schedule. So he’s glad his favorite bodega, Reyes Deli & Grocery in Gowanus, stays open late. He’s hooked on their pulled-beef tacos with tomato salsa, fresh cilantro, raw onions and a spicy avocado sauce (2 for $ 5.50). “They make them like no one else — fast and super tasty,” he says. 532 Fourth Ave., Brooklyn