NYC has more restaurants than any other city I’ve been to – which is every foodie’s dream/nightmare – depending on whether you love or hate too many options. Now that I no longer live in New York (still a touchy subject for me), it’s almost impossible to decide where to eat when I only visit 4-5 times a year. But there is one restaurant I must eat at literally every time I fly in – The Boil (2 locations in Manhattan, but I prefer the roomier Waverly Place site), and yes, they take reservations, but are cash-only (ATM located on-premises).
First off, the demographics – it’s a Cajun seafood spot, so if you don’t like zest or crustaceans, it is not the place for you. The restaurant has a New Orleans type of vibe and in its offerings – crawfish and a Hurricane drink both take up real estate on the menu, but it also somehow carved out its own unique flair. You essentially purchase the seafood by the pound – lobster($30), crab legs($23-38 depending on size), shrimp (head on) ($15), crawfish ($15), and then choose the flavor you’re going for – lemon pepper, Old Bay, Garlic Butter, or my personal fave – the Boil Special (which is all of the above). You can also choose the level of spice you want – I can only go up to Medium, but I have friends that have lost their taste buds over years of using too much hot sauce, and they love the Spicy blend – I have yet to see someone go for the Fire blend, but kudos to you if you opt for it.
When the seafood arrives, you’ll see why the restaurant equipped you with gloves and a bib. It comes in a large, plastic bag, dripped in the sauce you chose, and perfectly prepared. They must literally take the seafood out at the perfect time – consistently…it is never dry, overcooked, or more importantly under-cooked.
And the drinks?? Delicious, and surprisingly strong. As a frame of reference, it takes about 2.5 long island ice teas to get me moderately happy. Yet at this restaurant – one Hurricane or Bayou Juice will make you feel that the price was worth it (the cocktails are between $10-12).
My recommendation? Go for the crab legs and shrimp, and get the Boil special. The sauce is literally perfectly garlicky and flavorful. Also go for a side of the macaroni and cheese(it’s listed under appetizers, but I ask for it as a side), and if you love carbs – get a side order of pasta. When your food comes, drop the pasta in the seafood bag (I know…brilliant, right?) And top it off with a Bayou Juice cocktail. You may not be fooled into thinking you’re in New Orleans, but you won’t care.