Peter Meehan

Widely recognised as the co-founder of Lucky Peach, the gone-but-not-forgotten food journal, Peter Meehan has called New York home for the past 20 years. While Meehan’s life still includes plenty of vegetarian burgers and punk rock in The Big Apple, the James Beard-award-winning food writer and New York Times columnist spends plenty of time on America’s west coast too as food editor of the Los Angeles Times.
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My Favourite Restaurant In New York

Superiority Burger is probably my favourite restaurant in New York City these days. It’s a tiny six-seat vegetarian-hamburger restaurant, and all of the food is vegetarian or what they call “accidentally vegan”. The place is run by Brooks Headley, who used to be the pastry chef at Del Posto – which was this super-fancy three-Michelin-star Italian restaurant here in NYC for years. Brooks was actually a famous punk-rock drummer, so while I’m weary to say that it’s a punk-rock restaurant, the spirit of Superiority Burger is affordability, accessibility and vegetarianism; which is what I feel are the sort of things you would be into if you were in a DC Punk band. The menu is short and good, and nothing is ever more than $9. This is the place that I go to more often than anywhere else, and when people come in from out of town, I always bring them here – so much so that my LA Times colleagues make fun of me for it. I even wear a Superiority Burger T-Shirt when I’m in LA, just to fuck with them.

A 24-Hour Vegetarian Cab Stand

I’m not a vegetarian, but the restaurant I’ve eaten at more than anywhere else in my life is Punjabi; a vegetarian cab stand. This place has been a mainstay of mine for almost twenty years. I used to live around the corner, and when I had no money, I’d go and eat there for only $3. It’s also open 24 hours, so it’s perfect if you’ve been out drinking. I get the samosa with chickpeas and everything which is basically a samosa covered with chickpea curry, yogurt, tamarind sauce and topped with onions. I’ve had Indian friends tell me that it’s definitely not the best thing to order, and even chef friends like Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune is like, “You know you’re not ordering the best thing,” and I have to say, “Don’t yuck my yum, I’ve been eating this for 20 years.”

Where I Take The Family

In the spring and summertime, we take the family to a Roman-style trattoria over on 6th avenue called Bar Pitti. The food is good, not great, but it opens up onto the sidewalk and you know, it’s just a classic West Village spot. Go early to get a table outside, order the kids some pasta and enjoy a bottle of wine.  Another place I love is Wu’s Wonton King, which is a Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown. I take the family here, especially if we’re heading out with the youngest one. The place opens at 7 o’clock in the morning, so it’s also where I have all of my business meetings. At one point I was interviewing with the LA Times here in New York, and my boss, who eventually hired me, was texting with a food writer who she was going to meet the next day. They needed a place to meet so I was like, “Oh you should go to Wu’s,” and when she texted this to the writer, she wrote back, “Are you with Peter Meehan?” So yeah, I guess this is obviously another regular spot for me.  

I like to take my older daughter to JG Melon, which is a classic New York burger shop from back in the 80s. My eldest daughter Hazel very much loves cheeseburgers. I also very much love to eat cheeseburgers, and well, they have a very good cheeseburger. There’s one on the Upper East side, and they opened one down in the West Village a few years ago.

A No-Reservations Thai Restaurant

I have an inability, possibly a disability, when it comes to making reservations. I can’t, don’t and won’t do it. So of course, I like places I walk into and out of easily, like Uncle Boon’s Sister. They have a really great short menu of delicious Thai food made using good ingredients. I usually order the Sai Oua – which is a really aromatic Northern-Thai style sausage – or the fried chicken larb which my daughter loves..

Korean BBQ Meets Farmers’ Market

Another great place is Insa, a Korean BBQ restaurant over in Brooklyn run by chef Sohui Kim. It’s just smart, well-made classic Korean BBQ with great banchan—she uses more farmers’ market ingredients than the typical K-town spot— and a little bit of her own twist on it. It’s a great place to drink, and for karaoke, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Where To Drink In New York

If I am out for a night of drinking, I usually head to my brother’s bar, PDT in the East Village. When I’m getting out of the house for something other than stuffing my pie hole, Union Pool Bar in Williamsburg is probably my favourite to both play and see shows at (yes, I play in a band because what middle-aged guy isn’t?). And then Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan and The Bell House in Brooklyn – these three places are the spots I’m most likely to go and see a show.

Illustration by Matthew Volz

Selected Works: wd~50: The Cookbook (2017), Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables!: Turbocharged Recipes for Vegetables with Guts (2016), Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes (2015), The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual (2010), Momofuku (2009).

Guide last updated March 2020

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Peter Meehan

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