Fried Chicken Salad with Mac & Cheese at CAFETERIA, A New York City Staple!
The first time I visited the hip and ultra stylish downtown restaurant known as CAFETERIA, I was a gangly teen in the late 1990′s just trying to be in the entertainment scene in any way shape or form. I had read somewhere that the vogue restaurant was THE place to see and be seen. That was over ten years ago and Cafeteria, the 24-hour Chelsea hotspot located at 119 7th Avenue off of 18th Street, is STILL one of the hippest spots to been seen and has since become a New York City staple and nightlife essential.
I stopped by the other night for a late-night dinner and although some things have stayed the same, there are some new changes at Cafeteria. The back restrooms are now an extended kitchen and the downstairs lounge area is now a unisex bathroom with shared sinks. Still white and chocolate, the dining set is still fashionable and predominantly young, while the food is still familiar and comforting! You never know who you will spot at Cafeteria as it has become a model and pretty-people haven.
I’ll start with the mac & cheese. Cafeteria is known for this dish, and although the various recipes appear on the appetizer side of the menu, the portions are good enough to make an entree dinner for one…. They offer it in four flavors: cheddar and fontina, smoked gouda and bacon, buffalo chicken and bleu cheese, and truffle oil! You can get a combo of three for $14! You can’t go wrong with any choice as they are all smokey, flavorful, cheesy, hot and good! After the first bite, it’s easy to see how some come for the mac & cheese alone!
The fried chicken salad was also delicious! Prepared with haricot verts (green beans), a grilled corn relish, sun dried tomatoes and crisp tortilla chips that are mixed over a bed of chopped romaine, the salad also features a heavenly blend of two dressings – buttermilk ranch and a spicy chipotle! And although one of my cherry tomatoes was downright frozen (which made me think), the chicken was tender and warm, fried in a well-seasoned crispy batter. The salad was modern and sweet but not overwhelmingly so as it was beautifully displayed and made for quite a refreshing and crisp dinner!
With prices ranging between $5 – $25 dollars, there’s something for everyone on any kind of budget at Cafeteria! It’s easy dining with with style! I love Cafeteria for all its glitz and glamour, but also for its 24-hour service, the ever present eye candy and a consistent and reliable menu! It’s no wonder it has become the legendary spot that many cherish it for today! FYI, the sister restaurant is DELICATESSEN which is located on the LES (lower east side), and it gives the same appeal.