White Street Sandwich Shop (Key West): A Cuban Coffee Must

First night in Key West and the locals are determined to school this food writer. The most important advice?

“The best places to get Cuban coffee are attached to laundromats.”

Sure, there’s Sandy’s — a place so well-known it’s got sleek rides pulling up all day to pick up trays of coffees to go along with giant bags of sandwiches and a fleet of delivery cars whizzing in and out as you wait 20 minutes for your order. But the one that people keep saying is the must is a little less celebrated.

Beloved as this place is, its name escapes them. “Just go to the corner of Union and White,” I am told.

And so on a sunny Saturday morning, taking a little break from my writing desk, I do …

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Indian Coffee House (Shimla, India): Breakfast.

One of my absolute favorite photographers (and people) is on the road, wending his way through lesser-known India as I write this.

As much as I miss my dear friendĀ Jesse when he’s off on these trips, I always look forward to seeing what treats he sends back. The first batch that arrived were of a gem of a coffeeshop in Shimla — a little place called Indian Coffee House that looks tightly swaddled in a bygone time and serves up terrific breakfasts.

With Jesse’s blessing, I’m sharing his photos with you. And I’ll let him tell you what transpired one morning in Shimla …

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The Shop at Andaz Fifth Avenue: Style, With Some Substance


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As hotel restaurants go, the shop at Andaz Fifth Avenue tries pretty hard.

Determined to cast itself as a New York restaurant, it likes to broadcast just how local it is. Its Web site rattles off a litany of New York purveyors — eggs hail from Feather Ridge Farm in the Hudson Valley; lox comes from Russ & Daughters on Manhattan's Lower East Side, which has been providing New Yorkers with smoked fish since 1914. And there's even a self-conscious little area that sells snacks made by small, lesser-known brands in New York.

This is all in line with the in-the-know feel that the hotel, part of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts' chain of boutique properties, tries to give off. It's a pretentiousness you can already sense from the fact that it is the shop — spelled all lowercase, the hotel insists — and not, well, The Shop. (You'll have to check out my review of the hotel in the New York Times Travel section for more on this Andaz.)

How would the food stack up against all this posing? We decided to find out …

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The Breslin: Gastropub, Grown Up


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This is the sort of restaurant that The Breslin is: You will arrive on a Monday night to find the restaurant full and the bar jammed with the studiedly — and also studly — casual set. The wait, they will say, is 45 minutes to an hour.

You have a drink, some snacks and 45 minutes go by. An hour passes. There is still no word — even though a stroll through the dining room shows that there are not one, not two, but a few tables that have been sitting empty for a bit.

At almost 90 minutes, it’s getting a little tiresome. Nearby Koreatown is starting to look like a surer bet for dinner — but just as you start to gesture toward your bar waitress for the check, you spy her spotting you and then sprinting over to the hostess for a quick discussion. Faster than you can say “Check, please,” the hostess is by your side, telling you that now, there is a table open.

You consider leaving because, well, this is all a little bizarre. But you decide to stay — and it’s a good thing you do because what’s on the dinner menu, it turns out, is worth waiting for.

But you really wouldn’t expect anything less or different from owners of the Spotted Pig, the small West Village gastropub that quickly became the place for Leonardo DiCaprio spottings when it first opened in 2004. 

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