Shopsin's, wow. What a hoot this joint is. It's a counter with some stools, a couple of ghetto tables, and a menu of over 900 ridiculous creations including taco fried steak, mac 'n cheese pancakes, and bread pudding french toast. Located inside the grimey Essex Street Market, it's run by a cranky old bag named Kenny Shopsin and his gang of offspring and illegals. Who is this Kenny you ask? He's the angry Jewish man in the hat sitting in the corner, staring at you like he either wants to have sex with you or kill you. You've been warned - only speak if spoken to. He's not a warm and friendly Jewish Grandpa like your own. However, he is kind of a legend. There's a documentary on Kenny, I Like Killing Flies, a full 90 minutes on how his insane mind works. The guy has been cooking his crazy, yet tasty, food in NYC for generations. Before they moved to Essex Street Market in the late 00's, Shopsin's was a massively popular Greenwich Village institution. Allegedly, Kenny still runs the kitchen. But on our most recent visit, all he did was hang out. He didn't move from his chair in the middle of the "restaurant" (we use that word lightly). It doesn't seem to matter though, because whoever is actually cooking the food is doing the Kenny Shopsin classics justice.
Some words of advice to those who have never been. Study the menu online first so you're prepared. There are a lot of rules, so just go with it. Don't come with more than four people, don't try and sit down unless your full party is present, don't stare at the menu for longer than five minutes, don't ask for recommendations, and definitely don't ask for substitutions. Violating any of their unwritten rules will warrant an expletive filled scolding, or potentially result in being asked to leave. Yes, you're paying to get yelled at. That's all part of the schtick. They try so hard to be assholes at Shopsin's that it's actually quite charming in a way. We found a guilty pleasure in killing our servers with kindness because clearly, it makes them uncomfortable. Don't be scared.
OK, it's really only like 600 deep now, but whatever. Making sense of this ludicrous menu ain't easy. There are just so many racist dishes to choose from! Part of the fun is figuring it out on your own, so we're going to let that happen. You must get some variation of sliders, they're incredible. Like the best White Castle's you've ever had, completely soaked in greasy goodness and sloppy with your favorite toppings. We're partial to them with caramelized onions and hatched chilies. The slutty cakes (these are the Iran slutty cakes with banana, pistachio butter, peanuts, brown sugar) are amazing, as are the mac 'n cheese pancakes. I'm scared of Indian food, but the Indian Blisters On My Sisters was amazing (chickpea, potato curry, peas, basmati, papadum, feta). Saveur did a good job of summing up their favorite dishes, this is definitely helpful. Good luck!