Spicy, cheesy, fried. Jalapeño poppers are pretty much one of the most perfect snack foods. They’re as ideal for noshing in front of the television as they are for serving as a cocktail party bite. But, aside from at T.G.I. Friday’s and sports bars in Murray Hill, they rarely make their way onto restaurant menus.
Lately, however, jalapeño poppers have been making their way into the collective dining consciousness. This latecomer to the comfort-food game is popping up at some heavy-hitting downtown restaurants. Places that you wouldn’t dare wear your cheesehead hat.
Glance through the vegetables section of Mulberry Street restaurant Parm’s place-mat menu and you may notice an item titled B&G Poppers. A $5 investment earns you a handful of perfectly fried, glow-in-the-dark B&G brand peppers (you know, the type that come in a jar) and a little cupful of Russian dressing for dipping purposes. Wrap a napkin around your neck and prepare for some oozing, molten pimento cheese to squirt out as you bite into each one. It’s one of the most guaranteed returns on your money in this town these days.
A few blocks down, on Broome and Lafayette streets, you’ll find more crunchy goodness amongst the bites at Brinkley’s Pub & Kitchen. This “gastropub” may have a British bent, but their jalapeño poppers take you on a trip to Italy. Stuffed with fontina cheese, these “fresh” poppers are worth elbowing your way to a bar seat on a Friday evening.
Another spot where you’ll have to wait to get your fix is Ed Schoenfeld and Zach Chodorow’s newish spot RedFarm. While they don’t take reservations, Hudson Street isn’t such a bad place to hang and people-watch (as long as it’s not as cold as today), and you’ll be rewarded for your patience. Billed as the Assorted Appetizer Stand, your ground-shrimp-stuffed jalapeño poppers come alongside other finger foods like smoked cucumbers and crispy spicy beef. Or grab a handful of the spicy specimens à la carte for $10. Just make sure to claim the poppers before your table-mates do. Once you pop, you just can’t stop.