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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Custardy, Buttery Goodness in Newark’s Ironbound

For the little Portuguese custard tarts called pasteis de nata, it’s hard to beat Teixeira’s Bakery in the Ironbound, says marachino: “Creamy, sweet filling and buttery, crisp shell–all perfectly and ever-so-slightly caramelized on top. And a bargain at only 75 cents. Undoubtedly the best this side of the Tagus–and much better than most I had on a recent trip to Portugal.” Nontraditionalists can try such nouveau flavors as lemon, coconut, orange, almond, even green bean. Teixeira’s has a handful of other locations in Newark, Kearny, and Elizabeth.

Teixeira’s Bakery [Essex County]
186 Ferry St., between Van Buren and Polk, Newark, NJ

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Can one find good pasteis de natas in the city?

At Two Manhattan Newcomers, Chinese Breads on the Rise

Chinese breads and buns might just be poised for crossover success at two new downtown spots. Province Chinese Canteen in Tribeca makes a flatter, sandwich-friendly version of the steamed wheat-flour rounds called mantou, toasts them on the griddle, then stuffs them with Asian-style fillings like tender, aromatic braised pork shoulder with pickled cucumber.

“Fantastic little sandwiches,” raves dennison, who’s won over by their simple, well-conceived combinations and clean, strong flavors. Short rib with kimchi and grilled chicken with cilantro and cucumber round out the short but growing list of fillings (a recent daily special was spicy pork with pickled radish). They’re small–three to four inches across–so you may need a couple for lunch ($3.50 to $3.75 for one, $6.50 for two).

Also on the menu: tofu salad with soy vinaigrette and fresh-tasting cold sesame noodles with chicken or roast pork. Look for vegetarian options, dumplings, and more sandwich and noodle choices as the menu expands. “This joint has serious potential,” dennison adds. “It’s an interesting concept–upmarket but affordable Chinese sandwiches in a hipster lunch counter setting. Only time will tell whether it’ll work.”

In the Village, Flushing’s Unique Pastry has opened its long-awaited Manhattan shop, dubbed Roll and Dough, where it’s winning new fans for the stuffed wheat-flour buns called bing. Early favorites among the fillings include spicy pork, cabbage-mushroom, spicy beef, and hot-and-sour vegetable. “Overall, pretty good and cheap. The bun is nice and chewy-bready, with good fillings,” sums up janethepain, who pronounces this a tasty budget lunch option ($1.50 to $1.95 for bing).

Don’t overlook the sweet bing varieties: banana, lotus, and red bean. The banana bing is amazingly good, bursting with fresh mashed banana, says Chelsea Pearl: “I’m going to want this for breakfast every day for the foreseeable future.”

Beyond bing, they’re gradually phasing in congees, noodle soups, and other dishes, while feeding the neighborhood with liberal free samples–baked bao and the like. Service is uncommonly pleasant. “Everyone there was extremely friendly and clearly happy to have you as a customer,” reports alex m.

Province Chinese Canteen [Tribeca]
formerly Burrito Bar
305 Church St., at Walker, Manhattan

Roll and Dough [Greenwich Village]
a.k.a. Bing
135 W. 3rd St., between 6th Ave. and MacDougal St., Manhattan

Unique Pastry [Flushing]
a.k.a. Roll and Dough
135-23 40th Rd., between Main and Prince Sts., Flushing, Queens

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The Flushing Bing Lady comes to Manhattan!
Province mantou sandwiches


A new soul food joint has popped up near LAX. Chicken fried steak lovers, take note: The CFS here is supposed to be delicious, says BobMack, even if you have to take it down the street to the park to eat it. OK, there are a couple of tables, but it’s not really an eat-in kind of joint.

Fried catfish tastes much like it does in Mississippi, and collard greens are solid. Short ribs seem to be popular, because they’re often sold out. Fried chicken looks good, and there’s grilled chicken for the health-conscious. No word on the namesake flamin’ fish and shrimp, though.

Portions are hefty–entrees come with two side dishes. With a drink, at lunch, that’ll run you about $8.

Locke’s Flamin Fish & Shrimp [Beaches]
100 W. Imperial Ave., El Segundo

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Locke’s Flamin Fish & Shrimp- El Segundo

Eye-Popping, Brain-Freezing Ice Creams

You won’t find spicy mango, tamarind, or spicy watermelon popsicles in your average whitebread supermarket ice-cream aisle. But they’re at La Mich, a homey little Mexican ice-cream spot that opened two months ago, made fresh on the premises, says dette. There are also watermelon, strawberry, and mango–so full of fruit chunks, it’s like eating a frozen mango. You can get these babies plain, or dipped in chocolate with other toppings. Try caramel dipped in chocolate–mmmm. Fresh ice cream, too.

La Mich Paleteria [Inland of LA]
1026 Huntington Drive, Duarte

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La Mich Mexican Ice Creamery


Tlaquepaque is a sit-down Mexican restaurant offering both taqueria fare and platillos. Their carnitas are glorious, says Alice Patis–little shreds of very juicy meat, a bit of fat, and quite a few dark brown crunchy bits. Order a carnitas burrito and you’ll get a piping hot, steamed tortilla encasing tender whole pinto beans, those beautiful carnitas, and pico de gallo. The ratios of meat and bean are spot-on; it is a perfect burrito.

Carne asada is flame-grilled on the spot. The beef is well flavored, but gristle-free–so it might be dry for some tastes. Mel’s favorite is their chicken tostada. Salsa is great, too–spicy, with a hit of cilantro bouquet. Ask for extra fresh chunky salsa with your chips.

Tlaquepaque #1 is excellent, and always packed. But you can skip the crowds by heading over to the equally excellent Tlaquepaque #3.

Taqueria Tlaquepaque 1 [South Bay]
2222 Lincoln Ave., near Curtner, San Jose

Taqueria Tlaquepaque 2 [South Bay]
721 Willow St., San Jose

Taqueria Tlaquepaque 3 [South Bay]
699 Curtner Ave., San Jose

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Tlaquepaque packs a mean burrito in Willow Glen (San Jose)

Reaching for a Higher Level of Pork

Pizzaiolo has upped the pork ante. About a month ago, they started buying whole pigs from the Heritage Foundation. Since then, pork has taken over, becoming the highlight of every meal, says Morton the Mousse. For example: a Berkshire pork chop with ratatouille and fried polenta. The pork is perfect–so tender, so juicy, and so gorgeously piggy. Morton’s opinion is seconded by Hungry Hippo, whose braised pork shoulder was, “no hyperbole, the single best pork dish I’ve ever eaten.” Especially good was the tasty fat marbling.

Chef Charlie will use Heritage breeds in all of his pork dishes, which means his meatballs are going to get even better. He’s planning to add lardo and other Italian charcuterie to the menu soon.

The best ham that Morton the Mousse has had in these parts is the house-cured ham at Cafe Rouge. It’s stuffed with garlic and aromatics, and finished on the rotisserie. Cafe Rouge has a variety of house-made deli meats, including corned beef and pastrami. They may be the best option in the area for cold cuts. The catch is: they carry only one meat at a time. Unless they’ve run out, in which case they carry none.

And a bonus ham: Gregoire occasionally offers baked ham and cheese croissants on their lunch menu. It’s just the sort of French comfort food that Gregoire excels at. The croissant is flaky and buttery, the bechamel creamy and satisfying, the ham thinly sliced and lightly salted, and the whole thing comes together perfectly.

Jeff highly, highly recommends pork chops at Bacar–they’re mesquite-grilled smoked kurobuto chops, and smoking gives them a great bacon-like taste.

Pizzaiolo [Temescal]
5008 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Cafe Rouge Meat Market [East Bay]
1782 4th St., at Hearst, Berkeley
Amazon Locater

Gregoire [East Bay]
2109 Cedar St., Berkeley
Amazon Locater

Bacar Restaurant & Wine Salon [SOMA]
448 Brannan St., San Francisco
Amazon Locater

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Mighty Fine Pork: Pizzaiolo, Fatted Calf, Cafe Rouge, Gregoire

Masters of the Bean

Masters of the Bean

Today’s coffee connoisseurs want to be on a first-name basis with their roaster. They want to know not only which country the beans came from but which region, or even which “estate.” They obsess over freshness and brew time and water temperature. READ MORE

Super-Peanutty Peanut Butter Cookies

These flourless peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies, inspired by San Francisco chocolatier Michael Rechiutti, are for real peanut butter lovers, says free sample addict aka Tracy L. They’re dense, not chewy or crisp like traditional peanut butter cookies, and a sprinkle of crunchy fleur de sel on top makes a nice contrast with the sweet chocolate.

8 oz natural unsalted peanut butter
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
6 oz chocolate chunks
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix peanut butter, egg, sugar, baking soda, and salt thoroughly, then stir in peanuts and chocolate chunks. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for around 12 minutes, until golden and puffy. When they come out of the oven, sprinkle them with a bit of fleur de sel and let them set up for a few minutes before removing from cookie sheets.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie Success

Wine Saver; it’s a Gas!

Fortified wines, such as ports and sherries, suffer less after being opened than unfortified wines. They’ll keep a week or so in the fridge, but will slowly lose potency, says carswell.

A gizmo like Private Preserve extends the life of open wines. Each time you open the bottle, just inject it with “gas,” and reclose. It also works, they say, with spirits and even fine oil and vinegar.

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Storing Sherry

Stovetop Popcorn

It’s pretty easy to make popcorn the old-time way–in a covered pot on the stove. Here’s how: heat oil in your pot over high heat, then add 3 kernels popcorn and cover. When the kernels pop, reduce heat to medium, add popcorn, and cover again, leaving the lid just slightly ajar so steam can vent. Shake the pot until the popping stops. Voila–popcorn!

Many chowhounds eyeball the proportion of oil to corn,