By Peter Freudenberger, Special Operations
One of the best fringe benefits to helping schools deploy cutting edge technology is the privilege of experiencing the fascinating neighborhoods of New York City. Over the past two years, we’ve installed Neverware’s first product, which required a large on-site server, in more than 150 NYC public schools. At one time, it was common for every member of the implementation team at Neverware to visit all five boroughs in a single week. It was not always easy (I hate you so very, very much, Van Wyck Expressway), but the adventures and interactions with educators all over the city were well worth the traffic & subway troubles. Our latest product, CloudReady, was designed from the ground up to be easily installable without assistance from the Neverware team. While this is great news for customers and greatly aids the scalability of CloudReady, I’ll miss embarking on wonderful transcontinental journeys of culinary consumption in Queens or executing feats of downright gluttony in Brooklyn. Below is an admittedly non-comprehensive selection of favorite eateries, curated from two and a half years of wonderful caloric memories.
Most Likely to Result in a Life-Threatening Food Coma: St Best Jerk Spot
Cambria Heights, Queens
Sometimes, hauling a bunch of heavy servers simply calls for a tremendous, face-sized portion of curried goat. Or an outlandishly generous serving of stewed oxtail with peas and rice. If being forced to take an unplanned exit off the 495 due to the irresistible fragrance of a takeout bag can be considered a test, the no-nonsense ladies and big flavors of St Best Jerk Spot pass with flying colors.
Most Bliss Per Dollar: Strictly Vegetarian Restaurant
Among the many, varied and extraordinary culinary delights that Flatbush Avenue has to offer on its epic course from the Manhattan Bridge to Fort Tilden; Strictly Vegetarian Restaurant is a hidden gem. Located right next to the NYC DOE’s huge Erasmus Campus, its decidedly un-Instagram-friendly interior and serving style (steam trays> foam container>done) conceals a wealth of flavors and textures. A scoop-of-everything combo is the way to go, but buyer be warned: the small size is a full meal, the medium is for the truly starved, and the large is for extended family parties only.
Best Vegan for Carnivores: Smile of the Beyond
Many electrons have been spilled in singing the virtues of/dismissing cafes that fit into the categories of vegan/juice/breakfast/coffee/cute. Who cares? Smile of the Beyond is amazing, and located just up the block from Q896 Young Women’s Leadership in Queens! Whether it’s smoothies, soups, salads, sandwiches, salad-in-a-sandwich or anything in between, it’s all colorful and flavorful. There is nothing like walking out of an establishment with a full stomach, and yet no feeling of regret from eating an XXXL Meatwitch.
Best for Corrupting Food Conservatives: The Bao Shoppe
“Hey new Neverware guy, you like bubble tea, right?” “I know you don’t like crazy food, but what about something that’s basically like a delicious little burger that costs three bucks and is filled with pork belly?” While there are many good reasons to run for the hills at the sight of the term “fusion”, Bao Shoppe serves up signatures like the BaoGulgi, Colonel Bao and Hungry Buddhist that are legitimately delicious, if cheesily named. Speaking of cheese, their curry fries, or shoppe fries with kimchi, daikon, sriracha mayo and BBQ sauce are not to be missed. Located in a bustling corner of Astoria served by nearby PS 70, both the eatery and school reflect the diversity and ever-changing face of the city.
Best Way To Begin a Long 4/5/6 Train Ride: Com Tam Ninh Kieu
Bedford Park, Bronx
“A journey without the Pho No 1 Special at Com Tam Ninh Kieu is hardly a journey at all”
-Completely Fake Mark Twain
Vietnamese can be a tricky business. The city abounds with quality options; from the tourist-friendly chicken stock at Saigon Shack in Greenwich Village to the dark meat banh mi at Saigon Deli on Broome and the classic institutions around Canal. But in a field of strong players, Com Tam Ninh Kieu is a standout. Perhaps it’s the no-frills weird-posters-and-fluorescent-lights vibe that marks many a great eatery from Can Tho to Canberra. Or the fact that their required Everything Pho is served with the noodles, tripe, flank and onion all perfectly finished. Or the delicious cold vermicelli dishes. Located right near the Walton Education Campus, home to five different public schools, Com Tam Ninh Kieu is a no-brainer when heading back from a day of implementing Neverware.