As part of our ongoing Insomniac Series, we ask notable night owls to reveal their go-to watering holes, food spots, and neighborhood classics when the sun is down.
Face it: few other cities know how to turn up like Manhattan does. Long considered America’s nightlife capital, New York’s most famous borough can satisfy hordes of ravenous boozehounds into the wee hours of the morning.
With that in mind, we decided to reach out to a man who knows late-night Manhattan perhaps better than anybody—Dimitri Stathas, also known by his rapping moniker, DVS. To understand DVS’ qualifications, read Vice’s 2012 profile of him, which describes Stathas as “the best rapper in New York…an ex-hardcore singer from Uptown who chainsmokes Newports, works promo at a strip club, and, as a 13-year-old, successfully sold a TV he found on the street to the proprietor of a crack den despite having no idea whether or not it actually worked.”
The guy obviously has credentials. So when we reached out to DVS, he was eager to tell us about the spots all bonafide New Yorkers should know—with one caveat:
“I better not be fucking chopping my own dick off [by exposing these places],” he said over the phone. “But I mean whatever. I’m feeling generous.”
From digging into the best fast-food fried chicken in the city, to sipping nearly extinct sodas at an East Village institution, let DVS be your guide to owning late-night Manhattan.
Not All Fried-Chicken Chains Are Created Equal
[Crown Fried Chicken and Kennedy Fried Chicken] are the definitive spots Uptown. They’re all over, so it’s entirely up to the X-factor that makes a particular location stand out. For instance, all perfect restaurants have a magic fucking amount of grease. But if you’re looking for my favorite, the Crown Fried on 135th and Broadway (3633 Broadway) is a good jump-off. They’ve got good fucking chicken products: nuggets, strips, the boneless joints, sandwiches. All of those are what I go for. If you’re in more of a burger zone, go to the Kennedy on 161st and Amsterdam (2021 Amsterdam Ave). (Photo: Yelp/Paul K.)
Go Ham at a Koreatown Buffet
There’s this spot on 32nd and 5th Avenue called Woorijip (12 W 32nd St). It’s this Korean “luncheteria” spot that used to be open 24/7, but it’s now only open until 3am. Here’s why it’s perfect for late night: I sent people there in the afternoon and they were like, The fuck is wrong with you? Why would you bring me to that shit? It’s a buffet-style eatery right in the middle of Koreatown. There are, like, a thousand people during the day. At night it’s entirely different. It’s basically a handful of stragglers at little lunchroom-type tables. Past a certain hour they box their food up into little individual Korean lunchable-type meals. So you just cop a box of, like, beef with rice and kimchi for $6 in a tupperware container. Shit is fire. And the whole wall is just covered with cards of the different drinks you can order, which hits at a special spot in my heart because they have black-sesame milk in little juice boxes that I fucking love. What’s most bananas is it’s cheap Korean food. That shit is the Loch Ness monster—Korean food generally has enough self-awareness to know how fucking dope it is to charge you, usually like, $21. This is the loophole. Embrace it. (Photo: Yelp/Annie C.)
Transport back in Time with Ray
Moving over a little further downtown there’s this spot called Ray’s Candy Store (113 Avenue A). Despite its name, they’re not known for candy. Ray’s is like a little kiosk that’s pretty much standing-room only. It’s a fucking Godsend for many reasons, but mainly because they have fountain RC Cola and Lime Rickey’s. It’s Brooklyn in the 1950s in that spot. Like, Lime fucking Rickeys? Come on. There are like two places on earth that still make those.
They also make creams and Italian sodas, as well as fried Oreos. Ray’s Candy Store does pommes frites but for cheap. They give you a fucking mess of those things. Get them with Russian dressing and chili on one side and then ketchup and mayonnaise on the other side.
Most importantly, it’s an institution run by this dude named Ray who’s the lifeblood of the place. The whole wall is littered with newspapers and clippings of every time it was about to go bankrupt—the fucking rent is insane—but every time they were about to get foreclosed upon the neighborhood intervened and was like, No, you’re fucking not, and bailed him out. That’s how beloved that spot is—and with entirely fucking good reason. That shit cannot be replaced. (Photo: Yelp/Ray’s)
Wo Hop Always Delivers the Goods
I don’t know if you’re familiar with Wo Hop (17 Mott St), but it’s in a glut of a few other semi-late-night Chinatown spots. For my money it’s the best, not to mention the perfect spot to end a night, especially if you’re blackout drunk. As far as I’m concerned there are different Chinese restaurants you go based on what you’re looking for. But Wo Hop is a spot where you can spin the wheel and no matter which item it lands on it’s going to be good—and they give you about twice the serving of your average Chinese restaurant. It’s like somebody fucking cooked that shit in magic.
I had snails in black-bean sauce there for the first time—previously I wasn’t into it—but figured I couldn’t go wrong with Wo Hop. And it was awesome. All they do is prove themselves. If you’re going, give salt-and-pepper squid a try. It’s without a doubt my go-to dish there. Guaranteed it turns people into believers. You’re going to like this, even if you don’t like it. Just watch. (Photo: Foodspotting.com)
DVS’ latest project, DVTV, is out now.