Category Archives: American

Sticky’s Finger Joint

Chicken poppers

Something about the name of this place gives me the willies. I think it’s how similar it sounds to “sticky finger joint,” which makes me think of a 5-year-old’s slobbery, paste-covered knuckle. But I digress. Name aside, Sticky’s is a solid restaurant with some solid chicken, and even I wouldn’t be so absurd as to stay away based on the name alone.

Truthfully, the reason I stayed away for so long was because I found it hard to justify going out of my way for a serving of plain old chicken fingers. But once I finally got around to giving their food a try, it was clear that there would be no turning back. Sticky’s is good.

Last semester, when I was looking to collect some new places to grab lunch between classes, I sent an email to Sticky’s with a few questions about their handling of allergens. The response I received was as follows: “All Sticky‘s Finger Joint Locations are completely nut free. So, to answer all of your questions Sticky‘s is safe to eat for anyone with any type of nut allergy!” No details, no direct responses—but you know what? That’s a one-size answer I can get behind.

Now, I can’t categorize Sticky’s as “truly nut-free,” as they don’t openly classify themselves as such, and I haven’t gotten any indication that they require their ingredients to all be free from potential cross-contamination, but I feel 100% comfortable eating there. You may not—and that’s fine—but I’d say the place is worth a look, at the very least.

For such a simple spot, their menu‘s pretty big. Chicken fingers, chicken poppers, and fries all come with a bunch of different combinations of seasonings—and Sticky’s offers 19 homemade sauces, too. My favorite, because I’m boring, is the Sassy BBQ, but there’s no sense in pretending there’s a best or a worst. You’ll just have to figure out your ranking on your own.


As sides go, I’m partial to the Truffle Parm Fries (pictured in both photos above). They’re not all that truffle-y, but they’re certainly covered in parmesan, and the fries themselves are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just as fries should be. (Seriously, they’re perfect. These are some of the best fries you’ll find at this price point—and with about a trillion seasonings to choose from, too.) I also like the Pot Pie Fries, though I could definitely do without the shredded carrots. (Also: “Grandma’s Gravy” bears no resemblance whatsoever to any sort of gravy I’ve ever seen, but it sure is tasty.)

With their chicken, it’s hard to go wrong. Their fingers and poppers are some of the best of their kind—as they should be at any store that specializes in such a simple preparation of chicken. The poppers (also pictured twice above) are particularly good—they’re incredibly moist and tender, with a nice, crispy exterior—and though they’re a little bland, they never fail to please me. (A tip, though: The chicken doesn’t keep or travel well. A 10-minute walk to Washington Square Park—or, God forbid, a bicycle ride to my apartment—turns Sticky’s into a very mediocre meal indeed.)

In all, though, Sticky’s is great spot to grab a quick (and cheap!) lunch, and I highly recommend stopping by, whether or not you’ve been tasked with avoiding nuts. At the very, very least…well, it sure beats McDonald’s.

Sticky’s has three locations: one in Murray Hill (484 Third Ave), one in Greenwich Village (31 West 8th Street), and one in Hell’s Kitchen (598 9th Ave). All three deliver, and their food’s available on most third-party delivery sites, too. Just make sure to get your sauce on the side, because soggy fries—especially those that would otherwise be perfect—are even worse than sticky child-fingers.

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Crif Dogs

Two John-John Deragons from Crif Dog

All right, I’ll be honest. I heard about Crif Dogs from the second episode of Anthony Bourdain‘s The Layover, during which Bourdain spends a day or two eating and drinking in his native New York. I wasn’t all that impressed with the episode—I mean, he wouldn’t stop raving about Shake Shack and Papaya King, which I just can’t get behind as the city’s best cheap eats—but that’s beside the point.

The point is that he and David Chang (of Momofuku) went to Crif Dogs, and I drooled profusely as I watched the pair down a few scallion-topped hot dogs. I have a lot of weaknesses, I know—but scallions are way up there. Seriously: I’m embarrassed by how much I love them. And as if the scallions alone weren’t enough to reel me in, the dogs’ buns were spread with cream cheese, and the whole shebang was topped with everything bagel seasoning.

Figuring my odds were pretty good, I decided to call Crif Dogs the next day. It’s a relatively simple hot dog joint; what need could they have for nuts? None. They have no need for nuts, and they don’t use any nuts or nut products in anything they sell. And their buns are made in a nut- and peanut-free facility. What better news was there to receive? (I guess they could’ve told me they were nut-free in the vendor-vetting sense, but it’s all right that they didn’t. I was very pleased with their level of allergy-friendliness, even though I can’t quite categorize them as “truly nut-free.”)

I should mention, though, that Crif Dogs does use peanut butter (Skippy, which is made in a peanut-only facility) for one of their signature dogs. And although guy I spoke with told me that the peanut butter’s kept separate and that those with peanut allergies shouldn’t have any trouble eating at Crif Dogs, I figured its presence was something worth noting.

It was good news all around, and I was very, very excited. But I was a little apprehensive, too. I didn’t want to get my hopes up—what if Crif Dogs turned out to be on par with your average Papaya King (or worse yet, your average Papaya King imitator)?

Well, it didn’t. Crif Dogs is way, way better than Papaya King—which doesn’t mean all that much, I guess, given how mediocre Papaya King tends to be these days. Let me try again, then: The hot dogs at Crif Dogs are really, really good—the best I’ve eaten in a long time, for sure—and…well, go eat one (or three or six) and see for yourself.


Naturally, I started with the John-John Deragon (pictured at the top of this post—and spelled “John-John” on some menus and “Jon-Jon” on others, which drives me a little insane), the everything bagel–inspired hot dog that Bourdain and Chang put me onto. I didn’t know what to expect, really, because the thing sounds simultaneously sacrilegious and delectable. (In fact, the sacrilege is literal. As Bourdain remarked, “there’s a whole Jewish–pork violation there, which actually is kind of a turn on.”)

Taste-wise, though, there’s no sacrilege here. This hot dog is delicious. The scallions are plentiful, the everything seasoning is spot-on (though a bit too salty), and the cream cheese isn’t off-putting in the slightest; in fact, it’s a rather nice touch. All the ingredients come together perfectly, and the first time I tried this dog, I was one happy camper. The best part is definitely the hot dog itself—the perfect thickness, with a satisfyingly firm casing—but each and every component is solid in its own right.

And the John-John isn’t even the weirdest thing on the menu. There’s a bacon-wrapped dog topped with avocado and sour cream. There’s a bacon-wrapped dog topped with teriyaki sauce, pineapple, and green onions. There’s a bacon-wrapped dog topped with peanut butter, pickles, and crushed potato chips. (Yeah, they love their bacon at Crif Dogs. I don’t—at all—but I’ll live.) There’s a cream cheese schmear dog. There’s a B.L.T. dog. There’s even a dog-substitute for vegetarians. In short: Crif Dogs sells a lot of shit, and it all intrigues me.

Of course, they have their fair share of standard offerings, too: ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, sautéed onions, relish, raw onions, chili cheese, baked beans…you get the gist. And though I haven’t yet had a chance to try each and every thing I’ve been eyeing, the things I have tried have been pretty damn tasty. Truthfully, it seems hard to go wrong at Crif Dogs—unless you don’t like hot dogs, in which case I’d recommend going somewhere else. (Or, you know, reevaluating.)

And honestly, I’d still frequent this place if their atmosphere sucked—but it doesn’t. It’s small and darkish with inoffensive music and laid-back employees, and there are plenty of retro arcade games to fiddle with while you wait for your food. (Oh, and Crif Dogs is also home to the phone booth that doubles as the “secret” entrance to speakeasy Please Don’t Tell, which serves hot dogs, too.)

Find the Crif Dogs I’ve written about at 113 St. Marks Place, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A. Or check out their other locations—there’s one in the West Village (120 Macdougal, between Bleecker and 3rd) and one in Williamsburg (555 Driggs, between North 6th and North 7th). Bonus: Thursday through Saturday, they’re open till 4am. Go wild.

(Oh, and for a complete list of the bars and restaurants Bourdain visited on the New York City episode of The Layover, see this Travel Channel summary.)

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Blue Smoke

Blue Smoke's cornbread Madeleines

If there’s one place the food-allergic community seems to love, it’s Blue Smoke. I’ve read lots about them, but it wasn’t until today that I decided (spur of the moment) to go. I typically don’t eat at restaurants that handle nuts, but I figured I’d take advantage of my recent restaurant-trying momentum and give this one a chance. They do have a reputation of being very allergy-aware, after all—so to Battery Park City I went.

To start, the atmosphere, in general, was not for me; it was dark, noisy, and decorated with lots of lumber (???), with loud country music and two too-bright flatscreens above the bar. But I’ve dealt with worse, so I figured I’d manage. (Hey, if they can handle my allergy, I can handle their atmosphere, right?)

As far as I know, only one item on the dinner menu at the Battery Park City location contains tree nuts: the sweet potato mash (it’s topped with pecans). A couple of desserts contain nuts, too, but I tend to stay away from those anyway. I was assured by my server, though, that I didn’t have to worry about any sort of cross-contamination—so all that was left to do was dig in and find out. (Well, that and decide what I wanted.)

I ended up going with the cornbread madeleines (pictured above) and the fried chicken & biscuits. Sam, along for the ride, ordered the pulled pork—they were out of ribs (?!?)—with a side of mac and cheese and a side of baked beans. Our server, after double-checking with the kitchen, assured me that all the dishes we’d chosen would arrive completely free from nuts—and to my delight, that they did.

The madeleines were definitely my favorite. They were warm and light, with that lovely cornbread texture, and they came with some sort of maple-butter sauce, which was what really sealed the deal. These things were so good that I seriously considered ordering another portion to take home with me and hoard, but (fortunately) our entrees arrived and redirected my attention before I could get the chance to do so.

The fried chicken was good, but it wasn’t out-of-this-world good. It came with slaw and a biscuit, and when I put the three together, the flavors played together nicely (duh), but nothing on that plate had me thinking, “hey, I’m really glad I spent $28 on this.” Sam’s pulled pork was equally decent (or so I’m told; I didn’t actually get around to trying it), but he didn’t feel it was particularly worth his $30, either.

Don’t get me wrong; nothing brought out to us was bad—but it’s tough to rally behind an average-quality plate of food when it comes at a not-so-average price. Still, I’d probably return to Blue Smoke, should I ever end up with a little extra money. As promised, the handled my allergies well…and those madeleines were delicious.

There were only two minor hiccups over the course of the entire meal. The first: I wasn’t given a nut-free menu (though it didn’t matter much, as it was the food that I needed to be nut-free, not the menu itself). Still, I was a little surprised, as I’d read a lot about Blue Smoke’s allergen-free menus. The second: a server (not our server, whom I’d told about my allergy) brought out a complimentary taste of something, with no word on whether it was safe. (It was, so it wasn’t a big deal—but I would have liked to have been told, if only for the level of allergy-awareness that would’ve shown me.)

Overall, though, I had a pretty good experience at Blue Smoke. The service was great, and neither the food nor the atmosphere killed me—so the night goes down as a success in my book (or would that be “on my blog”?). All things considered, I suppose I’d recommend Blue Smoke to a nut-allergic friend—but only if said nut-allergic friend were wealthy enough not to scoff at a $30 plate of fried chicken.

(Blue Smoke has two New York City locations: One in the Flatiron District [116 East 27th Street], and one in Battery Park City [255 Vesey Street]. I’ve only been to the latter—and only once, at that—but I suppose I’ll have to try the other, too. Maybe they’ll have ribs.)

[Edit: I’ve since eaten at Blue Smoke a bunch more times, and I’ve decided that this post was terribly unfair. Since its writing, I’ve tried the spare ribs, the baby back ribs, the brisket, and the biscuits, and I’m now 100% prepared to declare that I was wrong, and that Blue Smoke is actually pretty damn awesome. All of their servers are extremely friendly and helpful—and what I like best about them is that they’ll never, ever give you an answer they aren’t sure of. They’re the kings and queens of “let me check on that for you,” which goes such a long way in making me feel safe.

Also, the restaurant’s way more affordable than I’d realized. For under $50 (including tax and tip), Sam and I get a big plate of Blue Smoke’s three best meats (baby back ribs, spare ribs, and brisket), along with two sides of our choosing. It’s more than enough to feed two—and for the portion (and quality of service), I’d say the price is pretty reasonable. I prefer the baby back ribs to the spare ribs, but both are great (better than the fried chicken, no doubt), and the brisket, absurdly tender, is straight-up delicious, too. Also, their biscuits—which count as a side, though they aren’t listed with the rest of the sides—are perhaps the best biscuits I’ve ever eaten.

Plus, they now give me an allergen menu (without prompting!) as soon as I sit down—and I’m hardly a regular. Incredible. The end.]

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TBar Steak & Lounge

TBar's Crispy Long Island Duck

Ooooh, boy.

TBar is a steakhouse on 3rd Avenue and 74th Street, and if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know—well, I guess I’m about to. First, though, I want to emphasize the lovely fact that TBar truly is nut-free, according to this email I received from them:

TBar is a completely nut-free restaurant and we are dilligent and serious about only ordering products that are clear from any nut cross contamination. Please feel free to reach out to us with any more questions if need be.

This applies to everything—their breads (baked in house), their desserts, and, of course, their meats.

TBar, then, joins the ranks of such wonderful establishments as The Donut Pub and A La Mode Shoppe—places that do collect information on their vendors’ facilities and that do identify themselves as “nut-free” (or close to it). I double-checked when I made my reservation, and the woman on the phone reassured me that the entire restaurant is nut-free, so in all, I felt pretty safe going into TBar.

Safe, yes. Happy? No. TBar is a strange, strange place—especially if you’re under 60. There’s a bizarre green motif throughout the restaurant—green glasses, green cushions, green…plush toys—and the entire restaurant is really brightly lit, to the point that it gives off a real diner-in-the-middle-of-the-day vibe. Oh, and it’s filled with bona fide elders, one of whom spent his entire meal attempting to hack up his right lung.

TBar's tables

I spent 35 minutes at TBar. (Yes, I was counting.) Topics of conversation I overheard in those 35 minutes included, but were not limited to: insulin injections, heart disease, Matzo, bad knees, bad hips, and the merits of steak cooked medium-well—and don’t even get me started on the bar scene. It isn’t even as if I was making any sort of effort to eavesdrop; the restaurant was just dead-quiet, aside from the occasional snippet of a conversation.

Suffice it to say that I found the atmosphere wholly unpleasant. But I wasn’t there for the atmosphere—I was there for duck. You see, the whole reason I’d even made my way to TBar in the first place was that I’d seen the Crispy Long Island Duck on their menu. I have an enormous soft spot for duck—and this particular serving was guaranteed to be nut-free, so I had no choice but to try it.

In any case, the duck itself was delicious: perfectly cooked, with tender meat and crispy skin. But it was served atop an intrusive bed of sweet potatoes, which were way too strong and sweet a flavor to accompany such a sweet preparation of duck. Personally, I hate sweet potatoes; I would’ve rather eaten the duck on its own, but that’s just me. Still, it was a good dish overall. And fortunately, at $38, it was enough food to feed two.

I’m not really in a position to speak to the overall quality of TBar’s food, as I’ve only tried one dish, but from what I can tell, it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever be the food itself that will sour a TBar experience—especially for those with nut allergies. Perhaps the freedom to order whatever one wants can outweigh the discomfort of…you know, being in that godforsaken place.

Perhaps. I suppose you’ll have to see for yourself. Find TBar at 1278 3rd Avenue, between 73rd and 74th. And don’t forget to dress your best—because their bar scene is happenin’.

[Note: I returned to TBar two months after publishing this post. I had the ribeye, and it was pretty damn good. I also plowed through two baskets of bread (which I didn’t know I could eat the first time I went)…so that was fun. The restaurant was dimly lit and jam-packed—the exact opposite of what it’d been the last time, except it was still filled with elders—and I sat outside, which (even on 3rd Avenue) was worlds better than the alternative. Service was good, yada yada yada, I’ll probably be back. The end.]

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A chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A

Another fast food joint that isn’t nut-free—and one that barely exists in NYC, to boot. And it’s owned by bigots. Lovely.

What does Chick-fil-A have going for it, then? The answer is simple: decent-to-good chicken sandwiches that seem to be somewhat safe for the nut-allergic.

According to their allergen reference guide, Chick-fil-A does sell a few products that contain nuts: the oatmeal toppings, the granola, and the roasted nut blend (all three of which come in their own plastic packaging). I reached out to Chick-fil-A with a few questions about how they handle those nut products, and I received the following reply:

We have two pre-packeged products that contain nuts, the nut blend packet that is served with oatmeal, and the superfood side, and the granola that is served with the yogurt. These come in pre-packaged and are served in their package to the customer. We do not open the packages in the kitchen.

It would seem, then, that two of those three nut items are the same thing—and that none of their nuts have much of a chance of coming into contact with anything else in the kitchen. (It’s worth noting, though, that Chick-fil-A fries in peanut oil, though they don’t list peanuts as an allergen because highly-refined oils generally aren’t considered allergenic. Still, something to knowif you have a peanut allergy.)

Anyway, the food. Chick-fil-A has two locations in NYC: one in Herald Square, and one in an NYU food court in Greenwich Village. I’ve only been to NYU’s location, which is actually a Chick-fil-A Express (meaning they don’t offer the full menu), so I haven’t been able to try much beyond the chicken sandwiches, nuggets, and fries. What I have had, though, has been pretty good—especially for fast food.

Fries and chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A

The classic chicken sandwich (just bun, chicken, and pickles) doesn’t live up to the absurd hype you’ll find online, but it doesn’t quite disappoint, either. It’s sweet and buttery, but (usually) not to the point of being sickening—which is all too rare in the world of fast food. I like to get the pickle-free version and add a little honey or mayonnaise, but it’s good as-is, too. All things considered, it’s a pretty solid sandwich.

The nuggets are about the same: sweet, buttery, and generally solid, if a bit boring. The real stand-outs, though, are the waffle fries: crispy, but never burnt—and nice and soft on the inside, but never, ever soggy (I’m looking at you, Five Guys). These are what I hope for when I buy fries, really. And they’re on my meal plan. Score.

All in all: Bigotry aside, Chick-fil-A is a decent place—and I’m not just saying that because it’s one of the only places I can actually spend the on-campus currency I always seem to end up drowning in, come the end of the semester. It’s fast food–quality, sure—but I’d take a Chick-fil-A sandwich over a Buttermilk Crispy Chicken (McDonald’s) or a Tendercrisp (Burger King) any day.

…Well, most days.

Find Chick-fil-A’s largest location in Herald Square (1000 Avenue of the Americas, between 37th and 38th), or stop by NYU’s Chick-fil-A Express in the Weinstein Food Court (5 University Place, between Waverly and 8th—and yes, it’s open to the public).

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Let’s Talk Five Guys

Two nut-free Five Guys burgers

First things first: If you have a peanut allergy, Five Guys is not the place for you. There are free peanuts everywhere, and they fry everything in peanut oil. But if tree nuts are your only issue, Five Guys just might be the burger joint for you.

Their burgers aren’t anything to die for, but they’re certainly a few (large) steps above those of the McDonald’s/Burger King/Wendy’s ilk. I actually really like Five Guys—and I’ve never had any sort of allergen-related issues with their food.

For some reason, their allergen chart doesn’t have a column for tree nuts, so I sent an email and received the following reply:

The only nut allergen at our stores would be due to the presence of peanuts. There are no products containing tree nuts in our restaurants, nor are they used in our cooking process in any way. Though please remember that there is always a risk of cross contamination, so definitely use caution. For your convenience the kitchens in all of our restaurants are always kept open so our customers may watch their food be prepared.

I asked for a bit more clarification about the risk of cross-contamination, and this was the reply I received:

It remains correct that we don’t use any tree nut products however we must always assume there is a possibility of cross contamination and advise our customers of this as a precaution. Some of our products may be processed in the same facilities as tree nuts are or as another example, an employee may come into contact with tree nut products during a break, etc. We certainly do our best to stress the importance of food safety with our employees however know there is always a risk.

Not bad, as places that aren’t nut-free go. A lack of intentional nuts and nut products in a restaurant goes a long way toward making me comfortable—and the fact that Five Guys is sensitive enough to acknowledge those risks they can’t quite control is encouraging. For some, though, that isn’t enough—and you should, of course, always decide where to eat based on your own level of comfort. Still, for me, Five Guys works.

Anyway, in case you’ve never been: Five Guys has burgers, fries, hot dogs, a few sandwiches, and (as of a few months ago) shakes. That’s it. They don’t freeze their beef, and they fry only in peanut oil—so already, we’re out of theMcDonald’s territory. (Plus, as I mentioned above, they don’t have any salads or desserts that contain nuts, as most fast food joints tend to.)

Their burgers are definitely decent—I have no complaints there—but I do have a confession to make: I’ve never understood why so many people seem to love their fries. Seriously—Five Guys’ fries have an evangelical following, and I don’t get it. They’re mushy and flavorless—two deal-breakers, in my book—but to each his own, I suppose. (Though to Five Guys’ credit, they do give you a pretty hefty portion. Maybe that’s the appeal.)

My final verdict: If you’re a) comfortable with peanuts and b) a fan of burgers, you should give Five Guys a try. At the very least, it’s nice to have another reliable chain to fall back on when you’re in a bind.

My favorite locations are the one in Greenwich Village (296 Bleecker Street) and the one the one in Brooklyn Heights (138 Montague Street), though that’s probably just because I like the surrounding neighborhoods. There are Five Guys locations all over, and there’s probably no real advantage of one over the other, seeing as part of the appeal of any fast food chain is the fact that they’re all, you know, the same.

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Big Daddy’s: no nuts, plenty of kitsch

The Mr. French Dip from Big Daddy's

Big Daddy’s is a lovely place. Honestly, it’s a terrible place—but it’s lovely, too. Bright, loud, busy as hell, and absurdly kitschy…if that’s your scene, you’ll be in love.

Alternatively, if you’re like me, and you don’t feel at home under super-bright lighting or with jukebox classics constantly threatening to overwhelm your conversation, but you do have a nut allergy—well, you’ll be grateful to be able to eat at a diner, at the very least.

I’ve heard over and over that Big Daddy’s is nut-free, but they don’t categorize themselves as such on their website, so I wanted to make sure. I’ve spoken to servers and they’re always confident: no nuts on the menu, nor in the kitchen. Still, I wanted to know—are they truly nut-free, in the they-vet-their-vendors-and-I-can-eat-a-slice-of-pie sense, or do they just happen not to have any (intentional) nuts on the menu?

In an attempt to get some real answers, I called Big Daddy’s and spoke with a very understanding representative. She asked me to forward her a list of my questions so she could double-check on the answers, as she didn’t want to risk misleading me. Fair enough. Half an hour later, I had the following reply in my inbox:

Hey! So everything that is made in house in guaranteed to be completely nut free. However, with some of our cakes and breads that we order (of course there are no nuts in the food itself) there is no guarantee that there is no cross contamination. I don’t know exactly which [menu items] are and aren’t [guaranteed nut-free]. Our menu is really big and I would just be guessing on a lot of the things. That’s more of a question for the kitchen and unfortunately there is no way of contacting them. If you had a few specific questions I could find out but theyre too busy to go over the whole menu with me and tell me what is what.

She also forwarded me an email from the director of operations:

Off premise bake goods are not guaranteed but no in house nuts. I wouldn’t eat 7 grain bread or off premise cakes.

Of course, I’m sure you’d be able to speak to a server (or even a member of the kitchen staff) about just what’s made in house and what isn’t, should you ever have a question about a specific dish. In my experience, the employees at Big Daddy’s tend to be pretty understanding—but you may have to push a little harder than usual to get your server to double-check on anything, since they’re so used to telling those with allergies that everything’s 100% nut-free.

Anyway, because their in-house food is guaranteed nut-free (and because servers will readily assure you the restaurant is totally nut-free), I’ve categorized Big Daddy’s as truly nut-free. Despite all of the above, it seems to be a pretty safe place to eat—especially if you avoid the muffins, cakes, and certain breads, which isn’t all that hard to do. (And if your allergies are particularly sensitive, to the point that you’re uncomfortable eating commercial ice cream that’s been run on shared lines, you’d be wise to avoid their shakes, too.)

[Note: Since writing this post, it’s come to my attention that Big Daddy’s is even less nut-free than I’d thought. Their Triple Chocolate Disco Shake (chocolate ice cream, Frangelico, crème de cacao) does explicitly contain a nut product (hazelnut liqueur), which doesn’t bode well for Big Daddy’s. In my eyes, it’s not the liqueur itself that’s the problem, but the ignorance the liqueur betrays. How has it managed to slip under the nut-free radar—as in, why does nobody ever think to mention it—and what else might have done the same?]

As a rule, the food is on par with your average diner’s. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it good, but it isn’t terrible, either. I usually order the Mr. French Dip (pictured above) or the Original Big Mac Daddy—both with tater tots. The Mr. French Dip is somehow both too bland and too salty, but what can I say? I have a soft spot for baguettes—including mediocre ones. The Big Mac Daddy is (you guessed it) a burger with Big Mac sauce. Not bad, on a good day. The mozzarella sticks (sorry, the Really Really Good Mozz Styx) are decent, and I’ve been known to order the Monty Hall, What a Deal! (turkey, ham, and swiss on white bread—fried) on occasion, even though I always end up regretting that decision.

And yes, the menu is filled with dish names like those above. Ordering is always embarrassing. But if you can get past the kitschy menu and the even kitschier atmosphere, Big Daddy’s is fair place to eat. On occasion. If you’re really craving diner food.

(One thing I can endorse without disclaimers or reservations, though: the malted milkshakes. I like the vanilla Plain Jane, but if you can get them to malt the Cookie Monster—vanilla with Oreos—well, that’s my official recommendation. I’m sure the ice cream’s made on shared lines, though, so…maybe one reservation.)

There are three locations in NYC: one in Gramercy Park, one on the Upper East Side, and one on the Upper West Side. I’ve been a bit harsh, but I do think they’re worth a try.

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