No one grumbles quite like Kenny Shopsin. Known for his unique house rules (no parties larger than four, one order per person minimum) and strong opinions, the 74-year-old proprietor of Shopsin’s General Store in the Essex Street Market doesn’t mince words. “You can order something, or you can leave,” he recently told a tourist couple who’d been staring, gobsmacked, at his extensive menu for almost twenty minutes. And order you should: The constantly changing document is overseen by the self-taught chef and his son Zack and lists hundreds of dishes, including more than 160 soups. Even more impressive than the mind-bending recipes (pastrami falafel, pb&j fries, chicken tempura doughnut sandwiches) is the sheer number of winners among the onslaught of choices. An intimidating sight even to repeat customers, the menu’s countless permutations reflect the boundless creativity of the family that ministers to it. And as that family’s curmudgeonly but lovable patriarch, Shopsin’s dedication to his sliver of a restaurant is unwavering.
120 Essex Street, Manhattan