Where To Eat When It's Hot And You Have Sweat Stains
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Sweating is a normal bodily function, and no one should be shaming you for it. That said, you might not feel like going to Gramercy Tavern when it's 95 degrees outside and there's a Rorschach test forming under each arm. Maybe you just went on a run, maybe you fell for the utopian fantasy of natural deodorant, or maybe the MTA needs to get it together and blast the AC until it turns into the Polar Express. Either way, here are some places where you can get in, get out, and get home to change into something made of the same material as a ShamWow.
When you get to 7th Street Burger in the East Village, you’ll probably see a big crowd blocking the sidewalk. What, you ask, could such a long line of people be willing to let the sun super soak them for? The answer: a simple cheeseburger with roughly chopped onions smashed into a patty on a grilled potato roll that’s just as greasy as you are right now. You won’t be the only one battling the heat to get your hands on one, and it’ll be worth the wait.
The cramped and AC-free Raja Sweets and Fast Food is usually pretty steamy, so no one's going to notice if you show up already sweaty. The crowd of regulars and visiting enthusiasts at this no-frills chaat store just want to get their orders of pani puri and bread pakoras and get out, and everyone behind the cash register is busy cooking in what looks like a makeshift sauna.
Frankel’s is a block from McCarren park, where you and your sweat stains will fit right in. It’s right at the top of the stairs as you exit the G train, so you can drop in to pick up a hot brisket sandwich or bagel, and then head back out to sunbathe. The line moves fast, your food comes out quickly, and the people working the counter are happy to help you with zero judgment.
These days, you can get King David tacos at a number of carts spread around Manhattan and even in various coffee shops, grocery stores, and other quick-stops you can flee before your clothes change colors. But your sweaty self can also kick back at their brick-and-mortar, where there’s plenty of outdoor seating for those who just want to succumb to the sun and everything that comes with it. Their HQ also has an expanded menu with all-day items like a pollo verde taco, chorizo queso, and—crucially—iced horchatas.
At this popular Upper West Side counter spot, the chicken is famously made in a cast iron skillet (rather than a deep fryer), where it pops and sizzles before you get a nice tender piece with a well-seasoned crust. No one’s phased by a little sweat in a fry-house, nor will anyone smell you over the near-aphrodisiac that is the scent of crispy chicken skin. Leave the small shop with a bag of wings, cornbread, and pork ribs you won't mind heading out in the hot sun to retrieve.
Sure, Maya’s Snack Bar is full of tactless children who might point out that Niagara Falls now flows from under your arms, but it also has plenty of ice and fruit-based treats to cool you down. We like the watermelon paleta because it’s refreshingly fruity and super cute (with green and white ice on the bottom to emulate the fruit), but the Oreo is a must, too. Two whole Oreos are lodged in a milky popsicle with flecks of chocolate making a perfect frozen candy bar.
Whether you actually did a dedicated workout to break a sweat or you just live in a fifth-floor walkup, stop by this juice bar for juices, smoothies, and acai bowls all for under $8. With a green juice or peanut butter protein acai bowl in hand, you can wear your stained shirt proudly, knowing there are at least a few people in the store looking on with respect and wondering about your exercise regimen.
Even if you didn’t come here sweaty, you’ll be leaving with the meat sweats after cooking unlimited marinated hanger steak, pork jowl, and spicy marinated chicken with your friends in a room that could double as a club if they turned the lights down. And just like when you visit a club, your entire group is going to come out with sweat stains. As an added bonus, your clothing will acquire a distinct brisket bulgogi smell that’ll linger until your next wash.
Believe it or not, eating spicy food cools you down. The science goes: When you eat spicy food, your blood circulation increases, you start sweating, and once your sweat evaporates, you've cooled off. Stay cool at this summer at Spicy Village with their big tray chicken—big bone-in hunks of chicken and potatoes stewed in a rich sauce made with Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, and other spices.
There’s nowhere better to sweat freely than at the beach, and in the Rockaways you can eat a very good burger outside while you do so. They have a huge patio full of picnic tables across from the boardwalk and a long line full of people in swimsuits and sweaty tanks, waiting to fill up on cheese fries just like you. Plus, you can get an icy margarita at the bar window to cool you down.
Saigon Shack is about two blocks from NYU, so you won’t be the only one there sweating like an eighteen-year-old barely escaping late-stage puberty. Come here for good, quick Vietnamese food in a little room where no one will care what you’re wearing. You might even make friends with someone who's willing to let you use their campus laundry card.