photo by Robert Menzer
There were a lot of rules at the original Greenwich Village location of Shopsins, the long-menued luncheonette legendarily cranky Kenny Shopsin opened as a market in 1973 and converted to a restaurant in the early ’80s. For one, each person at the table had to order something different. For another, your party could not be larger than four. Break the rules — or offend the proprietor in some other way — and you’d find yourself banned for life. The mood has softened a bit now that Shopsin’s has moved into Essex Market (though, still, follow those rules), but Kenny is still around, often perched on a chair beneath the sundries-crammed walls of his tiny stall. His son runs the show at the tables nowadays, passing out the menus filled with hundreds of items printed in tiny type. Best to pick a section and work from there. An eclectic collection of pancakes — in flavors like red velvet poppy, macadamia, and mac & cheese — is worth your attention, as is the famous collection of “Blisters on My Sisters,” which begin with a base of corn tortillas, greens, rice, black beans, and a sunny side-up egg, and incorporate everything from pasta bolognese to seared duck and kimchi bok choy. We’re partial to the egg nachos, even after the kitchen punished our request for level-10 spiciness by sprinkling ghost chile powder over the top. But it’s a sound strategy to just close your eyes and point randomly — even the weirdest items on the Shopsins menu are tasty, and there’s no guarantee your regular dish is going to taste like it did last time, anyway.