Max and Eli aren't exactly classically trained chefs. They're the guys in college who made the sickest 3AM nachos ever. They've figured out how to make things crazy delicious through a lifetime of trial and error. Now they've put it all on paper in the form of their first ever book, This is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life. This is exactly the kind of cookbook we'd actually use, too. It's basic, it's fun, and it's written in the food language we speak.
Eli's "Perfect For" Picks
Talde (369 7th Ave. / Brooklyn, NY 11215) - "We went here and had essentially a perfect meal. Addictive flavorful dishes, well balanced cocktails, and killer friendly service all packaged in a great space with a super fun vibe. The only problem was that with four people we fell a little short on ordering the entire menu. A return trip here is at the top of our list."
2nd Avenue Deli (162 E 33rd St.) - "Our parents keep kosher, and our dad is a huge fan of tongue and pastrami. So whenever they come to NYC we head out to lunch and get this absurd gargantuan meat platter with bowls of matzo ball soup, a stack of pickles, and Dr. Browns all around."
John Dory Oyster Bar (1196 Broadway) - "The entire menu is perfectly executed, the cocktails are some of the best the city has to offer, and it ain't cheap so even better if the parents are picking up the tab. Since it's in the Ace Hotel and the tables are tall-tops, you do need to have cool adventurous parents to pull this one off."
Allswell (142 Bedford Ave. / Brooklyn, NY 11211) - "They have fresh salads and overstuffed sandwiches at lunch, an inventive dinner menu that's constantly changing, and a very solid brunch. With a full bar and cozy corner booths perfect for dates, this is the definitive neighborhood joint you could go to over and over and never get sick of."
Nha Toi (160 Havemeyer St. #6 / Brooklyn, NY 11211) - "This small shop on Havermeyer has my favorite Banh mi's and gui coun (Vietnamese fresh rolls). I love to take Max's dog for a big walk, grab some food here, and then eat it on the bench out front or at the park. For $10 you are completely stuffed with authentic delicious Vietnamese food."
Booker and Dax (207 2nd Ave.) - "It's like being able to see behind the Wizard of Oz curtain when you get to watch Tristan and his staff whip up their drinks. I've had nearly everything on the menu, and across the board they are without question the best cocktails I have ever consumed in my life."
Max's "Perfect For" Picks
Tanoreen (7523 3rd Ave. / Brooklyn, NY 11209) - "I'm from Southeast Michigan where there is an abundance of excellent Middle Eastern food. It was a little hard to find anything that compares, but the baba ghannosh at Tanoreen is as delicious as anything you can find in Dearborn."
Russ and Daughters (179 E Houston St.) - "I'm a sucker for smoked and cured fish, and this is the place right here. Often imitated, never duplicated."
Rucola (190 Dean St.) - "Love this awesome Italian neighborhood restaurant in Carroll Gardens. The food is great, the dining room is warm and intimate, and the front of house is amazing, so if you don't get another date after coming here, it's on you, buddy."
15 East (15 E 15th St.) - "If you're going to get sushi you might as well blow it out, so save up and book an omakase here and prepare to be made speechless."
Cocoron (61 Delancey St.) - "I literally dream about the food at this tiny Soba shop. Get anything."